Honestly we're not sure why the overwhelming interest, but we've been getting a surprisingly large number of requests for a Radeon VII re-test over the past few weeks, and we couldn't refuse. It's been 3 months since the GPU's release and there haven't been any major driver breakthroughs, so for the most part nothing should have changed. That said, a few new games do work very well with Radeon GPUs.
In what may be the last GPU shootout we put together before Navi arrives, today we have a 38 game benchmark covering 1440p and 4K resolutions. But before we jump into the benchmarks, a quick back story...
The AMD Radeon VII was released on February 7th and what you see is what you get. Meaning you can buy it from Sapphire, Asrock, XFX, MSI, Asus, Gigabyte or PowerColor, but they’re all the same AMD designed Radeon VII card, so that’s kind of boring. To date there's no custom AIB models that strap on a bigger oversized cooler to bring down operating volumes and/or temperatures. The AMD reference design does look good, but out of the box without any tinkering it kind of sucks -- like really loudly.
The card's MSRP remains at $700. Alternatively, there’s the GeForce RTX 2080 that comes at the same price. Back when we put together our initial Radeon VII mega benchmark covering 33 games we found that on average it was 7% slower than the GeForce RTX 2080 and of the 33 games tested the Vega 20 GPU was faster by a 5% margin or greater in only 4 titles.
Meanwhile, the RTX 2080 was faster by a 5% margin or greater in 23 of the games tested. Besides offering more consistent performance, the RTX 2080 also consumed less power, and as a nice bonus there are literally dozens of custom AIB options to choose from, almost all of which are very good.
Back to the present day, we'll re-test and see where things stand. As usual we’ll go over the results for a dozen of the newer titles and then we’ll check out some head to head comparisons with all the games tested in a few performance breakdown graphs.
For testing we relied on a Core i9-9900K clocked at 5 GHz with 32GB of DDR4-3400 memory. Representing the green team is the Gigabyte RTX 2080 Aorus Xtreme and for the red team the AMD Radeon VII. The latest available display drivers at the time of testing we’re used and all results have been updated.
First up we have Rage 2 and here the Radeon VII and GeForce RTX 2080 are evenly matched. Traditionally you would have expected AMD to get the upper hand in a Vulkan exclusive title, but with the improvements Nvidia’s made to the Turing architecture that’s no longer the case.
World War Z is another Vulkan title, in this case also supporting DirectX 11. Nvidia has addressed their Vulkan performance in this title and it shows, though AMD still comes away with a win. The Radeon VII was 18% faster at 1440p though that margin is reduced to just 6% at the 4K resolution.
We saw recently that the Radeon RX 580 enjoyed a slight performance advantage over the GTX 1060 6GB in Apex Legends. However that’s not the case for the Radeon GPU in this comparison, here the RTX 2080 smoked the Radeon VII by a 24% margin at 1440p and almost 30% at 4K. Margins in this title can vary quite a bit depending on where you test. The section we use for repeatability is admittedly not very demanding.
The Division 2 also uses a low-level API, this time DirectX 12 and this is a title where the RX 580 smoked the GTX 1060. Yet we see again the Radeon VII struggling to keep pace with the RTX 2080 where the GeForce was 10% faster at both tested resolutions.
Performance in Shadow of the Tomb Raider is very competitive though the RTX 2080 does offer a small bump over the Radeon VII.
The Assassin’s Creed Odyssey results are also quite close though the RTX 2080 manages to edge out the Radeon VII, this time offering 7% more performance at 1440p and 9% more at 4K.
Resident Evil 2 is yet another title where the RX 580 destroyed the GTX 1060, but here we see the Radeon VII playing second fiddle to the RTX 2080. The Radeon GPU wasn’t much slower but in this comparison it was indeed slower.
Fortnite was one of the few titles were the RX 580 did get blitzed by the GTX 1060 and that doesn’t bode well for the Radeon VII in its battle with the RTX 2080. As you can see here the GeForce GPU was 26% faster at both tested resolutions. As expected a poor result for AMD in this title.
Metro Exodus is an Nvidia sponsored title but even so the RX 580 did beat the GTX 1060 in this one. Here though the Radeon VII can’t keep up with the RTX 2080 and it’s another comfortable win for the green team.
Traditionally AMD has done well in Rainbow Six Siege but the Radeon VII gets smoked by the RTX 2080 as the GeForce GPU was 17% faster at 1440p and 21% faster at 4K. The extra performance at 4K really makes a big difference as well.
One title where the Radeon VII gets the better of the RTX 2080 is Battlefield V. Needless to be said, DXR is not enabled. Here the Radeon GPU was 11% faster at both tested resolutions.
The Radeon VII also manages to eek out a win in Far Cry New Dawn, beating the RTX 2080 by a slim margin at both resolutions.
That didn’t seem overly positive for the Radeon VII, but that was only a dozen of the 38 games tested. So let’s grab them all and get a clearer picture of what’s going on.
Three months ago we found the Radeon VII to be 7% slower at 1440p and today it’s 8% slower despite a few new titles added to the mix. World War Z has been a good addition for AMD, but beyond that titles such as Rage 2, Anthem, DiRT Rally 2, The Division 2, Apex Legends, Generation Zero, and in particular Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, have not been so positive.
You might hear arguments that try to leverage the Radeon VII’s massive 16GB VRAM buffer, suggesting that because of the extra memory it’s a superior choice for 4K gaming. However, the evidence strongly contradicts that argument.
At 4K the Radeon VII fell slightly further behind the RTX 2080 and now there’s just a single example where it was faster by a 5% margin or greater.
Clear Cut Winner
If we rewind a little, here's what we concluded after testing the Radeon VII shortly after launch:
The Radeon VII is a fine graphics card, but it's not competitive enough against the RTX 2080. We review it exclusively as a gaming product (where that 16GB frame buffer is not really a factor) and frankly it under delivered. If it was more efficient than the RTX 2080 and ran quiet, maybe we could deem it a worthy alternative, but let’s not sugar coat this or beat around the bush, it’s not as efficient, it’s loud and for the most part it’s slower, only a little slower but it’s slower. For those reasons we can’t recommend the Radeon VII over the GeForce RTX 2080.
A few months later and not much has changed. We’ve had multiple driver releases and availability is decent now. There is a small group of believers that argue undervolting might deliver unexpected improvements, but at this point you'd need something of a miracle. Let’s not forget you can squeeze another ~10% out of the RTX 2080 without much of an increase in power draw and almost no impact on operating volume, which is great given most AIB models are virtually silent to begin with.
- Radeon VII on Amazon, Newegg
- GeForce RTX 2080 on Amazon, Newegg
- GeForce RTX 2080 Ti on Amazon, Newegg
- GeForce RTX 2060 on Amazon, Newegg
- GeForce RTX 2070 on Amazon, Newegg
- Radeon RX Vega 56 on Amazon, Newegg
- Radeon RX Vega 64 on Amazon, Newegg
- Radeon RX 570 on Amazon, Newegg
- Radeon RX 580 on Amazon, Newegg