Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 OC
There are some interesting things happening here with the launch of the Radeon 7950. First, while this card shares the nomenclature of the previous generation and can be seen as the successor to the 6950, the reality is right now it’s such a vast improvement there really is no comparison. Likening the two would be a mistake; the 7950 is such a jump up that it beats Nvidia’s flagship GTX 580.
In terms of performance, the Radeon 7950 is the second-fastest single GPU in their lineup, but we saw that it handily beats Nvidia’s flagship GTX 580 overall, and by quite a significant margin in many instances. That means AMD essentially owns the performance crown with their top two model single-GPU cards. That’s not necessarily surprising, as AMD has pushed to be first to market with their new architecture, leaving Nvidia behind for the second time in as many series launches. Nvidia’s Kepler may change that, but its launch isn’t on the horizon just yet.
Beyond framerates, it’s important to note the temperature output of the new 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, while considering the massive performance improvement, is nothing short of outstanding. Nvidia simply cannot come close to this with their current lineup.
Power consumption also follows a similar trend, as the 7950 is nearly identical at load to the 6950, even with the overclock factored in. And the idle results are better than we expected, beating just about every gaming card out there.
So let’s talk about value for a minute. The Sapphire Radeon 7950 standard card is set to retail for $449, while this overclocked version will go for $30 at $479. Some may scoff at the price overall, and even the premium for the OC version since manual overclocking can often achieve the same result. However, not everyone is comfortable with pushing a GPU, as they’re far more susceptible to burnout than CPUs.
However, the more appropriate way to view the 7950 is against its competition: even at $479 for the OC version, this is still cheaper than any GTX 580 on the market, and this Sapphire card easily performs better, runs cooler and quieter, and draws less power. Whether you’re an AMD or Nvidia fan, those are extremely compelling reasons to jump on this card if you’re looking for an upgrade.
The Pure Point: The Sapphire 7950 OC is a powerhouse, silencing the competition in just about every facet.