CES 2019 Recap: AMD Radeon VII Graphics Card

After a (somewhat) suspect launch of GPUs from AMD recently, they came straight out of the gates in their CES 2019 keynote with the new Radeon VII. Want to know when (and at what price) you can get your hands on it? Read on!

AMD in 2019—They’re All About 7nm

If you’re wanting to show off how you’ve nailed a smaller manufacturing process, why not name a product after it?

That is exactly what AMD has done with their reveal of the new Radeon VII. What’s equally interesting here is that this isn’t the Navi platform everyone’s waiting on. The Radeon VII is more like an advanced refresh/replacement for Vega GPUs, with Navi being what replaces the current Polaris GPUs (RX 560/70/80).

The Improvements (and Some Specifications)

So, with the main motivation for this being a 7nm refresh of Vega, AMD provided the following specifications:

  • 60 compute units @ 1.8GHz
  • 3840 Stream Processors
  • 16GB HBM2 Memory
  • 1TB/sec memory bandwidth

That is a lot of seriously fast memory, which explains part of the jump up in performance from the previous generation, along with the smaller die process. With some of the details below, you can see why content creators and editors (i.e. someone like me, who likes a lot of GPU bandwidth for working on CGI and colour grading and so on) are more impressed with this than they were with NVIDIA’s RTX launch (more on that in a moment).

We also saw some design improvements (reference design has a triple fan cooler—hopefully cooling won’t be as much of an issue this generation!) as well as some general percentage improvements over Vega 64 as follows:

  • +25% more performance overall at the same power
  • +27% in Blender
  • +27% in DaVinci Resolve 15
  • +29% in Adobe Premiere
  • +62% with OpenCL

For gaming performance:

  • +35% more performance in DX12 titles
  • +25% in DX11
  • +42% in Vulkan

We’re going to get all of this for $699 on February 7.

Give Me Competition!

So, as we’re going to be comparing models here, we can only really work from the price of the founders editions of the respective manufacturers. But we know that, as 3rd-party manufacturers come on-board with their own versions, the prices start to spread out in both directions from the founders edition pricing, so it gives us a good starting point. Now, some points of comparison with the RTX lineup:

That 16GB of VRAM is a lot more than what you get with the competition, like the 11GB on the more expensive RTX 2080 Ti or the 8GB on the RTX 2080.

AMD specifically highlighted the RTX 2080 as its primary competitor, showing equal (and better) performance in games like Battlefield V, Far Cry 5, and Strange Brigade—as well as live presentations on Devil May Cry 5 (90-110fps shown) and The Division 2 (gameplay demo only). All of these were at 4K resolution on max settings for the respective games.

Keep in mind: the founders price for RTX 2080 is $799, so AMD are coming in at $100 cheaper and providing 5GB of additional (and faster) memory, which makes this card almost a no-brainer for someone like me who likes to game and edit on the same PC.

Final Thoughts

If Intel’s troubles with AMD developing 7nm dies wasn’t interesting enough, suddenly NVIDIA have to compete with them, too. That $100 founders edition price difference could potentially result in some 3rd-party partners really putting out low-priced deals, especially as there have been limited RTX 2080 models going as low as $599 (so, down $200 from the RTX 2080’s founders price). If a version of this from AMD starts hovering around $500-550, that could spell even more trouble for NVIDIA: suddenly, folks would be looking at lower-performing GTX 1080 or RTX 2070 prices and switching over to Radeon VII instead of going for an NVIDIA product. With the hard-to-swallow price of the RTX 2080 Ti thrown in, this could get hugely interesting in the coming months.

The founders edition of AMD’s Radeon VII will launch on February 7 for $699, and will come bundled with Devil May Cry 5, Resident Evil 2, and The Division 2.

Yet, what do you think? Is 16GB too much memory (can never have too much memory…) or were you hoping for something cheaper/higher-performing? Let us know in the comments!