XFX HD 7870 and 7850 Double Dissipation Review

tacohunter52 - 2012-03-20 12:02:27 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: tacohunter52   
Reviewed on: May 7, 2012
Price: HD 7870 $374.99- HD 7850 $269.99

Introduction:

This year AMD blew us away with its HD 7900 series GPUs, each equipped with a 28nm Tahiti core. One month later AMD released the not as impressive Cape Verde core. This can be found in the HD 7700 series, which was targeted at the lower end of the GPU scale. Then, two months from the release of the 79xx series, AMD added the Pitcairn core to be paired up with the rest of the Northern Island GPUs. The Pitcairn core, as you probably know by now, can be found in the HD 7800 series cards. Like its older siblings, the Pitcairn core uses AMD's GCN (Graphics Core Next) architecture. So what can you expect with the GCN architecture? Up to 20 compute units, or 1280 stream processors, up to 153.6GB/s of memory bandwidth, 32 render back-ends, dual geometry engines, and a ninth generation tesselator. This means you can expect a 28nm process, PCI-E Gen 3 support, as well as both AMD PowerTune and AMD ZeroCore Power technology. The HD 7800 series will also be capable of AMD Eyefinity 2.0 and AMD App Acceleration. AMD hopes that this will make the 7870 and 7850 power enough to make you want to upgrade from your 5870 and 5850, respectively.

We just recently took a look at a video card equipped with AMD's fairly new Pitcairn core, the HD 7870 from Sapphire. Today we will be looking at two more cards equipped with this Pitcairn chip: the XFX HD Double Dissipation 7870 and 7850. Both cards feature a factory overclock as well as the Double Dissipation dual fan cooler. Just as with the Sapphire HD 7870, the XFX Double Dissipation HD 7870 is equipped with 1280 stream processors, whereas the XFX Double Dissipation 7850 is only equipped with 1024 stream processors. The XFX Double Dissipation HD 7870's 28nm core comes stock clocked at 1050Mhz whereas the HD 7850 comes in at 860MHz. Hopefully we will be able to increase both of those clock speeds with a fairly decent overclock. So how will the cards stack up to the rest of the competition? Let's find out!

 

Closer Look

Both cards, as we usually see from XFX, arrived in packaging that is about half the size of other video cards. This is something I actually like to see, because there really isn't a reason for having a giant box for a standard sized video card. Both boxes are almost identical to each other, in fact, the only differences are the names of the cards. The box features a mostly black color scheme with hints of blue, and the XFX logo is featured at the very top of the packaging. Located towards the center of the packaging is the card's name. Flipping the package over gives us some very detailed specifications and features of the card. Even more features can be found on one side of the packaging, while the other side features all the awards that XFX has won.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As with XFX packaging, the Double Dissipation cards feature a black inner packaging. Upon first opening it up you will be greeted with a black cardboard tray. This tray holds all of the card's included accessories. Removing this tray will reveal the GPU nice and snug in an antistatic bag.

 

 

Now that we've got the cards unboxed, let's take a closer look at them!

Closer Look:

The XFX Double Dissipation HD 7850 uses a cooler that looks almost exactly the same as the cooler used on XFX's other Double Dissipation edition cards. It uses a fairly simplistic metal fan shroud, which actually looks extremely cool. Located on the top of the fan shroud is a red strip of metal. This strip contains the card's name, as well as XFX's "Ghost" technology logo. I'm actually very thankful for this red strip, because it's the only way to tell the HD 7850 and HD 7870 apart. Flipping the card over reveals a nice bare, black PCB.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately the XFX Double Dissipation HD 7850 is only equipped with a single Crossfire connector, so you will only be able to Crossfire it with one other card. Powering the card, as is usual now, can be done through the use of two 6-pin connectors.

 

 

 

In terms of connectivity, the user will be able to drive quite a few monitors off of just this one card. You have access to two mini DisplayPorts, a single HDMI port, and two DVI ports. This should make the XFX Double Dissipation HD 7850 very appealing for those looking to run an Eyefinity setup without using a ridiculously expensive videocard.

 

 

Separating the card from its cooler is very easy to do. You will however void your warranty by doing so. If you do choose to remove the cooler, you start by removing all of the screws located on the back of the card, and then three screws located on the card's expansion bracket. Once the cooler is completely removed and disassembled we can see that it is equipped with a total of four heatpipes. These heatpipes make contact with the back of a copper plate, which in turn makes contact with the card's core. The heatpipes will then disperse the heat throughout a large chunk of finned aluminum.

 

 

 

With the cooler removed we can see the XFX Double Dissipation HD 7850 in all of its naked glory! Located around the Pitcairn core are a total of eight memory modules. These modules make up all of the card's 2GB of GDDR5 memory, which comes clocked at 1200MHz. Located directly in the center of the card is the Pitcairn core. XFX decided to give us a factory overclock, which brings the final clock speed up to 860MHz.

 

 

Now let's take a look at the card's older brother, the XFX Double Dissipation HD 7870!

