We’re just approaching the halfway point of July, and now we’re now about a fortnight away from AMD Radeon RX Vega being unleashed on the world. In May of last year, believe it or not, there were reports that AMD was lining up an October 2016 launch for Vega. Here we are, some 14 months later, and gaming Vega GPUs still aren’t with us. It’s also been 14 months since the arrival of the GeForce GTX 1070 and GeForce GTX 1080, and four months since the GTX 1080 Ti. In all this time, AMD hasn’t had a single answer to the high-end graphics card market.
Sure, the mid to low tier showings have been impressive. The Radeon RX 480 (and subsequently the RX 580) have been capable of standing toe-to-toe with the GeForce GTX 1060, while AMD’s other, weaker, GPUs have been enough to combat Nvidia at the low-end. But low-end graphics cards don’t grab headlines. Being the best in the world does. For 14 months AMD has handed Nvidia the crown without so much as raising its arms in defence, let alone throwing a punch. For 14 months, Nvidia has sold millions, upon millions, upon millions of GeForce GTX 10 Series graphics cards. The GeForce GTX 1060 is now the most popular gaming graphics card in the world. The GeForce GTX 1070 is now the fifth. The effect trickles down too. The mindshare among plenty of PC gamers is that Nvidia is better because, well, they’ve got the more powerful graphics cards. It’s probably why the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti is the sixth most popular graphics card in the world and the Radeon RX 470 doesn’t even get a look in.
For too long AMD has let Nvidia have its cake and eat it, and they’ve been fine with the Green Team reaching over and stealing a slice of theirs too. There is a beacon of hope on the horizon with Radeon RX Vega though, and AMD has amply demonstrated with its Ryzen CPUs that it’s capable of coming back from a losing position, of punching above its weight, and, perhaps most importantly, of providing the sort of competition that ultimately drives prices down. It’s done it with Ryzen; the results speak for themselves. In two weeks it’s got to do it all again with RX Vega.
The important question now though is, is it too little, too late? We won’t know the answer to the first part until they’re in our hands, but we can have a pretty good stab at the second. Nvidia’s graphics card cycles are typically in the region of 18 months, sometimes two years. Its GTX 10 Series debuted in May 2017. It seems logical to assume the GTX 11 Series could be ready in time for the holidays. It may even be ready now. AMD may beat Nvidia’s pricing and performance in the short term, but you can almost feel Nvidia itching to break out from the wings and unleash its next generation. It would be the ultimate killer blow. Whether they can, or whether they will, is another matter entirely though.
So with AMD stretching out the Radeon RX Vega launch to breaking point, does the Red Team have enough time to claw back the GPU market? Or is a 14-month wait for GTX 1080 performance just not going to cut it? Let us know below how you think the next few months are going to pan out.