AMD’s Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition

At long last, AMD has filled the gaping hole in its next-generation Radeon lineup. A new pair of graphics cards has come to slot in right between the high-end Radeon HD 7900 series and the decidedly less high-end 7700 series, completing the Southern Islands trifecta—and offering gamers some fresh meat at $249.

If you were expecting exact replacements for the 6800 series, prepare to be disappointed. The new Radeon HD 7850 is the one priced at $249; its big brother, the Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition, costs a more burdensome $349. That means today’s launch leaves the $199 price point conspicuously devoid of next-generation GPUs. Perhaps that will change in the future—possibly after the arrival of Kepler parts from Nvidia, which are rumored to be coming soon—but for now, we might say the hole in AMD’s lineup is only partially plugged.

Also, it turns out AMD has revived that beloved, time-honored tradition known as the soft launch. In the company’s words, today marks the lifting of the “preview NDA” (or preview non-disclosure agreement). We can tell you everything we know about these cards and post our performance findings, but actual products aren’t due out in volume until two weeks from now, on March 19.

You can look, in other words, but you can’t touch.

Nevertheless, the Radeon HD 7850 and Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition have the potential to be AMD’s most compelling next-gen offerings yet. No, really. It’s true the flagship Radeon HD 7900 series offerings are the fastest single-GPU cards on the planet right now, but they’re also awfully expensive, with prices starting at $449 and ranging all the way up to $600. The Radeon HD 7700 series is less expensive, but overpriced considering the level of performance the cards deliver—so much so that we recommended previous-generation cards in our latest system guide, instead.

With these new arrivals, AMD may finally have next-gen cards that are both affordable and competitive. If the Radeon HD 7850 in particular can prove its mettle against enthusiast classics like the GeForce GTX 560 Ti and Radeon HD 6950, it could be an instant hit.

The GPU—Pitcairn

We were speaking quite literally when we said the Radeon HD 7800 series completes the Southern Islands trifecta. These puppies are driven by a new chip called Pitcairn, the third addition to the 28-nm Southern Islands GPU family. With a die size of 212 mm², Pitcairn is smaller than Tahiti (365 mm²) but a fair bit larger than Cape Verde (123 mm²).

Just like those other two chips, though, Pitcairn is fabbed on a 28-nm process and based on AMD’s Graphics Core Next architecture. It also has the same supplemental goodies, like PCI Express 3.0 support, ZeroCore Power, and a hardware video encoding block called VCE.

Scott covered those features, as well as Graphics Core Next, in some depth in his review of the Radeon HD 7970. If you haven’t read it already, I’d recommend doing that now. It’s okay; I’ll wait.

Here’s an abstracted overview of Pitcairn’s various components:

Being smaller than Tahiti, Pitcairn isn’t quite as well-furnished. AMD has cut the number of compute units from 32 to 20, leaving Pitcairn with 1280 stream processors and 80 texture units. (For the record, each compute unit has four texture units and four 16-wide vector units, also known as ALUs or stream processors.)

Two of the 64-bit memory controllers have been lopped off, as well, bringing the total down from six to four. Pitcairn’s path to memory is therefore 256 bits wide. However, AMD has endowed Pitcairn with the exact same number of ROP partitions and geometry engines as its larger sibling. Both chips can churn out 32 pixels and rasterize two triangles with each clock cycle.

Here’s how they compare, at a glance:

  ROP

pixels/

clock

Texels

filtered/

clock

(int/fp16)

Shader

ALUs

Rasterized

triangles/

clock

Memory

interface

width (bits)

Estimated

transistor

count

(Millions)

Die

size

(mm²)

Fabrication

process node

GF114 32 64/64 384 2 256 1950 360 40 nm
GF110 48 64/64 512 4 384 3000 520 40 nm
Barts 32 56/28 1120 1 256 1700 255 40 nm
Cayman 32 96/48 1536 2 256 2640 389 40 nm
Cape Verde 16 40/20 640 1 128 1500 123 28 nm
Pitcairn 32 80/40 1280 2 256 2800 212 28 nm
Tahiti 32 128/64 2048 2 384 4310 365 28 nm

Pitcairn is about 17% smaller than Barts, the chip that powers the Radeon HD 6800 series, and 46% smaller than Cayman, the core of the the 6900 series, but it has more transistors than either one. Its per-clock texture filtering and shader resources are somewhere in between, but as we’ll see on the next page, its higher clock speeds give it an advantage. Also, keep in mind that improved shader efficiency is one of the hallmarks of AMD’s Graphics Core Next architecture.

Comparing Pitcairn to Nvidia’s GF114 and GF110 chips (which drive the GeForce GTX 560 Ti and GeForce GTX 570, respectively) is a little trickier, since the GeForces are based on a completely different architecture. Still, Pitcairn looks well-equipped to face them—especially the GF114.

Before we get into our benchmarks, let’s take a look at the two cards Pitcairn powers: the Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition and Radeon HD 7850. (Or, you know, you could just skip ahead to the performance-per-dollar scatter plots on the last page, if you’re more comfortable with an incomplete recapitulation of our hard work. Totally up to you.)

The cards

The faster of the two newcomers, the $349 Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition, uses the Pitcairn GPU with all of its bits and pieces enabled. AMD clocks it at 1,000MHz, hence the GHz Edition suffix, and accompanies it with 2GB of GDDR5 memory set to operate at 1200MHz (for an effective peak transfer rate of 4800 MT/s). The card has a 190W power envelope, but AMD says “typical” power consumption is 175W.

The card is about 9.7″ (247 mm) long and requires a couple of six-pin PCIe power connectors. Our sample came with a copper-and-aluminum heatsink covered by one of AMD’s trademark Batmobile-inspired shrouds. A blower draws air from inside the case, through the heatsink fins, and outside the case via a vent in the port shield.

Speaking of connectors, the 7870 has the exact same port arrangement as the Radeon HD 7900 series: two mini DisplayPort outputs, one HDMI output, and one dual-link DVI port. AMD says the card supports up to six displays, but that’s only possible with a DisplayPort hub—and those are hard to come by, if not unavailable entirely.

The $249 Radeon HD 7850 is also Pitcairn-based, but it’s had a mild lobotomy to keep it from nipping at its sibling’s heels too much. Four of its 20 compute units have been disabled, leaving it with 1024 stream processors and 64 texture units. The core clock speed has been lowered to 860MHz, as well. Happily, other resources have gone unharmed. The 7850 also enjoys the exact same memory configuration as the 7870.

You may have noticed that our 7850 and 7870 samples look an awful lot alike, save for the “1GHz Edition” sticker on the latter. That’s because the two cards have the same circuit board and the same cooler. However, AMD tells us retail Radeon HD 7850s will be different. They’ll have shorter, stubbier circuit boards and matching third-party heatsinks and fans. Here’s one, built by Sapphire:

Source: AMD.

Another key difference is the 7850 only requires a single six-pin power connector. That’s true even for our sample:

According to AMD, the 7850 has a 150W TDP and typical power draw of around 130W. That’s 40-45W less than the 7870.

Ready to move on to the benchmarks? Not so fast. We have a big, meaty table full of peak theoretical numbers for you to pore over first:

  Peak pixel

fill rate

(Gpixels/s)

Peak bilinear

filtering

(Gtexels/s)

Peak bilinear

FP16 filtering

(Gtexels/s)

Peak shader

arithmetic

(TFLOPS)

Peak

rasterization

rate

(Mtris/s)

Memory

bandwidth

(GB/s)

GeForce GTX 560 Ti 26 53 53 1.3 1644 128
GeForce GTX 560 Ti 448 29 41 41 1.3 2928 152
GeForce GTX 570 29 44 44 1.4 2928 152
GeForce GTX 580 37 49 49 1.6 3088 192
Radeon HD 6870 29 50 25 2.0 900 134
Radeon HD 6950 26 70 35 2.3 1600 160
Radeon HD 6970 28 84 42 2.7 1760 176
Radeon HD 7850 28 55 28 1.8 1720 154
Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition 32 80 40 2.6 2000 154
Radeon HD 7950 26 90 45 2.9 1600 240
Radeon HD 7970 30 118 59 3.8 1850 264

Thanks to its 1000MHz clock speed, the Radeon HD 7870 has higher pixel fill and rasterization rates than even the Radeon HD 7970. That’s because the two cards have the same number of ROPs, and they can both process two triangles per clock, but the 7970 is only clocked at 925MHz. The 7870 does have more modest texture filtering capabilities, though, not to mention substantially lower shader throughput and memory bandwidth.

Compared to the old Radeon HD 6970, which carried the same $349 price tag before it started mysteriously disappearing from Newegg’s stock, the 7870 looks rather good. Some of its theoretical peaks are slightly higher, and some are slightly lower, but keep in mind Pitcairn should be more efficient than the 6970’s Cayman chip.

Getting a feel for the contest between the 7870 and the GeForce GTX 570 is a little harder, but as we said on the previous page, the new Radeons are not ill-equipped. The same can be said about the matchup between the 7850 and the GTX 560 Ti—in that matchup, the 7850 is better outfitted in all but peak FP16 texture filtering. The GeForce’s ability to do FP16 filtering at the same speed as it handles integer formats speed gives the GTX 560 Ti a sizeable advantage there over the Radeon HD 7850.

Will our benchmark results confirm our expectations? Let’s find out.

Our testing methods

Before we go on, we should note a couple of things about our test setup.

First, sharp-eyed readers (and Nvidia fanboys) may notice that our GeForce GTX 560 Ti is an Asus model clocked at 830MHz. While that card is priced at $244.99, just $5 south of the 7850, GTX 560 Ti variants clocked as high as 900MHz can be had for $249.99. In short, one could accuse us of under-representing the 7850’s chief rival somewhat.

Rest assured that wasn’t our intention. AMD quoted a price range of $200-299 for the Radeon HD 7800 series when it briefed us last Tuesday, so when we got started on this review, we expected the 7850 might cost as little as $200. By the time AMD finally divulged its final pricing on Thursday afternoon, we’d already benchmarked the GTX 560 Ti and had no time to test another model. Just keep in mind that quicker GTX 560 Ti variants do exist as you’re reading the benchmarks over the next few pages.

