|XFX Radeon R7950 Black Edition Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Monday, 30 January 2012|
Page 17 of 18
XFX Radeon 7950 DD Final Thoughts
I've tested and owned a number of video cards in the last few years; my main system currently runs a pair of NVIDIA GTX 580 cards. The performance they provide is amazing, but so is the power draw and the noise under load (although they're certainly quieter than their GTX 480 forebears). Even when my system's idling, the GTX 580's are pulling enough power that their heat sinks are quite hot to the touch. With the release of AMD's Tahiti-architecture cards, I can now have better performance with much less power and heat.
AMD's Tahiti GPUs represent a number of firsts for the industry:
...so AMD has a lot to be proud of. There's even more stuff, like support for 4k ultra high resolution displays via the DisplayPort connectors, but it will probably be a while before you can buy one of those.
AMD's 7950 GPU is simply a 7970 with four of its compute units (representing 256 shaders) disabled. Before the 7970 and 7950 were introduced, the buzz was that the 7970 would be the NVIDIA GTX580 competitor, but as Benchmark Reviews has shown, it's really the 7950 that fill that niche: at 1920x1200, the XFX R7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation card easily beat a reference design NVIDIA GTX580 in every test except Arkham City, where it was handicapped by its lack of PhysX support; the 7950 would have easily won that test had PhysX been disabled. PhysX is a significant competitive advantage for NVIDIA now, but it's nice to see that this card, combined with a powerful CPU, can still generate playable frame rates with PhysX effects enabled.
The Black Edition Double Dissipation is XFX's most expensive version of the 7950; as with the 7970, it's offered in four different versions: Core Edition, Black Edition, Double Dissipation, and Black Edition Double Dissipation. The highest-end card carries a $50 premium over the base Core Edition. It's exactly $100 less than the 7970 version of the same card. For this 20% savings you give up a little over 9% in frame rate, measured across these benchmarks. That seems a reasonable tradeoff, especially since you can easily overclock the R7950 to virtual performance parity with the stock-clocked R7970. And even when overclocked, the GPU temperatures remained very low (at the cost of some noise under load, although according to XFX the retail cards will be quieter), so you don't need to fear for your card's longivity.
At $500, the XFX R7950 is a very expensive video card. But you might feel better about it if you look at the benchmark charts again and compare its performance to the $700 Radeon 6990 and the $750 NVIDIA GTX590. Tahiti performance is quite close to these monsters, and in one or two cases it beats them...all for much less money and much less power. Its $-per-FPS is lower than the GTX 580 (often substantially lower) on every single test except the PhysX-enabled Arkham City.