PowerColor Radeon HD 7790 Turbo Duo Review

ccokeman - 2013-03-21 18:51:47 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: March 24, 2013
Price: $159

PowerColor Radeon HD 7790 Turbo Duo Introduction:

As AMD and its partners worked to fill the product stack from top to bottom over the past 14 months, they left a significant gap open between the performance delivered by the HD 7770 and HD7850. Not only is there a performance gap but a 70 to 80 dollar price gap to fill. Fitting into this price/performance gap is the HD 7790 and specifically today the PowerColor HD 7790 Turbo Duo. As a non-reference design you get a card that is equipped with all the design enhancements from PowerColor including an improved 4+1+1 phase power management system and a dual fan cooling solution that is supposed to run up to 10% cooler and 5% quieter than the reference design. Straight from the factory the PowerColor HD 7790 Turbo Duo is equipped to run the boost clock speed up to 7.5% higher for improved performance at a 1080p resolution. Boost clock speeds of up to 1075MHz are sure to improve the gaming performance over the 1030MHz reference designs.

Priced at $159 this card sees a slight cost up tick over the reference design yet offers improvements that offset that cost. Priced at the same point as NVIDIA's GTX 650Ti it should prove interesting to see how well the HD 7790 compares.

PowerColor Radeon HD 7790 Turbo Duo Closer Look:

PowerColor has definitely changed the look of its packaging for this card, the HD 7790 Turbo Duo. The front is all black with the Turbo Duo logo cut out to fit around the embossed shell inside. Information contained on the front shows this version of the HD 7790 is a card that supports overclocking, uses AMD's Graphics Core Next architecture, and supports Eyefinity and DIrect X 11.1. The back panel lists the baseline specifications and system requirements. The Turbo Duo version of PowerColor's HD 7790 line up uses its Gold Power Kit, a feature set that includes SVI2 power management and a 4+1+1phase power circuit. As the name implies, the Turbo Duo features a dual fan cooling solution that is said to run 10% cooler than the reference design while running 5% quieter.









Inside the outer sleeve the embossed Turbo Duo logo is clearly evident. Inside the card is held in place securely with the accessory bundle under the cardboard inner structure. The accessory included with this card is slim in every sense of the word with just a manual, driver disk, and DVI to D-sub adapter.



Having already looked at one version of the HD 7790, let's see what PowerColor has to offer by digging deeper into the HD 7790 Turbo Duo.

PowerColor Radeon HD 7790 Turbo Duo Closer Look:

PowerColor's HD 7790 Turbo Duo is most definitely a reference card masquerading as an aftermarket design. From the front this is clearly evident with the use of the aggressively styled Turbo Duo fan enclosure that uses a pair of fans coupled with an S-shaped heat pipe-equipped heat sink. From the back you can see the openings in the PCB, called an "Aerodynamics Kit", that provides another avenue for the thermal load to exit from under the shroud. The top and bottom views give little clue as to the shape of the enclosed cooling solution. Designed around the latest AMD 28nm GCN core, the HD 7790 Turbo Duo is PCIe 3.0 compliant with backwards support of earlier specifications. At 8.25 inches long you will not find any challenges fitting this card into the chassis of your choosing.
















Connectivity options include a pair of dual link DVI ports, a full size DisplayPort, and an HDMI port that supports HD audio, 1080p 120Hz 3D Stereoscopic support, and 4K resolutions. Eyefinity configurations using up to three screens is supported with the HD 7790. Gaming at 5760x1080 is not going to be possible without a second card. However using the large surface is truly of value in productivity applications. The back end of the card is not fully sealed allowing some of the airflow out of the shroud. A 6-pin PCIe power connection is used on the back end of the card. Flipping the card over we can get a batter idea of how the "Aerodynamics Kit" is implemented.