Also, our test system includes a Core i5-750—a 45-nm quad-core processor that’s starting to grow a little long in the tooth. Someone in the market for a $349 card might be reasonably expected to own a faster CPU, perhaps of the Sandy Bridge variety. Once again, we would have loved to test with a faster product, but time constraints prevented us from doing so. This setup isn’t a deal-breaker, though. None of the games and applications we tested are terribly CPU-bound, and as you’ll see on the next few pages, faster GPUs had no trouble demarcating themselves from slower offerings. There’s no indication that the Core i5-750 acted as a significant bottleneck.

As ever, we did our best to deliver clean benchmark numbers. Tests were run at least three times, and we reported the median results. Our test systems were configured like so:

Processor Intel Core i5-750
Motherboard Asus P7P55D
North bridge Intel P55 Express
South bridge
Memory size 4GB (2 DIMMs)
Memory type Kingston HyperX KHX2133C9AD3X2K2/4GX

DDR3 SDRAM at 1333MHz

Memory timings 9-9-9-24 1T
Chipset drivers INF update 9.2.0.1025

Rapid Storage Technology 10.1.0.1008

Audio Integrated Via VT1828S

with 6.0.1.8700 drivers

Hard drive Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB

Samsung Spinpoint F1 HD103UJ 1TB SATA

Power supply Corsair HX750W 750W
OS Windows 7 Ultimate x64 Edition

Service Pack 1

 

  Driver revision GPU core

clock

(MHz)

Memory

clock

(MHz)

Memory

size

(MB)

Asus GeForce GTX 560 Ti DirectCU II GeForce 295.73 830 1000 1024
Asus GeForce GTX 570 DirectCU II GeForce 295.73 742 950 1280
Asus Radeon HD 6870 DirectCU Catalyst 8.95.5-120224a 915 1050 1024
XFX Radeon HD 6950 Catalyst 8.95.5-120224a 830 1300 1024
Asus Radeon HD 6970 DirectCU II Catalyst 8.95.5-120224a 890 1375 2048
Radeon HD 7850 Catalyst 8.95.5-120224a 860 1200 2048
Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition Catalyst 8.95.5-120224a 1000 1200 2048

Thanks to Asus, Corsair, Kingston, Intel, Samsung, and Western Digital for helping to outfit our test rigs with some of the finest hardware available. AMD, Nvidia, and the makers of the various products supplied the graphics cards for testing, as well.

Unless otherwise specified, image quality settings for the graphics cards were left at the control panel defaults. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled for all tests.

We used the following test applications:

Some further notes on our methods:

  • We used the Fraps utility to record frame rates while playing a 90-second sequence from the game. Although capturing frame rates while playing isn’t precisely repeatable, we tried to make each run as similar as possible to all of the others. We tested each Fraps sequence five times per video card in order to counteract any variability. We’ve included frame-by-frame results from Fraps for each game, and in those plots, you’re seeing the results from a single, representative pass through the test sequence.

  • We measured total system power consumption at the wall socket using a P3 Kill A Watt digital power meter. The monitor was plugged into a separate outlet, so its power draw was not part of our measurement. The cards were plugged into a motherboard on an open test bench.

    The idle measurements were taken at the Windows desktop with the Aero theme enabled. The cards were tested under load running Skyrim at its Ultra quality preset with FXAA enabled.

  • We measured noise levels on our test system, sitting on an open test bench, using a TES-52 digital sound level meter. The meter was held approximately 8″ from the test system at a height even with the top of the video card.

    You can think of these noise level measurements much like our system power consumption tests, because the entire systems’ noise levels were measured. Of course, noise levels will vary greatly in the real world along with the acoustic properties of the PC enclosure used, whether the enclosure provides adequate cooling to avoid a card’s highest fan speeds, placement of the enclosure in the room, and a whole range of other variables. These results should give a reasonably good picture of comparative fan noise, though.

  • We used GPU-Z to log GPU temperatures during our load testing.

The tests and methods we employ are generally publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.

Texture filtering

  Peak bilinear

filtering

(Gtexels/s)

Peak bilinear

FP16 filtering

(Gtexels/s)

Memory

bandwidth

(GB/s)

GeForce GTX 560 Ti (Asus) 53 53 128
GeForce GTX 570 (Asus) 45 45 152
Radeon HD 6870 (Asus) 51 26 134
Radeon HD 6950 (XFX) 73 37 166
Radeon HD 6970 (Asus) 85 43 176
Radeon HD 7850 55 28 154
Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition 80 40 154

The results of this synthetic test track fairly closely with the theoretical peak numbers we calculated. We’d have expected the 7850 to perform a little better, though, all things considered.

Tessellation

  Peak

rasterization

rate

(Mtris/s)

Memory

bandwidth

(GB/s)

GeForce GTX 560 Ti (Asus) 1660 128
GeForce GTX 570 (Asus) 2968 152
Radeon HD 6870 (Asus) 915 134
Radeon HD 6950 (XFX) 1660 166
Radeon HD 6970 (Asus) 1780 176
Radeon HD 7850 1720 154
Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition 2000 154

For what it’s worth, the Radeon HD 7970’s poor showing in TessMark back in December was due to a software glitch, as we subsequently pointed out in our 7950 review. The new Radeons fly here with AMD’s latest drivers, handily outpacing not just their predecessors, but also their direct rivals from the Nvidia camp.

In fact, the 7870 outdoes the GeForce GTX 570 despite the GeForce’s considerably higher peak theoretical rasterization rate. Why is that? We’d wager it has something to do with the underlying architecture behind those two cards. Pitcairn, just like Tahiti, has two geometry engines sitting entirely separate from the shader cluster. Nvidia’s Fermi architecture, meanwhile, has a geometry engine in each of its shader multiprocessors (SMs). There are 16 SMs in the GF110 and 15 in the GTX 570. Our guess is that Nvidia’s distributed approach incurs more synchronization overhead than AMD’s architecture, which lumps fewer, more powerful geometry engines together on the GPU.

Shader performance

  Peak shader

arithmetic

(TFLOPS)

Memory

bandwidth

(GB/s)

GeForce GTX 560 Ti (Asus) 1.3 128
GeForce GTX 570 (Asus) 1.4 152
Radeon HD 6870 (Asus) 2.0 134
Radeon HD 6950 (XFX) 2.3 166
Radeon HD 6970 (Asus) 2.7 176
Radeon HD 7850 1.8 154
Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition 2.6 154

And here, folks, is where the improved efficiency of AMD’s Graphics Core Next architecture can be witnessed. Despite its slightly lower theoretical peak, the Radeon HD 7870 zooms well ahead of the less efficient Radeon HD 6970. The new Radeons make short work of the competing GeForces, too.

GPU computing

Ditto for this general-purpose computing test, where the GPUs put their shaders to work running a ray-tracing renderer written in OpenCL. Graphics Core Next is supposed to reap sizable benefits in general-purpose applications, and the evidence shows that it does.

Batman: Arkham City

To warm up this latest batch of Radeons, we grappled and glided our way around Gotham, occasionally touching down to mingle with the inhabitants.

We tested at a 1080p resolution with DirectX 11 effects enabled, normal tessellation, high FXAA antialiasing, and everything else cranked up. Those settings seemed to yield the best compromise of image quality and smoothness on the 7870.

We should preface the results with a little primer on our testing methodology. Along with measuring average frames per second, we delve inside the second to look at frame rendering times. Studying the time taken to render each frame gives us a better sense of playability, because it highlights issues like skipping, stuttering, and microstuttering that can all occur—and be felt by the player—within the span of one second. Charting frame times shows these issues clear as day, while charting average frames per second obscures them.

For example, imagine one hypothetical second of gameplay. Almost all frames in that second are rendered in 16.7 ms, but the game briefly hangs, taking a disproportionate 100 ms to produce one frame and then catching up by cranking out the next frame in 5 ms—not an uncommon scenario. You’re going to feel the game hitch, but the FPS counter will only report a dip from 60 to 56 FPS, which would suggest a negligible, imperceptible change. Looking inside the second helps us detect such skips, as well as other issues that conventional frame rate data measured in FPS tends to obscure.

We’re going to start by charting frame times over the totality of a representative run for each card. That should give us an at-a-glance impression of overall playability, warts and all. (Note that, since we’re looking at frame latencies, plots sitting lower on the Y axis indicate quicker cards.)

For some reason, Batman: Arkham City exhibits high frame latency spikes rather frequently. We recorded similar frame time spikes on faster cards tested with a faster CPU and quicker storage, as well as on slower cards running the game with its DirectX 11 mode disabled. We can conclude with reasonable certainty that the skipping is inherent to this game.

A cursory overview of the graphs above tells us the Radeon HD 7870 and 7850 are close, and perhaps a little faster overall, than their competitors and predecessors. It would also appear the GeForce GTX 560 Ti exhibits more latency spikes than its rivals from the AMD camp.

We can slice and dice our raw frame-time data in three ways, as you’re about to see. By the way, we should caution that none of the graphs below can be construed as self-contained scoreboards; instead, they each show a different facet of the cards’ performance, and they should be viewed as a whole along with the raw frame-time plots above.

Our first graph shows average frames per second. Though this metric doesn’t account for irregularities in frame latencies, it does give us some sense of typical performance.

In our second graph, we’re demarcating the threshold below which 99% of frames are rendered. The lower the threshold, the more fluid the game. This metric offers a sense of overall frame latency, but it filters out fringe cases.

Our last graph tells us how long each card worked on frames that took longer than 50 ms to render. Ideally, the result should be “0” for every card. That’s because the illusion of smooth motion is likely to begin breaking down once frame latencies rise into that territory. (For reference, 50 ms frame times would work out to a 20 FPS average if they were sustained for a whole second.) In a nutshell, this metric tells us how badly each card skips during gameplay, if it does at all.

Now, let’s put it all together.

Clearly, the Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition is the fastest card of the pack. It has the highest average frame rates, the lowest 99th-percentile threshold, and the least dire frame latency spikes. The Radeon HD 7850 is also positioned rather favorably compared to our GeForce GTX 560 Ti, though it’s no better than its most direct predecessor, the Radeon HD 6950, when we look at frame latency thresholds and worst-case scenarios. The difference between the 7850 and the 6950 is difficult to notice in this test.

