PowerColor HD 7950 PCS+ 3 GB Review 29

PowerColor HD 7950 PCS+ 3 GB Review



PowerColor Logo

The cash-cow of AMD's 28 nanometer "Tahiti" silicon is finally here, as the company launched its new Radeon HD 7950 graphics card. The HD 7950 is an important model for AMD, as it allows more people access to the new Graphics CoreNext architecture as a result of its lower price. The new SKU was originally slated for a January 09, 2012 launch, but was faced with unforeseen delays. Regardless, today is its hard-launch date, meaning you should be able to find one at a store.

The Radeon HD 7950 qualifies as being a high-end graphics card due to its pricing, which is comparative to NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 580 with its current market pricing. AMD is aiming at higher energy efficiency compared to its market rival product, and a scope for aggressive cost-cutting, if competition from future NVIDIA product so dictate. In essence, HD 7950 will serve as a fulcrum for both today's high-end price-point, and tomorrow's gamer sweet-spot, again, depending on its competitive environment. This is what makes it an important model for AMD.

The Radeon HD 7950 is carved out of the 28 nm "Tahiti" silicon, on which the HD 7970 is based. This is done so by lowering the number of Graphics CoreNext Compute Units (CUs) from 32 on the HD 7970 to 28, resulting in a stream processor count of 1,792 compared to 2,048 on the HD 7970, and a TMU count lowered from 128 to 112. Every other component is left unchanged, including the memory interface and memory amount. Historically, with NVIDIA GPUs that have 384-bit wide memory interfaces, we have seen the second-best SKU having a narrower memory bus (such as 320-bit wide, for example). This is not the case with HD 7950, which has the full 384-bit wide memory interface with 3 GB of GDDR5 memory.

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PowerColor's HD 7950 PCS+ is a full custom implementation of the HD 7950. It comes with a revamped PCB design, a new dual fan cooler and increased clock speeds of 880 MHz out of the box. Unfortunately memory is still clocked at 1250 MHz, like the reference design.
In terms of pricing, PowerColor is asking a $15 price premium over the AMD reference implementation.

PowerColor HD 7950 PCS+ Market Segment Analysis
HD 6950
GTX 570
HD 6970
GTX 580
HD 7950
HD 7950 PCS+
HD 7970
HD 6990
GTX 590
Shader Units140848015365121792179220482x 15362x 512
ROPs324032483232322x 322x 48
Graphics ProcessorCaymanGF110CaymanGF110TahitiTahitiTahiti2x Cayman2x GF110
Transistors2640M3000M2640M3000M4310M4310M4310M2x 2640M2x 3000M
Memory Size2048 MB1280 MB2048 MB1536 MB3072 MB3072 MB3072 MB2x 2048 MB2x 1536 MB
Memory Bus Width256 bit320 bit256 bit384 bit384 bit384 bit384 bit2x 256 bit2x 384 bit
Core Clock800 MHz732 MHz880 MHz772 MHz800 MHz880 MHz925 MHz830 MHz607 MHz
Memory Clock1250 MHz950 MHz1375 MHz1002 MHz1250 MHz1250 MHz1375 MHz1250 MHz855 MHz


Package Front
Package Back


You will receive:
  • Graphics card
  • Driver CD + Documentation
  • CrossFire Bridge
  • Analog VGA Adapter
  • HDMI to DVI Adapter
  • Mini-DP to DP Adapter

The Card

Graphics Card Front
Graphics Card Back

PowerColor's HD 7950 PCS+ uses a menacing big cooler which promises great cooling performance.

Graphics Card Height

The card requires two slots in your system.

Monitor Outputs, Display Connectors

Display connectivity options include one DVI port, one full size HDMI port and two mini-DisplayPorts. You may use all the outputs at the same time, thanks to AMD's superior display output architecture.

Please note that all the connectors are on the "first" slot now, which opens up the second one for a cooler grill through which hot air is blown out of the case. This also makes it possible to use the HD 7950 in a single slot configuration with a waterblock to cool the components.

An HDMI sound device is included in the GPU, too. It is HDMI 1.4a compatible which includes HD audio and support for Blu-ray 3D movies. The DisplayPort outputs are version 1.2 which enables the use of hubs and Multi-Stream transport.

You may combine up to four HD 7950 and HD 7970 cards from any vendor in a multi-GPU CrossFire configuration for higher framerates or better image quality settings.

Graphics Card Teardown PCB Front
Graphics Card Teardown PCB Back

Pictured above are photos of the front and back, showing the disassembled board. High-res versions are also available (front, back). If you choose to use these images for voltmods etc, please include a link back to this site or let us post your article.
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