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Time for an Upgrade? The Best GPUs to Replace Your Aging AMD Vega 64

The AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 was a powerhouse when it launched back in 2017, delivering top-tier 1440p gaming performance that rivaled Nvidia‘s GTX 1080. But in the world of PC gaming hardware, 6 years is an eternity. Games have become far more demanding, and features like ray tracing and AI upscaling have gone from niche novelties to must-have bullet points.

If you‘re still rocking a Vega 64 and eyeing shiny new titles like Starfield and Cyberpunk 2077, you‘re probably wondering if it‘s time for an upgrade. The short answer is: it depends! Let‘s take a closer look at the Vega 64 and explore some of the best modern GPUs to replace it with, for every type of system and budget.

AMD Vega 64: End of an Era

First, a quick refresher on the Vega 64. Built on AMD‘s 5th generation "Vega" graphics architecture and a 14nm process node, it packed 12.5 billion transistors, 8GB of HBM2 memory, and a 2048-bit memory bus. The Vega 64 had a peak FP32 compute performance of 12.66 TFLOPS.

In 2017, the Vega 64 was AMD‘s answer to Nvidia‘s high-end Pascal cards like the GTX 1080. It traded blows with the GTX 1080 in most titles at 1440p. The Vega 64 also brought new features like Rapid Packed Math and primitive shaders. However, it tended to run hot, loud and power hungry compared to Nvidia‘s offerings.

Fast forward to 2023, and the Vega 64 is really starting to show its age:

  • Most AAA games struggle to maintain 60fps at 1440p high settings. You‘ll need to drop down to 1080p and/or medium settings.
  • 8GB VRAM is increasingly a bottleneck at higher resolutions and texture quality settings.
  • No hardware ray tracing or AI upscaling support. The Vega 64 pre-dates both of these now common features.
  • Lacking modern display output support – no HDMI 2.1 or DisplayPort 2.0
  • High power consumption. The Vega 64 has a TDP of 295W. Most modern GPUs in its performance class use significantly less power.

So in summary, while the Vega 64 can still handle most games, you‘ll be heavily limited in visual fidelity and frame rates, especially at resolutions above 1080p. The latest graphical features are also out of reach.

Is It Time to Upgrade?

While the Vega 64‘s age is apparent, that doesn‘t necessarily mean you NEED to upgrade. It really depends on your personal circumstances and the types of games you play. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What resolution and refresh rate do you game at? If you‘re still using a 1080p 60Hz monitor, a Vega 64 will be mostly sufficient. Only upgrade if you want to increase your resolution and/or frame rates.

  2. What other hardware do you have? Your CPU, RAM, storage, and power supply also impact gaming performance. Make sure your other components can keep up with a new GPU.

  3. What‘s your budget? GPUs are expensive. Set a realistic budget for what you‘re willing to spend. Don‘t forget to factor in the cost of a new PSU if your current one lacks the necessary PCIe power connectors or wattage rating.

  4. What types of games do you play? Less demanding esports and indie titles may run acceptably on a Vega 64. Only upgrade if you want to play the latest AAA games.

  5. Do you care about ray tracing? If you want to experience realistic lighting, shadows and reflections, you‘ll need an upgrade. The Vega 64 doesn‘t support ray tracing.

If your answer to most of these questions is yes, then it‘s probably time to start shopping for a new GPU. Let‘s look at some of the best options to upgrade from a Vega 64.

Budget Picks: Under $400

If your budget is tight, you can still get a decent performance uplift from the Vega 64 in this price range. You‘ll be able to game comfortably at 1080p high/max settings and 1440p medium. Here are my top 3 picks under $400:

1. Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti

For around $350, the RTX 3060 Ti is an excellent way to boost your frame rates without breaking the bank. Based on the GA104 "Ampere" chip, it features 4864 CUDA cores, 8GB of GDDR6 memory, and a 256-bit bus. You‘ll see roughly 35-50% higher FPS vs. a Vega 64 at 1080p and 1440p.

The 3060 Ti also gives you access to modern features like hardware ray tracing and DLSS upscaling for better performance. And with a 200W TDP, it‘s notably more power efficient than the Vega 64. Readily available new for under $400.

2. AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT

If you prefer to stay in the AMD ecosystem, the RX 6600 XT is a very capable 1080p high refresh rate card that sometimes dips down close to $300. It has 32 compute units, 8GB of GDDR6, and a 128-bit bus.

While the 6600 XT‘s 1440p performance can‘t quite match the RTX 3060 Ti, it‘s around 30% faster than the Vega 64 overall. AMD‘s FidelityFX Super Resolution helps boost frame rates. I‘d recommend aiming for higher refresh rates at 1080p for this card.

3. Nvidia RTX 2070

Although it‘s a generation old, the RTX 2070 still packs a very respectable punch for around $300. It performs similarly to the newer RTX 3060, roughly 20-30% ahead of a Vega 64. It features 2304 CUDA cores, 8GB GDDR6, and hardware ray tracing + DLSS. A great value if you can find one secondhand.

