AMD Radeon HD 7850 & HD 7870 2 GB Review 113

AMD Radeon HD 7850 & HD 7870 2 GB Review

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Value and Conclusion

HD 7870

  • AMD's recommended retail price is $249 for the HD 7850 and $349 for the HD 7870.
  • 28% performance increase over last generation
  • Excellent energy efficiency
  • Good overclocking potential
  • Support for software voltage control
  • Native full-size HDMI & DisplayPort output
  • Adds support for PCI-Express 3.0 and DirectX 11.1
  • Support for multiple independent audio streams
  • Price a bit too high
  • Noise levels a tad bit high
  • CCC Overdrive limits too low
Editor's Choice
Recommended

HD 7850

  • AMD's recommended retail price is $249 for the HD 7850 and $349 for the HD 7870.
  • 40% performance increase over last generation
  • Excellent energy efficiency
  • Good overclocking potential
  • Native full-size HDMI & DisplayPort output
  • Adds support for PCI-Express 3.0 and DirectX 11.1
  • Support for multiple independent audio streams
  • CCC Overdrive limits too low
  • Probably no software voltage control on retail boards
  • Noise levels a tad bit high
  • Reviewed card is based on HD 7870, retail will be a lower-cost design
Editor's Choice
Recommended


Conclusion

AMD's new Pitcairn GPU completes the company's 28 nanometer GPU lineup. Today we see two cards introduced using this graphics processor, which are positioned in the sweet spot money maker segment around $300.

We combined both the Radeon HD 7850 and HD 7870 in one review today, as there are too few differences between them to warrant separate reviews. Both cards offer significant performance gains over their previous generation predecessors, up to 40% on the HD 7850, which is well beyond what we have seen on other recent launches. Prices were increased too; it seems AMD wants to position the HD 7800 Series back in the upper performance segment, where HD 5800 series was. HD 6800 Series often didn't provide enough performance for serious gamers at HD resolutions.

Overall I'm very happy with what the new cards bring to the table. Gaming performance is sufficient for all titles; power consumption is at record low levels, like on the other HD 7000 Series cards; all essential non-gaming features are included and the cards overclock like champs. Actually the HD 7870 claimed a new record spot for maximum GPU clock in a TechPowerUp VGA review with 1205 MHz. This enables willing users to get some free extra performance from their card, basically bumping it up to the next faster card according to our testing.

Noise levels were a bit dissapointing. It seems AMD has favoured low temperatures over reduced noise levels too much, which resulted in noise levels that are higher than what I expect from a brand-new card that is packed with power consumption reduction features.

Price-wise, we've almost gotten used to AMD charging first-to-market premiums for their HD 7000 Series. In my opinion, the HD 7870 is $30 too expensive, and the HD 7850 would do much better if it were $10 cheaper. In terms of increasing budget, the following cards are great choices. At the lower end of the price range sits NVIDIA's $210 GTX 560 Ti, which offers best in-class performance per Dollar. My next more expensive choice would be HD 7850 at $250, possibly get a custom overclocked version. With $300 to spend the choice gets a bit difficult as there is no real "star" product at this price point. Maybe a used GTX 570 or the GTX 560 Ti 448 Cores. Once we reach $330, GTX 570 becomes a rock-solid choice, unless you are willing to dish out $20 more for AMD's Radoen HD 7870 which does offer much better power consumption than the NVIDIA card. So there you have it, right now there's a good choice at almost every price point, and we haven't seen what NVIDIA's Kepler GK104 can do!
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