AMD Radeon HD 7950 Launch Review



Product: AMD Radeon HD 7950 Video Card
Company: AMD
Author: James Prior
Editor: Charles Oliver
Date: January 31st, 2012

Introduction

The end of January brings us the hotly anticipated AMD Radeon HD 7950 graphics card, the second in AMD's new line-up of DirectX 11.1, 28nm GCN architecture products. Using the same GPU core as the world's fastest single-GPU card, the AMD Radeon HD 7970, the HD 7950 offers a little less performance and should go head to head with NVIDIA's current fastest single-GPU card, the GeForce GTX 580. Last generation, the HD 6950 was the sweet spot champion as its $299USD SEP price point offered great stock performance, nice overclocking - and potential unlocking to be a fully-fledged HD 6970.

AMD Radeon HD 7950

Inside the AMD Radeon HD 7950 is the GPU core, part of the Southern Islands series of cards, known as Tahiti Pro. The XT version in the AMD Radeon HD 7970 is the fully enabled, no missing elements design, whereas the Pro is subtly modified to hit the target performance profile AMD want. Additionally, AMD are allowing Add-In Board (AIB) partners to ship products with customized PCB's from the launch, as happened with certain previous generation Pro variants (6950, 5750, for example). Expect to see some variety of size and cooler for the HD 7950 in the stores.

AMD Radeon HD 7950 Specifications:

  • 28nm Graphics Core Next architecture using 4.31Bn transistors
  • 1792 Stream Processors
  • 800Mhz Engine Clock
  • 1250MHz (5.0Gbps) 3GB GDDR5
  • 384-bit Memory Bus
  • 240GB/s memory bandwidth
  • 7 RBE's / 112 Texture Units
  • 32 ROPS
  • 2.87 TFLOPS (Single Precision)
  • DVI-DL + HDMI 1.4 & 2 mini-DisplayPort outputs (active mDP-DVI adapter included)
  • Supports Fast HDMI and Positional Audio
  • DirectX 11.1 / OpenCL 1.2 / OpenGL 4.2 / C++ AMP
  • 200W Board Power limited by PowerTune
  • <3W Idle power under ZeroCore Power
  • $449USD SEP

At the end of our launch review of the AMD Radeon HD 7970, we criticized AMD's driver support for AA modes, specifically lacking alpha MSAA and SSAA in Direct 10 or 11 titles. AMD have largely addressed this with the new Catalyst AMD Radeon 7900 Performance drivers, which now allow any DirectX 10 or 11 title with in-game MSAA to be enhanced with either Enhanced Quality MSAA, Adaptive MSAA, Morphological AA, Edge Detect AA, and Super Sampled AA. That's quite a range of quality options for tailoring your gaming image quality to your desires and you can read more about the options here.

AMD have also released their Leo demo, a real time Radeon HD 7900 series technology demonstration showing off a forward render indirect lighting demo leveraging their new Partially Resident Textures capabilities. AMD are here making a case for using compute to perform lighting and shading, so that the traditional MSAA pass can without missing sections as happens in delayed pass render engines.

With a price point of $449 USD SEP, the main competition for the HD 7950 is the same as the HD 7970: the GeForce GTX 580. The HD 7970's launch has pushed GeForce GTX 580 prices down to the $459 mark, albeit for those models equipped with 1.5GB VRAM - half that of the Tahiti boys. At 1080p that won't make a big difference, but above that resolution VRAM and IQ become a battle for who's got more.