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Sapphire HD 7950 Dual Fan OC Review

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Taking Image Quality to the Next Level

Taking Image Quality to the Next Level


In this section we take a number of games we have tested previously in this review and bring things to the next level by pushing the in-game settings to the highest possible level. All other methodologies remain the same.

Crysis 2
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Dirt 3

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Metro 2033

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Shogun 2: Total War

XFX-HD7950-56.jpg


The Witcher 2

XFX-HD7950-61.jpg
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Messages
12,840
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Montreal
Temperatures & Acoustics / Power Consumption

Temperature Analysis


For all temperature testing, the cards were placed on an open test bench with a single 120mm 1200RPM fan placed ~8” away from the heatsink. The ambient temperature was kept at a constant 22°C (+/- 0.5°C). If the ambient temperatures rose above 23°C at any time throughout the test, all benchmarking was stopped. For this test we use the 3DMark Batch Size test at its highest triangle count with 4xAA and 16xAF enabled and looped it for one hour to determine the peak load temperature as measured by GPU-Z.

For Idle tests, we let the system idle at the Windows 7 desktop for 15 minutes and recorded the peak temperature.


XFX-HD7950-62.jpg

We always have high expectations for Sapphire's heatsink designs since time and again they've come to the table with some of the best results around. This time isn't any different since the Dual Fan cooler posts some of the lowest temperatures we've seen from any card. A result like this is doubly impressive when you consider the core is running 100MHz above its reference frequency.


Acoustical Testing


What you see below are the baseline idle dB(A) results attained for a relatively quiet open-case system (specs are in the Methodology section) sans GPU along with the attained results for each individual card in idle and load scenarios. The meter we use has been calibrated and is placed at seated ear-level exactly 12” away from the GPU’s fan. For the load scenarios, a loop of Unigine Heave 2.5 is used in order to generate a constant load on the GPU(s) over the course of 20 minutes.

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These results really do speak for themselves, especially considering Sapphire's fans are quieter at full load than most other cards' idle acoustical profile. Without a doubt, the Dual Fan OC will be one of the quietest components in your system.


System Power Consumption


For this test we hooked up our power supply to a UPM power meter that will log the power consumption of the whole system twice every second. In order to stress the GPU as much as possible we once again use the Batch Render test in 3DMark06 and let it run for 30 minutes to determine the peak power consumption while letting the card sit at a stable Windows desktop for 30 minutes to determine the peak idle power consumption. We have also included several other tests as well.

Please note that after extensive testing, we have found that simply plugging in a power meter to a wall outlet or UPS will NOT give you accurate power consumption numbers due to slight changes in the input voltage. Thus we use a Tripp-Lite 1800W line conditioner between the 120V outlet and the power meter.

XFX-HD7950-63.jpg

Much like the XFX card, when clock speeds are increased, power consumption goes up as well. Nonetheless, we'd still consider the Dual Fan OC an efficient card.
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Joined
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Overclocking Results

Overclocking Results


The HD 7970 was a decent overclocker and AMD's newest card seems can keep up quite well, especially when it is equipped with Sapphire's secondary BIOS which ups the core voltage (by only 0.01V but it is better than nothing) and increases the PowerTune limits. When coupled with the TRIXX software, the Dual Fan OC can really put on an overclocking show and temperatures never get above 80 degrees due to the excellent heatsink.

The result of a near 1.2GHz clock speed and some impressive memory frequencies is a card that can easily surpass the HD 7970 without breaking the bank.


Final Clock Speeds

Core: 1199MHz
Memory: 5988MHz (QDR)


XFX-HD7950-66.jpg


XFX-HD7950-67.jpg
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,840
Location
Montreal
Conclusion

Conclusion


With a market that will surely be cluttered with custom versions of the HD 7950, only the best cards with forward looking designs will stand out from competitors. We’ve already seen two such products from XFX and HIS, each with its own set of features, clock speeds and associated price but Sapphire has chosen to offer a kind of middle ground. Instead of reaching for high overclocks or something that’s uncomfortably close to the reference design, the Dual Fan OC strikes a nearly perfect balance between performance, cooling and cost.

Let’s start with the obvious first: even at stock speeds, the HD 7950 is a formidable graphics card that has no issue playing games at ultra high detail settings. Due to the lack of memory overclocks Sapphire’s own speed increases may feel like nothing more than fancy window dressing in order to achieve the bare minimum necessary for this particular card to be considered an “OC Edition”. However, with a core running at 900MHz, some performance differences are achievable. While more could have been offered, we’re sure Sapphire is holding back a bit now in order to wow us with their Toxic and other special editions.

Where the Dual Fan really stands out as unique is in the cooling category. Sapphire has consistently shown that their heatsink engineers are some of the best around and this HD 7950 does nothing but cement that belief in our minds. Not only does the Dual Fan post incredible temperature results at both standard and overclocked speeds but it is almost as quiet at full load as other cards’ idle fan states.

The newest member of Sapphire’s Dual Fan family certainly has a lot going for it but some may be turned off by the $30 premium it carries over a reference design. Honestly though, this is a small price to pay for what may be one of the coolest running and quietest cards on the market. The performance increase is just icing on the cake. We really couldn’t have asked for more and this will surely be one of the most popular HD 7950s in the weeks following launch.


 
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