AMD Radeon HD 7790 Review: Graphics Core Next At $150

Test Setup And Benchmarks

I don't think we've ever been given so little time to review a graphics card. So, we're focusing on testing where it matters most: the popular 1920x1080 desktop resolution. If you have three screens, expect to spend more on a graphics card better-suited to 5760x1080.

We're including Nvidia's GeForce GTX 650 Ti as the 7790's most obvious competition. We also have AMD's Radeon HD 7770 and 7850 1 GB, representing the cards surrounding 7790 in AMD's line-up. In addition, the older Radeon HD 6870 and GeForce GTX 560 should show us how the new card stands up to older technology. And as always, factory-overclocked settings are dialed back to the reference specification.

Test System
CPU
Intel Core i7-3960X (Sandy Bridge-E), 3.3 GHz/3.9 GHz Max Turbo,
Six Cores, LGA 2011, 15 MB Shared L3 Cache, Hyper-Threading enabled.
Motherboard
ASRock X79 Extreme9 (LGA 2011) Chipset: Intel X79 Express
Networking
On-Board Gigabit LAN controller
Memory
Corsair Vengeance LP PC3-16000, 4 x 4 GB, 1600 MT/s, CL 8-8-8-24-2T
Graphics
GeForce GTX 650 2 GB GDDR5
GeForce GTX 650 Ti 1 GB GDDR5
GeForce GTX 560 1 GB GDDR5

Radeon HD 7770 1 GB GDDR5
Radeon HD 7850 1 GB GDDR5
Radeon HD 6870 1 GB GDDR5
Radeon HD 7790 1 GB GDDR5
Hard Drive
Samsung 470-series 256 GB (SSD)
Power
ePower EP-1200E10-T2 1200 W
ATX12V, EPS12V
Software and Drivers
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 8
DirectX
DirectX 11.1
Graphics Drivers
AMD Catalyst 13.3 Beta 2
Nvidia GeForce 314.21 Beta
Radeon HD 7790 Catalyst Beta Driver
Benchmarks
Borderlands 2
v.1.0.28.697606, Custom Benchmark, 60-second Fraps run
Crysis 3
v.1.0.0.1, Custom Benchmark, 60-second Fraps run
F1 2012
v.1.3.3.0, Included Benchmark, 60-second Fraps run
Far Cry 3
v.1.0.0.1, Custom Benchmark, 50-second Fraps run
Tomb Raider
v.1.0.722.3, Custom Benchmark, 45-second Fraps run
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    Top Comments
  • johnsonjohnson
    I thought the HD 7850 1GB is good value at $150 after rebate and 2GB at $180 after rebate.
    19
  • vmem
    wow, nice job AMD...

    and perhaps they finally realized that they make crappy reference coolers at best and just let Sapphire go ahead and ship to Tom's lol. In all honesty, as an AMD exclusive partner, Sapphire should just go ahead and take over reference cooler design for AMD, they make some awesome stuff
    19
  • amdfangirl
    I guess I know what my next GPU will be.

    6870 performance in a 85W envelope is amazing.
    18
  • Other Comments
  • johnsonjohnson
    I thought the HD 7850 1GB is good value at $150 after rebate and 2GB at $180 after rebate.
    19
  • mayankleoboy1
    Its crazy to see how much performance you can get in $150. The HD7790 performs 90% of the 6870, which menas its almost equal to a HD5870 :O , which was the top chip a few years back.
    -7
  • nukemaster
    Very good performance for the price.

    Its a good time to build mid end systems :)
    14
  • Nintendo Maniac 64
    Too bad the OpenGL benches weren't implemented before Tom's did that "Gaming on workstation GPUs" article...
    7
  • amdfangirl
    I guess I know what my next GPU will be.

    6870 performance in a 85W envelope is amazing.
    18
  • rdc85
    It really strong rival for 650Ti....

    Glad to see some competition at entry/budget level card.....
    11
  • vmem
    wow, nice job AMD...

    and perhaps they finally realized that they make crappy reference coolers at best and just let Sapphire go ahead and ship to Tom's lol. In all honesty, as an AMD exclusive partner, Sapphire should just go ahead and take over reference cooler design for AMD, they make some awesome stuff
    19
  • blazorthon
    amdfangirlI guess I know what my next GPU will be. 85W TDP... basically = to a HD 5870... I can't believe it...I'll get the 2GB and finally be able to play Skyrim 1080p w/high res textures xD.


    IDK about it at that point. High-res stuff and all that can eat through poor memory bandwidth cards such as this quite easily.
    6
  • vmem
    amdfangirlI guess I know what my next GPU will be. 85W TDP... basically = to a HD 5870... I can't believe it...I'll get the 2GB and finally be able to play Skyrim 1080p w/high res textures xD.


