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
|AMD's Radeon RX 580 and Radeon RX 570 graphics cards reviewedIteration marches on||162|
|Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphics card reviewedI like big chips and I cannot lie||191|
|Where minimum-FPS figures mislead, frame-time analysis shinesA new way to go Inside the Second||249|
|Aorus' GeForce GTX 1080 Xtreme Edition 8G graphics card reviewedFlying high||29|
|The curtain comes up on AMD's Vega architectureRadeons get ready for the workloads of the future||156|
|Nvidia unveils its GTX 1050 and GTX 1050 Ti for laptopsThe pint-size Pascal empowers portable players||16|
|AMD opens up machine learning with Radeon InstinctVega lights the way||65|
|Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition: an overviewStream, capture, Chill||103|
|G.Skill KM560 MX keyboard drops the numpad||10|
|Rumor: Acer Triton 700 may use an unreleased Pascal GPU||24|
|Silverstone Vital VT02 could hold a Core i7 in under two liters||10|
|Galax and KFA2 induct the GTX 1080 Ti into the Hall of Fame||22|
|Acer's Aspire GX-281 lineup brings Ryzen to the masses||18|
|Deals of the week: discounts on CPUs, mobos, and more||10|
|Asetek gets $600,000 from Cooler Master in AIO cooler patent spat||20|
|Acer Predator Triton and Helios laptops are ready for serious play||16|
|Intel enjoys healthy revenue and profits for Q1 2017||30|