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

Radeon HD 7950 3 GB: Six Cards, Benchmarked And Reviewed
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With Nvidia's GeForce GTX 670 readily available for $400, AMD's Radeon HD 7950 shifts to the upper middle class of graphics card performance. We test six third-party interpretations in anticipation of pricing more in line with its competitive position.

The Radeon HD 7950 has had a fairly quiet run since its release a little over four months ago, with many customers taking either a step up to the Radeon HD 7970 or a step down to an overclocked Radeon HD 7870. This is regrettable, since the Radeon HD 7950 actually beats the other two cards in efficiency.

Now that the cheaper (and even more efficient) GeForce GTX 670 is readily available at major retailers, the Radeon HD 7950 is starting to come down in price, mostly in the form of rebates. As vendors get realistic about the Tahiti-based board's competitive position, it should become more affordable for a greater number of gamers, effectively taking over the higher middle-class role in AMD's line-up from the Radeon HD 6950.

Today, we're taking a look at the Radeon HD 7950 in its new role. By now, the card is available in a variety of versions, and we have six boards engineered for different strengths. Some overclock well, while others are designed to operate as quietly as possible. We're also including video to demonstrate the acoustic characteristics of each card, believing that graphs sometimes fall short when it comes to conveying this very important aspect of a card's performance. If you are in the market for a graphics card in this segment, you'll know what to buy once AMD's boards reach a price with which you're comfortable.

Five Custom Designs And One Reference Model

We have a quintet of custom Radeon HD 7950 cards from AMD partners, in addition to a reference card from HIS. Naturally, you pay the least for the reference version, making it an ideal choice for fans of water cooling, who'll rip off that heat sink anyway.

Here are the specs for the six graphics cards. The prices don't include rebates, though many of these vendors are pulling prices down substantially by offering money back.


HIS H795F3G2MHIS HD 7950 IceQ Turbo
Sapphire HD
7950 OC

Asus HD7950-DC2T-3GD5
MSI R7950 Twin Frozr 3GD/OC
PowerColor PCS+ AX7950 3GBD5-2DHPP
Shaders
1792
17921792179217921792
Texture Units
112
112112112112112
Full Color ROPs
32
3232323232
Graphics Clock
800 MHz
900 MHz
900 MHz900 MHz880 MHz
880 MHz
Texture Fillrate
89.6
GTexel/s
100.8
GTexel/s
100.8
GTexel/s
100.8
GTexel/s
98.6
GTexel/s
98.6
GTexel/s
Memory Clock
1250 MHz
1250 MHz1250 MHz1250 MHz1250 MHz1250 MHz
Memory Bus
384-bit
384-bit384-bit384-bit384-bit384-bit
Memory Bandwidth
240 GB/s
240 GB/s240 GB/s240 GB/s240 GB/s240 GB/s
Graphics RAM
3 GB
3 GB
3 GB
3 GB3 GB3 GB
Transistors (Billion)
4.31
4.314.314.314.314.31
Process Technology
28 nm
28 nm28 nm28 nm28 nm28 nm
Power Connectors
2 x 6-pin
2 x 6-pin2 x 6-pin2 x 6-pin2 x 6-pin2 x 6-pin
Price (Street)
$410
$405
(for 800 MHz
version)
$410
$430
$380
$380


Aside from HIS' submission, all of these cards are overclocked by default. Unfortunately, the HIS HD 7950 IceQ Turbo (running at 900 MHz) isn't available in North America, though there's an 800 MHz model with the same cooler.

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Top Comments
  • 20 Hide
    rmpumper , June 18, 2012 4:59 AM
    Gigabyte HD7950 missing in action :( 
  • 13 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , June 18, 2012 5:57 AM
    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.
  • 10 Hide
    BeWater , June 18, 2012 7:33 AM
    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.

Other Comments
  • 20 Hide
    rmpumper , June 18, 2012 4:59 AM
    Gigabyte HD7950 missing in action :( 
  • 5 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , June 18, 2012 5:21 AM
    in some of the earlier charts, gtx680 is written as "gtx 680 1536MB".

    also, gtx580 seems to be missing in the crysis2 charts.
  • 6 Hide
    Anonymous , June 18, 2012 5:23 AM
    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
  • -9 Hide
    Dragh0n , June 18, 2012 5:35 AM
    Nice article. Glad to know I'm not missing much by sticking with brand loyalty.
  • 6 Hide
    jimmysmitty , June 18, 2012 5:50 AM
    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.
  • 13 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , June 18, 2012 5:57 AM
    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.
  • 2 Hide
    SessouXFX , June 18, 2012 6:10 AM
    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...
  • 5 Hide
    we_san , June 18, 2012 6:28 AM
    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 ...
  • 4 Hide
    Deemo13 , June 18, 2012 6:29 AM
    I really like the charts posted for the benchmarking! Gives a much wider range of cards.
  • 0 Hide
    A Bad Day , June 18, 2012 6:38 AM
    HIS HD 7950's fan at load reminds me of one of those machinery rooms in a manufacturing plant.
  • 7 Hide
    keigo_kanzaki , June 18, 2012 6:40 AM
    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?
  • 3 Hide
    hellfire24 , June 18, 2012 7:10 AM
    DCII,i am impressed!
  • 1 Hide
    userngalan , June 18, 2012 7:19 AM
    wow! the msi and powercolor is 50$ cheeper than asus..
  • -9 Hide
    Sonny73N , June 18, 2012 7:21 AM
    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?
  • 10 Hide
    BeWater , June 18, 2012 7:33 AM
    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.

  • 0 Hide
    xxplosiv88 , June 18, 2012 8:02 AM
    Wow, I feel even more awesome now for putting my order in for a GTX 670.
  • 2 Hide
    DataGrave , June 18, 2012 8:02 AM
    Quote:
    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


  • 0 Hide
    unksol , June 18, 2012 8:10 AM
    Quote:
    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
  • 1 Hide
    zander1983 , June 18, 2012 8:28 AM
    *looks at current pc setup, opens local pc shop webpage, see great deal no upgrade only to find out gadget budget is empty*
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