    Honestly, if you put on enough high res mods, even my 7970 barely keeps up... still a gorgeous game tho, and you'll enjoy it just fine with a little tweaking and a 7790
    6
  • blazorthon
    Well, it seems to not hold up quite to the 90% of a 7850 rumors, but it's at a respectable ~80% of it on average. For $150, that is definitely a great competitor.
    9
  • antemon
    say, guys, linux gaming benchmarks perhaps? pretty please?
    9
  • tomfreak
    8 power states aww man thats gonna be so awesome....clock & Use what u need nothing is wasted.

    Looks like I gonna drop 7770 nd get this instead. XD
    3
  • griptwister
    Lol! This is insane!!!

    Btw, as long as there is low amounts of AA, amdfangirl should be fine with skyrim. Esp with some GPU tweaking.
    1
  • gsxrme
    amdfangirlI guess I know what my next GPU will be. 85W TDP... basically = to a HD 5870... I can't believe it...I'll get the 2GB and finally be able to play Skyrim 1080p w/high res textures xD.


    Who cares about TDP, I want more FramesPerSec for the $$$.
    -6
  • 17seconds
    Only 5 gaming benchmarks makes it difficult to obtain a generalized sense of how these cards perform. Including F1 in that preciously short list is puzzling due to its unpopularity and aberrant performance results. As 1/5th of the gaming cumulative score, F1 single-handedly raises the 7790 score by several percentage points in relative value.
    -3
  • EzioAs
    First of all, thanks for the review. I thought we were going to have to wait a bit more for the review but apparently I was wrong. :)

    Is it impossible to give this card a 192-bit memory bus and a 1.5GB VRAM? :/ At this point in time, I'd feel more comfortable buying or recommending a card with more than 1GB memory because most titles have start to use more than 1GB (granted some of them uses more only with AA applied but the point stands). The other reason is because I think that if there were going to be a 2GB version of the card, it's going to be overpriced and the card starts to lose it's value in the mid-range segment.
    2
  • blazorthon
    Anonymous said:
    First of all, thanks for the review. I thought we were going to have to wait a bit more for the review but apparently I was wrong. :)

    Is it impossible to give this card a 192-bit memory bus and a 1.5GB VRAM? :/ At this point in time, I'd feel more comfortable buying or recommending a card with more than 1GB memory because most titles have start to use more than 1GB (granted some of them uses more only with AA applied but the point stands). The other reason is because I think that if there were going to be a 2GB version of the card, it's going to be overpriced and the card starts to lose it's value in the mid-range segment.


    Games only need more than 1GB on cards that are fast enough for 1GB to be an issue. The Radeon 7850 is the slowest card to have consistent issues with this and even then, 1GB is almost always sufficient for it and it's considerably faster than the Radeon 7790, especially in VRAM-heavy situations. It's unlikely that 1GB will be an issue for this card at all.

    I agree that a wider bus and then more memory would have helped performance greatly, but then it'd perform too closely to the Radeon 7850. Heck, it might even beat the 7850 unless its memory frequency was brought down significantly and it's GPU frequency might need to go down too. It's cost more for AMD to make, but it'd also overclock better. However, then it'd be replacing the Radeon 7850 1GB more than being a midway between the 7850 and the 7770.
    4
  • bgrt
    It's good to see competition at this price point. However you never see reference GTX 650 Ti in retail. Every OEM (and most buyers) know that the GTX 650 Ti can be heavily overclocked, most chips reaching 1GHz easily. I don't expect to see major price drops on the NV card because of this.
    0
  • de5_Roy
    i saw "Radeon HD 7790 Catalyst Beta Driver" in the test setups and benchmarks page. if this means that amd still doesn't have a launch driver, they should deliver one when 7790 starts selling at retail shops/website. the competitive benchmark performance and efficiency will translate to nothing if regular users don't get that.
    seems that power consumption for blu-ray playback is still dismal compared to 650ti
    http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/ASUS/HD_7790_DirectCU_II_OC/24.html
    so much for dynamic clockrate selection.... if this is a driver issue, amd should fix it.
    0
  • slomo4sho
    Thanks for the writeup. I look forward to seeing the overclock potential of this card.

    Also, considering that the 7850 1GB is frequently available for $150 AR (Picked up a XFX Double D for $150 AR + games in February and the 2gb core edition is currently $160 AR), does it $150 price point really make much sense? I would have liked to see the 2gb version of this card around the $150 point instead of it starting at $150
    2