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PowerColor Red Devil RX VEGA 56 8GB HBM2 Review

Price: $599

PowerColor Red Devil RX VEGA 56 8GB HBM2 Introduction:

AMD and its partners have been playing second fiddle to the green team for a good while. At each turn, AMD is usually one-upped on either performance or price. When AMD's Vega architecture was released, we saw that not a lot had changed in the overall dynamic. However, AMD had made significant strides in increasing its GPU performance for both the Vega 56 and Vega 64 cards and how they compared to the competition. At the Vega launch, only reference cards were available for the public. AMD's reference cards of late have usually run hot and been loud to keep thermals in check. Now AMD's partners are pushing out their custom models that address the heat and related performance problems that come with it.

PowerColor is delivering both RX Vega 64 and RX Vega 56 variants of the Red Devil so that you can take a shot at the top with the RX64 or step down a notch with the Red Devil RX Vega 56 8GB HBM2. The latter is actually the first RX Vega video card I will be looking at, starting now. The Red Devil RX Vega 56 8GB HBM2 comes with a rock-solid triple fan cooling solution, increased core clock speeds, 8GB of HBM2 memory, a 12-phase digital power supply to run the card, and expectations of greatness. All for the market price of $599.

Let's see if the results from past Red Devil products can predict how well this card will perform by comparison. I can already hear Van Halen's "Running with the Devil" in my head! 

PowerColor Red Devil RX VEGA 56 8GB HBM2 Closer Look:

The packaging is pure PowerColor Red Devil spec. The red on black theme and Red Devil name emblazoned dead center on the front of the box set the tone for the rest of the packaging and the card housed within. The right side shows that this is indeed an RX Vega architecture-based video card with a High Bandwidth cache using next-gen compute units, supports FreeSync 2, and is indeed VR ready. The rear panel lists the key features on the card, including the aforementioned 8GB of HBM2, next-gen compute units, 14nm FinFET build process, and that the card is both DX12 and Vulkan optimized. A blow-up diagram of the card breaks down the hardware that makes up the card and the red box (always something of note) lists the minimum PC specifications needed to run this card.

The Red Devil RX Vega 56 comes in a dense open cell foam cutout in the box. A welcome change from the bare cardboard used in the past. The accessory bundle is really pretty slim here, with a manual, driver disc, and an invite card to PowerColor's Devil Club. 



Once you pull the card out of the foam enclosure you get a real idea what kind of cooling solution you are getting with the weight of the Red Devil RX Vega 56 8GB HBM2. This card is built to be used in modern PC's equipped with a 16x PCIe 3.0 slot, although it should be compatible with earlier platforms. When you get this thing in your hands you know it is not a small card. It's an interesting departure from the size of the RX 580 cards. Measuring 316mm x 155mm x 55mm (12.44in x 5.9inx 2.16in), it is a formidible card. You should have no problems fitting this card in most chassis, although if you are looking to fit it in an ITX-sized chassis you may want to check your measurments.

The front look shows you a trio of dual ball bearing fans that push air through the massive dual fin array heat sinks. The red and black theme is typical of your Red Devil cards and will mix nicely for many of the gaming series motherboards on the market. The back of the card features the Red Devil logo on the robust 1.5mm thick backplate used to support the large cooling solution. This robust backplate keeps the card from being a flexible flyer and breaking traces in the black PCB.

The Red Devil physically mounts in a 16x PCIe 3.0 slot and connects to the chassis with two slots, however, it does fill up more space than two slots with the cooling solution. As tight as some motherboards are getting between the DIMM slots and the PCIe slots, the standoff dimensions off the back of the card may create some interference between the backplate and DIMM slots or even the I/O covers used on so many gaming series motherboards. Thankfully this did not create an issue in my testing on the MSI Z370 board. The Red Devil Logo on the visible side of the card lights up in a brilliant red with LED's so you can show off the Red Devil power! 




Display connectivity on the PowerColor Red Devil RX Vega 56 8GB HBM2 consists of a pair of HDMI 2.0b ports and a pair of HDR-ready DisplayPort 1.4 ports that support up to four displays. The openings in the I/O panel allows for airflow to come out of the card, although the majority of the thermal load will be dumped into the chassis. The removal of the DVI port allows for a bit more surface area to be used to vent the heat. This really is not a new problem as we see it on most partner style cards with this cooling design. Modern chassis are well equipped to turn over the case air volume regularly enough with large 120mm and 140mm fans to manage the airflow. The back end of the card is open to discharge plenty of air to keep the card cool.

What you will notice from this view is the thickness of the 1.5mm backplate and how it is mounted to the PCB and to the shroud to support the PCB due to the size of the cooling solution. At over 12 inches long, the rear fin array hangs over the back of the PCB by quite a ways. 



