Having taken a look at our recommended Nvidia GeForce graphics card upgrades last week, it's now the turn of AMD Radeon.
AMD's Polaris 20 GPUs powering much of the Radeon RX 500 series are now getting on for two years old and should be phased out very soon indeed. With that in mind, we're sticking to the AMD Polaris 30 and Vega GPUs for our look at whether or not you should upgrade your AMD Radeon graphics card in 2019.
Price - $250-300
The Radeon RX 590 is quite an oddly positioned graphics card but that doesn't make it any less of a tempting purchase. Arriving very late to the Polaris party, the Radeon RX 590 is an incremental upgrade over the RX 580 that benefits from higher clock speeds due to the 12nm tech.
The AMD Radeon RX 590 isn't a graphics card that's going to set the world alight but it's at a price point that's much easier to swallow that a lot of other graphics card. It also comes with a great 3-game bundle right now that sets you up with a few months of gaming for the price of entry.
If you have yourself a 1080p resolution display then the RX 590 offers fantastic price to performance that can outstrip a GeForce GTX 1060 by some distance. It's decently fast but most of all the RX 590 is pretty affordable, something that can't be said for a lot of new graphics cards these days.
Buy, Wait or Don’t Buy? - Buy
Alternative: The obvious alternative would the GeForce GTX 1060 6GB. This GPU is still a firm favourite among 1080p gamers although it's both slower and usually more expensive than the RX 590. The GTX 1060 is also not included in any game bundles right now so it wouldn't be the smartest purchase.
Bringing it back to Team Red, you could also step down and pick up a Radeon RX 580. You'll lose about 10% performance and one of the free games in the 3-game bundle for a $50 or so discount. Neither is a bad choice so this purely comes down to the budget you have available, with the RX 590 being the obviously faster card.
Price - ~$300-400
These days the Radeon RX Vega 56 isn't available for a massively cheaper price than the Vega 64, although it can be found for $300 if you shop around. Considering its 1080p performance is within a few percentage points of the Vega 64 this isn't too bad at all. At higher resolutions, the RX Vega 56 will obviously begin to struggle but it remains a solid 1080p and 1440p video card.
The Vega 56 suffers from a similar problem to the Vega 64 in that it's now 18-months-old and our attention is turning to the next-generation of video cards. Value can be probably be found but when we hear reports of a $250 Navi GPU with GTX 1080 performance, we'd definitely be inclined to wait and see how it shakes out.
Buy, Wait or Don’t Buy? - Wait
Alternative: In all honesty, we think the better choice in the here and now is to save yourself $50-$100 and get yourself the Radeon RX 590. $250 is a less bitter pill to swallow when the next-gen comes along later in 2019 and it also comes with the same three AAA games as the Vega 56 (Resident Evil 2, The Division 2, Devil May Cry 5). That's a very decent gaming package for $250).
Price - ~$400-600
Everything about the Radeon RX Vega 64 comes down to the price you can find it for. Performance of the Vega 64 is in the region of a GeForce GTX 1080, give or take, and it operates in a similar price bracket. Every so often there are $400 deals and sometimes even as low as $370, which definitely puts it into Buy territory for 1080p or 1440p gamers.
However, the tech behind the Radeon RX Vega 64 isn't getting any younger. It's now an 18-month-old GPU and the price you pay needs to reflect this. AMD will have Navi round the corner and it could potentially trounce this graphics card for price to performance. We're at an awkward stage with AMD right now where the feeling is the best could be right around the corner, rather than in the here and now. It makes the Vega 64 a difficult purchase to recommend unless you can find an absolute bargain.
Buy, Wait or Don’t Buy? - Don't Buy
Alternative: For those in this price bracket, the alternative would be to look at a GeForce RTX 2070 or GeForce RTX 2060, depending on how much you're willing to spend. Both are at least a little more future-proofed thanks to the newer Turing tech under the hood and the GeForce RTX 2060 should be available for a cheaper price.
Price - $699
The imminent peak of AMD's graphics card lineup, the Radeon VII will allegedly offer performance on par with the GeForce RTX 2080, an $800+ graphics card. There have been reports there will be limited stocks of the Radeon VII at launch, a claim AMD has since denied. Don't let the reports rush you into a panic purchase. The Radeon VII is a graphics card you absolutely should wait and see the final benchmarks before adding it to your basket.
In comparison to Nvidia's RTX line-up, the Radeon VII definitely offers little to excite. Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang went in a little heavy with his criticisms of the Radeon VII but there's a core of truth in his words. The Radeon VII is a repurposed Radeon Instinct MI50 and it doesn't feature much new tech aside from being the first 7nm gaming GPU.
On paper, the AMD Radeon VII is a decent high-end graphics card that undercuts its competitor by $100 and offers a hefty 16GB HBM2 memory. This same memory will be a significant contributor to its costs though, and the performance enhancements over the Vega 64 arguably may not be worth the increase in cost. Once you factor in the RTX 2080's ray-tracing and DLSS support and the Radeon VII could be a tough sell.
Buy, Wait or Don’t Buy? - Wait
Alternative: The alternative for AMD fans would be to shop around for a nice and cheap Vega 64. It won't be able to offer anywhere quite near the 4K performance of the Radeon VII but it's a great, if aging, 1440p GPU. Looking to its competitors, the GeForce RTX 2080 is the obvious choice. More expensive but with ray-tracing and DLSS features, the RTX 2080 seems the better future-proofed choice.
Do you think AMD has a great video card line-up at the start of 2019? Would you recommend upgrading to any of these graphics cards, or should people wait for Navi? Assuming you had the money, would you buy, not buy, or wait for each of these GPUs? Get voting in the polls and let us know why below!