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Impressions: Overall Performance, Power, Thermals

Benchmarking AMD's 768-Shader Pitcairn: Not For Public Consumption
By , Benjamin Kraft

Overall Performance

Cumulative frame rates are often used to tally up overall performance. The trouble is that this approach doesn’t always allow a completely objective conclusion, since there are too many factors to consider. With several new driver revisions being released over the course of a year and patches making tweaks to the 3D engines, games are in a constant state of flux.

But here’s what we can say. In titles like Mafia 2, GTA IV, StarCraft II, and Batman: Arkham City, our engineering sample demonstrates performance in line with other Radeon cards based on the GCN architecture in these games. Consequently, we're confident that the overall picture being painted isn't being tinged by this board prototype status. It's a legitimate Pitcairn chip with a quarter of its shaders disabled, but otherwise fully functional. In many other benchmarks, the engineering sample turns out to be a good counter to Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 560 Ti, beating that card in several cases. Meanwhile, the Radeon HD 6870 turns out to be noticeably slower (the two exceptions being Batman: Arkham City and, to a much lesser degree, StarCraft II).

To sum it up, the engineering sample always does well when the fully-fledged Radeon HD 7850 shows strong as well, with performance scaling almost perfectly with the number of shaders.

The prototype in our testbed system.The prototype in our testbed system.

Power Consumption and Thermals

Once again, since we’re dealing with an engineering sample on a pre-production board, we don’t think it’s fair to make any statements about the card’s power consumption or its thermal output. If you flip back to page two, you can find the maximum power consumption that we measured, but consider it in the context of a experimental piece of hardware that was never intended to be used on this board. The good news is that the Pitcairn engineering sample peaks out around 10 W under the HD 7850. Unlike the Radeon HD 5830 that actually drew more power when idle than the full HD 5850 from which it was derived, the engineering sample Pitcairn has no such problems.

As far as the single-slot cooling solution goes, we’ll follow up on this once we have a final sample of the card we were originally going to test. For now, we’ll just say that a lower power consumption also means lower thermal output, which should have a positive effect on cooling and noise, depending on the specific cooler, of course.

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Top Comments
  • 23 Hide
    woe96 , May 8, 2012 4:34 AM
    i want one, that a amazing place in performance and probably only be $200
  • 22 Hide
    borden5 , May 8, 2012 4:40 AM
    oh man that single slot would be really nice for people who wanted small factor rig
  • 20 Hide
    weatherdude , May 8, 2012 6:04 AM
    This card performs great and a 1 GiB version selling at ~$200 would fill in a very large gap in the market. It would only make sense if AMD is cooking up something they'll likely call a 7830 to do just that. I guess though it would differ from this engineering sample if they're so insistent that they aren't bringing it to market. Maybe it'll have less texture units or ROPs.

    Still this card with 1 GiB at ~$200 would be pretty sweet AMD *nudge* *nudge*.
Other Comments
  • 23 Hide
    woe96 , May 8, 2012 4:34 AM
    i want one, that a amazing place in performance and probably only be $200
  • 15 Hide
    s3anister , May 8, 2012 4:35 AM
    I would never buy this card for myself but I would find myself recommending a 1GB model, like you mentioned, to family and friends. If the price is right AMD could have a great mid range card.
  • -9 Hide
    wolley74 , May 8, 2012 4:40 AM
    while a nice card, the 6850 is incredibly close and nearly $60 cheaper, the only thing is it does consume more power
  • 22 Hide
    borden5 , May 8, 2012 4:40 AM
    oh man that single slot would be really nice for people who wanted small factor rig
  • -8 Hide
    slomo4sho , May 8, 2012 4:50 AM
    Wouldn't 2 7750s in crossfire perform better than this rig and also consume less power at the ~$200 price point?
  • 17 Hide
    erraticfocus , May 8, 2012 5:04 AM
    Slomo4shOWouldn't 2 7750s in crossfire perform better than this rig and also consume less power at the ~$200 price point?


