In the aftermath of the less than punctual arrival of the AMD Radeon Vega GPUs, the lukewarm vibes surrounding the launch may be a long way from turning positive. PC gamers that want to get their hands on the RX Vega 64 may have to pay more than was initially promised, and the difference is not caused by cryptocurrency mining for a change.
When AMD officially unveiled the Radeon RX Vega at SIGGRAPH in late July, it proclaimed that the series flagship RX Vega 64 would hit retailers this week at $499. The $499 price tag is crucial for viability of the GPU as it’s competing directly with nVidia’s GTX 1080, not only in benchmarks, but at the same price tag. The RX Vega 64 trades blows with the 16 month-old GTX 1080, but draws significantly more power to do so. Overclocking the RX Vega 64 sends power usage into the stratosphere and does not make it measurably faster than an overclocked GTX 1080.
Having the card at retail for $499 is critical for the Vega 64 to maintain its value proposition and to retain some mindshare for a struggling Radeon Technologies Group. In a report over at OC3D, the popular UK PC system and parts retailer Overclocker’s UK was given a rebate from AMD on their initial allotment of reference RX Vega 64 cards. This £100 rebate allowed the retailer to offer its introductory batch at £449. OC UK claims that AMD informed them that the rebate will be ending soon, leaving the cards to be sold at £549 (~$599). The new price effectively makes the cards the same cost as the previously announced Vega bundles that pack in two Bethesda games for an extra upfront cost.
OC3D reports that the “discounted” RX Vega cards sold out within minutes and were replaced with the cards carrying the 20 percent markup. They also say that AMD never informed them that the announced launch price was only a temporary offer and to their knowledge, no other reviewer was told, either. OC3D says the price hike would no doubt affect the conclusion of any RX Vega 64 review. At present, there is no way to buy the RX Vega 64 at launch price, unless the customer is willing to shell out for one of the Ryzen/FreeSync hardware bundles at the time of purchase. At the time of this writing, North American retailer NewEgg is only offering the hardware bundles, the cheapest of which start at over $1000.
AMD’s Raja Koduri, the face of the company’s Radeon brand, has mentioned several times in the last few months that the company was planning on getting as many Vega GPUs into gamers’ hands as possible. Koduri’s Twitter account, which is normally always busy, has been dormant for almost a week. It seems weird that the frontman for AMD’s gaming division would stay silent on social media during and after the most important launch the company’s graphics division has had in years.
Is AMD misleading PC gamers with less than honest launch pricing information? Let us know in the comments. We will continue to follow this story as it develops.