PowerColor HD 7950 PCS+ 3 GB 29

PowerColor HD 7950 PCS+ 3 GB Review

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Value and Conclusion

  • PowerColor's HD 7950 PCS+ will come at $465, which is a $15 price premium over the AMD HD 7950 reference design.
  • Good performance increase vs. HD 6950
  • Overclocked out of the box
  • Excellent energy efficiency
  • Outstanding overclocking potential
  • Low noise output
  • Native full-size HDMI & DisplayPort output
  • Dual BIOS
  • 3 GB of memory
  • Adds support for PCI-Express 3.0 and DirectX 11.1
  • Support for multiple independent audio streams
  • High price
  • CCC Overdrive limits too low
PowerColor is the first AIB partner to send us a custom-design HD 7950 card. Their HD 7950 PCS+ continues the legacy of many PCS (Professional Cooling System) cards before, delivering about 5% higher real life performance than the AMD reference design, thanks to the increased GPU clock speed of 880 MHz (vs. 800 on the reference design). Unfortunately memory has seen no clock increase, which would have been no problem - there is lots of clock headroom on memory.
PowerColor's HD 7950 PCS+ improves on one significant weakness of the HD 7950, and that is fan noise. Thanks to PowerColor's dual fan cooler the card is a lot quieter than the AMD reference design, and runs cooler too - pretty impressive! Overall I would say the card is "quiet", making it a good choice for high-end gamers who want to enjoy their games without a lot of fan noise coming from the graphics card.
Power consumption of the PCS+ is pretty much unchanged from the AMD reference design, which is proof that PowerColor did a good job designing the custom PCB of their card. Since the card uses the same CHL8228 voltage controller as the reference designs, overclocking with existing tools will be a breeze, too. Compared to the AMD board we see pretty much the same overclocking potential (within random sample variation). Only when doing voltage increases the card ends up being a little bit lower than the AMD HD 7950, but the difference is fairly small.
Pricewise PowerColor is asking a $15 price premium for their card compared to the AMD reference design's price, which is justified and actually puts the card at a better price/performance level than the AMD version. The greatly improved cooler and the overclock out of the box actually makes the choice a no brainer. However, just like all other HD 7900 series cards from all manufacturers, the pricing feels a tad bit high, but that's not PowerColor's fault. It seems AMD is keeping prices high to reap the benefits of being first to market.
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