Sapphire 7950 FleX Edition
When we looked at previous Sapphire FleX models, we came away impressed with the technology but concluded the cards were generally underpowered for Eyefinity gaming at extreme resolutions. The improvements with the Radeon 7950 make for a much more compelling argument this time around, as this is really the minimum you need to think about Eyefinity gaming with respectable framerates. And we saw that this card met the challenge for the most part. Of course, if you truly want to game properly at such high resolutions then you should seriously consider pairing up a couple of these.
In terms of performance, the Radeon 7950 is the second-fastest single GPU in the AMD lineup, but we saw that it is handily beat by the GTX 670. More precisely, the performance of the 7950 closely matches the previous-gen GTX 580, so AMD is in a bit of bind overall with this card, as Nvidia’s Kepler is rolling over the Radeons so far.
Beyond framerates, it’s important to note the temperature output of the 28nm manufacturing process, and specifically the load results. We know that Sapphire typically produces some excellent heatsinks, but we were pleasantly shocked at the load temperatures. Seeing such a drastic drop over the previous generation, including curren-gen competitors, is outstanding.
So let’s talk about value for a minute. The Sapphire 7950 FleX comes with a price tag of about $420, which is actually very well positioned against the AMD competition, particularly if you have any plans for Eyefinity gaming. Including the tech on the card itself is a smart move, and a good value. The issue, however, is not the competing AMD cards; the issue is the GTX 670. Nvidia’s Kepler card is a juggernaut, easily beating the 7950 by a considerable margin, yet it’s priced about the same for the reference model. That puts AMD in a very diffficult spot, and Sapphire can’t help but be bound by the same fate since they don’t set pricing schemes.
This leaves us wanting unfortunately. While Sapphire has produced a great card here, with innovative tech and a heatsink that is outstanding, they’re handcuffed by AMD’s pricing. That’s just the way things go sometimes, and Nvidia owns the crown in this round with the GTX 670.
The Pure Point: The Sapphire 7950 FleX is innovative and impressive, but falls victim to AMD’s pricing scheme against the competition.