In the GPU market, the debate between AMD and Nvidia rages on. AMD has long reigned as a king of affordable yet powerful hardware. Its recent releases further hone AMD’s dominance and prove that it’s catching up to rival Nvidia. Notably, the AMD RX line boasts incredible power, although its popularity for cryptocurrency mining. Similarly, the insanely powerful Threadripper CPU is one of the top processors available.
With its new plan, AMD aims to make virtual reality (VR) gaming and 4K gaming cheaper for consumers. The RX Vega line of GPUs is a multi-purpose set of graphics cards. Since the Vega is suitable for cryptocurrency mining, 4K gaming, virtual reality, and rendering in general, there’s a large market. But should you buy AMD’s Vega graphics cards? Check out these alternatives!
What Is the AMD Vega?
The AMD RX Vega is a tier of consumer-facing graphics processing units. At their core, these GPUs employ Vega architecture. Onboard, there’s high-bandwidth memory 2.0, (HBM2) high-speed memory and a groundbreaking 14nm FinFET architecture. While Vega GPUs target general users, these are high-end graphics cards. Currently, its array of GPUs includes the Radeon RX Vega 56, 64, and Radeon RX Vega 64 Liquid.
So what does all of that mean? Essentially, Radeon RX Vega cards compete with Nvidia 1070 and 1080 GPUs. But Nvidia’s offerings launched more than a year earlier. As such, AMD is playing catch up. It’s the price though which helps posit the AMD Vega line as a competitor in the world of GPUs. Clocking in at $550 for the AMD RX 56 Vega and around $690, it’s a solid entry point into the 4K gaming realm or cryptocurrency mining.
Should You Buy AMD’s Vega Graphics Cards?
Inside the Vega, you’ll find HBM2. Whereas its memory clock speed is lower, the memory bus is a whopping 2048MB. That ensures fast data flow to the GPU. The Vega dominates at DirectX 12-powered games as well as handling the Vulkan graphics API.
But while AMD touts its gaming capabilities, as PC Games N reports, it’s a spectacular card for cryptocurrency mining as well. If you’re interested in Bitcoin and Ethereum mining, consider an AMD Vega. Just make the cryptocurrency mining foray with realistic expectations.
GameSpot features a great list of what you need to know before buying an AMD Vega GPU. For instance, the Vega 64 derives its name from the 64 compute units. As you can probably guess, that means the AMD Vega 56 boasts 56 compute units. Benchmarks suggest that the AMD Vega 64 achieves framerates slightly lower than the GTX 1080 on the high end, but higher on the low end. The 1080 delivered frames per second (FPS) ratings between 45 and 78, compared to the Vega 64 with a range of 53-76. Additionally, the Vega 6 is rated to run greater than 100 games at 4K and 60 FPS at launch.
With a price just under the GTX 1080, the AMD RX Vega 64 is a great buy for gamers seeking to play in 4K. With some benchmarks surpassing the 1080, it affords a massive performance leap. However, the Vega 56 is about the same price as a GTX 1070. Reviews for the Vega 56 claim that, unfortunately, it’s not a fantastic pickup. That’s largely on account of minimal performance gains.
At a similar price, the 1070 is a better buy. The GTX 1070 delivers better performance and efficiency. The Radeon RX Vega 64 though is a beast and competitively priced. PC Gamer enjoyed its performance, design, and quiet operation. Still, for DX11 Nvidia still wins, and in true AMD fashion, it’s a power-hungry card. Since it’s a bit under the price of a 1080, the Vega 64 offers a decent alternative to the GTX 1080. That is if you can snag it for a lower price. Demand caused the price to jump, so despite lower performance, Vega cards come with a higher price tag.
Verdict: While the AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 is a good option for 4K gaming, the Vega 56 is a poor choice.
5 Alternatives to the AMD RX Vega Lineup
Luckily, the GPU space continues to thrive. Check out these AMD Vega alternatives.
