AMD Radeon Vega Frontier Edition Liquid Cooled GPU Throttles When Overclocked
Joe Campbell / 2 years ago
Dissecting an AMD Radeon Vega Liquid Cooled Frontier Edition
Last week, AMD release their liquid cooled version of the Radeon Vega Frontier Edition. This card features the same specifications right through as the previously release Air Cooled Frontier Edition. Of course, the exceptions were a higher TDP naturally and much lower, stable cooling temperatures. However, PCperspective dissected the card and did extensive and thorough testing and the results may surprise you.
Detailed Technical Features
The Radeon Vega Frontier Edition features 25 TFLOPS Peak FP16 Compute Performance, 13 TFLOPS Peak FP32 Computer Performance, 16GB High Bandwidth Cache, 64 Next-Gen Compute Units and 4096 Stream Processors. These make for an immensely powerful and capable workstation card. The Liquid Cooled edition runs exactly the same, however runs at higher sustained clocks and can be overclocked much more efficiently. The key point is to remember that these cards are not aimed at Gaming. Of course, with that said PCperspective continued its breakdown of the card and ran some benchmarks whilst gaming to find out its true capabilities.
Premium Build Quality?
The Liquid Cooled card features the same design as the Air cooled variant, except the colours are reversed. What was Blue is now Gold, and Gold is now Blue. There is no disputing the card’s incredible good looks. The dimensions are also identical, albeit with a missing blower and added radiator. AMD has done a very commendable job in keeping the dimensions identical, even with a full water block built within the chassis. The body is brushed metal and is well-built, substantial enough to withstand any twisting or movement. The back plate is also very appealing, with a unique ventilation pattern. The LED’s used on the card are particularly sharp and bright. What’s more is the LED will indicate the workload of the card.
Upon opening the body, you are greeted with a unique liquid cooling block. The left-hand side houses a pump which covers the GPU and HBM2 stacks. To the right, you have a built-in compact reservoir that is fed coolant via the pump then back out the radiator externally. The unit to the right is the party piece of the card, not only is it a basic reservoir, it is designed to create pressure back into the system via means of a diaphragm pump to create pressure and vacuum. This updated pressure diaphragm pump is likely to offer an intelligent solution to deficiencies of older generations. The pump certainly isn’t whisper quiet. However, it is an improvement over the Pro Duo or Fury X.
The liquid cooled Vega Frontier was originally marketed to have a 375 TDP, which was to be expected due to the cooler. However, AMD have in fact opted for a dual power mode on the actual unit. Located on the side of the card is a switch that allows 2 power settings, 300W and 350W. The reasoning for the two lower power ratings is most likely due to AMD not wanting to overload the 8 pin connector limitations. Out of the box, the switch is set to 300W and moving it to the right boosts it to 350W. The only major downfall to this, is that despite the physical power draw on the card, there is nothing in the software to indicate the different power inputs. The majority of people using the card will likely switch to the 350W setting to get the best out of the card.
The Radeon Vega FE WC edition was tested against the Air Cooled Vega FE, the GTX 1080 Ti, GTX 1070 and the GTX 1080 in testing to compare the card’s performance against Nvidia’s leading cards. On multiple tests carried out during multiple games running at both 4K and 8K we start to see some interesting results. The graphs shown below show the results in testing. (Image Credits: PCperspective)
After some extensive testing, it appear’s that the Vega FE WC edition can certainly hold it’s own against the companies competitors in the gaming department. What makes these results more impressive is the fact that AMD never intended this card to be a gaming card, but more a prosumer Professional Grade card. The card now fits into the GTX 1080 range and in 4K performance, often outperforms Nvidia’s model.
Unfortunately, the major downside to this is that after overclocking the card the performance at 4K when set on the 350W setting increased from 1-2% better than the Air Cooled model to an incredible 13-15% increase. Of course, this on paper sounds fantastic, and we certainly can’t take away from this major performance increase.
However, what we can do is raise concern that to achieve this increase. The card hit a peak power draw of 440W! This is an incredibly large amount of power to the card. It certainly makes use of the dual 8 pin connectors. When compared to the GTX 1080 which reaches similar performance whilst running at 180W, you can see the problem rising. With that in mind, we feel that AMD will certainly utilise this information and hopefully come up with a solution to limit power input dramatically in the near future. Fortunately, this shows good promise from AMD and shows the companies capabilities and graphical prowess when it comes to competing with its competitors.