Closer Look:

At a first glance the XFX Double Dissipation HD 7870 appears to look exactly the same as the XFX Double Dissipation HD 7850. The reason being that both cards use exactly the same cooler. In fact, the only way that you can possibly tell the two cards apart is by looking at the red strip located at the top of the card. Flipping the card over, much like with the HD 7850, reveals a nice black PCB.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The top of the card, as stated before, features a red strip. This strip contains both the card's name as well as the XFX "Ghost" logo. Also located on the top of the card is the single Crossfire connector and the card's two 6-pin power connectors. As you can see, the two XFX cards are completely identical.

 

 

 

The two XFX cards remain identical in terms of connectivity as well. If you purchase the XFX Double Dissipation HD 7870 you will be able to utilize two mini DisplayPort connectors, a single HDMI port, and two DVI ports. Again making it a very decent option for those looking to utilize an Eyefinity setup without purchasing the highest end card.

 

 

Removing this card's cooler can be done in the exact same way as removing the XFX Double Dissipation HD 7850's cooler. Once again, removing the cooler will void your warranty with XFX. Once the cooler has been completely removed from the card, we can see that it is indeed the same one as used on the HD 7850.

 

 

 

Even when completely naked the XFX Double Dissipation HD 7870 looks exactly the same as its younger brother!.Surrounding the Pitcairn core are eight memory modules, which make up the cards 2GB of GDDR5 memory. This time around however, the memory clock is slightly higher, coming in at 1250MHz. Located directly at the center of the card is the 28nm Pitcairn core, which XFX overclocked to 1050MHz.

 

 

Now that we've had a good look at the cards, let's see how they perform!

Specifications:

GPUClock
1050MHz
Chipset Version
ATI Radeon HD 7850
Memory Bus
256 Bit
Memory Clock
5.0 GHz
Memory Size
2GB
Memory Type
DDR5
AMD Eyefinity Technology
Yes
AMD HD3D Technology
Yes
AMD Crossfire Ready
Yes
Display Port Ready
1.2
Dual Link Support
Yes
HDMI Ready
1.4a
Max Supported Resolution
2048x1536
Output-DL-DVI-I
1
Output-HDMI
1
Output-mini dp
2
Output-SL-DVI-D
1
Card Dimension (CM)
24.1x11.12x3.81
Card Dimension (Inch)
9.5x4.4x1.5
Card Profile
Dual
Package Dimensions (CM)
32.1x16x9.8
Package Dimensions (Inch)
12.6x6.3x3.9
Package Weight (kg)
1.25 est
Package Weight (lb)
2.76 est
Thermal Solution
7PXT DD
Thermal Type
Dual Slot
Cross Fire Bridge
1
Driver CD Installation Guide
1
Installation CD with Multi-Language user guide
1
Promotional Bundles
PSU Cross Marketing Insert
Quick Installation Guide
1
XFX Serial Number Door Hangar
1
XFX BE Badge
1
External Power
2 6Pin
Minimum Power Supply Requirement
500w
XFX recommended Power Supply
XFX 650W PSU

Features:



Information on this page courtesy of XFX @ http://xfxforce.com/en-us/Products/Graphics-Cards/AMD/AMD-Radeon-HD-7000/AMD-Radeon-HD-7850.aspx

Specifications:

GPUClock
1050MHz
Chipset Version
ATI Radeon HD 7870
Memory Bus
256 Bit
Memory Clock
5.0 GHz
Memory Size
2GB
Memory Type
DDR5
AMD Eyefinity Technology
Yes
AMD HD3D Technology
Yes
AMD Crossfire Ready
Yes
Display Port Ready
1.2
Dual Link Support
Yes
HDMI Ready
1.4a
Max Supported Resolution
2048x1536
Output-DL-DVI-I
1
Output-HDMI
1
Output-mini dp
2
Output-SL-DVI-D
1
Card Dimension (CM)
24.1x11.12x3.81
Card Dimension (Inch)
9.5x4.4x1.5
Card Profile
Dual
Package Dimensions (CM)
32.1x16x9.8
Package Dimensions (Inch)
12.6x6.3x3.9
Package Weight (kg)
1.25 est
Package Weight (lb)
2.76 est
Thermal Solution
7PXT DD
Thermal Type
Dual Slot
Cross Fire Bridge
1
Driver CD Installation Guide
1
Installation CD with Multi-Language user guide
1
Promotional Bundles
PSU Cross Marketing Insert
Quick Installation Guide
1
XFX Serial Number Door Hangar
1
XFX BE Badge
1
External Power
2 6Pin
Minimum Power Supply Requirement
500w
XFX recommended Power Supply
XFX 650W PSU

Features:

 

 

Information on this page courtesy of XFX @ http://xfxforce.com/en-us/Products/Graphics-Cards/AMD/AMD-Radeon-HD-7000/AMD-Radeon-HD-7870.aspx

Testing:

Testing of both the XFX Black Edition Double Dissipation Radeon HD 7870 and 7850 will consist of running them and the comparison cards through the OverclockersClub.com suite of games and synthetic benchmarks. This will test the performance of the video card against many popular competitors. Comparisons will be made to cards of equal and greater capabilities to show where they each fall on the performance ladder, using games that are some of today's newest and most popular titles which will provide an idea of how the cards perform relative to each other.