Additional performance can be gained by running the HD 7790 Turbo Duo in a Crossfire configuration with another HD 7790. At that price point it may make more sense to go for the single GPU card. Power requirements for the HD 7790 Turbo Duo call for a minimum power supply of 500 watts. A single 6-pin PCIe power connection is used to supplement the power supplied by the PCIe slot.



Stripped of the cooling solution you get a look at how the PCB and power solutions are configured. PowerColor uses its "Gold Power Kit" that includes a 4+1+1 phase power supply circuit, SVI2 Green Power Manage Technology, and SCP chokes. The VRM circuit uses a small but effective aluminum heat sink to keep the MOSFETs cool.



PowerColor's Turbo Duo cooling solution uses a pair of 80x10mm fans from Powerlogic to provide the airflow needed to shed the thermal load from the heat sink assembly. Equipped with 11 sickle-shaped blades, these fans push enough airflow to manage the thermal load. With the vBIOS managing the fan speeds the card is dead silent inside the chassis. Ramping them up to full speed makes them audible but nothing that is truly offensive.



The heat sink assembly mounts directly to the shroud holding it in place. Pulled out of the shroud the heat sink assembly uses an aluminum base and fin array. A single S-shaped direct contact heat pipe is used to transfer the thermal load to the fin array. The HD 7790 has an ~85 watt TDP so this solution should easily manage the thermals. Unfortunately this solution only addresses the memory with warm airflow after it has passed through the fin array.



AMD used a new revision of its Graphics Core Next architecture, codenamed Bonaire, on the HD 7790. This iteration is built on a 28nm process with 2.08 billion transistors under the hood. Specifications include 896 stream processors that handle two primitives per clock, 56 texture units, 16 ROPs, and 1GB of GDDR5 VRAM running through a 128-bit bus. A total of four memory ICs from Hynix are used that support speeds of up to 1500MHz. Baseline clock speeds from AMD are 1GHz on the GPU core and 1500MHz on the GDDR5 memory. PowerColor massaged the Turbo Duo to get a boost clock of 1075MHz but kept the memory at its rated specifications of 1500MHz.



If the performance of Sapphire's card is an indication of where the clock speeds will perform, then PowerColor's HD 7790 Turbo Duo should prove just as adequate in the FPS department.

PowerColor Radeon HD 7790 Turbo Duo Specifications:

2.08 Billion
Engine Clock
Primitive Rate
2 prim/clk
Stream Processors
Texture Units
Memory Bit Interface
Memory Type
Typical Board Power
AMD Zero Core Power
Power Connection
6 Pin PCIe
Bus Standard
PCIe 3.0
Minimum System power
Crossfire support
Display Connectors


PowerColor Radeon HD 7790 Turbo Duo Features:




All information courtesy of TUL @ http://www.powercolor.com/global/products_features.asp?id=463

PowerColor Radeon HD 7790 Turbo Duo Testing:

Testing of the PowerColor HD 7790 Turbo Duo will consist of running it and comparison cards through the OverclockersClub.com suite of games and synthetic benchmarks. This will test the performance against many popular competitors. Comparisons will be made to cards of a range of capabilities to show where each card falls on the performance ladder. The games used are some of today's newest and most popular titles, which should be able to provide an idea of how the cards perform relative to each other.

The system specifications will remain the same throughout the testing. No adjustments will be made to the respective control panels during the testing to approximate the performance the end user can expect with a stock driver installation. I will first test the cards at stock speeds, and then overclocked to see the effects of an increase in clock speed. The cards will be placed in order from highest to lowest performance in each graph to show where they fall by comparison. The NVIDIA comparison cards will be using the 314.21 beta drivers.The AMD-based cards will be using the Catalyst 13.1 drivers and latest CAP profile with the exception of the HD 7790 which will use the press evaluation driver.