1. AMD RX 560
TechSpot compares the GTX 1050 and AMD RX 560. Shockingly, the RX 560 was only slightly slower than the GTX 1050. Because it’s on par with the 1050, the RX 560 dominates for budget gaming. Plus, it’s a superb cryptocurrency mining card. In fact, the RX 560 boasts one of the best performance to money ratios for mining cryptocurrency.
For around $100 or less, the AMD RX 560 is a stellar GPU. That’s an amazing deal and makes the 560 one of the best graphics cards available at the $100 tier.
Best for: Budget medium-high 1080p gaming, cryptocurrency mining.
The Nvidia 1050 Ti strikes a sweet spot. It’s a spectacular GPU for full HD 1080p gaming and clocks in at under $200. For more serious gamers who want to max out their settings, the GTX 1060 is a better choice. Casual gamers may consider the Nvidia GeForce GT 1030. PC Gamer compliments the GTX 1050 Ti for its affordability and efficiency. It’s also a quiet card. When comparing benchmarks, the Vega wins easily. But it’s the 1050 Ti’s pricing and efficiency which make it a suitable choice for gamers willing to stick to 1080p.
Best for: Budget full 1080p gaming.
3. AMD RX 580
Consistently, AMD delivers amazing performance at moderate prices. Its RX 580 card stands as one of the top entry-level 4K cards available. Trusted Reviews praises its 1080p capabilities and medium-high 4K capabilities. However, in true AMD fashion power consumption was ridiculously high. Moreover, the AMD RX 580 lacks a compact form factor so it’s not ideal for some small form factor cases.
Nevertheless, with its GDDR5, array of connectivity options, and brawny processing, the RX 580 is the GPU to get for 4K gaming on the cheap. For this reason, it’s a worthy alternative to the AMD Vega.
Best for: Budget 4K gaming.
4. Nvidia 1070
The Nvidia GTX 1070 is priced about the same as an AMD Radeon RX Vega 56. However, performance is pretty mixed with the Vega 56. For single card performance, the GTX 1070 wins easily. However, as Forbes explains, throwing a CrossFire configuration of Vega graphics cards bests a pair of 1080 Ti GPUs. That’s a unique system though, and chances are the majority of users won’t opt for three Vega GPUs. Benchmarks did prove the Vega 56 slightly quicker than a 1070 in certain games and resolutions.
But power consumption is pretty high, and thermals are blisteringly hot. Ultimately, the 1070 yields similar performance with significantly better efficiency.
Best for: Medium-high 4K gaming.
Whereas the AMD Vega offers excellent medium-high 4K gaming, the Nvidia 1080 Ti ranks as the best GPU currently available. Onboard, you’ll find an impressive 11GB of GDDR5X and 3,854 CUDA cores coupled with a 5,505MHz clock speed. That’s beastly, and no other cards come close.
Of course, the major downside is its cost. An Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti retails for the price of well-equipped desktop or laptop. For around $800, it’s a terrific performer capable of maxing out any game you throw at it in 4K. Plus, the 1080 Ti is an excellent VR-ready GPU. But since you can snag a desktop or gaming notebook for that price, it’s a card reserved for only the most hardcore of power users. Nevertheless, the 1080 Ti blows the Vega out of the water in terms of pure brute force processing. The Vega wins with its balance of pricing and performance though.
Best for: High 4K gaming.
Should You Buy AMD’s Vega Graphics Cards?
The AMD Vega lineup struts major performance at an affordable price. Although these GPUs slide in slightly under comparable Nvidia 1070 and 1080 cards, the savings aren’t tremendous. Nevertheless, picking up a Vega graphics card affords smooth 4K gaming at a reasonable price. But there are plenty of alternatives which present better value, especially with a price jump for the Vega line.
Which GPU you choose depends on your priorities, as well as budget. For 4K gaming on the cheap, the AMD RX 580 is the best pick. However, you shouldn’t expect to max out AAA games. The Nvidia GTX 1070 may be purchased for less than the Vega 56 which is a phenomenal deal. For those willing to hell out the cash, the GTX 1080 Ti remains the best GPU currently available. Although, it’s far from the cheapest.
Which alternatives to the AMD RX Vega do you recommend?
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