Sapphire HD 7950 Dual Fan OC Review
More HD 7950 Launch Coverage:
- Reference version review HERE
- XFX HD 7950 Black Edition DD Review HERE
Usually when a new graphics card is launched it takes a while for the board partners to hightail it out of their usual “reference card funk” and move onto bigger and better things like better cooling solutions and higher clock speeds. The HD 7970’s release showed us that AMD’s supporters are moving along quicker than expected since some of them had overclocked, non reference products ready to go from day one. Now AMD is launching the more affordable HD 7950 and once again we’re about to see a wide variety of similarly pimped out versions straight out of the gate.
Being one of AMD’s premier board partners has allowed Sapphire to get a leg up on the competition in some regions and their new HD 7950 Dual Fan OC is looking to widen that lead even further. It features an overclocked core (don’t expect any massive performance increases here) and as you will see below, one hell of a heatsink design that not only looks great but also cuts down temperatures by a significant amount. For the record, Sapphire is asking $479 for this card, a small premium to pay for what should be one of the best HD 7950 versions available for the next little while.
A few weeks ago we already looked at one of Sapphire’s Dual Fan branded models –in that case it was a HD 6970- and came away reasonably impressed with its potential so we’re glad to see its basic design aspects being repeated here. The Dual Fan gets its name from the two large fans that push air down onto its internal heatsink in a typical top-down configuration and is a far cry away from the reference design
Sapphire’s card uses a pair of large 80mm, 9-bladed fans that spin at a somewhat lethargic speed in order to minimize noise while maximizing airflow. Below these fans and their accompanying plastic shroud are five massive copper heatpipes and an aluminum fin array which is alternately supported by an extensive anodized black heatspreader over the memory modules and VRM modules. All in all, this setup should be more than sufficient to keep the core’s heat under control.
Along with an aluminum stiffener that runs the card’s length for added stability, Sapphire has decided to stick with the reference PCB. Therefore, the Dual Fan OC houses a pair of 6-pin power connectors as well as a dual BIOS switch. Much like past Dual Fan branded cards, this one has two BIOSes pre-installed: the standard overclocked one and another which incorporates slightly higher voltages in order to facilitate overclocking.
With a custom heatsink in place, Sapphire has sacrificed size for cooling efficiency by adding about ½” to the reference design’s overall length making the Dual Fan a good 11.5” long. This may cause some issues for smaller cases but most enclosures these days should swallow it without any problems.
The backplate shows us a reference layout with the usual dual DisplayPorts, a single HDMI 1.4a output and a DVI connector. With this version, Sapphire also includes adaptors for HDMI to DVI and a mini DP to DisplayPort but make sure you pay attention to the Product Number listed at the top of this review since some versions of this same card may not come with these.
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