AMD Vega is one of the new-gen AMD GPUs that are based on a new architecture. There was a lot of hype around Vega GPUs, until the Vega Frontier Edition came out. While most people now feel disappointed about the card, it is important to stay unbiased when reviewing gear. In this article I will try to sort out what is true and what is not about the Vega FE, as well as will discuss about the possible prospects of this GPU.
AMD Vega FE Specs
Here is a comparison of the basic specs with its predecessor, as well as with the competency:
|Radeon Vega Frontier Edition||Radeon RX 580||GTX 1080 Ti|
|GPU||AMD Vega 10||AMD Polaris 20||Nvidia GP102|
|Architecture||GCN 4.0||GCN 4.0||Pascal|
|Lithography||14nm FinFET||14nm FinFET||16nm FinFET|
|Render output units||64||32||88|
|Memory Capacity||16GB HBM2||8GB GDDR5||11GB GDDR5X|
|Performance||12.5 TFLOPs||5.8 TFLOPs||11.8 TFLOPs|
AMD Vega FE Usage
Now, before we dive into hashrate and profitability, it is worth mentioning that the Vega Frontier Edition is not meant to be used for mining or gaming. The card already received poor reviews from gamers, who were disappointed by the price/performance ratio. It looks like some people don’t bother to read descriptions and buy the card because “YOLO”. Their frustration is understandable since good gaming GPUs are mostly out of stock due to the mining craze. However, getting a Vega FE for gaming is not a solution either.
The Vega FE is meant to be a budget GPU for those who are working in visualization fields (CG, CAD, medical, etc). I meant the word budget since there are more expensive alternatives. AMD was honest about this and they advertised the Vega FE as a workstation card from the beginning.
AMD Vega FE Mining Hashrate and Profitability
Here’s where comes the most interesting (and sad) part.
The MRP of this card is $ 999. One would expect at least 70 MH/s on Ethereum for such elevated price. However, we got what we got. I will list below the best OC settings I could find:
Setup #1: No OC
- Ethereum Hashrate: 29 MH/s
- Power Draw: ~300 W
Setup #2 EVGA FE Dual Mining:
- Memory clock: +1000
- Core Clock: –200
- -dcri: ~ 49/50
- Primary Hashrate: 37-38 MH/s ETH
- Secondary Hashrate: 500 SC
- Temperature: ~ 85 C
- Power Draw: ~300 W
Setup #3 Ethereum alone:
- Roughly the same clocks as above
- Primary Hashrate: 38.5 MH/s
- Some spikes reached the 40 MH/s mark, but the average is 38.5 MH/s
- Lbry: 275.700 MH/s
- X11Gost: 11.2 MH/s
- DaggerHashimoto: 27.5 MH/s
- CryptoNight: 900.0 H/s
- Pascal: 1.372 GH/s
- Decred: 4.193 GH/s
- Sia: 1.31 GH/s
- CryptoNight: 310.800 H/s
While Ethereum hashrate is rather poor, you probably noticed that the GPU handles dual mining quite well. This is due to the unmatched bandwidth of the card.
Usually, small bandwidth bottlenecks the amount of data that can be processed by the GPU core. Therefore, people overclock (and sometimes overcook) the memory to allow the core to work at 100% or even more. However, Vega FE’s memory size and bandwidth allows it to handle the Ethereum DAG file without the need to alter the memo clocks too much.
Temperature and Cooling
It is worth mentioning that the card is rather hot. People report that the GPU will stay at 85 C at ambient temperature of 25 C.
This also makes the card fans work at maximum speed during mining, which means high noise levels. You could say that the Vega FE is noisier than the average high-tier GPU.
As for today, the card is not compatible with certain available mining software.
Here is a list of software that does not work with the Vega FE
- Nicehash miner
- zCash miner
- Claymore Dual Miner*
Here are the miners that do work with the card:
- Genoil miner
- Ethminer 0.9.41
- Claymore 9.7*
Hashrate Drop Prospects
Plainbroadcast made a good point that the Vega FE might not look very exciting today, but since DAG file size steadily increases every day, Polaris-based cards will soon lose a big chunk of their hashrate, which will make the Vegas FE shine.
This is due to the VRAM size and bandwidth of the Vega FE, which is rather impressive. It is unlikely that its performance will be affected by DAG file size anytime soon. However, according to the latest news, AMD is working on a fix that will help Polaris-based GPUs overcome the hashrate drop. If this is indeed true, then the RX 400 and 500 will probably keep hashing the usual 28-31 MH/s until Ethereum goes POS.
Once AMD releases the new drivers, the new Vega FE will lose one of its few advantages compared to its predecessors. This might be the reason why AMD is releasing the BIOS fix to begin with – maybe the company wants to avoid stock shortages on their new Vega FE cards; AMD probably does not want to lose touch with the group of people who use their GPUs for graphic design rather than gaming or mining.
Where to buy
It is no rocket science that workstation cards are rarely great miners. The price of the card does not help either.
Some users speculate that the mining performance of the card might improve after AMD releases new drivers. While that makes a lot of sense, the real question is how much improvement can we expect? Personally I won’t jump into conclusions just yet.
Now, the gaming version of the card (the RX Vega) looks a bit more promising because of the expected lower price and higher gaming performance. I look forward reviewing it as soon as I have more info about it.