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Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 OC Review

/ Apr 9th, 2013 No Comments

sapphire-7950
Sapphire AMD Radeon HD 7950 OC

Sapphire AMD Radeon HD 7950 OC unboxed!

The Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 OC Edition is a higher-end DirectX 11.1 video card from AMD that utilizes their graphics architecture GCN (Graphics Core Next) that significantly improves performance while reducing power consumption from its previous 6000 series of cards. Codenamed Tahiti, the card itself features an 850 MHz core clock with a 925 MHz boost clock (if thermal limits allow) and 1792 Stream Processors. The memory runs on a 384-bit GDDR5 interface at 1250 MHz with a monstrous 3GB of VRAM which enables gamers to push multiple monitor gaming by way of Eyefinity. It has (1) Dual link DVI, (2) Mini Displayport connectors and (1) HDMI out.

Sapphire Technology is a long time manufacturer of AMD (ATI) video cards and produces excellent aftermarket heatsinks for their video cards. The card comes with their Dual-X double fan cooling system and multiple copper heat pipe design. Throughout all of the tests and gaming sessions, the card remained very quiet and cool which was awesome considering the leaf blower it was replacing.

The core of a PC gaming system is in the video card and coming in at roughly $300 at popular e-tailers, the Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 OC currently sits at a good price point for gamers demanding high level performance without emptying the bank. The biggest reason that brought upon this purchase was AMD’s Never Settle: Reloaded bundle that came with free copies of Bioshock Infinite and Tomb Raider or Crysis 3. Tomb Raider was included for purchasers of their 7800 series and Crysis 3 came with those who picked up their 7900 series. Having pre-ordered Tomb Raider beforehand, picking up an HD 7950 was a no-brainer as Crysis 3 and Bioshock Infinite would have fell in my lap anyways.

What’s in the Box

  • Sapphire AMD Radeon HD 7950 OC video card
  • Driver CD with Sapphire Trixx Overclocking Utility
  • Mini-Displayport to regular Displayport adapter
  • (2) Molex to 6-pin power connectors
  • Crossfire Bridge
  • Never Settle: Reloaded card

As far as video cards go, the included components in the box are pretty standard across the board for all AMD partners. However, the Mini-Displayport adapter is a welcome addition being that the Mini-Displayport connection is less common than a regular full-sized one. Aside from the components, we have the aforementioned Never Settle: Reloaded scratch card which takes this graphics card from ordinary to extraordinary.

Benchmark System

This review will be using my current computer rig for all of the tests below. The Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 OC will be replacing my previous entry-level Radeon 6770 series card. All tests were done on the official 13.1 AMD Catalyst Display Driver with both video cards.

  • Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 OC
  • Windows 8 Professional
  • Intel i5 3570k
  • Gigabyte G1 Sniper M3 Motherboard
  • 8GB 1600 MHz Kingston RAM
  • Rosewill 650 Watt PSU
  • Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 OC
  • Radeon HD 6770

Tomb Raider Benchmarks

Tomb Raider

Look at all them tresses!

Lara Croft’s gritty reboot is a visually stunning game with tremendous set pieces that move at a frenetic pace. Combined with satisfying gameplay, Tomb Raider is a great title (Check out the full review here). The big feature here is the use of AMD’s Tress FX technology to leverage Radeon cards to the best of their abilities. With Tress FX enabled, hair is more realistic looking and has natural physics affect each strand. It really is something to be seen but is also demanding on video cards. In the data below, Tomb Raider is benched in the High preset and Ultimate preset which enables Tress FX.

Running on the High preset we see that the Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 OC absolutely crushes the entry-level card. Nearly 300% increase in performance, which is amazing. When set to Ultimate we really see the HD 6770 slow to a crawl (at 13 FPS) as it is unable to keep up with the demands that the Ultimate settings require. The Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 gives an average of 47 FPS, which is great especially considering the demands that Tress FX put on both video cards.

Bioshock Infinite Benchmarks

Ever since the game was announced and initial screens were released. Bioshock Infinite has been one of those titles that gamers have been dreaming about since the first details emerged. Set in a floating city in the sky called Columbia. Players will have their chance to rescue the caged Elizabeth in this masterfully crafted world that Irrational Games put forth. The game runs on DirectX 10 and 11 and we will be using the in-game benchmark to test out the high resolution textures and graphical goodness that the PC version provides.

