AMD Radeon VII Then vs. Now Gaming Performance

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What have we learned from this?  The old adage remains true, update to the latest drivers for the best performance and compatibility.  With the AMD Radeon VII we have some games that perform exactly the same, other games that have small percentage differences, and then some exceptions that have performance uplifts almost to 10%.  However, that latter result is rarer.  We wish we could report that all games received big performance optimizations, but the fact is that with the AMD Radeon VII this just isn’t the case. 

For the most part the AMD Radeon VII performs the same just as it did at launch in early February using the January 22nd driver.  It is now summer time, the video card has had nine driver releases since its launch, and it has been four months since it was released.  While there are small optimizations here or there, they are not enough to make any gameplay experience differences while gaming.  The fact is, you will not notice them.  Only in one game did it make any sort of real-world impact, that was The Division 2.

The Gaming Resolution Sweet Spot

If you look back, there was an interesting trend that developed.  It seemed that most of the performance optimizations with the latest driver that did occur happened in the 1080p and 1440p resolution range.  It seems that 1080p and 1440p resolutions received the largest performance uplifts.  At 4K the differences were small to none.  It was an interesting trend for sure, and we wish we would have seen more of an uplift at 4K because this video card suffers in performance at 4K.

What that means for the AMD Radeon VII is that it continues to be a solid 1080p and 1440p video card, but 4K gaming remains challenging.  There is the occasional game that doesn’t demand a lot that is playable at 4K, barely, but those are the exception. 

Generally speaking, you do not want to buy this video card if 4K is your primary gaming platform.  Newer games suffer the most at 4K and with newer games to be released this year we worry that it won’t have what it takes to play well at 4K in them.  The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti still takes the cake at 4K gameplay performance, and the AMD Radeon VII is absolutely no match for it. We hope AMD’s future NAVI GPUs can scale upward to compete with the likes of RTX 2080 Ti.    

However, at 1440p and especially 1080p. the AMD Radeon VII does well in the most demanding games, mostly.  There’s still the occasional game like Metro Exodus that gives it a run for its money, but that is mainly down to optimization issues and on a game-by-game basis.  The facts are though, if you are gaming at 1080p or 1440p then the AMD Radeon VII is a fine video card, and quite capable. 

Final Points & Summary

It seems the Radeon VII at launch is as fast as it was going to be, what we experienced back in the launch was the level of performance this video card was destined for.  It’s basically a straight road to the familiar.   It’s too bad really, the AMD Radeon VII had the potential to compete well, but it needs more optimization in games.  We experienced a nice uplift in a couple games, like The Division 2.  However, that was the exception, unfortunately that is not the rule. 

To be more competitive the AMD Radeon VII needs a 10% uplift across the board, and it has not achieved that during its time so far.  At least AMD has fixed a lot of the bugs that plagued it during launch. 

We have found that in today’s games this video card is best suited for 1440p and 1080p gaming.  Except for the most demanding games 1440p should play well.  We do wonder what the future has in store for it however with new game releases this year, only time will tell.  There is one thing that is certain, you are buying this video card as is, today based on today’s performance and that’s the way you should look at it.  Don’t expect new drivers to perform miracles in gaming performance in our experience.

Stay tuned as we have more tests in store for the Radeon VII as we test it in some synthetic benchmarks using the latest Pro drivers compared to regular drivers.  We also have some video card comparisons of interest lined up that should be interesting to find out how they compare in games.


Brent Justice
Former managing editor of GPUs at HardOCP for 18 years, Brent Justice has been reviewing computer components since the late 90s, educated in the art and method of the computer hardware review, he brings experience, knowledge, and hands-on testing with a gamer-oriented and hardware enthusiast perspective. You can follow him on Twitter - @Brent_Justice You can sub to his YouTube channel - Justice Gaming You can check out his computer builds on KIT - @BrentJustice

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