Article Index

Conclusion

 

Street prices were taken on Week 4, May 2012 from staticice.com.au, based on the lowest price
Availability is based on static ice and channel distribution.

Part

Lowest Street Price

AMD A6-3650 APU

132

AMD FX-6100 CPU

139

AMD Radeon HD7970 graphics card

498

Antec P280 chassis

129

Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro v2 Heat Sink

30

Coolermaster CM STORM Enforcer Chassis

91

FSP AU-750M Power Supply

135

Gigabyte 990FXA-UD7 Motherboard

254

Gigabyte A75M-UD2H Motherboard

109

Intel DX79SI Motherboard

305

Intel i7-3960X CPU

999

Kingston 8GB DDR3-2133 C11 Memory

99

Kingston 120GB HyperX SSD

175

Sapphire Radeon HD7950OC graphics card

469

The AMD FX Liquid Cooler is a region specific product.  There are clones with better availability such as the Antec Kulher 920 or others

Newer products have superseded the Artic Cooling Heat sink and Kingston 4 GB 2133 C9 Memory Kit

Verdict

Although we did not test the HD7950 in the Intel i7 extreme/X79 platform, for GPU-limited and GPU computing tasks the Sapphire HD7950 delivered excellent performance for its price point compared to the price/performance compared to the more expensive HD7970 flagship card.

The only issues with this particular Sapphire HD7950OC card is the fan shroud might conflict with some chassis as the shroud is larger than the actual card. The shroud also blocks one of the two crossfire connectors.

The cards length (280mm) and power requirements (two 6-pin connector) mean that it is useable in a wider variety of the systems than the HD7970.

The aftermarket cooling solution ran quietly and did not spin up excessively during our testing. At very high loads, the graphics card did not exceed 67c for an extended test period.

The extensive bundle easies multi monitor setup considerably although I would have liked to see a 2-metre DisplayPort cable included and perhaps a longer HDMI cable instead of the 1.8m cable.

For around A $500, an included game would have been nice even if it were one of the existing AMD GAME channel/vendor promotional titles such as Deus Ex, Dirt 3, and Dragon Age II.

Since the HD7950 was released, AMD announced a triple pack of games Dirt Showdown, Nexuiz and Deus Ex:  Human Revolution with DLC as a sweetener to convince end users to choose an AMD Radeon card over the similarly priced NVIDIA GeForce 600 series cards.  We are confirming which specific cards are eligible with AMD and will update accordingly

Pricing was an issue with the HD79,78 and 77 series cards due to initial shipments and availability, however since we tested the HD7950 at launch in March prices and availability have settled and increased especially in light of new competition from NVIDIA

This pricing of the HD7950 also makes crossfire economical for those who run multi monitors – the extra performance can be made use of in Eyefinity.  HD7970 is still only for the upper 10% who have large monitors in Eyefinity or who want to crank the AA settings to max, which is not necessary at higher resolutions.

I was a little sceptical of this Sapphire card at first due to its non-reference design.  This card might not be the best solution for Crossfire users with adjacent graphics slots (such as Intel Desktop Board DX79SI) due to the airflow of the non-reference cooler

The HD7950 is a more sensible choice for money conscious majority gamers and enthusiasts than the HD7970.  Performance improvements and the VCE technology to be enabled in future drivers enhancing the value for money.

Some applications in our standard test suite exhibit a 2X performance increase on Intel’s flagship platform versus AMD mid enthusiast or mainstream hardware.

We have established the performance of the HD 7950/70 with different CPUs but which CPU is best suited to the HD7950?

At time of testing, out of the three platforms in our test the Intel X79 platform was the best match for HD7900 as it was able to extract the most performance from the GPU with our test setup.

If you cannot afford that setup, the delta between Intel and AMD for software that is GPU limited is not significant enough to justify the 10x price increase.  Cheaper Intel systems such as the i7-3820 or 2600K/3770K will be choices that are more reasonable than the 3960X which is intended for extreme end of the market.

If you NEED application performance and cost is not as much a priority, the Intel platforms offer the best performance at the cost of value.

If you are an enthusiast and you want to push a cheaper, more value for money platform, AMD’s FX series are unlocked and can be safely overclocked.  There are limitations to both AMD Products regarding their single threaded performance and performance scaling for the clock speeds they run at but these aspects have been covered in-depth in many reviews.

A much more interesting test would have been to run the new i7-3820 against the two AMD CPUs we tested with a 7950 also but this was not possible in time for our evaluation.  The gap would certainly have narrowed.

The AMD platforms tested deliver only enough performance to drive the HD7950 in our standard test suite and we have not even begun to scratch the surface concerning other usage scenarios with these systems or overclocking

If you are not going to be satisfied unless you have the absolute bleeding edge performance you are going to need the Intel X79 system and that is what works best with the HD7900.

Would I buy or recommend this product myself? Despite minor design aspects that could be improved the card is a shorter, less power hungry alternative to the HD7970 with a quiet running fan so the answer is a YES.

Further Reading

http://www.tweaktown.com/reviews/4540/amd_radeon_hd_7950_3gb_video_card_overclocked/index.html

http://www.tweaktown.com/reviews/4543/sapphire_radeon_hd_7950_3gb_oc_video_card_in_crossfire/index.html

http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/AMD-Radeon-HD-7950-Video-Card-Review/1479

http://www.eteknix.com/reviews/graphics/sapphire-radeon-hd-7950-oc-graphics-card-video-review

http://www.eteknix.com/reviews/graphics/sapphire-radeon-hd-7950-oc-3gb-overclocked-further

http://www.motherboards.org/review/sapphire-amd-hd-7950-oc-video-card-review

http://www.tweaktown.com/reviews/4610/sapphire_radeon_hd_7950_3gb_video_card_tested_with_catalyst_12_2/index.html

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