Testing Setup:


Comparison Video Cards:




Overclocking on PowerColor's factory overclocked Turbo Duo HD 7790 was again limited to the maximum levels locked into the vBIOS of 1200MHz (core) and 1600MHz (memory). To get there only required moving the sliders to the right in any one of the popular GPU tuning utilities available today including PowerColor's Powerup Tuner. Adjusting the sliders to the maximum level raised the core clock by 125MHz and the memory clock speed by 100MHz. This increase did provide a measurable FPS performance increase over the baseline clock speeds. Voltage options are non-existent due to the way the new core dynamically manages the core voltage and clock speeds to stay underneath the TDP levels set by AMD for the core. My feeling is that there is more clock speed left on the table at this point that hopefully can be unlocked as tools mature to work with this new GCN core from AMD.


Maximum Clock Speeds:

Testing for the maximum clock speed consisted of looping Unigine Heaven 4.0 for 30 minutes each to see where the clock speeds failed when pushed. If the clock speed adjustment failed, then the clock speeds and tests were rerun until they passed a full hour of testing.



  1. Metro 2033
  2. Crysis 3
  3. Batman: Arkham City
  4. Battlefield 3
  5. Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0
  6. Unigine Valley 1.0
  7. Sid Meier's Civilization V
  8. DiRT 3
  9. Far Cry 3
  10. 3DMark


  1. Temperatures
  2. Power Consumption

PowerColor Radeon HD 7790 Turbo Duo Testing:

Part first-person shooter, part survival horror, Metro 2033 is based on the novel of the same name, written by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. You play as Artyom in a post-apocalyptic Moscow, where you'll spend most of your time traversing the metro system, with occasional trips to the surface. Despite the dark atmosphere and bleak future for mankind, the visuals are anything but bleak. Powered by the 4A Engine, with support for DirectX 11, NVIDIA PhysX, and NVIDIA 3D Vision, the tunnels are extremely varied – in your travels, you'll come across human outposts, bandit settlements, and even half-eaten corpses. Ensuring you feel all the tension, there is no map and no health meter. Get lost without enough gas mask filters and adrenaline shots and you may soon wind up as one of those half-eaten corpses, chewed up by some horrifying manner of irradiated beast that hides in the shadows just waiting for some hapless soul to wander by.












Getting close to 30 FPS with high settings means you can get up and over by tweaking a few settings. PowerColor's HD 7790 Turbo Duo responds well with another 2 FPS in the bank when overclocking.

PowerColor Radeon HD 7790 Turbo Duo Testing:

This third installment of the Crysis franchise, developed by Crytek and distributed by Electronic Arts, uses the CryEngine 3 game engine, and requires a DirectX 11 ready video card and operating system due to its demanding graphics engine.















When I tested the Sapphire version of the HD 7790 the question of whether it could play Crysis 3 was an emphatic yes. Again massaging the settings a bit improves the game experience yet when overclocked the PowerColor HD 7790 Turbo Duo delivers close to 40 FPS.

PowerColor Radeon HD 7790 Turbo Duo Testing:

Batman: Arkham City is the sequel to Batman: Arkham Asylum released in 2009. This action adventure game based on DC Comics' Batman super hero was developed by Rocksteady Studios and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. Batman: Arkham City uses the Unreal 3 engine.















PowerColor's HD 7790 is able to reach the 50FPS threshold by overclocking.

PowerColor Radeon HD 7790 Turbo Duo Testing:

Battlefield 3 is a first-person shooter video game developed by EA Digital Illusions CE and published by Electronic Arts. Battlefield 3 uses the Frostbyte 2 game engine and is the direct successor to Battlefield 2. Released in North America on October 25, 2011, the game supports DirectX 10 and 11.


















At 1920x1080 and pushing the in-game settings on Ultra, you get playable frame rates bordering on 40 FPS.

PowerColor Radeon HD 7790 Turbo Duo Testing:

DiRT 3 is the third iteration of this series. Published and developed by Codemasters, this game uses the EGO 2.0 game engine and was released in the US on PC in May of 2011.
