Battlefield 3

We tested Battlefield 3 by playing through the start of the Kaffarov mission, right after the player lands. Our 90-second runs involved walking through the woods and getting into a firefight with a group of hostiles, who fired and lobbed grenades at us.

The game was run at its highest detail preset, Ultra, which couples MSAA and FXAA antialiasing as well as snazzy DX11 effects and tessellation.

Just like in Arkham City, wanton frame latency spikes are a fact of life in this game—except only on Nvidia cards. It’s strange, but we noticed a similar affliction in other levels and with other Nvidia GPUs and prior graphics driver revisions. The effect is noticeable in-game as an uneven, skipping motion when the camera should be panning smoothly.

With that quirk accounted for, it seems the new Radeons are, once again, outpacing their rivals and forebears.

Yep. In BF3, even the 7850 beats both the GTX 560 Ti and the 6950 handily. The 7800-series cards also take less than 50 ms to render all of their frames, which is what you want.

Bulletstorm

I’ve made no secret of my appreciation for Bulletstorm‘s cathartic gameplay and gorgeous environments, so it seems like a fitting addition to our test suite. Here, we played through the first 90 seconds of the “Hideout” echo.

The game’s graphical settings were maxed out. We cranked detail settings all the way up and enabled 8X multisampled AA.

Strange. While the Radeons seem to achieve lower overall frame times than their Nvidia counterparts, they all experience a huge latency spike (of around 200 ms) about half-way through the run.

The average FPS chart shows no indication of those latency spikes, of course; it merely shows the Radeons trouncing the GeForces. The same goes for the 99th-percentile rankings, which, by design, don’t account for rare or unique latency spikes. Our index of time spend beyond 50 ms, however, reveals the true extent of the problem.

In a scenario like this one, frame times below 16.7 ms, equivalent to frame rates above 60 FPS, are usually of no great value, because they render more quickly than the monitor can display them. (Typical LCD monitors are limited to a 60 Hz refresh rate.) So, the Radeons’ higher average frame rates are somewhat moot if they come hand-in-hand with higher latency spikes that make the game hitch or pause. But then again, as we can see in our 99th-percentile graph, the GeForces’ latency thresholds are a wee bit higher.

I suppose it all comes down to what you prefer: high fluidity marred by rare skips, or somewhat lower fluidity that’s better maintained throughout the game. The Radeons will deliver the former; the GeForces the latter.

Crysis 2

We tested Crytek’s latest shooter by running and gunned through the game’s rendition of Battery Park, sticking to the same path through the level to avoid drastic differences between samples.

The game was set to run at a 1920×1080 resolution with the “Extreme” detail preset. Both the DX11 “ultra upgrade” and high-res texture pack were installed, and both were enabled.

All of the cards exhibit a fair amount of inconsistency in frame times, with latencies rising and falling in quick succession throughout each run. The GeForce GTX 560 Ti seems to maintain somewhat greater consistency than the Radeon HD 7850 and 6950, but the Radeons’ plots lie a little lower on the Y axis. Between the ~$350 cards, it looks like a toss-up.

Right. So, the new Radeons come out ahead of their predecessors and competitors overall, but the Radeon HD 7850 spends slightly more time above 50 ms than the GTX 560 Ti. All things considered, though, 12 ms in a 90-second run is small potatoes. We’ll give the win to the 7800 series here.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Our Skyrim run involved running around the town of Whiterun, starting from the city gates, all the way up to Dragonsreach, and then back down again.

Like BF3 and Bulletstorm, Skyrim‘s detail settings were maxed out. We selected the Ultra preset, which includes 8X MSAA, and then we enabled FXAA in the advanced options for good measure.

Things look pretty close here overall, but the GTX 560 Ti does trail the 7850 and 6950 by a small margin.

Hmm. While the 7800-series cards pull off the highest average frame rates yet again, they also have the highest 99th-percentile thresholds. If you look at our plot, you might see why: the new Radeons venture up a little higher than they should between frames 4000 and 4500. That sequence corresponds, I believe, to the point in the run where we overlook the town from the castle—a slightly heavier workload than the rest. To be fair, though, the 99th-percentile results are all pretty close.

Oh, and don’t let that long, red bar in the over-50-ms graph worry you. The 7870 suffered an unfortunate but small hiccup, which can be seen in our frame-time plot. 5 ms spent above 50 ms out of a 90-second run is pretty much insignificant.

Power consumption

Thanks to AMD’s ZeroCore Power scheme, 7000-series Radeon GPUs switch to an ultra-low-power state when the display is off. The company says power draw for the whole card drops under 3W when that happens. Our findings show idle power consumption does drop dramatically when the display goes to sleep. (Keep in mind that our power consumption measurements apply to the entire system except for the monitor, not just the graphics card.)

No surprises here. The Radeon HD 7870 and 7850 are the most power-efficient of the bunch, but why wouldn’t they be? They both have small and nimble 28-nm GPUs, while our other cards must make do with larger, more power-hungry 40-nm chips.

Noise levels and GPU temperatures

None of these cards are terribly loud except for the Radeon HD 7870, whose blower-style cooler spins itself into a frenzy under load. That cooler design does have the benefit of exhausting hot air directly outside the case, which can be particularly helpful in multi-GPU configs. Still, there’s something to be said for the large, conventional fans AMD’s partners typically put on their cards.

Yeah, so, no need to worry about your shiny new 7800-series Radeon overheating. That kind of thermal headroom should be helpful to overclockers, as well. Speaking of which…

Overclocking

When we were briefed about the 7800 series last week, one AMD representative told us he pushed the Radeon HD 7870 from its stock 1000MHz clock speed to 1200MHz without so much as a voltage increase. We were curious to put that claim to the test, so we did.

We used MSI’s excellent Afterburner tool to control clock speeds and GPU voltage, AMD’s Catalyst Control Center to max out the PowerTune setting, and MSI’s Kombustor application to test stability and get a quick sense of performance. Rather than relate my findings in prose, I’m going to paste in my notes. They should be fairly self-explanatory.

By the way, we found that the card’s memory silently reverted to its default speed (1200MHz) when overclocked too high. The only way to tell was to run Kombustor’s built-in benchmark at each setting and see where performance peaked.

core:

1100MHz — OK after 5 min burn-in

1200MHz — OK after 5 min burn-in

1300MHz — crash

1275MHz — crash

1250MHz — crash

1225MHz — crash

memory:

1200MHz — 6414 kombustor — stock

1300MHz — 6894 kombustor — OK after 5-min burn-in

1400MHz — 6423 kombustor — (resets to stock)

1350MHz — 7186 kombustor — OK after 5-min burn-in

1375MHz – 7312 kombustor — OK after 5-min burn-in

overvolting:

1300/1375MHz — 1.250v — crash

1300/1375MHz — 1.275v — crash

1300/1375MHz — 1.300v — crash

1275/1375MHz — 1.300v — OK after 5-min burn-in

Without overvolting, we succeeded in running the Radeon HD 7870 at 1200MHz with its memory chugging along at 1375MHz. Score one for AMD. We didn’t stop there, of course. Once we raised the GPU voltage from 1218mV to 1300mV, we were able to squeeze an extra 75MHz out of the GPU. That left us with core and memory speeds 28% and 15% above stock, respectively. How did that translate in terms of gaming performance?

Yow! We’re looking at a 20% increase in average frame rates, which is pretty spectacular. Did overclocking raise power consumption through the roof?

Apparently not. We recorded a 17W increase under load, which still puts the 7870 below even the old Radeon HD 6870.

Something tells me AMD’s partners are going to be rushing to offer Radeon HD 7870 variants with higher-than-stock clock speeds. If vanilla retail cards are as overclockable as our sample, though, paying a premium for a superclocked card may not be necessary.

Conclusions

Let’s round things out with a couple of our famous scatter plots. We’re laying average performance (based on the results from the games we tested) along the Y axis and prices along the X axis. The sweet spot will be the card closest to the top left of the plot, while the worst will be closer to the bottom right. We fetched prices for the new Radeons from AMD, and other prices were gleaned from Newegg.

By the way, we’ve excluded Bulletstorm from our averages. The game skews things heavily in favor of the AMD cards, and considering the latency spike issue we encountered, we didn’t think that was fair. The numbers below account for average performance across our other test cases: Arkham City, Battlefield 3, Crysis 2, and Skyrim.

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.

What can we say? The Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition and Radeon HD 7850 are plainly more desirable than the old Radeon HD 6970 and 6950. They’re not only faster for the money, as the plots above show. They also have substantially lower power consumption and, if our experience with the 7870 is any indication, obscene amounts of overclocking headroom.

I’d say the two new Radeons are also better options than the comparable GeForces. It’s true the GeForce GTX 560 Ti we tested isn’t one of the highest-clocked models, but the Radeon HD 7850 is so much faster, I doubt a clock speed increase for the GeForce would bridge the gap. The Nvidia parts also had more trouble maintaining consistently low frame times in the games we tested, a fact that’s reflected in our 99th percentile FPS per dollar plot.

And, again, the Radeons are way more power-efficient.

Those are all remarkable achievements, but they’re diminished by AMD’s somewhat conservative pricing. The key thing to note is that Pitcairn is considerably smaller than the GPUs inside the Radeon HD 6900 and GeForce GTX 560 series. In fact, it’s even smaller than Barts, a chip that powers Radeon HD 6800-series cards priced as low as $140. It seems like a given that the Radeon HD 7850 will find its way south of the $200 mark eventually, and that is a truly exciting prospect. Heck, we may even be treated to a price war once Nvidia’s 28-nm Kepler GPUs come out. If that happens, AMD clearly has plenty of ammunition.

As excellent as these new Radeons are, I’m a little bit disappointed by AMD’s choice of cooler for the Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition. (We can’t really comment on the 7850, since our sample wasn’t representative of retail offerings.) Considering the Pitcairn GPU’s modest power requirements, I’d have liked AMD to tune its reference cooler for lower noise levels. That said, since few retail cards use reference coolers these days, that point may be moot.

Comments closed
    • Cyril
    • 8 years ago

    Correction: in the original version of this article, the testing methods page listed the wrong AMD and Nvidia drivers. The cards were actually tested with the Catalyst 8.95.5-120224a and GeForce 295.73 WHQL drivers.

