XFX HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation Review
More HD 7950 Launch Coverage:
- Reference version review HERE
- Sapphire HD 7950 Dual Fan OC HERE
With AMD’s 28nm Southern Islands architecture finally upon us, gamers are finally getting a taste of high performance without the high power consumption associated with previous generations’ flagship offerings. The HD 7970 was first released and for the most part it pulled far ahead of NVIDIA’s GTX 580 and now we’re being introduced to AMD’s more affordable Tahiti-based card: the HD 7950.
The HD 7950 retains most of the HD 7970’s heart and soul while being offered at a more reasonable $449 for the reference version courtesy of a cut down core and lower clock speeds. Naturally, board partners have been quick to differentiate themselves from the competition and XFX is among the first to take an aggressive stance towards cooling and overclocking the HD 7950. Their HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation may be a mouthful to say but it currently ranks among the most appealing cards currently on the market.
At launch, the XFX Black Edition will be one of the highest clocked HD 7950 cards available with a core speed of 900MHz and memory running at 5.5Gbps. This should allow it to pull ahead in our charts but whether or not that difference will actually be noticeable in game is what we’re going to find out in this review. We have a funny feeling that the combination of memory and engine overclocks should result in significant performance gains.
One thing we have to mention up front is XFX’s revised warranty practice for HD 7900-series cards. Their Double Lifetime Warranty has gone the way of the dodo and in its place is a mishmash of different policies. We went over the new warranty in detail a few days ago but for simplicity’s sake, let’s just say that any Double Dissipation-branded card will have a Lifetime Warranty if registered within 30 days of purchase.
The design of XFX’s Double Dissipation heatsink certainly makes this HD 7950 look the part of a high end graphics card. With a pair of 80mm fans surrounded by a silver and black fan shroud and just the right amount of red via an aluminum side panel, this is actually one of the best looking cards we’ve seen in a while. It should also be mentioned that XFX has retained the reference length of 11” so their DD edition won’t have any problem fitting in your case.
As you’ve probably figured out by now, pricing for this card straddles the market between the HD 7970 and HD 7950. $500 is a hefty chunk of change to spend but if XFX can deliver on their promises of performance, low temperatures and a reduced acoustical footprint, the Black Edition DD may be worth the extra money.
Alongside what is obviously a carefully designed heatsink, XFX has included a number of additional features on their Double Dissipation Black Edition. There is an integrated vapor chamber within the heatsink, a carefully binned core that is supposed to offer more overclocking headroom, a mental stiffening bracket that runs the card’s entire length and “dust proof” bearing technology that should prolong the fans’ life. Oddly missing from this equation is AMD’s stock BIOS switch which has been removed for some odd reason, thus limiting the appeal of this card for enthusiasts.
We don’t see anything out of the ordinary in the connector department with XFX offering the standard dual DisplayPorts alongside single HDMI 1.4 and DVI outputs. It is however good to see the inclusion of an airflow-increasing stamped exhaust grilled and XFX has also included a HDMI to DVI converter. Unfortunately, a mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort adaptor is conspicuous by its absence, particularly when you consider this card’s $500 asking price. Without that one adaptor, anyone wanting to use this card for Eyefinity will have to spend the money on yet another cable.
The Black Edition’s underside shows us some hints of XFX’s 2oz copper PCB which is supposed to help component cooling but otherwise, the layout looks identical to the reference card. There are also some upgraded VRM components hiding under that heatsink.
XFX has traditionally included a “modder friendly” warranty with their cards and for those of us in North America, this trend continues with the HD 7900-series regardless of the included “warranty void if removed” stickers. For anyone else in the world, pay special attention since your card doesn’t come with XFX’s expanded warranty for DIYers. Just make sure to call XFX before making any heatsink modifications to your card.
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