Gigabyte Radeon RX Vega 56 Gaming OC 8G Review

A few weeks back, we published our Sapphire Radeon RX Vega 64 Nitro+ Review, introducing the first third-party Vega-based card to land in our labs. Compared to that board, Gigabyte's Radeon RX Vega 56 Gaming OC 8G is more understated, featuring easier-to-manage weight and dimensions. It's almost like this card was designed to be ordinary-looking, so as not to generate demand that Gigabyte wouldn't be able to satisfy. Nevertheless, this is a good example of a bread-and-butter solution that covers all of the bases and still offers a different approach than AMD's reference implementation.

Specifications

Market & Availability

According to our sources, AMD's board partners have only received a few thousand Vega 10 GPUs, and most of those are destined for RX Vega 64 cards. Thus, a general shortage of packages is preventing anyone from mass-producing notable quantities of either model. It's simply not possible to start and stop a production line over and over again. It costs too much time and money.

We were lucky to get our hands on a sample of Gigabyte's Radeon RX Vega 56 Gaming OC 8G, since we heard that fewer than 100 made their way into Germany. Buying a card of our own was the only way to get one into into the German lab. Here in the U.S., this is a mythical creature. Nobody has it for sale, and the only references online come from Gigabyte's site or product announcement news stories.

Unboxing, Look & Feel

Weighing just over 1kg, Gigabyte's card is an astonishing 600 grams lighter than Sapphire's Radeon RX Vega 64 Nitro+. This implementation is also considerably more compact, yielding a length of just 27.8cm, a height measurement of 13cm, and 4.7cm of width.

Two counter-rotating fans, each with a diameter of 9.5cm, are positioned inside 10cm openings. According to Gigabyte, its unique fan blade design splits airflow and guides it through curves on the fan surface, improving flow compared to traditional fans. Naturally, we'll test the efficacy of those claims shortly.

The backplate doesn't feature an Aorus logo, which was present on a pre-production model we briefly had our hands on. A copper insert placed on the back of the package is thermally isolated from this plate. Both components do play a role in cooling, though. Not pictured is a heat pipe that snakes around under the backplate, though we'll cover that in more depth, too.

Plan for an extra 5mm of clearance (at least) behind the Radeon RX Vega 56 Gaming OC 8G. This may cause problems on some motherboards, particularly if the heat sink/back plate intrude on an occupied expansion slot or large CPU cooler.

A peek in from the bottom shows that Gigabyte optimized the shape of its vertically-oriented fins. The slight tilt and wave shape are meant to create more efficient airflow, and thus improve cooling.

Up top, it's apparent that Gigabyte paid close attention to cost. There are no RGB lighting effects or other gimmicks. Instead, you get simple injection-molded plastic and printed orange-colored highlights. The white Gigabyte logo is simply printed on. And similar to AMD's reference design, Gigabyte only requires a pair of eight-pin auxiliary power connectors.

The closed back side doesn't reveal much. We catch a mere glimpse of two 8mm and three 6mm heat pipes, along with the fans' cable. On the board itself, we see solder pads for additional components (RGB output, perhaps?) that were obviously abandoned at some point during development.

The I/O bracket is interesting because it features six connectors, rather than the reference design's five. Three HDMI 2.0 ports and three DisplayPort 1.4 outputs are available simultaneously, allowing you to connect six monitors in an Eyefinity array.

In accordance with AMD's guidelines for clock rates, Gigabyte increased the Radeon RX Vega 56 Gaming OC 8G's base and Boost frequencies significantly. The company also upped its card's power limit by 55W.