    • Tamale
    • 8 years ago

    This just makes me all the happier I was able to snag a 2gb 6970 for $200 not too long ago 🙂

    • badpool
    • 8 years ago

    As mentioned near the end of the article “Inside the Second”, Nvidia does actually attempt to compensate for variations in frame time, but does so in a manner that isn’t detectable by FRAPS. A qualitative analysis, in addition to the data already provided, would probably cover all the bases. Another way would be to use a high-speed camera to film the game then analyze the video, but this is considerably more expensive.

    I’m mentioning this because I currently own both a 6950 and a 570 GTX. I find that the geforce provides a much smoother, more consistant, gaming experience to my eyes, even when I run them in the exact same system with Vsync enabled (which caps the FPS). The different is so significant to my enjoyment of games that I’m considering avoiding Radeons altogether for this upcoming generation, and I’d love to have my concerns put to rest.

    Anyway, just my 2c.

      • ptsant
      • 8 years ago

      It’s already hard to detect the occasional drop under 50 fps (these cards are usually at the 100+ range). I am finding it very difficult to believe that you can visually follow slight fluctuations. Anyway, it shouldn’t be hard to calculate the variance for frame time, which is an excellent measure of variability.

        • wierdo
        • 8 years ago

        it somewhat subjective, different people are sensitive to these changes in different ways, for me I can detect some changes at a certain level, but a friend of mine is more sensitive and gets some kind of motion sickness when the frames are not “fluid” enough for his perception to compensate for it.

        Could be more/less severe depending on the test subject I think.

          • badpool
          • 8 years ago

          I suppose I’m a bit like your friend, though I don’t get sick, just annoyed. I notice what seems to be occasional slowdowns (once every 1-2 sec, sometimes longer periods). It feels like being in a car with a driver who constantly releases the gas pedal.

          Another weakness I’ve noticed in my 6950 is that when I move up close to a wall everything slows down. Try it: go near a wall and rotate your FOV so that your FOV moves across the large area facing the wall, then passes in front of the wall, and then back around again. I’d recommend you use the keyboard or gamepad to move to ensure a constant speed. I find it very apparent on my AMD, but the Geforce doesn’t seem to slow down at all. It’s ridiculous.

            • ultima_trev
            • 8 years ago

            I have both a GTX 470 and HD 6850, my experience is the opposite. With the exception of Arkham City and Crysis 2 (and that’s only with Tessellation enabled), the Radeon provides much smoother gameplay. Tessellation was they only weakness for HD5xxx/HD6xxx. Now that HD 7xxx has seemed to have done away with that weakness, the only nVidia SKUs of any redeeming value are the GF114 based GTX 560 / 560 Ti, simply because they have no price competitor. If you’re gonna spring for something higher, might as well get an HD 7870 since it curbstomps anything based on GF110.

    • ptsant
    • 8 years ago

    Prices are a bit high, but you do get a better card than the 6xxx equivalent (GPGPU, power, noise, overclocking, video encoder, PCI 3.0). The comparison with the 6850 is unfair, knowing that even the 5850 was superior to the 6850 so don’t get confused.

    The most obvious problem with the current lineup is the absence of a competitive product in the $200 price point as written in the review. For those willing to pay more, I’d say that the 7950 is the card to get, although I have a hard time justifying the upgrade from my 5850 for 1920×1200 gaming…

    • ultima_trev
    • 8 years ago

    On the topic of price: While HD 7xxx may be overpriced now, this will surely change by the time the HD 8xxx series shows later this year. If you’re looking for an HD 7xxx card for $75 to $100 cheaper than current pricing, you’ll just have to wait. If you’re already sitting on a GTX 560 or HD 6950 then there is little incentive to upgrade currently, unless you really need a more environmentally friendly HTPC card yet with some muscle (I definitely see the HD 7850 in my future).

    Overlooking price, the performance per watt and performance per die size on Pitcairn is astounding. Considering performance and power draw metrics of HD 7870, it renders Cayman, GF110 and Tahiti obsolete, similar to what the midrange HD 6870 did to the high end HD 5870 but on a more profound level.

    Pricing aside, Pitcairn is AMD’s greatest product debut since Athlon 64.

      • shank15217
      • 8 years ago

      At $200/300 7850/7870 and a month earlier, this would be legendary.. so much so.. it wouldn’t be in stock.

    • mno
    • 8 years ago

    “A new pair of graphics cards bas”

    Should be has instead of bas.

    • swaaye
    • 8 years ago

    I think this might be the first new GPU generation that sets prices by a similar performance-per-price as the previous generation? I think I’ll watch from afar for a few generations. Let the PS360 era pass and watch what happens.

      • Farting Bob
      • 8 years ago

      Its quite common in the GPU world. AMd release a clearly great product at an inflated price because they know that Nvidia will be months late to the party. Gradually old cards are phased out and by the time NV shows up AMD is able to drop prices if needed.

    • ultima_trev
    • 8 years ago

    With the HD 7870 performing so close to HD 79xx, there’s really no point in the latter being priced so high. In fact, it seems seriously under performing considering the theoretical advantage…

    Nevermind HD 79xx, HD 7870 is the definitive Fermi killer. Kepler is gonna have to be a massive improvement in performance per watt and/or performance per dollar to compete with Pitcairn.

      • Arclight
      • 8 years ago

      I think they can do it, nvidia i mean, considering that the performance gap between the GTX 500 series and the HD 7000 series isn’t that high. Just by using a smaller fabrication node and adding more bells and whistles they could easily regain the performance crown.

      But they are using a new architecture and we all know by now how much nvidia loves GPU computing so we shall see how much of those transistors will actually be used to accelerate, well, games.

    • Bensam123
    • 8 years ago

    Just another mid range card… Zerocore is still intriguing. It would be nice if you guys compared it to technologies like Lucids Virtu or at least attempt to contrast the two.

    • LoneWolf15
    • 8 years ago

    Once again makes me glad I bought my 6970. Priced only $20 higher than the 7870 at its launch, and still competes reasonably well with it. Sure, the 7970 is much faster, but I can’t justify that price increase when my games play well at 1920×1200.

    I think I’ll skip a generation, or (as much as I like AMD) see what Kepler brings to the price/performance table. It will be interesting to see nVidia’s next move.

    • Prion
    • 8 years ago

    Silly question: are there any video cards that completely lack an analog output? I assume the DVI output is still a DVI-I on these cards.

      • UberGerbil
      • 8 years ago

      If there are I won’t be buying one, because I still have a very useful little VGA-only LCD I use as a tertiary screen.

      At this point the DAC is effectively free and the connector is already there so I don’t see much benefit to omitting the analog signals, and you’d get the odd irate customer who didn’t do his homework and expected to plug his old VGA screen in (like me).

      Unless they were doing away with the DVI connector altogether, which I suppose is possible. In that case, though, I’d like to see a GPU card vendor try omitting HDMI as well and going DisplayPort-only to avoid the Silicon Image royalties (which admittedly are fairly nominal). Of course that would annoy far more potential customers than omitting analog would (and they couldn’t put adapters in the box without paying the royalties again), The only manufacturer who can get away with that is Apple.

    • Farting Bob
    • 8 years ago

    Well i was fairly sure the 7850 was going to be my next purchase, and damnit, i was spot on. Excellent performance, with surely better power consumption to come once proper retail boards come out, and for a surprisingly good value considering the competition. I only game at 1200p, anything more than a 7850 would be a waste right now.

    • thesmileman
    • 8 years ago

    I really like you TR but if you are going to have a section on GPGPU computing could you at least mention things like the double precision performance. It is frustrating to have to go to other sites who cover this information.

    other than that great coverage.

      • mako
      • 8 years ago

      Seconded, I’d also like to see more on GPGPU aspects.

      • UberGerbil
      • 8 years ago

      You might want to suggest freely-available GPGPU applications that you would like to see TR include in its benchmarks.

    • chrissodey
    • 8 years ago

    The only thing that excites me about these new cards is crossfire with two 7850s and only using two PCIe 6pin power adaptors. The last time a mid range card really pushed price vs performance was with the 8800GT.

      • khands
      • 8 years ago

      I think you mean the 5850, or the 4870 if you’re really so inclined.

        • chrissodey
        • 8 years ago

        Umm…no.

        The 5850 was too expensive when it came out and the 4870 was consistantly beat by the GTX 260.

          • khands
          • 8 years ago

          Some rose colored glasses there, the 4870 brought retail prices way down all around and the 8800 was way more expensive at launch than most people remember. The 8800 GTS 320 launched at like $300 which was around where the 5850 started.

    • flip-mode
    • 8 years ago

    It’s psychologically challenging for me to accept that the 7870 is the successor to the 6870 when the 6870 launched at $250 while the 7870 is launching at $350. But it is what it is.

    Edit:
    So the 5870 that I bought December 29 for $150 is typically as fast as the $250 7850. I have to say I feel good about that. There are a few games where the 5870 lags by as much as 10 percent but typically it’s just as fast. Nice. It would have taken years for the low power consumption of the 7850 to pay that back. The only appreciable disadvantage the 5870 seems to have is that it does more spikes into lower frame rate territory.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 8 years ago

      it’s a number. Compare price/performance and move on.

        • flip-mode
        • 8 years ago

        You’re totally right. I’m dragging myself over to that mindset.

        • yogibbear
        • 8 years ago

        But the next gen should shift the curve slightly towards the upper left…. it just shifts it marginally upwards……

          • derFunkenstein
          • 8 years ago

          As the discussion in the 7770/7750 review thread points out, that will happen…it just won’t happen until the old stock is gone.

            • flip-mode
            • 8 years ago

            The notion that launch pricing is off limits to criticism continues to be a tough concept for me, but I’m forcing that kool aid down too. Soon I’ll have myself conditioned to QFT all your posts and down vote the dissidents.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 8 years ago

            Nobody says it’s off-limits. Well, I don’t anyway. What I say is that the price will drop. The answer is just to wait it out. You’re apparently antsy to upgrade, and these are tempting to be sure, but you’ll be well-suited to wait until they hit your price point. I fail to see how sound buying advice is squashing conversation.

