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PowerColor Radeon HD 7850 PCS+ Review

ccokeman    -   April 14, 2013
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Powercolor Radeon HD 7850 PCS+ Conclusion:

NVIDIA's just released GTX 650Ti Boost had the HD 7850 square in its sights as the performance target to meet and exceed. That target happens to be the stock 860MHz clocked variety and not the impressively overclocked HD 7850 PCS+ version from PowerColor I have looked at today. Sporting a massive 140MHz boost in clock speed right out of the gate it delivered performance in many games and tests (seven out of ten) on par with or better than the factory overclocked GTX 660 when you compare the stock and overclocked results.

As far as overclocking is concerned the silicon is going to be your limiting factor and will vary from card to card. That being said the headroom on the 28nm Pitcairn core is pretty impressive on this card with a 235MHz increase over the as delivered core clock of 1000MHz or pretty close to a 25% boost. That would be a 375MHz boost or close to 44% boost in clock speed over the reference card clock speeds of 860MHz on the GPU core. Overclocking on the Elpida GDDR5 was almost as impressive with a maximum clock speed of 1400MHz or 175MHz over the baseline clock speed. In every test the added clock speeds provided measurable performance increases.

Overclocking is going to create an additional thermal load, however PowerColor has this covered with the PCS+ cooling system used on this card. As impressive as the overclocking was, the cooling solution was equally impressive. A pair of S-shaped heat pipes are used in a direct core contact configuration to carry the thermal load to the fin array in an efficient manner to dump it out of as well as into the chassis. Load temperatures were kept below 60 °C in both the stock and overclocked load tests. Normally cranking up the fan speed is an exercise in noise tolerance; not so with the PCS+ cooling as it delivered a noise signature that was not offensive though audible at 100%. Controlled by the vBIOS the fan is dead silent inside the chassis.

For a factory overclocked card, power efficiency is not bad at the card's design clock speeds at idle and under load. Boosting up the clock speeds and power tune limits decreases the efficiency but the HD 7850 PCS+ is still at worst on par with the GTX 660. The PCB color used on this card is red, although black would better suit the look of the card. The custom shroud with a large 92mm fan and heat pipes peaking out of the top is an interesting look that is immensely popular with non-reference cards. One feature I found interesting was the glow in the dark material used at the back end of the shroud that allows the PCS+ logo to stand out.

At $199 after rebate, the PowerColor PCS+ HD 7850 has competition at this price point from the GTX 660. The reality is that you need to chose the video card you use based on the games you play most as each has its strong points, mainly in the games they share the development work with the developers. Currently there is a promotion that gets the end user a copy of Bioshock Infinite and Tomb Raider as an added bonus. Any way you look at it PowerColor's PCS+ cooling equipped, factory overclocked HD 7850 delivers excellent gaming performance across the spectrum and comes with an excellent low noise/high performance cooling solution.

 

Pros:

  • Cooling
  • Low Noise
  • Overclocking head room
  • Performance
  • Factory overclocked
  • CrossfireX
  • Looks

 

Cons:

  • Limited overclocking in some utilities


 

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