Opinion: Why I choose the GTX 1080 over Vega 64 – pros and cons of both
As far as PC hardware goes, things change really quickly. We have seen the generational boost in performance Nvidia had back in 2016 which basically ushered in the “4K” revolution. As for AMD, their strategy as of late has been to keep up with Nvidia in the GPU department with both Polaris and Pascal, from the mid end to the high end respectively.
Why I chose the GTX 1080 over the VEGA 64 or even the 56 is a little different to describe, but let’s dig into it.
How the VEGA 64 is the better option over GTX 1080
The biggest reason why VEGA 64 could have been the GPU I went for instead of the 1080 was because of its raw performance and the general improvements in terms of gaming performance AMD cards have over the months after release, basically increasing the performance up to 20%. This means that while the graphics card will not be the best deal for gaming now, it will be in the coming months.
Secondly, for creative professionals who rely on the number crunching abilities of the 64, the card is perfect for their needs. Premier, CAD and even mining among other things will be much faster on the 64 compared to the 1080.
HBM 2 is probably the best feature here; while it’s an “overkill” technology right now, when it comes to games and most programs, it is something which will be best utilized in the future as more programs and games will utilize this High-Bandwidth Memory.
Because of asynchronous compute and things like Packed Math etc. Direct X 12 game titles along with upcoming compatible games will receive additional boost in FPS over the coming months. The performance will keep getting better as the driver receives more support and keeps improving.
Why the GTX 1080 is a better option over Vega 64
Right now, GTX 1080 is fully optimized and is an integral part of the high-end gaming community. The product is made for gaming and it likes to show it; while it does have weak raw performance, the driver support by Nvidia has definitely made it an optimized product perfect for people who don’t want to wait for updates in order to enjoy their games. It essentially has a better “out of the box” experience currently.
The power requirement under load is much less, sipping power at around 300 – 320 watts under load, and that is for the FE or founder’s edition card as compared to the up to 450 Watts for the Frontier Edition RX 64; as for the thermals, while they aren’t significantly better than AMD’s FE or Frontier Edition RX 64, they are close.
Right now, you can get a GTX 1080 from $500 to $580 for an aftermarket model. While the prices are slightly inflated as of now for both AMD and NVIDIA, the situation is way better for the green side when compared to the red.
Gaming performance of the card is better as of now in DX11 titles but it still lacks in DX 12 titles. It isn’t much of a loss as we will not truly see the market shift towards DX12 until Volta (Nvidia’s next generation graphics cards which supposedly have asynchronous compute capabilities).
Neutral Points for both GTX 1080 and RX 64
As mentioned before, the market price inflation is bad for the community but not necessarily for AMD itself. Their new HBM 2 memory is difficult and expensive to manufacture, thus leading to low stocks and inflated prices. Miners are another problem which are further reducing the stock and not letting the average Joe interested in gaming or professional work get the card or making them to pay up to $800 for the card.
New stock for Vega 64 won’t be out until October, but you shouldn’t count your chickens before they hatch as the price will still be inflated to above the $599 MSRP for the RX 64 and miners who got their hands on the initial stock will have already made their money back from mining and will be looking to get more cards.
As for the GTX 1080, we will probably see it losing to the 64 in the next 4 to 5 months but in around 10 months, VOLTA will be coming out which will make 64’s victory short lived.
The gaming performance over the next 5 months will not improve enough to make the 64 a winner all around, while the improvements will make it better performing than the GTX 1080 on average, the power consumption will be a problem (not a big one, but still an issue).
The reason why I chose the GTX 1080 over the 64 is considering the power requirements, the game performance and the availability. While there is no doubt that the 64 will be a better “future proof” option, it is not currently (and not for the next 5 – 6 months) the best option to go for.