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

Results: OpenGL

Why OpenGL?

Recently, we've had a number of readers request OpenGL benchmarks to complement our DirectX-based games. So, today we're adding them to the test suite. In order to get an idea of how these cards handle 2D and 3D in a professional environment, we're subjecting them to the Cadalyst 2012 metric using a fully-patched and current version of AutoCAD 2013. Then, we enlist the help of various Unigine benchmarks running in OpenGL mode to gauge gaming performance.

AutoCAD 2013

AMD‘s cards do surprisingly poorly in the 3D AutoCAD test, considering their strong DirectX performance in our gaming benchmarks. Up and down the line-up, they're soundly beaten by Nvidia's cards. 

The results aren't quite as polarizing in our 2D run, though Nvidia's GeForce GTX 660 still tops the Radeon HD 7850. Performance from the Radeon HD 7790 is particularly bad, though, hampered by a driver issue, perhaps.

Synthetic OpenGL Benchmarks

Unigine Heaven 4.0 requires no introduction, so we’ll skip right to the analysis. This time around, the cards finish in the order we would have expected based on the DirectX results. It also appears that the Radeons have an easier time handling the tessellation load (normal) than the GeForce boards.

The Sanctuary benchmark emphasizes other areas, and with tessellation out of the picture, the AMD boards fall behind in OpenGL performance. Here is a short rundown of this benchmark’s features:

  • Five dynamic lights
  • HDR rendering
  • Parallax occlusion mapping
  • Ambient occlusion mapping
  • Translucence
  • Volumetric light and fog
  • Particle systems
  • Postprocessing
  • Interactive experience with fly-through mode
  • Stereo 3D modes


Unigine Tropics paints a similar picture as Sanctuary, although it, too, focuses on other aspects:

  • Dynamic sky with light scattering
  • Live water with a surf zone and caustics
  • Special materials for vegetation
  • HDR rendering
  • Parallel split shadow map
  • Depth of field
  • Real-time ambient occlusion
  • Up to 2M polygons per frame
  • Simulation of changing light conditions
  • Interactive experience with fly-through mode


It looks like OpenGL performance is a sore spot for AMD‘s current Radeon cards, at least in Windows. Aside from the 2D test, where driver optimizations look like they're needed, the Radeon HD 7790 falls exactly where we'd expect it to within AMD's product stack.

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    Top Comments
  • I thought the HD 7850 1GB is good value at $150 after rebate and 2GB at $180 after rebate.
    19
  • 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
  • I guess I know what my next GPU will be.

    6870 performance in a 85W envelope is amazing.
    18
  • Other Comments
  • I thought the HD 7850 1GB is good value at $150 after rebate and 2GB at $180 after rebate.
    19
  • 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
  • Very good performance for the price.

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

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

    Glad to see some competition at entry/budget level card.....
    11
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • say, guys, linux gaming benchmarks perhaps? pretty please?
    9
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • EzioAs 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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