            • flip-mode
            • 8 years ago

            With a 5870 that’s as fast as the 7850, I’m not so antsy 😀 Hey, and interestingly enough, they’re the same set of numbers! And the 8750 will be too! There’d be some kinda poetry if it ended up that the 5870, 7850, and 8750 all ended up having the same performance.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 8 years ago

            I hope so because an 8750 should be a $150-ish card. 😀

      • danny e.
      • 8 years ago

      Inflation. thanks gove.

        • Kaleid
        • 8 years ago

        Always the fault of governments…never corporate greed.

          • tfp
          • 8 years ago

          Right because companies inject trillions of dollars into the economy to increase the general money supply and keep interest rates down.

            • Kaleid
            • 8 years ago

            Companies purchase those things called politicians.

            • SPOOFE
            • 8 years ago

            You’re suggesting AMD bought off politicians in an effort to jack up the prices of their products?

            Tinfoil, meet hat.

            • insulin_junkie72
            • 8 years ago

            I’d like to see the type of politician AMD could afford. 😛

            Senators would probably be too expensive. A House Representative from a smallish population like Montana or something might be the cap of their budget.

            • Kaleid
            • 8 years ago

            In 2005 there were 36k+ registered lobbyists in Washington. Purchasing politicians is a standard procedure. I agree with Abramoff, the whole system is corrupt.

          • BobbinThreadbare
          • 8 years ago

          Inflation isn’t a bad thing mostly anyways.

        • Meadows
        • 8 years ago

        In two months?

        • flip-mode
        • 8 years ago

        Inflation means my pay should increase at the same time.

          • Meadows
          • 8 years ago

          Yes, it means [i<]it should[/i<].

        • UberGerbil
        • 8 years ago

        Right, because a 2%-3% inflation rate over the past couple of years entirely explains that $250 to $350 delta in price.

          • Krogoth
          • 8 years ago

          Inflation is only part of the problem.

          I think the culprit is the rising R&D costs. They are skyrocketing and it is becoming harder and harder to double the transistor count. Most gamers don’t understand the amount of engineering involved in designing a modern GPU. Physics is making it challenging as well, because it is becoming more difficult to move to smaller nodes without yields becoming poor and turning the products into blast furnaces.

          • JustAnEngineer
          • 8 years ago

          It’s not just domestic inflation. There are exchange rate concerns, too.

          It seems likely TSMC’s 28nm wafers may be priced significantly higher than their 40nm wafers, eating up some of the cost savings from fitting more dies on a wafer.

            • UberGerbil
            • 8 years ago

            Exchange rates with whom? The Chinese have fixed their rates in a narrow range against the dollar. The Taiwanese Dollar has been essentially flat against the US dollar. The Euro has actually declined. There may come a time when the various forms of “quantitative easing” enacted over the past 4+ years make electronics expensive for American consumers, but that hasn’t happened yet.

            There are plenty of reasons for AMD to price the same class of GPU at $250 in one generation and $350 in another, but “inflation” isn’t one of them.

      • no51
      • 8 years ago

      For what it’s worth, I felt that the HD6000 series were priced a little lower than they usually were (for the number designation, but they were priced about right for the performance).

      For example, from TR’s own reviews:
      [quote<]Cards like this one from VisionTek should start selling online today at around $299. That's another hundred bucks over the 4850, but then you're getting a lot more card.[/quote<] [quote<]AMD says the plan is for Radeon HD 5870 cards to be available for purchase today at a price of $379.[/quote<] [quote<] At $239, the Radeon HD 6870 supplants the Radeon HD 5850, yet the newer card costs less, has a higher ROP rate and slightly more memory bandwidth, with comparable specs otherwise.[/quote<]

      • piecerad
      • 8 years ago

      very valid, still sticking by my 5850. regarding pricing, these are essentially price elastic luxury products so prices are based almost purely on market conditions, just needs more competition.

      • Krogoth
      • 8 years ago

      MFW, when you think 5870 as fast as 7850.

      5870 reviews used older games with no AA/AF at lower resolutions.

      7850 reviews used newer games with high levels of AA/AF starting at 2Megapixels.

      Not exactly an apples to oranges comparison.

      FYI, the 5870 is roughly 2-10% faster than 6870. Cypress’s weakness has always been tessellation performance which will hurt it in modern games that use it.

      • Thresher
      • 8 years ago

      They segment by price first, the model numbers are irrelevant.

      ATI has had a model number creep problem since the 4000 series with the highest model number coming in at the same price (or thereabouts), but the model number being higher. What has remained unchanged is the price points and the relative performance of the products within their own model line up. So, whatever the model is that’s the midpoint, it comes in at $250 or so with the next model coming in around $100 more with a similar performance delta as the models from the series before at those price points.

      • anotherengineer
      • 8 years ago

      That’s one way of looking at it, but you should also consider features. The 6850 doesn’t have zero core, or the new UVD engine, etc. There is also the 2GB of ram that adds to the cost and the new 28nm manf. process. When the 6850 was released the 40nm process was out for quite awhile, I mean the 4770 was 40 nm.

      And I am sure the partners will use cheaper voltage chips and 1 GB ram versions which will result in a less expensive card too.

      Part of me says I should have waited for the 7850, but then again I got my 6850 for $145 and a game which I sold for 20 bucks.

      Edit – I am kind of disappointed in the review for a few reasons
      a. no source engine game benchmark
      b. no folding benchmark
      c. no benchmarks testing features like the new decoder
      d. no benchmarks testing for video quality (jaggies, etc.)

      Logically speaking if the video card can/will be used for these things and it is capable of doing these things, and the purpose of a review is to examine what the card can do and how well it can do it, then why are these things missing?

      • Bensam123
      • 8 years ago

      I didn’t see the 5870 in this review, unless you’re eluding to the 6970…

      It would be nice if they tested two generations ago, instead of just one. Somehow older generations get lost in the mix and somehow they come out seeming like a bargain compared to new cards.

        • Krogoth
        • 8 years ago

        Just take 6870 results and add 2-10% that’s what the 5870 would do, unless it involves tessellation which is where the 6xxx/7xxx parts will put ahead of it. 5xxx was always weak at tessellation.

          • shank15217
          • 8 years ago

          The 6870 evenly matches the 5870 in TR reviews and the 7850 is about 18-20 % faster on average than the 6870 so I have no idea where this comparison is coming from. You have to use the latest drivers to make a real comparison and the 7870/7850 tests used the latest drivers available for all the GPUs and the only valid numbers are from the 6870 series. The 5870 has a weak tessellation engine that hurts it significantly in DX11 games. For whatever it’s worth tessellation seems to be the only real feature used (abused?) in DX11 currently. AT has a tendency to compare newer cards against older cards using older drivers, its useful but not always accurate. The 7850 is a really good card for the price. Its about 80-90 less than 6970, uses only one pci-e power pin, runs cooler. It may not be a worthy upgrade for 5870 users but for anybody with a 48xx series or equivalent NV card this is the upgrade sweet spot ATM. I’m certainly gonna make a move this generation.

            • flip-mode
            • 8 years ago

            TR must be the only place where you can find a 6870 evenly matching a 5870. Under heavy tessellation the 6870 does pull up even or sometimes beat the 5870. The 5870 actually sits about midway between the 6870 and the 6950 – about 10% from either.

            The 6870 is a fantastic product. The efficiency of the VLIW 5 shaders in Barts is pretty amazing. It’s a shorter card than the 5870, uses less power, and provides essentially the same game play even if it technically trails a little in performance. But I did end up picking a 5870 over a 6870 because I could get it for $30 less than the 6870 that I wanted and it does actually perform higher in most cases, so it was hard not to find the value in that.

            As for tessellation – so far it is as disappointing of a “feature” as any other that has ever been. Seriously. It’s such a pathetic situation that I think the gaming community should raise a little cain over it. Turn it on in Deus Ex – absolutely no discernible difference. Turn it on in Metro – you can actually see a difference here but you really have to strain to see it – it is a very extremely minuscule improvement in the quality of the character models. Crysis 2 – we all know what a ridiculous farce tessellation is in that game. At this point tessellation is a complete write off unless there’s a game that makes good use of it that I don’t know about. Turn it off – there’s no appreciable difference between having it off or on and your games will play better.

          • Bensam123
          • 8 years ago

          There wasn’t a 6870 in this review…

          The 6970 is a much faster variant then the 6870, particularly in DX10/11 applications. The 5970 is a dual processor card. The 6970 is not.

          Ridiculous number soup.

          [url<]https://techreport.com/articles.x/20126/8[/url<]

            • Krogoth
            • 8 years ago

            Look at Page 2 again.

            [quote<]Asus Radeon HD 6870 DirectCU[/quote<]

            • Bensam123
            • 8 years ago

            Alright, there it is… I was looking at the line graphs and didn’t look specifically at the bar graphs. For some reason the card isn’t present in the line graphs.

        • flip-mode
        • 8 years ago

        Anand.

    • flip-mode
    • 8 years ago

    A few thoughts, and they’re more about the games than the cards:

    1.) It probably keeps getting harder to choose the right suite of games and I generally think TechReport has chosen wisely. But, I wish TechReport would keep the original Crysis or Crysis Warhead in the mix for historical purposes. Or pick another game that extends back in time – some game that goes back a few years for people to really get some historical context.

    2.) Frames beyond 50 ms: perhaps I’m saying the obvious here, but this really looks like a problem that is in the game developers hands more so than the hardware or driver developers hands. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying Deus X:HR lately but graphically it’s no better than Half Life 2 was, but despite that I noticed hundreds of spots throughout the game where frame rates would suddenly drop and rebound, and it was repeatable – but for no obvious reason. Am I correct in thinking that crummy coding is to blame there?

    3.) Would it be possible for TR to put the measurement of frames per second in parenthesis next to the frame time on the graphs? Example: 40 (25). So in that example 40 is the MS and 25 is the FPS (did I do the math right there?).

    As for the cards – pretty great successors to the 6870 and 6850 but also still in keeping with AMD’s less than exciting pricing scheme. These cards will be great purchases in 6-12 months.

      • tfp
      • 8 years ago

      In regards to number there, the max ms per frame has always been the same as lowest FPS that other sites have shown but harder to read. The thing that is nice is that these graphs show the jitters.