Traditionally DiRT titles have favored the red camp in a big way. Comparing the GTX 650Ti with the HD 7790 Turbo Duo gives you the sense this is still true.

PowerColor Radeon HD 7790 Turbo Duo Testing:

Civilization V is a turn-based strategy game. The premise is to play as one of 18 civilizations and lead the civilization from the "dawn of man" up to the space age. This latest iteration of the Civilization series uses a new game engine and massive changes to the way the AI is used throughout the game. Civilization V is developed by Firaxis Games and is published by 2K games and was released for Windows in September of 2010. Testing will be done using actual game play with FPS measured by Fraps through a series of five turns, 150 turns into the game.
















The HD 7790 Turbo Duo offers a measurable performance upside to the FPS delivered by the GTX 650Ti.

PowerColor Radeon HD 7790 Turbo Duo Testing:

Far Cry 3 is the latest iteration in the Far Cry series. Released in the US in early December 2012 the it uses the Dunia 2 game engine and is published and developed by Ubisoft. This Action Adventure First Person Shooter offers both single player and multi-player modes.















Testing this latest version of Far Cry 3 with the PowerColor HD 7790 Turbo Duo is surprising not because of the FPS delivered but that the game plays so smoothly. Playing with earlier drivers was disappointing with so many glitches in the graphics.

PowerColor Radeon HD 7790 Turbo Duo Testing:

Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0 is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on the Unigine engine. This was the first DX 11 benchmark to allow testing of DX 11 features. What sets the Heaven Benchmark apart is the addition of hardware tessellation, available in three modes – Moderate, Normal and Extreme. Although tessellation requires a video card with DirectX 11 support and Windows Vista/7, the Heaven Benchmark also supports DirectX 9, DirectX 10, DirectX 11 and OpenGL 4.0. Visually, it features beautiful floating islands that contain a tiny village and extremely detailed architecture.















As far as raw DX 11 and tessellation performance goes, the HD 7790 Turbo Duo delivers higher FPS results.

PowerColor Radeon HD 7790 Turbo Duo Testing:

Unigine Valley 1.0 is a new non synthetic benchmark built upon the Unigine engine that showcases a very detailed wide open environment. This DX 11-ready GPU stress test uses a wide range of graphics technologies to put the GPU through its paces much like Unigine's acclaimed Heaven Benchmark. Instead of a series of floating islands we get a picturesque view of the Siberian wilderness through a flythough with both up close and distant views.















Stock speeds show a 10% increase in performance over the GTX 650Ti.

PowerColor Radeon HD 7790 Turbo Duo Testing:

3DMark: The just released version of Futuremark's popular 3DMark suite is designed to let a wider range of the user base the ability to make a comparative analysis of the gaming prowess of their systems from entry level PCs to notebooks and Extreme Gaming PCs.













In all six tests the PowerColor HD 7790 Turbo Duo delivers roughly the same performance characteristics as the Sapphire HD 7790. When compared to the GTX 650Ti I see the same scaling above it by the HD 7790 Turbo Duo as the Sapphire comparison delivers.

PowerColor Radeon HD 7790 Turbo Duo Testing:

Temperature testing will be accomplished by loading the video card to 100% using Unigine's Heaven Benchmark Version 4.0, with MSI's Afterburner overclocking utility for temperature monitoring. I will be using a resolution of 1920x1200 using 8xAA and a five-run sequence to run the test, ensuring that the maximum thermal threshold is reached. The fan speed will be left in the control of the driver package and video card's BIOS for the stock load test, with the fan moved to 100% to see the best possible cooling scenario for the overclocked load test. The idle test will involve a 20-minute cool-down, with the fan speeds left on automatic in the stock speed testing and bumped up to 100% when running overclocked.














