Asus ROG Strix Radeon RX Vega 64 8GB OC Edition Review: High-End Graphics With Flair

Temperatures, Clock Rates & Overclocking

Overclocking & Undervolting

Conventional overclocking through a higher power limit and more aggressive clock rate is a dead-end. Brute force just isn't the answer. Because Asus had to follow AMD's guidelines, this implementation is already running at its limit. Sure, you could dial in higher fan speeds to cool things down, creating more noise in the process, but who really wants that? As we explained in AMD RX Vega 64: The Tom's Hardware Liquid Cooled Edition, even with higher frequencies and brutal power adjustments, it is almost impossible to get Radeon RX Vega running much faster. Instead, undervolting can achieve far better results.

First and foremost, the use of a suitable utility like OverdriveNTool works wonders. As always, though, your results will also depend on the quality of your GPU. We can't generalize; you'll have to compare your improvements to ours.

Temperatures & Frequencies

We’re using the GPU temperature value exclusively because that's what our test sample’s telemetry reports. Of course, the hot-spot temperature is a lot higher. Why? You can read all about this in Does Undervolting Improve Radeon RX Vega 64's Efficiency? On Asus' ROG Strix Radeon RX Vega 64, those readings are up to 15°C higher.

The following table shows a comparison of start and end values for temperatures and GPU (boost) frequencies. Just keep in mind that these clock rates can be considerably higher in games with significantly lower loads. For example, Wolfenstein 2's indoor environments might push the card to nearly 1.6 GHz, only to knock it way down once you step outside.


Initial Value
Final Value
Open Test Bench
GPU Temperature
36°C
75°C
GPU Clock Rate
1408 MHz
1360 MHz
Ambient Temperature
22°C
22°C
Closed Case
GPU Temperature
39°C
76°C
GPU Clock Rate1403 MHz
1358 MHz
Air Temperature In Case
24°C
49°C

Temperature vs. Frequency

To better illustrate our findings, we plotted temperatures and frequencies during our sample's 15-minute warm-up phase. It's particularly interesting that there's such a small thermal difference between open and closed cases.

Frequencies in the gaming loop are about 100 MHz higher than what we measured from AMD's reference card. This average increase of ~10% only improves gaming performance by 5-7%, which isn't particularly impressive.

The results of our stress test look similar:

IR Image Analysis Of The Board's Back

To round out this section, we take a look at board temperatures across several different load levels. To keep the test setup as practical as possible, we removed the backplate for IR measurements (since it doesn't help with cooling anyway) and reattached the frame using our own special nuts. Comparative before/after tests show no difference in temperature or cooling performance.

Gaming

It's easy to see that the card is already at its limits during our The Witcher 3 benchmark. As long as you operate the ROG Strix Radeon RX Vega 64 8GB OC Edition vertically on an open test bench, all values seem to be acceptable. But this may change quickly if the card is installed in a closed case instead. Interestingly, VRM2, where you find the two separately located voltage converters, is significantly cooler.

Once we popped Asus' board into a closed case, we measured up to 4°C-higher temperatures at the voltage converters. It seems as though the fans only respond to GPU temperature, unfortunately. A slightly higher rotational speed or passive cooling on the board's back side would have helped mitigate such large hot-spots.

Stress Test

The stress test reflects slightly lower power consumption than our gaming benchmark. However, certain components (like the voltage converters) still get a little warmer. This is ultimately the result of a more constant load, which can be difficult to keep up with.

In a closed case, temperatures rise by three to four degrees Celsius.

With a PCB that's so nice and tidy on the back, Asus shouldn't have pinched pennies, leaving off a good thermal pad.

We don't like the heat build-up measured around this card's voltage regulation circuitry, especially since that thermal energy, over time, soaks into the GPU package, heating it from below. A bit of passive help from a thermal pad would have come highly recommended.

This is also the reason why we avoided cranking up the power limit or overclocking more aggressively. The card not only gets hot in a closed PC case, but it also makes a lot more noise.

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  • darkchazz
    "Missing a thermal pad between PCB and backplate"


    My Strix GTX 1080 I got in July 2016 also has missing several thermal pads on the GDDR5X modules. Many others reported this issue too and I suppose they still haven't fixed it at the production line.
  • Kaziel
    I just bought one for USD599 on June 6th and waiting for all the parts to arrive. I really hope it'll be okay in an NZXT H500 with the 2x stock fans as exhaust and 2x Noctua NF-A14 as intake.

