PowerColor Radeon HD 7850 PCS+ Reviewccokeman - April 14, 2013
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PowerColor Radeon HD 7850 PCS+ Closer Look:
Out in the open you can tell right away that the HD 7850 PCS+ is not a reference card. The large 92mm fan-equipped, dual heat pipe PCS+ cooling solution is a dead giveaway. The front of the card is dominated by the large PCS+ cooling solution while the back side of the PCB is full of surface mounted components. The HD 7850 PCS+ is built around AMD's 28nm Pitcairn core with the clock speeds increased to 1000MHz on the core. The HD 7850 is designed to be used in a motherboard using a 16x PCIe slot with PCIe 3.0 supported with backwards compatibility. Measuring just a hair over nine inches in length, the HD 7850 PCS+ should be compatible with chassis including many of the mini ITX form factor offerings available; the perfect size for that LAN box build. Peeking out the top of the shroud are the pair of S-shaped heat pipes. One interesting find is the glow in the dark material used under the PCS+ logo on the shroud. A bright light is needed to get it charged up but once you turn out the lights it stands out.
Display connectivity is setup so that up to four displays can be attached to the HD 7850 PCS+. Connections include a single Dual Link DVI, Single Link DVI, a pair of Mini DisplayPort connections, and an HDMI 1.4a port that supports high bit rate 7.1 channel surround sound. A half width vent is on the I/O bracket to allow some of the thermal load to exhaust out of the chassis with the balance dumped into the chassis. This is not really a problem with current chassis offerings since they turn the internal air volume over much more frequently than past designs. The back end of the card is open for improved thermal dissipation and you will notice the 6-pin power connection mounted high on the PCB.
A single Crossfire bridge connection shows the PCS+ HD 7850 supports Crossfire video card configurations using up to two video cards in a motherboard that supports Crossfire. A 6-pin PCIe power connection is needed to supply the additional power needs for the card. A 500 watt power supply is suggested as the minimum specification needed to run the card properly. Along the spine of the PCB is a brace that prevents sagging and bending of the PCB, reducing a possible cracking of the traces embedded on the PCB.
The PCS+ cooling solution is attached to the PCB with four screws around the GPU socket and comes off easily. The PCB is equipped with PowerColor's Gold Power Kit that enhances the overclocking ability and stability by 15%. A 5+1+1 phase power circuit is used along with DrMos and a digital PWM that helps improve power efficiency by up to 90% over a reference design. A red PCB can look good with the right motherboard, but in this case a black PCB would do wonders for the aesthetics of the PCB.
PowerColor uses a pair of what look to be 8mm S-shaped direct contact heat pipes to carry the thermal load from the GPU core to the aluminum fin array. Many times this design is not well executed with large gaps and uneven surfaces between the heat pips and aluminum base. In this instance the base is smooth with very little in the way of gaps between the materials. The center of the heat sink is lower than the ends to fit the fan assembly in place to push air through both ends of the heat sink for maximum efficiency.
The fan used by PowerColor on the HD 7850 PCS+ is a large 92mm design from Power Logic. This 92mm fan is able to supply enough airflow through the heat sink to keep the card quite cool during operation. During the non-overclocked testing the fan is barely audible at its loudest and is louder when run at full speed for some benchmark testing. Running it wide open gives a noticeable increase in noise delivered as the expected result. However that does not mean the card offers an unpleasant noise signature when overclocked.
At the heart of the HD 7850 PCS+ is AMD's Pitcairn 28nm GCN core. It comes equipped with 1024 stream processors, 64 texture units, and 32 ROPs. The core clock speed on the PowerColor HD 7850 PCS+ comes factory overclocked to 1000MHz or 140MHz higher than the reference cards. The added clock speed bumps the performance potential of this card up from square one. The 2GB of GDDR5 memory is running through a 256-bit bus. Not to be left out, the memory sees a small boost in clock speed to 1225MHz (4.9GHz effective data rate). Elpida is the maker of the GDDR5 memory used on this video card. Part number EDW2032BBBG-50-F is rated for operation at 1250MHz using 1.5v.
Seems like PowerColor put together a solid rendition of the HD 7850 to compete at the $200 price point.