PowerColor HD 7950 3GB Boost State Review

Author: SKYMTL
Date: August 20, 2012
Product Name: HD 7950 Boost State
Part Number: AX7950 3GBD5-2DHV4
Warranty: 2 Years
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AMD’s Boost Feature Explained

Something you may not have been expecting in the specification chart was the addition of a Boost category. Taking a page out of NVIDIA’s playbook, AMD is now allowing the core to go above and beyond its rated “base clock” if built-in monitoring algorithms detect there is TDP overhead to be spared. This all occurs above standard P-States but the traditional PowerTune limits have also been increased in order to take advantage of dynamic voltage adjustments. As a result, the card should strive to hit the predetermined limit (in this case 50MHz higher than the reference spec) more often without the throttling that sometimes occurred when PowerTune clamped down on power draw.

While this technology is surely a welcome addition, it isn’t quite as dynamic as NVIDIA’s GPU Boost feature, nor does it give the wide dynamic clock range of Kepler-based products. Let’s explain this a bit further. Kepler cards use a hardware-based solution which samples the relative distance to maximum TDP at sub-second intervals. This allows for quick situational changes that ultimately lead to varying clock speeds and maximum performance. Granted, GPU Boost does cause some interesting overclocking adventures and is adversely affected by temperature increases but in our experience, it works very well.

At first glance, AMD’s Boost seems to be quite lethargic and heavy handed in its approach since –according to software available to us- there’s very little clock adjustment granularity. It sets a speed of about 925MHz and for the most, “pulses”” up and down between that point and the stock speed of 850MHz as GPU activity varies. Unfortunately, software doesn’t exist yet that can accurately map the Boost feature’s progression through its various p-states but AMD claims there is more granularity going on behind the scenes.

With that being said, we never saw the HD 7950 Boost Edition taking advantage of lower temperatures like Kepler-based cards typically do. Even increasing the fan speed to 100% resulted in identical clock speeds, proving that AMD either strictly curtails their Boost frequency or the technology still has some maturing to do. Nonetheless, we expect it to progress rapidly and become an integral part of AMD's future strategy.

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