    Do you guys think that my EVGA SuperNova 650 P2 will be able to handle an overclocked R5 2600x and this Asus Strix Vega 64?
  • milkod2001
    @KAZIEL
    That depends how many other components you also plan to connect: Sound Cards, HDDs, Blue Ray Players, etc, ect but i think it would be OK with 1 SSD and 1 HDD.
  • Martell1977
    It would have been interesting for Tom's to make the modification of adding the thermal pads and show how much of a difference it would really make. I wonder if ASUS felt it was a acceptable trade off between looks and functionality.
  • Kaziel
    368223 said:
    @KAZIEL That depends how many other components you also plan to connect: Sound Cards, HDDs, Blue Ray Players, etc, ect but i think it would be OK with 1 SSD and 1 HDD.


    Still waiting on parts to arrive.

    CPU: R5 2600x
    Cooling: Noctua NH-U12S, 3x 120 Fans and 2x 140 Fans
    Motherboard: Asus Strix x470-F
    RAM: Corsair Vengeance RGB 3466 C16 (2x 8gb)
    GPU: Asus Strix RX Vega 64
    Storage: Samsung Evo 860 (250gb) and Seagate 2TB Barracuda (7200 RPM 64MB Cache)

    Planning on just letting Ryzen Master auto overclock the 2600x. For the Vega 64 I plan to do the widely suggested undervolt, +50% power, and overclock HBM2. I have used the calculators and they basically say it's fine, but then again I left everything at stock. Not sure what the values are yet for going about overclocking the two parts so unsure what to put in the calculator.
  • Wow it matches my FTW 1080 2 years later at 40% more cost. Quality Job AMD!
  • tokeylokey66
    Kek
    Price had went down a little but still a complete joke of a price. More power and heat than 1080 , cost more, released later. Sry Amd you better figure out better marketing and sale strategies or do better in the tech side of things preferably both.
  • alextheblue
    Wow there's commenters that still don't have a clue about the impact of mining, which lingers on Vega to this day.
  • zodiacfml
    Where the undervolting benchmarks if it is mentioned that it is better for overclocking and the mentioned poor exhaust vents?

    I think the critique for most of the Vega 64s are the large PCBs. It deserves smaller PCBs such as found in the Vega 56s to improve cooling.
  • bit_user
    482859 said:
    ...

    Nice review, but some Far Cry 5 benchmark would've been nice.

    Newegg now has this card for $599, which I think is pretty close to MSRP.
  • bit_user
    134095 said:
    Wow it matches my FTW 1080 2 years later at 40% more cost. Quality Job AMD!

    Due to market irregularities, it's only fair to compare today's pricing, not whatever you managed to pay for your card.

    The cheapest 1080 FTW on newegg is currently $550, after MIR. Compared to that, this card is only 9% more expensive. I take no issue with complaints about Vega's under-performance, so long as they're accurate.
  • Martell1977
    328798 said:
    134095 said:
    Wow it matches my FTW 1080 2 years later at 40% more cost. Quality Job AMD!
    Due to market irregularities, it's only fair to compare today's pricing, not whatever you managed to pay for your card. The cheapest 1080 FTW on newegg is currently $550, after MIR. Compared to that, this card is only 9% more expensive. I take no issue with complaints about Vega's under-performance, so long as they're accurate.


    And it doesn't under-perform compared to the 1080, they are about equal. It's just the extra resources take more energy to run, but doesn't translate to more frames for gamers.

    AMD needs to, at least for now, disable power hungry resources (even if only by a driver update) that don't show any benefit to gamers on their consumer cards and let them remain on data center cards. That should help thermals and power consumption. However, I don't know how integrated they are and if this is possible without gimping the cards.
  • CaptainTom
    I understand that Vega is a "unique" architecture when it comes to overclocking, but I still can't believe how bad "tech journalists" are at overclocking/tweaking Vega...
  • Gurg
    MSI 1080ti Armor Overclocked is $749-$20 rebate on NewEgg.
  • blinnbanir32
    While I do not own this card I do have 2 Vega 64s in crossfire. I will say the biggest problem with Vega AIB and perhaps more components in today's world is how fast these are being produced in factories to keep up with demand. I was getting random shutdowns and blue screens after 2 days of having my Array, I decided to pull the shroud off the Gigabyte card and all I saw was the essence of thermal paste. I put some Noctua NHT1 on the chip and HBM and I have not had a shutdown or blue screen since. I am going to do the same with my Sapphire card this weekend.
  • Rexer
    Had the good fortune to buy a Sapphire Vega 64 reference card back in early November '17 for $499. Had just a few shutdowns overclocking. Most of the time, I keep mild clocks. Other than that, it been a decent card. Puts out a lot heat. Common AMD signature. Exploring ekwb watercooling kits for it. Like a good squirrel, I'm gathering all the nuts on it. So far, the reviews look pretty good.