Looking at the idle temperatures specifically, PowerColor's Turbo Duo Professional Cooling System is cooler running than the Sapphire Dual-X solution. Low idle speeds are nice to look at but the real meat of the discussion comes from the load temperatures. PowerColor's single heat pipe solution delivers cooling results six degrees higher in both the stock and overclocked testing. Even that much higher than the Sapphire version, the HD 7790 Turbo Duo is still at least five degrees cooler when both cards are overclocked. The use of a single heat pipe is most likely the culprit when comparing the Sapphire and PowerColor cooling solutions.

PowerColor Radeon HD 7790 Turbo Duo Testing:

Power consumption of the system will be measured at both idle and loaded states, taking into account the peak voltage of the system with each video card installed. I will use Unigine's Heaven Benchmark version 4.0 to put a load onto the GPU using the settings below. A 15-minute load test will be used to heat up the GPU, with the highest measured temperature recorded as the result. The idle results will be measured after 15 minutes of inactivity on the system. With dual-GPU setups, the two core temperatures will be averaged.













PowerColor's HD 7790 Turbo Duo is more efficient than the GTX 650Ti when overclocked yet has trouble delivering the same level of efficiency I saw with Sapphire's card. Under load it uses about five watts more and eleven watts more at idle.

PowerColor Radeon HD 7790 Turbo Duo Conclusion:

As the second HD 7790 I have looked at, PowerColor's factory overclocked Turbo Duo Edition delivers eerily similar results to the first card I looked at. When you look at the FPS performance delivered by the HD 7790, AMD and its partners hit the performance marks. Clear in their sights was the GTX 650Ti from NVIDIA that occupied the same $150 price point. To that end the HD 7790 Turbo Duo from PowerColor delivered a higher level of performance than the GTX 650Ti from NVIDIA in each and every game tested when run at stock speeds. In one game the FPS margin was a single FPS.

Overclocking changes the dynamic somewhat with the PowerColor HD 7790 Turbo Duo's performance being equaled or bettered by the GTX 650Ti in three out of the ten tests run. Not as dominating but still on average you get more frames per second with the HD 7790 than with the GTX 650Ti. If you need more FPS performance you can add a second HD 7790 Turbo Duo to the mix as CrossfireX is supported with up to a two card configuration.

As with the last HD 7790 I looked at, PowerColor's HD 7790 Turbo Duo was locked at a maximum of 1200MHz on the core and 1600MHz on the 1GB of GDDR5 memory. With the two cards I saw identical performance with the identical clock speeds. FPS performance not withstanding, the real difference between the comparison HD 7790 and the Dual Fan-equipped Turbo Duo cooling on this version from PowerColor then comes down to how well the cooling solution sheds the thermal load generated by the AMD Bonaire core. At idle, both stock and overclocked, PowerColor's Turbo Duo cooling is the better solution. Under load the Turbo Duo cooling is a solid six degrees warmer than the comparison cooling solution, something I was not expecting. The level of noise generated by the comparison HD 7790 and the Turbo Duo were similar with no clear winner other than the end user on both counts.

PowerColor's HD 7790 Turbo Duo is a factory overclocked card so you already see a bump in performance over a reference design. To go a little further up the performance ladder you only need to push the sliders up in either PowerColor's own PowerUp Tuner or any one of the popular utilities available on the web. Sadly I ran into the same limits I experienced when looking at a competing card: 1200MHz (core) and 1600MHz (memory) were the limits seemingly locked in the vBIOS. It's great to max out the sliders but there seems like so much more is left on the table. I guess everyone can get a piece of the pie pretty easily.

Eyefinity is supported with up to three screens although chances are slim you will be gaming at this resolution with a single card. That however is not the only reason for a larger desktop surface. The ability to utilize a larger footprint can aid productivity when you need multiple windows open at a time.

Much like the comparison HD 7790, PowerColor's HD 7790 Turbo Duo offers playable FPS on the budget end of the spectrum, comes with enhanced cooling capabilities, crushes the competition's similarly priced offering at 1080p resolutions, and can be had for around $150. Not a bad showing!