|XFX Radeon R7950 Black Edition Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Monday, 30 January 2012|
Page 18 of 18
XFX R7950 Black Edition Conclusion
IMPORTANT: Although the rating and final score mentioned in this conclusion are made to be as objective as possible, please be advised that every author perceives these factors differently at various points in time. While we each do our best to ensure that all aspects of the product are considered, there are often times unforeseen market conditions and manufacturer changes which occur after publication that could render our rating obsolete. Please do not base any purchase solely on our conclusion, as it represents our product rating specifically for the product tested, which may differ from future versions. Benchmark Reviews begins our conclusion with a short summary for each of the areas that we rate.
The performance of the card was excellent. Out of 16 separate tests, it beat the reigning single-GPU champ, the NVIDIA GTX 580, in 13 of them, losing out only in PhysX-heavy Batman: Arkham City and the 1680x1050 Unigine Heaven 2.5 benchmark. This card is easily powerful enough to handle a triple-monitor gaming setup all by itself, especially given its 3GB of onboard memory.
The appearance of the card was striking and original. XFX even made the effort of using a red, lettered top plate so everyone will know what card you have should you display it in a windowed case. I do think the card would look a little "cleaner" with a back plate to cover the exposed circuitry on the rear of the card.
The construction of the card seems very solid. I was disappointed to find a huge glob of thermal paste over the GPU, but it doesn't seem to have caused any problem with the actual cooling, since the load temperatures were very low. Amazingly low, actually.
AMD's Tahiti GPUs bring new functionality to the graphics card world: extremely efficient power usage, 4K monitor support, PCI-E 3.0 support, and DirectX 11.1. Admittedly some of these features have no immediate use (it's not as if even dual GPU cards saturate a PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot), but it's nice to know they're there. Topping things off is a 3 gigabyte slug of video RAM, which means the card will easily support multi-monitor systems at high resolutions. The only thing lacking is PhysX support. NVIDIA continues to insist PhysX is an open standard, although nobody else has implemented it yet, and there must be a reason why. Nonetheless, PhysX-enabled games such as Batman: Arkham City bring new levels of realism to the consumer space, and not being able to support this feature well is definitely a drawback.
Although a $500 graphics card is still expensive by any measure, the XFX R7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation represents a better value than its R7970 big brother and a much better value than any other existing high-end video card-- just check the "$ per FPS" charts on each benchmark! Average Newegg prices for the NVIDIA GTX 580 are still in the $479-and-up range, and that's with the reference standard of 1.5GB of memory. The 3GB cards go for $550 or more. With AMD's new driver, the performance delta betwee the GTX 580 and the Tahiti cards grows even wider, and since the Fermi drivers are very mature now, I doubt we'll see any significant improvements on that score; we'll have to wait for the forthcoming Kepler cards to see NVIDIA's answer. In the meantime, AMD's Tahiti-based cards set new standards for performance and efficiency.
The first run of AMD's 7970-based video cards sold out virtually instantly and they remain unavailable as of the time of this writing. Considering that the 7950 represents only slightly less performance for a lot less money, you should grab one of these quickly if you want one.
+ Incredible performance
- No PhysX support
Final Score: 9.28 out of 10.
Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.
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