Up for a couple of value scatter plots before we call it a day? As is our custom, we've laid our performance results (based on the overall average performance from our game tests) along the Y axis and the cards' pricing (obtained from Newegg, when possible, or from the manufacturer's suggested e-tail price) along the X axis. The most desirable offerings will be the ones closest to the top left of the plot. The least desirable ones will be at the bottom right.
We can also compile a value scatter plot out of our 99th percentile frame time data. For consistency's sake, we've converted the frame times to frame rates, so desirable offerings are still at the top left.
No doubt about it, XFX demands a sizable premium for somewhat modest performance increases—perhaps not in the case of the 7850 Black, which underperformed due to a potential bug that's probably temporary, but definitely for the 7870 Black. $40 is a lot to pay for such a small jump over stock performance, and the fact that the card doesn't overclock as well as the reference model makes it even harder to recommend.
The XFX 7870 does have a couple of redeeming features. Its cooler, though ill-equipped for high overclocks, is much quieter than AMD's design at stock speeds. That might sweeten the deal for folks who care about noise levels—although we should point out that other cards with large, dual- or triple-fan coolers can be had for as little as $360. We haven't tested those, however. Also, there's the lifetime warranty to consider. XFX is one of very few vendors to offer that particular perk.
Nevertheless, considering our past experience with XFX's Black Editions, I must confess to being a tad disappointed by these two cards. Even if you don't mind paying a premium, there are deal breakers in both cases: the 7870 cooler's inadequacy when it comes to overclocking, and the 7850's weird performance issues, which negate the benefits of its higher clock speeds in Battlefield 3, Crysis 2, and perhaps other titles.
If XFX can resolve the latter, the 7850 Black could be a tantalizing choice. We've seen in Arkham City and Skyrim that it comes awfully close to the stock Radeon HD 7870—and we've also seen that it overclocks effortlessly at the stock voltage, without its power consumption increasing a whole lot. $279 may not be cheap for a 7850, but it's definitely not bad for a card that can come so close to the $349 Radeon HD 7870. If it weren't for the (admittedly minor) performance issue we encountered, the 7850 Black would be an Editor's Choice for sure.
89 comments — Last by Krogoth at 5:13 AM on 04/09/12
|Nvidia's GeForce GTX 750 Ti 'Maxwell' graphics processor...takes on the Radeon R7 265 and friends||198|
|A quick look at Mantle on AMD's Kaveri APUPushin' it to the limit||119|
|First look: AMD Mantle CPU performance in Battlefield 4A new frontier for PC gaming?||340|
|AMD's A8-7600 'Kaveri' processor reviewedBetter graphics, bigger contrasts||448|
|A first look at Nvidia's G-Sync display techWe lean too far toward the screen, fall in, and don't want to come out||204|
|Are retail Radeon R9 290X cards slower than press samples?We take a look||303|
|Delving deeper into AMD's Mantle APIDispatches from APU13||194|
|AMD's Radeon R9 270 graphics card reviewedPitcairn again||77|
|MSI gaming barebones has Mini-ITX mobo, external overclocking button||2|
|Fan-made Morrowind remake looks amazing||11|
|Thursday Night Shortbread||33|
|Razer unveils homebrewed mechanical keyboard switches||37|
|Watch Dogs rescheduled for May 27||13|
|Cooler Master's QuickFire Stealth mechanical keyboard reviewed||14|
|Radeon R7 265 becomes available at $149, promptly sells out||35|
|It's official: DirectX 12 to be unveiled at GDC||81|
|Asus' desktop Kabini boards come in micro and mini flavors||57|