The game uses the Unreal Engine 3 and is very much playable even on the HD 6770. The Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 OC once again wipes the floor with its outdated brother. Running on the high preset we see that the HD 6770 offers playable frame rates, however the Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 OC flies well past 60 FPS into smooth gaming territory. Setting the game to Ultra DX11, the HD 6770 is unable to sustain playable conditions. Meanwhile, the Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 offers excellent performance with all of the eye candy on at 53 FPS which is more than enough to get the job done.

Unigine Benchmarks

Unigine is a real-time 3D engine that renders beautiful envrionments utilizing only graphics processing. It is a very popular utility for the PC community to test (and stress) the abilities of their video cards and setups. We will be using their two utilities, Valley Benchmark 1.0 and Heaven Benchmark 4.0. Both are set to the extreme preset at 1080p and 1600×900 respectively.

Unigine’s Benchmark software is a brutal test for any video card. Extracting every ounce of juice from the HD 6770, we see that it is able to push out an average of 12 FPS for both the Heaven and Valley Benchmarks. The Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 OC fairs much better and averages nearly triple the performance of the HD 6770 at 32 FPS for Valley 1.0 and 36 FPS for Heaven 4.0.

Performance Evaluation

Running through all of the tests we see that the Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 OC averages three times the performance of the HD 6770. While the HD 6770 is an entry-level card that is expected to lose out to the HD 7950, the Sapphire card runs cooler, quieter, and more efficiently. Playing the hottest new games from AMD’s Never Settle Bundle at 1080p, the Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 OC provides performance that is well through the roof for the average gamers’ setup.

Value and Conclusion

The Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 OC can be seen as a bit of an overkill for gamers on a 1080p resolution. Ringing in around $300, it is running at a cost that is above a mainstream gamers’ budget. Taking into account its overall performance, cool operating noise and temperatures, the Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 OC is a darn good value for a high-end card. However, what takes this card through the upper stratosphere is that it comes with AMD’s Never Settle: Reloaded bundle. Although Crysis 3 was not tested here, this card comes with that and Bioshock Infinite. Two great games that have just been released. That is easily $100 or so in value from the games and makes the purchase that much better. Once again, for those that decide to purchase the 7800 series of cards, Tomb Raider is included instead of Crysis 3 and represents an amazing value as well. For gamers looking to update their PC’s graphics power and are intending to pick up a copy of Crysis 3 or Bioshock Infinite or Tomb Raider. The Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 OC is an awesome card that will happily chew through the games thrown at it and is highly recommended.

SAPPHIRE RADEON HD 7950 OC REVIEW

Gaming Illustrated RATING

Overall95%

Value10

Unbeatable value and great performance combined the Never Settle Bundle from AMD. With new games and a new card, it is hard to ask for more.

Performance9

Great performance throughout all of the tests. Using it to play all of the games was a smooth and satisfying experience.

Build Quality9.5

Sapphire is renowned for its exceptional build quality in AMD video cards. The Dual-X fan design and copper heat pipe setup keeps the card cool and quiet even under heavy gaming loads.

Mark Gonzales

Mark Gonzales

Contributor at Gaming Illustrated
Mark is a contributor to Gaming Illustrated and part of the editorial team. He always has had an intense love for gaming and of the spoken word. During conversations, he is known to create elaborate anecdotal references to popular 90's phrases with varying levels of success.
Mark Gonzales
Mark Gonzales

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SAPPHIRE RADEON HD 7950 OC REVIEW

Gaming Illustrated RATING

Overall95%

Value10

Unbeatable value and great performance combined the Never Settle Bundle from AMD. With new games and a new card, it is hard to ask for more.

Performance9

Great performance throughout all of the tests. Using it to play all of the games was a smooth and satisfying experience.

Build Quality9.5

Sapphire is renowned for its exceptional build quality in AMD video cards. The Dual-X fan design and copper heat pipe setup keeps the card cool and quiet even under heavy gaming loads.

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