CrossFireX configurations are supported on the RX Vega series by way of way of AMD's XDMA technology. No longer using a CrossFire bridge connection, the inter-GPU communication is routed through the PCIe bus. In the space normally occupied by the CrossFireX bridge connections, there is a three position switch. Towards the front is the silent, low noise position for those who have to have the absolute lowest noise levels while running a 3D load. At core and memory temperatures below 60 degrees Celsius, Mute Fan Technology is used to shut the fans down and run the cooling solution passively, effectivly running in a "Zero Noise" mode. This position has the lowest overall core clock speeds with performance to match. The standard position allows the card to run at the AMD specified default clock speeds on the core, while the OC mode is used for maximum performance and clock speeds. For gamers, the OC mode should be where you want to run to get the highest FPS levels and best cooling performance. 

The power supplied to this card comes through a pair of 8-pin PCIe power connections. This gives you a glimpse of what the max power consumption will be. By using two 8-pin PCIe connections, one can see a draw of up to 325W under load without fear of overdrawing the PCIe slot or PEG power connections. PowerColor recommends a 750-watt power supply for use with its Red Devil RX Vega 56 8GB HBM2. By way of comparison, the maximum recommended power supply has jumped from a 500W with the RX 480 to 600W with the RX 580 and a jump up of 150W to a 750W recommendation on the Red Devil RX Vega 56. With the increase in power, let's hope we see a massive jump in performance. Right to the front of the power load LED's is a two position toggle switch that turns the LED-lit Red Devil logo on the shroud simply on or off. 



Blowing apart the card you get an idea as to how it all goes together. There is no one part that can make or break this card, although the Vega 10 56 core and HBM2 memory could make a strong case. The Vega 10 core is built on a 14nm FinFET process and holds 56 compute units of 64 shader units each for 3584 shader processors, 64 ROP's, and 224 texture units running at a clock speed of 1500MHz when running in the OC mode. A total of 8GB of HBM2 memory is used on this card and runs through a 2048-bit bus at a clock speed of 800MHz. The memory package sits right under the Vega 10 core, which allows the power circuitry to be located closer to the core. PowerColor is using its Platinum Power Kit Direct FET power solution to deliver a consistant power supply to the core and HBM2 memory. By using this design, along with "Super Capacitors," the power solution offers better thermal protection, improved efficiency, and lower power loss.

At the heart of this card's the cooling solution is the dual fin array, six heat pipe heat sink assembly. PowerColor is using a pair of aluminum fin arrays interconnected with four 6mm and two 8mm heatpipes to get the thermal load to the heat sink. A trio of dual ball bearing 100mm fans are used to provide the cooling airflow that whisks away the heat generated by the Vega 10 core and HBM2 memory. This fan design is said to offer a 4x improvement in operational longevity while being 20% more efficient in operation. The backplate and shroud are integral parts of the package to keep the airflow from the trio of fans going where it should. The backplate connects to the shroud and PCB to ensure the PCB does not bend under the load of the massive cooler. 


Whether you run the card full out in OC mode or in Silent mode, the Red Devil RX Vega 56 8GB HBM2 should offer a massive performance boost over prior generation products from AMD and its partners. PowerColor's Red Devil video cards have always delivered excellent performance when put to the test. Let's see if this one lives up to expectations so you can take it straight to your own gaming hell!  

  1. PowerColor Red Devil RX VEGA 56 8GB HBM2: Introduction & Closer Look
  2. PowerColor Red Devil RX VEGA 56 8GB HBM2: Specifications & Features
  3. PowerColor Red Devil RX VEGA 56 8GB HBM2 Testing: Setup & Overclocking
  4. PowerColor Red Devil RX VEGA 56 8GB HBM2 Testing: Fallout 4, Battlefield 1, Ghost Recon Wildlands
  5. PowerColor Red Devil RX VEGA 56 8GB HBM2 Testing: Ton Clancy's The Division, Hitman (2016)
  6. PowerColor Red Devil RX VEGA 56 8GB HBM2 Testing: The Witcher III, Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation, Destiny 2
  7. PowerColor Red Devil RX VEGA 56 8GB HBM2 Testing: DOOM (2016), Watch Dogs 2
  8. PowerColor Red Devil RX VEGA 56 8GB HBM2 Testing: For Honor, 3DMark, VRMark
  9. PowerColor Red Devil RX VEGA 56 8GB HBM2 Testing: Temperatures & Power Consumption
  10. PowerColor Red Devil RX VEGA 56 8GB HBM2: Conclusion
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