AMD Radeon VII GPU: Worth it or Not?


By: Vinh Lam

AMD recently released their highly anticipated Radeon VII GPU in response to Nvidia’s RTX 2080 GPU, released in the fall of 2018. The Radeon VII is priced at $699, the same price as the RTX 2080, but its 7nm process could give AMD an edge for the first time in years against Nvidia. The VII uses a similar, updated architecture to AMD’s previous high-tier card, the Vega 64. The VII is actually meant to be the direct successor of the Vega 64. Unfortunately for AMD, Nvidia’s cards still dominate the conversation and the VII lacks features that are included on the RTX cards, like ray tracing so the VII must prove its merit based on just pure performance, mainly, can the card maintain at least 60 frames per second on modern AAA games at 4k?

The Radeon VII’s main competitor

The Radeon VII uses AMD’s second generation Vega architecture and actually comes with fewer cores than the Vega 64, but it has a 300MHz higher clock speed and comes with double the HBM2 memory, at 16 GB, to tackle the increasing memory requirements of modern games, as well as the high-resolution displays that gamers and creative users use. 16 GB is double the amount of VRAM in the 2080 and 5 GB more than the top-tier 2080 Ti. There is not just more VRAM in the VII, the VII’s VRAM offers twice the bandwidth of Nvidia’s. Unfortunately, all these improvements come at a cost. The Radeon VII is power-hungry, requiring two eight-pin connections and it can draw up to 300 watts of power, five more watts than the previous generation’s requirement and 75 more than the RTX 2080.

The cooling system of the VII has also been revamped, with a new open-air, triple-fan design. The VII, like its RTX rivals, also uses a vapor chamber to stay cool instead of thermal paste. Even with the new cooling system though, the VII runs hot and loud under load. When the Verge tested the VII in multiple games at 4k and 1440p alongside the 2080 and 2080 Ti, it could not best the RTX cards in any of the games tested.

The Verge’s Radeon VII Benchmarks

Perhaps the Radeon VII will get better in time as drivers are updated and programs are optimized for it, but for now, the RTX 2080 seems like the better deal since it performs better, has extra features like ray tracing, consumes less power overall, and it runs cooler.

Check out this video for more information about the VII.

The Radeon VII relates to engineering because AMD had to engineer a 7nm process and it had to redesign and engineer a cooling system that could adequately cool the graphics card.