    Maybe, depending on your local market, but the single slot and price point is the whole point to this...
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , May 8, 2012 5:12 AM
    Say hello to the AMD HD Radeon 7790.
  • 15 Hide
    pwnorbpwnd , May 8, 2012 5:54 AM
    This card would be an AMAZING pick for an HTPC, Single slot, Low power, 2gb DDR3 for HDTV's, not to say 1gb wouldn't be okay. But really AMD, do it up! All of this positive feedback is great reason to make a crippled 7850!
  • 20 Hide
    weatherdude , May 8, 2012 6:04 AM
    This card performs great and a 1 GiB version selling at ~$200 would fill in a very large gap in the market. It would only make sense if AMD is cooking up something they'll likely call a 7830 to do just that. I guess though it would differ from this engineering sample if they're so insistent that they aren't bringing it to market. Maybe it'll have less texture units or ROPs.

    Still this card with 1 GiB at ~$200 would be pretty sweet AMD *nudge* *nudge*.
  • 6 Hide
    Anonymous , May 8, 2012 6:06 AM
    Doesn't the 7770 have 40 Texture Units and not 14?
  • 1 Hide
    atikkur , May 8, 2012 6:28 AM
    now bring the game..
  • 7 Hide
    blazorthon , May 8, 2012 6:58 AM
    A "7830" with 1GB of VRAM priced to compete with the 6870 or 6930 (if you have that in your country, the USA doesn't) 1GB cards would be great. If anyone wants a new card between the 7770 and 7850 in performance (basically, between a just short of a 6850 and just short of a 6970), then they're screwed because there is no middle point. They have no choice other than buying an old 6870, 6930, or 6950.

    With a 1GB model at $185 to $195 and a 2GB model (2GB is far better than 1GB for Crossfire setups at higher resolutions/quality/AA/AF) at $210 to $220 would be good. Also, 7830 is the best name for this, at least in my opinion. All that would need to be done is bringing down the power usage a little (need is a strong word for this, that it is lower than the 7850 is still a great improvement over the 5830 and 6790 fiascoes). I would like to see a 100 to 110 watt TDP, rather than a 120w TDP (sure, TDP does not equal power usage, but still). Even without doing that, it still uses less power than the 6870, so it's acceptable. However, if Nvidia makes a competing card (looks like they will), then Nvidia would probably undercut it by at least 15 to 20w.

    Regardless, come on AMD, release this as a 7830 or something such as that! It's a great card and it fills a market that is almost desperate for a refresh!

    NivalisSay hello to the AMD HD Radeon 7790.


    7830.
  • 4 Hide
    x3style , May 8, 2012 7:14 AM
    Give single slot card so we can revigorate our minimalistic solutions with extra power for when diablo III arives.
  • 1 Hide
    blazorthon , May 8, 2012 7:35 AM
    wolley74while a nice card, the 6850 is incredibly close and nearly $60 cheaper, the only thing is it does consume more power


    You mean the 6870, not the 6850. If more games were included, we would see the 6870 closer to this hypothetical 7830 most of the time. Keep in mind that Tom's tested a 2GB model, so you would have to compare it's price against the 6870 2GB for a fair comparison, not the 6870 1GB.
  • 9 Hide
    manu 11 , May 8, 2012 8:16 AM
    want one, cant afford the 7850! $160 should do it justice.
  • 10 Hide
    Rattengesicht , May 8, 2012 8:24 AM
    Do it AMD ! You know you want to ;-)
  • 14 Hide
    Maximus_Delta , May 8, 2012 8:44 AM
    I really like this sort of investigative journalism. Two thumbs up.
  • 1 Hide
    Darkerson , May 8, 2012 9:03 AM
    I guess we'll just have to wait and see if they change their mind and release it eventually. Would be a nifty little card with a more affordable price tag.
  • 10 Hide
    esrever , May 8, 2012 9:31 AM
    Anyone else notice that the 7970 and the 680 are trading blows? And it seems that they are pretty even?
  • -4 Hide
    Allan_01 , May 8, 2012 10:30 AM
    this should me HD7790
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