AMD's Radeon VII could be hard to buy with no third-party models

The graphics rumor mill is now claiming that when it comes to AMD’s freshly revealed Radeon Vega VII, initial availability will be very thin on the ground, and non-reference designs from third-party GPU manufacturers won’t be present either (at least not to begin with).

The card – which is the first from AMD to be built on a 7nm process, outdoing Nvidia in that respect – will allegedly be around in very limited numbers post-launch.

A Chinese source in the GPU industry told Tom’s Hardware Germany (via PC GamesN): “Regarding AMD ... the quantity of Radeon VII is strictly limited ... not sure if AMD wants to open AIB [add-in boards] to have an own design later.”

The latter comment follows up on a Taiwanese source who, when questioned about third-party designs for the Radeon VII, told Tom’s Hardware: “You cannot leak anything that does not exist.”

Apparently none of the manufacturers that the tech site spoke to said they had plans for some form of their own Radeon VII GPU. At least not yet, anyway – and we must obviously bear in mind that this is just speculation being bandied about.

Secondary sources

Still, TweakTown also reports that their industry contacts have insisted there will be fewer than 5,000 Radeon VII graphics cards produced by AMD to begin with. And we’re not exactly unfamiliar with the scenario of GPUs being scarce after an initial launch: that also happened with the Radeon RX Vega 64 and Vega 56 (although admittedly cryptocurrency mining demands didn’t help at the time).

No third-party boards being around also makes sense if AMD is indeed only planning a very limited manufacturing run out of the gate.

The suggestion is that AMD simply needs to get something out there with more power under its bonnet to compete against Nvidia’s latest GeForce RTX graphics cards, and push the manufacturer forward on the PR front, as it were.

In other words, AMD is trumpeting that it has hit 7nm, and has got something which better compares to the GeForce RTX 2080. Pricing will also be key, as ever, because this is where AMD competes strongly as we noted in our Vega 64 versus RTX 2080 shootout.

When the Radeon VII launches on February 7, the recommended price will be $699 (about £540, AU$970) – but if there is indeed limited stock initially, that could push the price up (as happened with the Vega 64).

Of course, we’ve already seen that Nvidia is (unsurprisingly) unimpressed with the new offering from AMD, recently calling it ‘underwhelming’ amongst other things.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).