    • Thresher
    • 8 years ago

    Forgive my ignorance, but I just don’t see anything remarkable about the next gen cards that would make me want to replace a current card. Other than power efficiency, we’re not seeing huge gains in processor performance, just seems more of a refinement than anything else.

    If someone already had a GeForce 560Ti or 560Ti 448, there doesn’t really seem to be any reason to upgrade at this point. Same for the 570.

      • ImSpartacus
      • 8 years ago

      There’s no price pressure from Nvidia yet. When Kepler arrives, we’ll see price cuts.

      Or they will just collude and rape us both ways…

        • indeego
        • 8 years ago

        [quote<]Or they will just collude and rape us both ways...[/quote<] As a colluder myself, I take great offense to this terminology.

      • flip-mode
      • 8 years ago

      If you consider that the 7870 is the successor to the 6870 and that it has a smaller die size and that it also is the Radeon’s serious introduction of GPGPU architecture then I think we really are seeing some definite gains in performance. The 7870 is smaller than the 6870 but faster than the GTX 570 / HD 6970. That’s a respectable advancement.

        • Thresher
        • 8 years ago

        I don’t buy that at all. They segment by price first, model number second. For what ever reason, they’ve been upping the model numbers at each price segment since the 5000 series, but retained the same pricing.

        At the $249 price segment, there is no reason to upgrade from a 560ti. In fact, you would be better served to move up to the 560Ti 448 if you had extra cash in your pockets. It would give you a better price/value relationship. At the $350 mark, same logic applies. The 570 offers nearly the same performance, so there is no reason to upgrade from that model to the newest generation of ATI kit.

        In the past, at each price segment, there has been a decent reason to upgrade. It doesn’t appear to be that way now, at least in the midrange and low end of the market.

          • cegras
          • 8 years ago

          Did you even read the review, or look at price/perf scatter plots in the conclusion?

            • derFunkenstein
            • 8 years ago

            surely what he means is if you already have a card that was tested in this review, is it worth spending $250-300 to get the benefits? I would say no. If you had a 5850 or a GTX 460, that becomes more worthwhile.

            • cegras
            • 8 years ago

            He says:

            [quote<]At the $249 price segment, there is no reason to upgrade from a 560ti. In fact, you would be better served to move up to the 560Ti 448 if you had extra cash in your pockets.[/quote<] To which I heartily lol.

            • Thresher
            • 8 years ago

            Why would you laugh at that?

            The 448 gives performance near the 570 level for $50 less. It fits in between the 7870 and the 7850 and outperforms the 7850. Seems to me, if you had a 560Ti and you were dead set on getting a card of the next generation but weren’t ready to spend more than what you paid for your 560Ti, it would be a waste of money. You’d be better off spending a little more and getting the next level of performance at a lower cost, even if it’s not the newest gen.

            • cegras
            • 8 years ago

            At 249 the 7850 completely renders the 560 Ti moot.

            • flip-mode
            • 8 years ago

            5850 is as fast as the 6870; 5870 as fast as the 6950 / 7850…. but yes, I’m nitpicking your post – apologies – I think you’re right about Thresher’s intended meaning.

            Anyone who bought a 5850 way back when sure did buy a hell of a lasting card. The record for card with the longest legs still probably goes to the 8800 GTX for the time being, but the 5870 and 5850 could match it’s record.

            • JustAnEngineer
            • 8 years ago

            Negative. The Radeon 9700Pro was well ahead of its time. Before that, go back to the original GeForce 256.

            • flip-mode
            • 8 years ago

            9700 Pro was epic, but I feel that 8800 GTX easily had legs just as long as the 9700 Pro, in terms of how many years you could keep the thing in service as your gaming card and keep playing the current games at satisfying detail settings. Both epic cards.

            • swaaye
            • 8 years ago

            8800GTX would still be decent today. I occasionally mess with an 8800GT and find it runs the PS360PC selection of today adequately.

            Frankly I think we’ve been wasting a lot of money on video cards for years now. We’ve replaced upgrading-by-necessity with upgrading-for-a-few-more-FPS-with-AA-and-2560×1600.

            • flip-mode
            • 8 years ago

            I agree the 8800 GTX is still serviceable today, some 5.5 years later. I think we continue to upgrade because we’re computer enthusiasts and we LIKE BUYING NEW COMPUTER PARTS. That’s my reason. I see new tech and I say “me want”.

            • swaaye
            • 8 years ago

            lol I hear ya. I find it equally rewarding to look back though and play with old hardware that is super cheap now but wasn’t when new. It also diverts my attention from blowing big money on new hotness. Although, a dearth of new mindblowing games does that well too.

            • itachi
            • 8 years ago

            yea i got a 5870 it sounds like it will last some more time, the only game that i have troubles with is BF3, constant spikes but i think it’s not even the card.. some memory leak probably because even at low settings it still lags, also i have still a c2d e8500 and running games at 1900×1200 so it’s tough lol, like skyrim i have all maxed but x2 aa , and metro for instance all maxed but if i switch MSAAx4 and advanced depth of field it goes 5fps, 30fps+smooth without it) ..but running at a fairly ok overclock of 4.4 ghz (meaning if you got a better cpu it will run games even smoother than me) also before upgrading to this i had a x1950xtx which lasted me a while too ! and also, I went from dx9 to dx11 🙂

            • flip-mode
            • 8 years ago

            I bet that your BF3 problems are to due with your E8500 more than your HD 5870. Newer games are really starting to embrace multiple cores and slower quad cores will usually beat faster dual cores, sometimes by a fair margin.

            Take a look here
            [url<]https://techreport.com/articles.x/21987/6[/url<] at how the P-II X4 840 @ 3.2 is 50% faster than the P-II X2 565 @ 3.4 - that's an ENORMOUS difference. Interestingly the P-II X3 455 @ 3.3 shows virtually zero scaling, so that's odd.

            • cegras
            • 8 years ago

            The 5870 is consistently 10% slower than the 7850, according to techpowerup.

            • flip-mode
            • 8 years ago

            You hurt my feelings!

            • cegras
            • 8 years ago

            I just hate it when other people win at the ‘buying now and not regretting it later’ game.

            I need help.

            • flip-mode
            • 8 years ago

            LOL. Well I’m certainly glad it worked out in my case.

            • Thresher
            • 8 years ago

            This is what I was saying.

            There is no compelling reason to update your card to whatever the current equivalent pricepoint model is from ATI. Not yet anyway.

            • clone
            • 8 years ago

            I disagree on a few things, perf over previous gen and pricing being the 2, my GTX 460 768mb has proven to be a poor purchase over time, any money I saved is now lost and I wish I had just bought an ATI HD 58xx series card because unlike Nvidia who offered 768mb versions ATI stuck to 1gb or more which has resulted in them aging far better as time goes on.

            add to that a display upgrade and my GTX 460 is pooh, pooh and really needs to be replaced unlike the HD 58xx’s of generations past which have soldiered on as mentioned by others quite nicely.

          • flip-mode
          • 8 years ago

          Please, for your own safety, around these parts do not let slip from your lips any utterance that AMD is overpricing these cards – they’re “clearing the channel”.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 8 years ago

            Oh, they’re certainly more than I’m willing to pay, but I think patience will show that prices will drop

          • sweatshopking
          • 8 years ago

          why would you upgrade from a 560ti?!? you got money to burn?! that’s insane. it’s nvidia’s most recent midrange card!!! it’s still current gen!! my god man! I, and most people if steam is right, still run nvidia 8k and amd 4k series cards! in that case, it’s not a bad upgrade.

            • no51
            • 8 years ago

            Didn’t TR do a poll a while ago on how often people update their video card?

      • clone
      • 8 years ago

      in the last 8 years has anything been launched that was truly compelling enough?

      software never supports the new features until later, games don’t stress hardware like they used to….. so really in the past 8 years has their been a time when gamers really had to upgrade to the latest from the last generation?

      their have been a lot of good cards over the years but not one at time of launch offered enough to throw out the last gen and get the new.

      that said my card is done afaic and I’ll be getting something this year.

        • flip-mode
        • 8 years ago

        Shoot, most of the last 8 years has been technologically compelling. It’s the prices that aren’t compelling, not the products. And yes, yes, prices will come down so it’s just a matter of patience. But there have been plenty of products in the last 8 years that were both technologically compelling and priced right at the same time. It’s probably a very long list, really.

          • clone
          • 8 years ago

          I disagree almost entirely.

          if the tech was compelling ppl wouldn’t complain about price, if the price was compelling ppl wouldn’t complain about performance, instead all you see and hear is complaints about one or the other.

          it’s not a long list at all.

          AMD released the HD 4xxx series and that series was compelling because it redefined pricing at it’s time…… everything else vapor because it couldn’t find the right mix….. gotta hit the mark on both fronts or it just doesn’t matter until later.

          the long list is down to just one.

          p.s. I’m not talking about products, I’m talking about video cards.

          on the cpu side it’s even worse as it takes 5 years or more to make cpu’s obsolete and by obsolete I’m saying unable to perform requested tasks within a reasonable time frame, it’s why so few dual core comps are for sale used…. they are getting sold but many ppl just pass them to family because they are fast enough even the very first Athlon dual cores and P4’s.

    • [+Duracell-]
    • 8 years ago

    The 7870 looks mighty tempting! Maybe once the prices come down, I’ll pick one up to replace my 5850 🙂

    But I need to replace my Phenom X3 720 first…

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 8 years ago

    Oh god these prices or ridiculous. Not in a value sense but in the sense that they don’t allow the cards to hit their eventual targets, or co-exist with the last gen line up.

    I expect we’ll see prices fluctuating in the next month so to make the AMD lineup not have so many gaps and overlaps in it.

    Edit: Yes give me some more thumbs downs. I only speak the truth, just look at the value charts above flipping AMD didn’t know it was launching its own cards, they go head to head more directly than with Nvidia cards at price points.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 8 years ago

    On page 1:

    [quote<]Nevertheless, the Radeon HD 7850 and Radeon HD 7850 GHz Edition[/quote<] Should be, "Nevertheless, the Radeon HD 7850 and Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition"? edit: Finally an outright winner from AMD in the 7000 series. Universally faster than the cards it competes against at its given price range, and it's priced in a range that PC gamers are willing to pay (i.e. under $400). Hopefully it won't be too inflated upon availability.

