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We can’t help but feel somewhat ambivalent about PowerColor's HD7870 PCS+ Myst Edition. But, after poring over benchmark data, the card's price pushed us over the edge on our decision. Before we get to the verdict, let's go over the reasons it was so hard for us to come to a decisive conclusion.
For about $240, you get a better card than the more familiar Radeon HD 7870, based on AMD's Pitcairn GPU. The HD7870 PCS+ Myst Edition manages to almost catch up to the first-gen Radeon HD 7950 (without Boost functionality), which is more expensive.
Overclocking, even without a GPU voltage increase, makes this Tahiti LE-based board as fast as a Radeon HD 7950 with Boost. Although you could always overclock the pricier Radeon HD 7950 as well, the Myst Edition certainly offers better bang for your buck, particularly if you're on a strict budget. At the end of the day, you get a great deal on a card that’s more Radeon HD 7950 than 7870.
If you drove a Japanese compact car in the 1990s, then you already know that high revs are a great way to chew through a tank full of gas. Unfortunately, we see the same thing from PowerColor's HD7870 PCS+ Myst Edition. Even without an overclock applied to its GPU, the card draws a lot more power than a normal Radeon HD 7870 based on the Pitcairn graphics processor. It even manages to shove its way past the Radeon HD 7950.
It’s no secret that Tahiti’s efficiency drops as clock rates go up, and the HD7870 PCS+ Myst Edition shows us the trade-off between performance and efficiency. The noise level generated to keep the chip cool under load isn't among the worst we've heard, but it's not particularly quiet, either.
Despite its high power consumption, the PowerColor HD7870 PCS+ Myst Edition presents a really interesting prospect for overclockers and budget gamers alike. If you don’t have the cash for a real Radeon HD 7950 or a GeForce GTX 660 Ti, then the HD7870 PCS+ Myst Edition sits in as an excellent alternative. The sole caveat of our recommendation shows up as a slight ding each month on our power bill. But we have to let this product's performance per dollar speak for itself. So, we’re giving the PowerColor HD7870 PCS+ Myst Edition our Smart Buy award.