Radeon HD 7950 3 GB: Six Cards, Benchmarked And Reviewed

How We Test

Test Hardware
ProcessorIntel Core i7-2600K (Sandy Bridge), 3.4 GHz, 8 MB Shared L3 Cache, 95 W, Overclocked to 4.5 GHz
CPU Cooler
Prolimatech SuperMega + Noiseblocker Multiframe                   
MotherboardGigabyte Z68X-UD5 B3, Z68 Express, LGA 1155
Memory2 x 4 GB Kingston HyperX DDR3-1600
Hard Drive
Kingston V100+ 256 GB SSD
Power Supply
Corsair AX1200
Operating System And Graphics Driver
Windows 7 x64 SP1
Catalyst 12.4


Here in the U.S., we're in the habit of testing with high-end X79 Express-based platforms that give multi-card configurations enough PCI Express connectivity to circumvent any possible bottlenecks. Our European editorial teams often take a more power-friendly approach, given the price of electricity over there.

Previously, they were using an older Core i5-based setup for testing graphics cards. But, not surprisingly, that started to inhibit performance. The latest round of 28 nm-based GPUs pushed them over the edge, and they upgraded to a Core i7-2600K-based machine overclocked to 4.5 GHz, which yields plenty of speed without the gratuitous consumption of our Sandy Bridge-E-based machine.

The motherboard and memory in the German lab remain the same as they were last year. Their power supply is newer, though, now able to handle four graphics cards in four-way CrossFire or SLI arrangements. Also, the new build employs a 256 GB Kingston SSD, to which all games and benchmarks are installed.

The whole setup is installed on a rolling table, so that it can be moved between a climate-controlled room, which is kept at 72° Fahrenheit (22° Celsius), and our noise-dampened room, eliminating the need to take out the graphics cards and put them in a second system. Our climate-controlled room is not suitable for noise measurements below 32 dB(A) due to the proximity of several other machines in it.

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72 comments
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    Top Comments
  • rmpumper
    Gigabyte HD7950 missing in action :(
    20
  • mayankleoboy1
    scrumworksThat nvidia turbo boost is a bit cheating and you should turn it off for the test. It's basically same as overclocking and your review sample cards are most likely binned to get much better than average OC.


    WOW.
    how is it cheating? it is cheating only if the average user will not use the "GPU boost" feature, but reviewers are using it.

    and, the card is faster, cheaper and cooler than the competition. so if you are better, you cheat?
    Fanboi.
    13
  • BeWater
    Testing GTX6XX-Cards with enabled GPU Boost is certainly not cheating. Its a just a feature of this boards.

    But everyone who is comparing stock clock benchmarks should keep in mind that these cards most likely wont overclock as much over their gpu boost frequency as a card without boost overclocks over its stock frequency (assuming both cards have the same overclocking capability). Especially since the gpu boost on non-reference cards sometimes already is 200mhz over their base frequency.

    This can make a precise comparision more difficult. Particularly if you compare cards which are very close like the 7970 and 670 for example.
    10
  • Other Comments
  • rmpumper
    Gigabyte HD7950 missing in action :(
    20
  • mayankleoboy1
    in some of the earlier charts, gtx680 is written as "gtx 680 1536MB".

    also, gtx580 seems to be missing in the crysis2 charts.
    5
  • Anonymous
    Just thought you might like to know that the x-axis captions for the noise level graphs are labelled as they would be for temperature, rather than decibels
    6
  • scrumworks
    That nvidia turbo boost is a bit cheating and you should turn it off for the test. It's basically same as overclocking and your review sample cards are most likely binned to get much better than average OC.
    -19
  • Dragh0n
    Nice article. Glad to know I'm not missing much by sticking with brand loyalty.
    -9
  • jimmysmitty
    Why was there no expanded information on the overclocking ability of the GPUs? Half at 1025MHz and Half at 1050MHz doesn't help anything.

    As well, what kind of memory overclocks did you get? Did you have to change the voltage of the GPUs to get said clock speeds?

    This article was missing a bit too much info there to really be able to get the full picture of these GPUs. The HD7970 6 card shootout is how it should have been done for the HD7950s. Each cards overclocking ability (core/memory) and what they got with stock voltage and overvolted.
    6
  • mayankleoboy1
    scrumworksThat nvidia turbo boost is a bit cheating and you should turn it off for the test. It's basically same as overclocking and your review sample cards are most likely binned to get much better than average OC.