    • FuturePastNow
    • 8 years ago

    Looks like a great card. Priced to [b<]not[/b<] sell.

      • Duck
      • 8 years ago

      Did you read the review?

        • FuturePastNow
        • 8 years ago

        Yes. At $250 and $350 the words “price to performance ratio” lose relevance, as that’s simply priced too high for a large majority of gamers.

        They’re $100 more than the 6800 series they nominally replace. That is unacceptable and a recipe for low sales volumes.

          • Arclight
          • 8 years ago

          We have been spoiled by the price wars between the GTX 460 and HD 6800….
          Hopefully we will get the same “treatment” at some point this year, if nvidia rises to the occasion.

    • dpaus
    • 8 years ago

    The competitive situation for Nvidia isn’t very appealing right now: AMD has it’s full range of cards more-or-less out, and they’re selling them at premium prices (and according to our suppliers, they are selling well). When Nvidia brings its cards out, which I’m sure will be performance-competitive, AMD will immediately undercut them in price, forcing Nvidia to respond quickly, and denying them the ‘early adopter’ revenue that AMD has been collecting for several weeks now.

    Furthermore, the overclocking headroom and potential for stepping/process improvements mean that AMD could quickly launch a second generation of 7000-series cards to establish new performance levels, and if Nvidia isn’t prepared to match those on launch day, AMD could enjoy a second round of revenue advantage.

    If I was in Nvidia’s product planning/engineering labs, I’d be working overtime to bring the next-next generation chips out as soon as possible. Of course, if I was in AMD’s corresponding laps, I’d be trying to do the exact same thing – and this time, I have a bit of cash to do it with.

    Assuming AMD gains some market share with these cards, they can also expect to enjoy better mind-share with developers, and I’m sure they’re preparing themselves to exploit that as much as they can too.

    Interesting times ahead for GPU enthusiasts….

      • esterhasz
      • 8 years ago

      I don’t think that the “early adopter” revenue is all that significant. It’s certainly a nice little bonus but AFAIK chipmakers pay per wafer (and not just good chips) and the yields are certainly not amazing right now. With the fab process maturing, the reduction in sales price is dampened by good yields and large volume shipments will only kick in after a couple of months in the market.

      AMD was much earlier to market with DX11 that Nvidia (was it around 6 months? more? I don’t remember) and that certainly helped but that advantage eroded quickly and the 6000 series was far less successful than the 5000 series (at least when looking at the Steam Hardware survey).

      The real money question, in my view, is whether the new architecture can gain a little more traction in the pro and HPC markets. For the moment even Cray, AMD’s biggest partner for supercomputing, uses Tesla cards exclusively…

      • willmore
      • 8 years ago

      Very good analysis. +1

    • jokinin
    • 8 years ago

    Looks like time for me to upgrade my radeon 4870 has arrived.
    Problem is, i will probably get a new computer at the same time. Should I wait for Ivy Bridge? Ah… this video card is so tempting 🙂

      • flip-mode
      • 8 years ago

      You should wait for IB and for Nvidia cards to potentially trigger price cuts.

      • hieu.noob
      • 8 years ago

      Toally agreeing with flip-mode, AMD is being super conservative on their prices due to lack of 28nm competition from Nvidia. In a few months, I hope to see the prices settle to $200 for the 7850 and $300 for the 7870.

        • khands
        • 8 years ago

        I’m betting less than that after launch of competitive parts from NV, especially if the green team decides to work on performance more than anything else, something that I feel AMD left a bit of on the table.

      • AustinW
      • 8 years ago

      Yep, the 7850 looks like it will be a fine replacement for my old 4850 once it drops to $200 or below : )

    • glacius555
    • 8 years ago

    Running a flashed HD6950 2GB on a 1200p display here, exactly same specs as the test rig in this review. Guess will keep it for a year or more, unless nVidia surprises.. OR upgrade the platform and wait another year..

    Thanks a for a nice review!

    PS. Quite surprised that HD6870 outperforms HD6950 in Battlefield 3.

    • Arclight
    • 8 years ago

    7970 came out – everyone was like: “Oh my gosh the best single GPU card on the planet but the price is too damn high!!1111eleven”
    7950 launched – everyone was like “Wow performs the same or better than the GTX 580 while consuming less power and by OCing it can easily reach or even surpass stock HD 7970”.
    7870 launched- everyone was like “7950 who? This is way more reasonable in terms of price/performance but it’s still high compared to the old tech despite the lower power consumption and higher performance”.

    Can’t wait to see everyone’s reaction when nvidia does launch their cards.

    Edit:
    I’m amazed by the GPU temp of the GTX 570 DirectCu II. Can’t wait to see the temps of the 7870 with a cooler like that.

      • HisDivineOrder
      • 8 years ago

      Geforce 666 launched – “Wow, performs better than the 7970, costs $199 with a $66 instant rebate and a $34 MIR. Comes with BF3, Batman: AC, The Darkness 2, MW3, TOR, Guild Wars 2 (exclusively to Geforce 666 owners), and a “Geforce Forever” tattoo to put on your forehead.

      Gamers all over the globe mark themselves. The Apocalypse begins. Turns out… Doom had it right. We’re all in space suits with guns we somehow hold in the middle of our chests, and we have to gun down floating blobs and flying skulls to get to Hell where we can stop cybernetic evil from destroying us all.

      On the plus side, AMD will drop the price on the entire 7xxx series by $10 through a MIR program that promises to get you your rebate “assuming we all survive an invasion into Hell and assuming you send in every document in triplicate with each envelope mailed exactly three days apart, postmarked, and that every envelope arrives by exactly the 14 day mark from date of purchase. And assuming that you spend the Visa cash card provided within the alotted 2 hour time frame on a Sunday at 4 AM.”

      See, it’s not all bad.

        • Arclight
        • 8 years ago

        You had me until the part where AMD drops the price 🙂
        +1 for effort and creativity. Soon i think we will have a creative writing contest.

    • can-a-tuna
    • 8 years ago

    Again, very nvidia friendly game titles chosen (I guess all of them are TWIMTBP) but new Radeons still managed to take clean victory.

    How about adding: Metro 2033, Dirt 3, Deus Ex, Aliens vs Predator,…

    • Pantsu
    • 8 years ago

    7870 looks like a great card in the current market, offering near 580 performance for considerably less. 7850 looks more like a replacement for 6950 in terms of price/performance, but since those are EOL it’s not like we have a choice atm. AMD pricing is unfortunate for the customers, but in current market conditions they’re justified. Blame Nvidia for not competing. That said, if rumors are correct, GK104 will arrive this month, so personally I might wait until that before buying a 7xxx card.

    I’d recommend Techreport to use Fraps calc for their reviews, it gives a really good overview of game performance. I especially like the FPS spectrum it gives. You should definetely add something similar to your frametime analysis.
    [url<]http://www.overclock.net/t/1204040/fraps-calc-an-easy-way-to-make-a-nice-graph-of-your-fraps-frametimes[/url<]

      • HisDivineOrder
      • 8 years ago

      Blaming the competition is a sad game. “Product A is overpriced.” “Blame Product B. They didn’t show up.” “But… but it was the company behind Product A that made the call on what to price Product A.” “Still, it’s Product B we should blame for not being here.” “Shouldn’t the company that decided the price for the so-called ‘mainstream product’ would be a not-very-mainstream pricepoint be the one we blame?” “No. Competition is everything.”

      AMD does not have to milk its customers quite so egregiously. They do. They will continue to because they have no competition, but I refuse to blame nVidia for AMD overpricing everything. Yes, everything. I could understand the 7970 because that’s the top dog card and ridiculous prices for ridiculously little gain is par for the damn course.

      But then to price the 7770 and the 7870 the way they have, well that’s shameful. I remember when AMD made a lot of noise about how they were going to bring prices down to reasonable for gaming cards. That lasted like one year (ie., 4870) before the high end went back up to the high and every year, it’s gotten worse. Price/performance stagnates. Performance is going up slowly, but the prices are going up slowly, too.

      At this rate, soon AMD will need a 7670 line to be the real low-end, 7770 should be the mainstream, 7870 the high end, and 7970 the extreme end.

      Prices will drop once nVidia shows up, but it’s kinda silly to blame nVidia for AMD’s craptacular pricing. AMD chose its pricing. It didn’t have to. It did. They want to milk the market. Blame them for it, don’t try to defer blame to another company for not showing up. Blame AMD for what AMD does and blame nVidia for what nVidia does.

      If nVidia shows up and prices the same way, then blame them for that. But AMD’s the one screwing customers currently. Haha, remember last year when AMD showed up with the 68xx series and Anand was complaining because the 68xx series wasn’t quite good enough to replace the 58xx series? Except it was cheaper, so hey it was okay.

      Now it’s come full circle. The 78xx series took care of the cheaper part!

        • Pantsu
        • 8 years ago

        I’m not so sure AMD is milking the market all that much. Reports say TSMC wafer prices have gone up, and add to that extra GDDR it can make the new gen cards quite a bit more expensive to produce. If Nvidia will bring considerably better value I guess the milking accusation is validated, but we don’t know that yet. They are not competing currently, so they do take their part of the blame, neither of these companies are a charity, and AMD has no reason to not price their cards high if they wish so.

        You do know Nvidia makes a much higher profit on their graphics cards, while AMD graphics division has barely made any profit in the previous quarters? I wouldn’t call their margins milking, if anything Nvidia is the one that has some extra slack to give in terms of pricing. Especially the 580 is way overpriced, and that’s the card AMD has targeted with 7900 series.

        In any case, it’s better for AMD to price the new gen high because of limited competition and low production quantities. They made the mistake of underpricing 5000 series, and we all know what happened back then. So far it looks like the 7900 sales are going well for AMD and there are quite enough people willing to pay a little extra for the fastest card. Ultimately it’s the customers that vote with their wallets. Unfortunately at the moment AMD has the better deal, even if you don’t think the deal is good enough.

    • Palek
    • 8 years ago

    Sooo… Conclusion: the HD 6870 is a steal at current prices?

      • Krogoth
      • 8 years ago

      Pretty much.

