Value and Conclusion
|9.1||AMD's Radeon HD 7950 is finally released after what seemed like an eternity after the HD 7970 launch. The reference design of the card looks just like its older brother. Internally we see less shaders, reduced clock speeds, one power phase less and two six pin PCIe power connectors instead of 8+6 like on the HD 7970. As a result the HD 7950 delivers decent high-end performance, which is on par with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580. The HD 7950, like the GTX 580, is great for 1920x1200 gaming, even though we feel it lacks a little bit of extra power for the perfect 2560x1600 gaming experience.|
In terms of power consumption we see outstanding results, thanks to AMD's power consumption reduction technologies and the TSMC 28 nm process. This puts the HD 7950 at the number one spot in performance per Watt. Great job here, AMD.
Unfortunately the AMD reference design cooler is still as noisy as the one on the HD 7970, which is quite surprising considering that the card produces so much less heat, that it could have easily been traded off for a quieter fan profile. We also tested the PowerColor HD 7950 PCS+ today which is a lot quieter and cooler, AMD should have chosen a better reference cooler.
Overclocking works just as great as on the HD 7970. Due to the lower base clock speed relative overclocking is even more spectacular. Our maximum clocks are 1085 MHz GPU and 1785 MHz memory - without any voltage or fan speed increases. As a result the card gains an impressive 30% in real life performance!
Price-wise the HD 7950 comes at $449, which feels quite expensive considering this is a next-gen part. Compared to the HD 6950 (some of which can be unlocked to HD 6970), AMD jacked up pricing by 40% with performance taken into account. However, when looking at this from the perspective of the $500 GTX 580, which delivers the same performance, HD 7950 pricing looks like a much better deal. So the price is both good and bad, depending on what you're relating it to.
I think in the long run, especially after NVIDIA releases their new cards, we will see large price drops and board designs with cost reduced components to keep pricing competitive.