Today's Hard|Forum Post
Today's Hard|Forum Post

AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 versus AMD Radeon R9 Fury

Do you have an AMD Radeon R9 Fury based video card and want to know if AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 at a lesser price is a performance upgrade? Do you want to know if architecturally AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 is faster than AMD Radeon R9 Fury? This follow-up performance review should answer those questions.

Introduction

On August, 22nd we published our full evaluation of the AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 video card. This Vega architecture powered video card for $399 ended up providing a real value over the competition’s GeForce GTX 1070 FE at the same pricing. For the first time in two years AMD has a high-end competitive product for 1440p gaming. Yes, it’s been two whole years that AMD has left high-end performance gamers at 1440p+ in the dark on performance.

The AMD Radeon RX 480 and 580 represent a mid-range level of performance, and sometimes do allow some games to be playable at lower settings at 1440p, but they were never positioned as a high-end gaming experience. The last two video cards to be called AMD high-end gaming video cards were the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X and AMD Radeon R9 Fury. The AMD Radeon R9 Fury X debuted on June 24th, 2015 for $649 MSRP. The AMD Radeon R9 Fury debuted on July 10th, 2015 for $549 MSRP. The AMD Radeon R9 Fury was to be an add-in-board partner supported video card. We evaluated the ASUS STRIX Radeon R9 Fury which launched at $579 and carried reference AMD Radeon R9 Fury specifications and clock speeds.

This was the last time we heard from AMD in regards to high-end gaming performance, until now. With the official availability of AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 on August 28th there lies another question video card owners are asking, is the new AMD Radeon RX Vega 56/64 series an upgrade from the AMD Radeon R9 Fury/X series?

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Why Compare

Why compare AMD Radeon R9 Fury to AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 you ask? There are multiple reasons why this is important.

One important reason is to compare the performance upgrade path from AMD GPUs to AMD GPUs in the same performance segment. For those who chose to buy an AMD Radeon R9 Fury series, or those fans who wish to stay with AMD only, your last high-end video card available from AMD was the AMD Radeon R9 Fury or Fury X. The AMD Radeon RX Polaris architecture series of GPUs offered no upgrade path for you. Only now do we have a true upgrade path to a new high-end video card with the AMD Radeon RX Vega architecture series.

The $549 AMD Radeon R9 Fury powered by the Fiji GPU was released in 2015. Until now, this has been the next fastest graphics card series in the lineup of AMD GPUs above AMD Radeon RX 480/580 performance. If you wanted faster than an AMD Radeon RX 480 or 580, then AMD Radeon R9 Fury was your best bet. For two years AMD Radeon R9 Fury has held this mid-range to high-end level of performance for AMD. Therefore, those that purchased the AMD Radeon R9 Fury are no doubt wondering if Vega is going to be an upgrade for them. Will upgrading to AMD Vega 56 from AMD Radeon R9 Fury be a good value? That question will be answered.

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The second important reason is because of the specifications and price and positioning comparison of both the AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 and AMD Radeon R9 Fury. When you look at the specifications above you will note AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 looks a lot like an AMD Radeon R9 Fury. It has the same number of compute units (56), it has the same stream processors (3584), it has the same ROPs (64) and it has the same texture units (224.) In fact, AMD Radeon R9 Fury has a higher memory bandwidth at 512GB/sec versus the new AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 at 410GB/sec. This is because with HBM1 the memory interface was 4096-bit, and now with HBM2 it is 2048-bit. The differences entirely lie within the architecture itself.

It is therefore important to test both video cards and find out if architecturally AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 is faster than AMD Radeon R9 Fury given that they have the same basic configuration. If it is, then AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 starts to look like a really good value given its price. It would mean that AMD was able to improve upon performance just by improving the architecture, without adding more stream processors.

The MSRP on AMD Radeon R9 Fury was $549, and most add-in-board partner video cards were even more expensive than that. However, AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 is starting at $399, $150 less, with the same specifications. Therefore, if it is faster, then this is a really good upgrade based on pure architectural improvements. We have to find out what this result is.

AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 is the first GPU in two years poised for the high-end from AMD. If it can provide a better gameplay experience than AMD Radeon R9 Fury then it might be worth the upgrade.

Yes, we will also be comparing the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X to the Radeon RX Vega 64 for the ultimate test of high-end gaming performance upgradability comparisons next.

ASUS STRIX Radeon R9 Fury

The video card we will be using for comparison is the ASUS STRIX Radeon R9 Fury video card. This video card launched at $579, and availability has been scarce for these last two years. The video card itself runs at the default AMD clock speed specifications for AMD Radeon R9 Fury. That is 1000MHz GPU and 500/1GHz memory. This is not an overclocked video card, even though it carries the STRIX branding. Therefore, this is truly "reference" AMD Radeon R9 Fury versus reference AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 performance.

However, do note that the ASUS STRIX video card does have custom cooling on board with three large fans. This means it is going to run cooler and quieter than the AMD Radeon RX Vega 56. The clock speed on it is also going to be consistent, without variance, at 1000MHz. If you are trying to find this video card availability you are most likely going to be out of luck.

There are used cards for sale however, they can be pricey. This article is mainly for those that already have had AMD Radeon R9 Fury and want to see if Vega 56 is an upgrade, or how the architecture has improved performance from Fiji to Vega.