PowerColor PCS+ HD 7870 Myst Edition Reviewccokeman - January 3, 2013
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PowerColor HD 7870 Myst Edition Closer Look:
PowerColor have chosen to use an all black PCB for the PCS+ HD 7870 Myst Edition. The front view shows a full cover metal shroud with a 92mm fan to provide the cooling air for the PCS+ cooling solution. The back side is covered in small surface mount components. The top view gives a glimpse of PowerColor's cooling design for this card that uses three heat pipes in direct contact with the 28nm GCN core, one 8mm in an "S" configuration and two 6mm in a "U" shaped configuration. The bottom of the card, much like just about every discrete video card currently, is equipped with a 16x PCIe interface that is PCIe 3.0 ready as well as backwards compliant to PCIe 2.0.
This card is built upon the Tahiti LE core with 1536 stream processors, 32 ROPs, 96 texture units and uses 2GB of GDDR5 memory passing through a 256-bit memory bus. At first glimpse the PCS+ equipped HD 7870 Myst Edition is fairly unassuming yet is built with a target in mind. Measuring 266.65mm x 111.2mm x 38mm, the Myst Edition HD 7870 is going to be similar in size to the HD 7950. This makes the card a two slot solution that should easily fit in just about every mid-tower and up chassis comfortably.
Display connectivity consists of a single DL-DVI port, a single HDMI 1.4 port that supports up to 7.1 high definition audio, and a pair of Mini DisplayPort 1.2 ports that can be used to deliver surround gaming via three monitors. The back end of the PCS + HD 7870 from PowerColor is almost closed in with some space for airflow to escape the shroud. Of note are a pair of vibration isolators that ensure the card does not suffer from any vibration-related noise from the shroud and fan.
A single Crossfire bridge connection provides support for a two card CrossfireX configuration with other Tahiti-based (read HD 7900 series) cards yet does not support use with Pitcairn-based GPUs such as the aptly named HD 7870. Power is supplied to the card by way of a pair of 6-pin PCIe power connections to provide up to 225 watts to the card when the 75W PCIe slot contribution is added in. A 500 watt power supply is recommended for use with this card to prevent any power supply concerns.
PowerColor's PCS+ cooling solution is held onto the PCB by just four screws around the GPU socket. Removing the shroud heat sink assembly shows off the heat sink and how well the heat pipe direct contact surface contacts the GPU core. Design-wise the card follows the traditional layout with the GPU core in the center of the PCB surrounded by a total of eight versus twelve memory modules seen on HD 79XX series cards. PowerColor is using what it calls Gold Power Kit for the power control solution that includes a digital PWM IC to enhance power efficiency up to 90%. DrMos low RDSon inductors can handle up to 160 amps again driving peak efficiency up to 91% and, lastly, ferrite core chokes that can handle up to 33% more current with less noise. You have to hate the squealers when you put a load on the GPU. The back end view of the card illustrates the rubber vibration isolators.
PowerColor's PCS+ cooling solution uses a 92mm PWM controlled fan placed centrally over the heat sink assembly. The PCS+ design uses a total of three heat pipes (one 8mm and two 6mm) in a heat pipe direct contact configuration to maximize the transfer of the thermal load from the GPU to the aluminum fin array. This design results in a 10% improvement in cooling efficiency over other designs. Further cooling enhancements come in the heat pipe configuration where the 8mm and one of the 6mm pipes are in an S shape reaching both sides of the fin array while the third pipe (6mm) is run in a U shape.
PowerColor uses a 92mm fan PWM controlled fan to handle the airflow through the PCS+ cooling solution. The hub is adorned with a sticker with the PowerColor logo. This fan is made by by Power Logic part number PLA09215D12H, runs on 12v, uses .55A, and runs at up to 3500RPM with a noise level of 39.5dBA.
The strange twist with this card is the use of AMD's Tahiti LE 28nm GCN core. It uses the same 4.3 billion transistor design as the HD 7970 and HD 7950 but has been trimmed down to deliver results in a specific performance envelope. With this design you have 1536 streaming processors, 96 texture units, 32 raster units and the ability to handle 2GB of GDDR5 through a 256-bit bus. This gives you a bit more graphics firepower than a Pitcairn-based HD 7870. The memory used on this card is from Elpida instead of the Hynix normally seen on AMD cards in the HD 79XX series. Elpida part number EDW2032BBBG-60-F is rated to run at 1500MHz using 1.6v.
The change in GPU aside, PowerColor's Tahiti LE-based PCS+ HD 7870 Myst Edition card looks to hit the right price and potential performance points when compared to NVIDIA's latest 6 series offerings.