In comparison to the relevant reference cards, the specs read as follows (the GeForce GTX 1070 is deliberately not used for comparison, since in many cases it's dramatically outperformed by an overclocked Radeon RX Vega 56):

Model Radeon RX Vega 64
Gigabyte RX Vega 56 Gaming OC
Radeon RX Vega 56 Reference
GeForce GTX 1070 Ti
GeForce GTX 1080
GPUVega 10Vega 10Vega 10GP104
GP104
Die Size
486 mm²486 mm²486 mm²314 mm²314 mm² 
Transistors12.5 billion
12.5 billion
12.5 billion
7.2 billion
7.2 billion
Base/Boost Clock Rate
1247/1546 MHz
1275/1590 MHz
1156/1471 MHz
1607/1683 MHz
1607/1733 MHz
Shaders/SIMDs4096/643584/56
3584/562432/19
2560/20
Texture Units/ROPS
256/64224/64
224/64152/64
160/64
Pixel Fill Rate
79.8 GPix/s
81.6 GPix/s
74 GPix/s
102.8 GPix/s
102.8 GPix/s
Texture Fill Rate
319.2 GT/s
285.6 GT/s
258.9 GT/s
244 GT/s
257.1 GT/s
Memory Interface
2048-bit2048-bit2048-bit
256-bit
256-bit
Memory Type
HBM2HBM2HBM2GDDR5
GDDR5X
Memory Bandwidth
484 GB/s410 GB/s410 GB/s256 GB/s
320 GB/s
Memory Speed
1.89 Gb/s1.6 Gb/s
1.6 Gb/s8 Gb/s
10 Gb/s
Memory Size
8GB
8GB
8GB
8GB
8GB
DX12 Feature Level
12_1
12_1
12_112_1
12_1
PCIe Power Connectors
2x 8-Pin2x 8-Pin
2x 8-Pin1x 8-Pin
1x 8-Pin
TDP
295W
265W
210W180W
180W

Test System & Measurement Methods

We introduced our new test system and methodology in How We Test Graphics Cards. If you'd like more detail about our general approach, check that piece out. We've upgraded the CPU and the cooling system since then to make sure that nothing's holding back graphics cards as fast as this one.

The hardware used in our lab includes:

Test System
HardwareIntel Core i7-6900K @ 4.3 GHz
MSI X99S XPower Gaming Titanium
Corsair Vengeance DDR4-3200
1x 1TB Toshiba OCZ RD400 (M.2, System SSD)
2x 960GB Toshiba OCZ TR150 (Storage, Images)
be quiet Dark Power Pro 11, 850W PSU
Windows 10 Pro (All Updates)
Cooling
Alphacool Eisblock XPX
5x be quiet! Silent Wings 3 PWM (Closed Case Simulation)
Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut (Used when Switching Coolers)
PC Case
Lian Li PC-T70 with Extension Kit and Mods
Configurations: Open Benchtable, Closed Case
MonitorEizo EV3237-BK
Power Consumption Measurement
Contact-free DC Measurement at PCIe Slot (Using a Riser Card)
Contact-free DC Measurement at External Auxiliary Power Supply Cable
Direct Voltage Measurement at Power Supply
2 x Rohde & Schwarz HMO 3054, 500 MHz Digital Multi-Channel Oscilloscope with Storage Function
4 x Rohde & Schwarz HZO50 Current Probe (1mA - 30A, 100 kHz, DC)
4 x Rohde & Schwarz HZ355 (10:1 Probes, 500 MHz)
1 x Rohde & Schwarz HMC 8012 Digital Multimeter with Storage Function
Thermal Measurement
1 x Optris PI640 80 Hz Infrared Camera + PI Connect
Real-Time Infrared Monitoring and Recording
Noise Measurement
NTI Audio M2211 (with Calibration File, Low Cut at 50Hz)
Steinberg UR12 (with Phantom Power for Microphones)
Creative X7, Smaart v.7
Custom-Made Proprietary Measurement Chamber, 3.5 x 1.8 x 2.2m (L x D x H)
Perpendicular to Center of Noise Source(s), Measurement Distance of 50cm
Noise Level in dB(A) (Slow), Real-time Frequency Analyzer (RTA)
Graphical Frequency Spectrum of Noise

MORE: Best Graphics Cards

MORE: Desktop GPU Performance Hierarchy Table

MORE: All Graphics Content