Mid Range: $400-$700

With a bigger budget, the upgrade options get much more compelling compared to the Vega 64. Cards in this range will deliver excellent performance for high refresh rate 1440p and entry-level 4K. Here are my recommendations:

1. Nvidia RTX 3070 Ti

With an MSRP of $699 and usually found for around $650, the RTX 3070 Ti is an outstanding card for high-end 1440p and entry 4K. It has 6144 CUDA cores, 8GB of GDDR6X memory, and a 256-bit bus.

You can expect performance on average 60-70% faster than a Vega 64 with the 3070 Ti. It has excellent ray tracing performance, especially when paired with DLSS upscaling. You‘ll need a good 700-750W PSU to power it. Highly recommended if you want to dabble in 4K while still having an excellent 1440p experience.

2. AMD Radeon RX 6800

For those who prefer an AMD upgrade path, the RX 6800 is a beast for around $600-650. It packs 60 compute units, 16GB of GDDR6 memory, and a 256-bit bus.

The 6800 delivers frame rates 40-60% higher than the Vega 64 did, making it great for 1440p ultra settings over 60fps. And the 16GB VRAM provides plenty of headroom for texture-heavy games. FSR 2.0 helps keep those frame rates high even with ray tracing on.

3. Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti + New Monitor

A bit of a wildcard pick, but if your monitor is also due for an upgrade, consider getting an RTX 3060 Ti and putting the rest of your budget towards a new display.

Jumping from 60Hz to 120Hz+ and/or 1080p to 1440p will provide a far more noticeable improvement to your gaming experience than raw GPU performance alone. An RTX 3060 Ti paired with something like the Gigabyte M27Q or MSI MAG274QRF-QD would be a superb 1440p gaming setup.

High-End: $700+

If you have deep pockets and want the absolute most performance possible to upgrade from a Vega 64, there are several great options in the high-end segment:

1. Nvidia RTX 4080

For a massive leap in performance, it‘s hard to beat the RTX 4080. It has 9728 CUDA cores, 16GB of GDDR6X VRAM, and a 256-bit bus, delivering frame rates 100-120% higher than a Vega 64.

The 4080 is ideal for 4K gaming, or high refresh rate (240Hz+) 1440p. DLSS 3 helps achieve extremely high frame rates even in ray traced games. You will need a high-end CPU and 750W+ PSU to get the most out of this $1200 GPU.

2. AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX

AMD‘s RDNA 3 flagship trades blows with the RTX 4080 for $999. It has 96 Compute Units, 24GB GDDR6, and a 384-bit bus, with performance on average 100-150% ahead of the Vega 64.

The generous 24GB of VRAM means you can crank texture settings to the max, even at 4K. And with power draws around 350W, it‘s more efficient than the 4080 too. FSR 2 keeps frame rates playable with ray tracing enabled.

3. Nvidia RTX 4090

If money is no object and you want the fastest GPU on the planet, the RTX 4090 is in a class of its own. 16384 CUDA cores and 24GB GDDR6X memory result in performance over 150% ahead of a Vega 64.

The 4090 can handle 4K 120+ FPS or 8K gaming, with power draws approaching 500W. Definitely overkill for most gamers, but an unrivaled upgrade if you have $1600 to spend.

Other Considerations

Before pulling the trigger on a GPU upgrade, there are a few other things to keep in mind beyond just the graphics card:

  • CPU Bottlenecks – Make sure your CPU is fast enough to feed frames to your new GPU. Especially at lower resolutions like 1080p, older CPUs can hold back maximum frame rates.

  • Power Supply – GPUs are power hungry, and more performance requires more watts. Make sure your PSU has enough wattage and PCIe power connectors to handle your chosen GPU.

  • Cooling – Faster GPUs produce more heat. Ensure your case has good airflow and your GPU‘s cooler is up to the task of keeping temps under control.

  • Monitor – To get the most benefit from a GPU upgrade, pair it with an appropriately specced monitor. Higher resolutions and refresh rates will let your new card truly shine.

The Verdict

So, is it worth upgrading from an AMD Vega 64 in 2023? If you want to game at resolutions higher than 1080p, with max settings and ray tracing in modern titles, then yes, an upgrade will provide massive performance gains. The Vega 64 is definitely starting to struggle to keep pace in the most demanding games.

That said, if you‘re content with 1080p and medium-high settings, you can probably squeeze a bit more life out of the Vega 64 and wait for next-gen GPUs or further price cuts. It‘s all about matching the GPU to your personal gaming needs and budget.

Hopefully this upgrade guide provided a useful overview of the best GPUs to replace your aging Vega 64 with. There are great options at every price point, whether you‘re looking for a basic boost to 1080p speed or an all-out 4K monster. As long as you keep the rest of your system in mind too, a new GPU will inject a massive dose of gaming performance to keep your battlestation going strong for years to come!