AMD Radeon HD 7950 Review; Tahiti Pro Arrives

Author: SKYMTL
Date: January 30, 2012
Product Name: HD 7950 3GB
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When the HD 7970 was first reviewed we called it one of the best products released in the last two years and it’s now obvious that card wasn’t AMD's equivalent of a one hit wonder. The Southern Islands architecture continues to impress us in its Tahiti Pro form and depending on your needs, the HD 7950 may actually be significantly more appealing than its big brother.

While the Tahiti XT was obviously marketed towards anyone wanting the fastest graphics card on the planet without having to resort to dual GPU cards, the HD 7950’s goals are slightly less ambitious. It is meant to be a bridge between AMD’s flagship products and the upcoming, less expensive Pitcairn cores by offering performance that either meets or beats the GTX 580 without the high power consumption previous generation NVIDIA cards are known for. As we saw throughout this review, it achieves every one of these goals and then some.

In terms of outright performance the HD 7950 trades blows with the aforementioned GTX 580 which shouldn’t come as any surprise given its entry price of $449. Speaking of price, this card is actually quite a good value when you consider NVIDIA’s flagship goes for at least $469 before mail in rebates are factored into the equation. So while the HD 7950 may not force NVIDIA’s hand on the performance front, at the very least it should drive down the GTX 580’s price.

Quite a few of you will understandably have a sense of “been there seen that” when looking at our benchmarks and that’s a feeling we share to a certain extent. Aside from its efficiency the HD 7950 really doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the framerate table and performance does tend to drops more than a comparable NVIDIA card when anti aliasing is enabled. We do however expect this situation to improve as time goes on and AMD gets a better handle on writing drivers for their new architecture.

Raw performance is only one small part of the equation since this card’s lasting appeal lies in all of the small things it does right. Cool, quiet and efficient are three words not normally associated with enthusiast level GPUs but the HD 7950 hits all of these points. As the cost of energy rises, efficiency is becoming more and more important for gamers and enthusiasts alike so having a graphics card that can attain high performance without breaking the 200W barrier could prove to be invaluable in the long term.

Most people may want to know all about the HD 7970 but the HD 7950 will likely be the card they go out and buy. It is affordable, consumes very little power relative to the previous generation, performs at least as well as a GTX 580, has a fair amount of overclocking headroom and is ultimately much more affordable than a $550 flagship product. While it may not redefine its current price point, this is without a doubt the card to buy if you can’t justify spending more than $500 on an upgrade.


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