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AMD Radeon HD 7950 Review: Up Against GeForce GTX 580

Test Setup And Benchmarks

Test Hardware
ProcessorsIntel Core i7-3960X (Sandy Bridge-E) 3.3 GHz at 4.2 GHz (42 * 100 MHz), LGA 2011, 15 MB Shared L3, Hyper-Threading enabled, Power-savings enabled
MotherboardGigabyte X79-UD5 (LGA 2011) X79 Express Chipset, BIOS F8
MemoryG.Skill 16 GB (4 x 4 GB) DDR3-1600, F3-12800CL9Q2-32GBZL @ 9-9-9-24 and 1.5 V
Hard DriveIntel SSDSC2MH250A2 250 GB SATA 6Gb/s
GraphicsAMD Radeon HD 7950 3 GB
AMD Radeon HD 7970 3 GB
AMD Radeon HD 6990 4 GB
AMD Radeon HD 6970 2 GB
AMD Radeon HD 6950 2 GB
Nvidia GeForce GTX 590 3 GB
Nvidia GeForce GTX 580 1.5 GB
Nvidia GeForce GTX 570 1.25 GB
Power SupplyCooler Master UCP-1000 W
System Software And Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
DirectXDirectX 11
Graphics DriverAMD 8.921.2 RC11 (For Radeon HD 7970 and 7950)
AMD 11.12 CAP3  (For CrossFire Configurations)
AMD Catalyst 11.12
Nvidia GeForce Release 285.62

We've transitioned our test platform for graphics to a Sandy Bridge-E-based Core i7-3960X overclocked to 4.2 GHz. You'll notice that, in some cases, that's still not enough processing power to let some of our more demanding two- and four-GPU configurations really stretch their legs. I also made the call to swap from an Asus motherboard to a Gigabyte platform after discovering, last year during a Z68 Express motherboard round-up, that certain settings in Asus' BIOS would alter Turbo Boost behavior in an undesirable way.

Games
Battlefield 3Ultra Quality Settings, No AA / 16x AF, 4x MSAA / 16x AF, vsync off, 1680x1050 / 1920x1080 / 2560x1600, DirectX 11, Going Hunting, 90-second playback, Fraps
Crysis 2DirectX 9 / DirectX 11, Ultra System Spec, vsync off, 1680x1050 / 1920x1080 / 2560x1600, No AA / No AF, Central Park, High-Resolution Textures: On
Metro 2033Very High Quality Settings, AAA / 4x AF, 4x MSAA / 16x AF, 1680x1050 / 1920x1080 / 2560x1600, Built-in Benchmark, Depth of Field filter Disabled, Steam version
DiRT 3Ultra High Settings, No AA / No AF, 8x AA / No AF, 1680x1050 / 1920x1080 / 2560x1600, Steam version, Built-In Benchmark Sequence, DX 11
The Elder Scrolls V: SkyrimHigh Quality (8x AA / 8x AF) / Ultra Quality (8x AA, 16x AF) Settings, FXAA enabled, vsync off, 1680x1050 / 1920x1080 / 2560x1600, 25-second playback, Fraps
3DMark 11Version 1.03, Extreme Preset
HAWX 2Highest Quality Settings, 8x AA, 1920x1200, Retail Version, Built-in Benchmark, Tessellation on/off
World of Warcraft: CataclysmUltra Quality Settings, No AA / 16x AF, 8x AA / 16x AF, From Crushblow to The Krazzworks, 1680x1050 / 1920x1080 / 2560x1600, Fraps, DirectX 11 Rendering
SiSoftware Sandra 2012Sandra Tech Support (Engineer) 2012.SP1c, GP Processing and GP Bandwidth Modules
CyberLink MediaEspresso 6.5449 MB 1080i Video Sample to Apple iPad 2 Profile (1024x768)
LuxMark64-bit Binary, Version 1.0
MotionDSP vReveal 31080i Video Sample Playback, Apply One-Click Fix
Chris Angelini
Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.