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XFX HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation 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
XFX-HD7950-38.jpg


Dirt 3

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Metro 2033

XFX-HD7950-51.jpg


Shogun 2: Total War

XFX-HD7950-56.jpg


The Witcher 2

XFX-HD7950-61.jpg
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Messages
12,841
Location
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

The Double Dissipation heatsink may not attain better temperature results than the reference design but we have to remember that its is cooling off an overclocked core. With that taken into account, XFX seems to have done quite well with their new design.


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.

XFX-HD7950-39.jpg

Cool temperatures are one thing but they don't mean squat if the fans are running at ear-bleeding levels. Luckily, XFX doesn't get into this quagmire since the DD design is able to retain every decent acoustical levels right alongside respectable temperatures.


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

Naturally, an overclocked, slightly over volted core results in higher than normal power consumption but even here XFX's card is still relatively tame with numbers that barely approach those of a HD 7970 and don't come anywhere close to its competitor; the GTX 580.
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Joined
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Messages
12,841
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Montreal
Overclocking Results

Overclocking Results


XFX claims to have chosen their Black Edition cores for their overclocking potential and based upon these results, we'd say that our sample sure got one of the "good ones". Even though we didn't apply any extra voltage, the unlocked version of Sapphire's TRIXX software allowed us to push past the 1.1GHz mark even though the memory didn't hit AMD's CCC maximum of 6.3GHz. Unfortunately, as we already stated, XFX doesn't include a BIOS switch on this card which could limit its usefulness for extreme overclockers.

As usual, we're confident that these results are 24/7 stable as they survived at least 6 hours of gameplay without a hitch.

Final Clock Speeds

Core: 1122MHz
Memory: 6024MHz (QDR)


XFX-HD7950-66.jpg


XFX-HD7950-67.jpg
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
Conclusion

Conclusion


As we mentioned in our main article, the HD 7950 is one hell of a card that’s been parachuted into a competitive $450 price point but AMD’s board partners will be the determining factor whether this GPU sinks or swims. At face value it accomplishes everything we could possibly want since the reference design has plenty of performance on tap and efficiency is literally second to none.

We’re used to launch day cards staying the course and sticking with the reference design clock speeds and cooling solution but XFX took the path less travelled. Comparing the Black Edition DD to any other run of the mill HD 7950 is like comparing apples to oranges. This card is truly meant to bridge the gap between the Tahiti Pro and XT cores by offering a pre overclocked HD 7950 with high clock speeds and an excellent cooling solution.

The 900MHz core speed coupled with a 10% memory overclock actually does make a noticeable difference in certain games and allows the Black Edition to pull well ahead of the competition. At some points it even comes dangerously close to a stock HD 7970, an accomplishment that shouldn’t be lost on enthusiasts looking for the best performance for their hard earned money.

At face value the Double Dissipation heatsink’s cooling performance may not look all that great since it doesn’t offer any better temperatures than the stock version. However, we have to take into account that the XFX card boasts a 100MHz higher core speed and the DD is still able to keep both heat and acoustics tightly reigned in. That in and of itself is an accomplishment and yet even when overclocked to over 1GHz, the fans still went about their business without resorting to undue amounts of noise.

The XFX HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation has literally everything someone could possibly want in a graphics card. It is more than able to play any game on the market at high detail settings, retains much of the reference version’s frugal power needs, overclocks to some impressive levels and comes with a lifetime warranty. The only thing that may hold some people back is its $500 asking price but in our opinion this HD 7950 is worth every penny.

 
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