    WOW.
    how is it cheating? it is cheating only if the average user will not use the "GPU boost" feature, but reviewers are using it.

    and, the card is faster, cheaper and cooler than the competition. so if you are better, you cheat?
    Fanboi.
    13
  • SessouXFX
    XFX HD7950 didn't make the list?

    You know what this is like? Imagine yourself as a concert prompter, trying to put a lineup together. You have Megadeth, White Snake, Poison, Guns -n- Roses, AC DC, you think you're doing just fine...What? Metallica wanted nothing to do with that roundup of Who's Who? Did they turn you down, or did you guys turn them down?

    Because XFX matters. XFX always matter! And I'm pretty sure they weren't scared to step into the ring and beat some heads in with a comparo with the best in the biz. You guys need to get in touch with them and test their HD7950 and see if their card has the potential to blast that "elephant in the room" and hang it's head on the wall.

    This is Tom's Hardware after all...
    2
  • we_san
    scrumworksThat nvidia turbo boost is a bit cheating and you should turn it off for the test. It's basically same as overclocking and your review sample cards are most likely binned to get much better than average OC.

    You want to add 7970 OC into the crowd ? Just ask ...
    5
  • Deemo13
    I really like the charts posted for the benchmarking! Gives a much wider range of cards.
    4
  • A Bad Day
    HIS HD 7950's fan at load reminds me of one of those machinery rooms in a manufacturing plant.
    0
  • keigo_kanzaki
    This is the first time I heard about buying a "graphic card bracket". For the ASUS DCII card, don't you usually just put screws (3 screws for this card) on THE (usual) bracket to hold the card firmly in the case?
    7
  • hellfire24
    DCII,i am impressed!
    3
  • userngalan
    wow! the msi and powercolor is 50$ cheeper than asus..
    1
  • Sonny73N
    Dear Mr Wallossek, we buy our cards based on performance per price as recommended by Tom's monthly best graphic cards for the money guide. This is the time of the GTX 670, simply because it has the best value in its class. Since they're available everywhere, why don't you give us some benchmark on those 670s instead of these over-priced (still) 7950 cards with nothing left to talk about?
    -9
  • BeWater
    Testing GTX6XX-Cards with enabled GPU Boost is certainly not cheating. Its a just a feature of this boards.

    But everyone who is comparing stock clock benchmarks should keep in mind that these cards most likely wont overclock as much over their gpu boost frequency as a card without boost overclocks over its stock frequency (assuming both cards have the same overclocking capability). Especially since the gpu boost on non-reference cards sometimes already is 200mhz over their base frequency.

    This can make a precise comparision more difficult. Particularly if you compare cards which are very close like the 7970 and 670 for example.
    10
  • xxplosiv88
    Wow, I feel even more awesome now for putting my order in for a GTX 670.
    0
  • DataGrave
    617802 said:
    Dear Mr Wallossek, we buy our cards based on performance per price as recommended by Tom's monthly best graphic cards for the money guide. This is the time of the GTX 670, simply because it has the best value in its class. Since they're available everywhere, why don't you give us some benchmark on those 670s instead of these over-priced (still) 7950 cards with nothing left to talk about?


    Dear Sonny73N,
    Why? Because the translation is slower than a crappy GT 430 :D

    The 7950 roundup was published in Germany: May 12, 2012
    The GTX670 roundup was published in Germany: May 22, 2012

    http://www.tomshardware.de/Nvidia-Geforce-GTX-670-Roundup,testberichte-241027.html
    2
  • unksol
    149725 said:
    Why was there no expanded information on the overclocking ability of the GPUs? Half at 1025MHz and Half at 1050MHz doesn't help anything. As well, what kind of memory overclocks did you get? Did you have to change the voltage of the GPUs to get said clock speeds?


    So you read the 2nd sentence of the overclocking but not the first?

    Quote:
    We overclocked each card as much as possible without increasing their voltage settings. Half of them managed to hit 1050 MHz, while the other half maxed out at 1025 MHz.


    sorry couldnt help myself. the fact they all hit 1025Mhz is relevant. Doing it at stock voltage is the "safe" way. and a way to show what the "average Joe" can do safely with just the sliders in CCC.

    Its clearly just a puff piece for these cards and nothing to do any real comparison with when its only game benchmark is crysis 2
    0
  • zander1983
    *looks at current pc setup, opens local pc shop webpage, see great deal no upgrade only to find out gadget budget is empty*
    1