      AMD wants to clear out its 6xxx stock and Caymans are near-empty. 😉

        • Palek
        • 8 years ago

        Well, I just gave them a hand with clearing out their inventory. Bought [url=http://www.hisdigital.com/un/product2-663.shtml<]this HD 6870-based puppy from HIS[/url<] for the bargain basement price of about $160. I've owned two HIS IceQ cards so far and they've all been whisper-quiet - I'm sure this one won't disappoint either. There must be a little bit of overclocking headroom left, too, thanks to that gigantor cooler.

      • Jigar
      • 8 years ago

      I am not sure how you are looking at it. HD 7850 once overclock even creams GTX 580.

        • Palek
        • 8 years ago

        I thought the part of my post where I said,
        [quote<]the HD 6870 is a steal at current prices[/quote<] was clear enough.

          • Jigar
          • 8 years ago

          Apologies i got it after i read it twice, but i would still not purchase a slow card if i was in the market right now.

            • Palek
            • 8 years ago

            I have a strict “buy old games only to match old hardware” policy that makes the HD 6870 fast enough. 🙂 I don’t play multiplayer games so I don’t have to worry about my games being “obsolete.”

            Works perfectly. Save on hardware, save on games, what’s not to like?

      • Alchemist07
      • 8 years ago

      yeh, but if you need more performance then 7850 is also a steal…(especially compared to 560 ti)

    • jjj
    • 8 years ago

    The value charts are not at all accurate.You could easily get a 6970 for 300$,saying “could”because AMD is being nasty enough to be pulling the 69xx series already since it was a better deal than the 78xx series.

    Intel CPUs are offering 15-20% perf gain every year and giving only that because they got no competition,AMD is going for 0 gains or less with the 7xxx series ,if Nvidia is stupid enough to go for the same strategy long term, they’ll hurt PC gaming and kill discrete GPU sales. Games will be made for consoles/phones and ported to do ok on integrated GPU,upgrade cycles for discrete will be a lot longer and without content that makes it worth it to own one, sales would collapse.So i really, really hope Nvidia won’t go for the short term gain here.

    • Krogoth
    • 8 years ago

    Pitcairn performs as I had expected. It delivers Cayman/GF110 level-performance with lower power consumption. You can pull off 4Megapixel gaming w/o AA/AF or effortlessly handle 2Megapixel gaming with high levels of AA/AF. This is unheard of at $249-349 price point, and it wasn’t that long ago that level of performance required going SLI/CF with high-end cards.

    The price tags aren’t surprising at all. These cards are meant to replace the existing Cayman line-up, 28nm process (methinks, TSMC is having trouble again) and AMD has little competition right now until Nvidia counterattacks with its Kepler and GK104-based parts.

      • N3M3515
      • 8 years ago

      OH, now they replace cayman?, weren’t you the one saying when 7770 launched that is was replacing 6770???????

      This series replaces BARTS my friend, so they are WAY off in pricing, 7870 costs $110 more than the card it replaces costed at launch ($240)

      Seriously, what’s up with you?, don’t want to see reality?

      And again, HD7770 launch: people whinning because 7770 was underperforming 6870 for the same price, but hey, the 6870 was not being replaced by it, it was the replacement for the 6770!, 30% faster, for 30 bucks more, how spectacular!! /sarcasm.

      So now what?, a full $110 more than the card it’s suposed to replace(6870 was $240 at launch). Outrageous.

      AMD, stop milking da f*cking market already.
      NVIDIA, get your sh*t together and release gk104!! (at $299 and faster than HD7950)

        • Krogoth
        • 8 years ago

        Look at the performance and price points.

        78xx series delivers Cayman performance for less power consumption. 78xx carries the same point for what currently goes for existing Cayman parts.

        They are effectively their replacements.

        AMD is following capitalism 101 to the letter and they have done so for years. Nvidia does the same thing as well when they had the lead.

          • trek205
          • 8 years ago

          up until the 7 series BOTH companies where giving more card per dollar with each generation. the 7870 is 45% faster than the 6870 and costs 45% more than the 6870 launched at. that is ZERO improvement at launch prices and of course the 6870 can be had for way way less that its launch price. the 7770 only looks good against the 6970 which was AMD’s top premium gpu card from last gen which was already a much worse value than the 6950 or 6970. even then the 7770 is not much better than the 6970.

          so again the 7770 is not impressive at all for a next gen 28nm card as its NO better than the 6870 when it comes to performance per dollar.

            • Krogoth
            • 8 years ago

            7xxx is following the same trend as well.

            Caymans at launch command $299-369 . GF110 went for even more 570 started at $399 and 580 was at a princely $500+.

            7850 not only bests the 6950, but it does it a lower launch price point. 7870 manages to beat 6970 do it, but with a smaller launch price margin. You have lower power consumption on top of that and the GPUs themselves have considerable room for overclocking.

            • trek205
            • 8 years ago

            no its not though. all AMD is doing this gen is giving you nearly the same performance per buck as last gen. in fact the 7970 and 7950 went up more in price then they did in performance. you are trying to compare the 7870 and 7850 to 6970 and 6950 when again the 6970 and 6950 were their more premium top single gpu cards from last gen.

            just like with the gtx580 and gtx570, the 6970 and 6950 did not have to have to same value as the mid range cards such as the gtx560 or 6800 series. the 7870 and 7850 replaces the 6870 and 6850 which again give ZERO performance increase per dollar because they are 45% faster but costs 40-45% more.

            and now the people that buy mid range cards have to pay nearly the price of high end cards from last gen. that is not progress at all.

            btw the gtx570 was $349 not $399.

        • Alchemist07
        • 8 years ago

        AMD should milk the market as much as possible, they are in debt, they need to!!!

        PS: I dont think the numbers are that important, it replaces whatever is in its same price range. People who would buy the 6950 would now consider the 7870…

          • WhatMeWorry
          • 8 years ago

          Well said. And AMD can always lower prices. Can you imagine the screaming and crying if AMD underpriced these new cards and had to raise prices?

          • bthylafh
          • 8 years ago

          Yeah, they kind of need it with Bulldozer being a bomb.

      • flip-mode
      • 8 years ago

      I’ve never, ever seen something perform differently from how you expected it to, Krogoth. You should really post your expectations a couple months in advance so we can all start basing our decisions on them.

      Here’s some fun: back on Friday, Dec 30 I actually put some guestimations on the record:
      [quote<]If that SP performance ratio really ends up being somewhat accurate, then take the 5870: 1600SP / 1.31 = 1221 so the 7790 with 1152.SP would end up just slightly slower than the HD 5870.[/quote<] And it turns out those guestimations ended up to be very close to what we see here today, only it seems that the 7850 with 1280 SPs ends up just a tad slower than I expected (I expected a hypothetical 7790 with 1152 SPs to be a slight bit slower than the 5870, but what we end up with today is a 7850 that is just a slight bit faster so a 7790 would probably end up appreciable slower than a 5870). [url<]https://techreport.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=79470#p1102150[/url<] And it seems that the theory that you can pretty well grade the performance of these cards by an SP performance factor has a fair amount of merit.

    • shank15217
    • 8 years ago

    Ah the single 6 pin power 7850 is a nice upgrade for me…6950 speeds but a whole lot cooler. These things will fly off the shelves…

      • halbhh2
      • 8 years ago

      Exactly. Unless you live in a very cool climate, where you like to close the door to your gaming room and just heat the one room….

    • MadManOriginal
    • 8 years ago

    I felt a disturbance in the force, then I took an arrow to the knee.

      • BoBzeBuilder
      • 8 years ago

      Well done my friend. +1

        • trek205
        • 8 years ago

        looking through various reviews, the 7870 is about 45% faster overall than the 6870 while costing 45% more than what the 6870 launched at. for the 7000 series, AMD keeps raising the prices at the same or higher levels than they are raising performance. what the hell ever happened to getting more performance at the same price points? we are getting about the same performance per dollar on the 7000 series compared to the 6000 series.

        EDIT: oops that was not supposed to be a reply to BoBzeBuilder.

        • MadManOriginal
        • 8 years ago

        Not well enough I’m afraid, only -12 🙁

      • Kaleid
      • 8 years ago

      I never asked for this

      • Krogoth
      • 8 years ago

      Nope! Just Chuck Testa.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 8 years ago

      Dangit, only -24?!? How many memes do I have to mashup to hit -30? 🙁

        • Palek
        • 8 years ago

        Add a pinch of “not impressed” next time and you may hit your target.

    • Sunburn74
    • 8 years ago

    Great review. I am unhappy with the pricepoints however. It is way too conservative and ATI is basically taking advantage of the fact that 6950s and 6970s are essentially out of stock and its either buy their new cards or buy 2 year old GPUs from the green team. Very disappointing.

      • Prion
      • 8 years ago

      Same, there’s a big hole in their lineup right at the $200 sweetspot. 77xx just isn’t a good value, and while 78xx is probably worth the premium I just can’t justify spending that on a new videocard in the current PC gaming climate. From where everything is sitting right now I don’t really see the inevitable 7790 or 7830 fixing the value proposition, either.

        • shank15217
        • 8 years ago

        I think Nvidia will either fill that hole up or prices will creep down.. either way, if you wait you get better stuff..

    • yogibbear
    • 8 years ago

    *Goes to make popcorn* WOOOOHOOOOOO the mid-range cards are here!

    EDIT: Okay… the power consumption is awesome! But they don’t really give me any reason to upgrade… 🙁 A few frames here and there isn’t anything to go crazy about. Still very nice cards if you were a few generations behind.

      • swampfox
      • 8 years ago

      “If you were a few generations behind.” Yep, my 4850 is looking older and older, and the prospects for upgrading better and better.

        • sircharles32
        • 8 years ago

        Ah ya, my X800XL is in need of replacement.

        That said, I am slightly disappointed though. I was hoping the 7850 was going to be closer to 100 Watts TDP. The price is acceptable to me, as it’s about the same as what I paid for my X800XL, back in 2005.

        • CaptTomato
        • 8 years ago

        Make sure you get BIG RAM on the GPU….1 gig is useless there days.

          • Kaleid
          • 8 years ago

          It’s ok for 1680×1050 but if a resolution above that is used then I’d go for 2GB.

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