The system specifications remain the same throughout the testing. No adjustment will be made to the respective control panels during the testing with the exception of the 3DMark Vantage testing, where PhysX will be disabled in the NVIDIA control panel, if applicable. The card will first be tested at stock speeds and then overclocked to see the following effects. The cards will be placed in order from highest to lowest performing in the graphs to show where they fall by comparison. The drivers used are the 12.3 Catalyst drivers for AMD-based cards, with the exception being the new HD 7800 series that have been tested with the latest AMD press release performance driver driver. The 290.53 drivers for NVIDIA-based cards are used for the testing.

 

Comparison Video Cards:

 

Overclocking:

To start off, let's talk about overclocking the XFX HD Double Dissipation 7850. Overclocking this card was extremely easy because it was able to max out MSI's Afterburner in both the Core and Memory clocks. I started by increasing the frequencies in 5MHz increments, but soon got to a point where I couldn't go any higher. As for the XFX HD Double Dissipation 7870, well, we weren't so lucky. Again I increased the frequencies in 5MHz increments. However around a core clock of 1245 I encountered instabilities. I then lowered the core clock in increments of 1MHz until I could successfully run through the entire OCC benchmarking suite. This came to a final clock of 1241MHz. I then did the same thing for the memory, which resulted in a final clock of 1328MHz. Even though the card wasn't able to max out MSI's afterburner, it still gave us a fairly impressive overclock!

 

 

 

Maximum Clock Speeds:

Testing for the maximum clock speed consists of looping Unigine 2.5 for 30 minutes each to see where the clock speeds fails when pushed. If the clock speed adjustment fails, then the clock speeds and tests are rerun until they pass a full hour of testing.

 

 

 

 

  1. Metro 2033
  2. Batman: Arkham City
  3. Battlefield 3
  4. Unigine Heaven Benchmark 2.5
  5. DiRT 3
  6. Mafia II
  7. 3DMark 11
  1. Temperature
  2. Power Consumption

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.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Right away we saw both cards performing exactly as they should have. The HD 7870 came in just under the GTX 580, and the HD 7850 came in just a few FPS under that.

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.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once again both cards performed exactly where they should have on the charts. I was actually surprised to see how close to the HD 7870 the HD 7850 performed. If the card continues to perform like this, it will definitely prove its worth!

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.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again the XFX Double Dissipation HD 7850 came in just a few frames under that of the XFX Double DIssipation HD 7870. Not only that, but the overclock gave us a very decent increase in performance!

Testing:

Unigine Heaven Benchmark 2.5 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.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The two cards once again performed extremely close to each other, as well as right up against the GTX 580. Overclocking gave a very decent boost in performance.

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.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again both cards gave extremely playable framerate, with the HD 7850 coming in just under the HD 7870. At this point I would recommend the HD 7850 over the HD 7870, just because of how close the performance is!

Testing:

Mafia II is a third-person shooter that puts you into the shoes of a poor, Sicilian immigrant, Vito Scarletta. Vito has just returned home from serving overseas in the liberation of fascist Italy, to avoiding his jail sentence, to finding his family in debt. The debt must be repaid by the end of the week, and his childhood friend, Joe Barbaro, conveniently happens to have questionable connections that he assures will help Vito clear the debt by that time. As such, Vito is sucked into a world of quick cash. Released in North America for PC in August of 2010, the game was developed by 2K Czech, published by 2K, and uses the Illusion 1.3 game engine.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In our Mafia II benchmark both XFX cards performed very close to the GTX 580. The XFX Double Dissipation HD 7850 continued to impress by just performing a few frames under the HD 7870. Not only that, but both cards provided a nice performance boost after being overclocked.

Testing:

3DMark 11 is the next installment in Futuremark’s 3DMark series, with Vantage as its predecessor. The name implies that this benchmark is for Microsoft DirectX 11 and with an unintended coincidence, the name matches the year proceeding its release (which was the naming scheme to some prior versions of 3DMark nonetheless). 3DMark 11 is designed solely for DirectX 11, so Windows Vista or 7 are required along with a DirectX 11 graphics card in order to run this test. The Basic Edition has unlimited free tests on performance mode, whereas Vantage is only allowed for a single test run. The advanced edition costs $19.95 and unlocks nearly all of the features of the benchmark, while the professional edition runs $995.00 and is mainly suited for corporate use. The new benchmark contains six tests, four of which are aimed only at graphical testing; one to test for physics handling and one to combine graphics and physics testing together. The open source Bullet Physics library is used for physics simulation and although not as mainstream as Havok or PhysX, it still seems to be a popular choice.

With the new benchmark, comes two new demos that can be watched, both based on the tests. Unlike the tests, however, these contain basic audio. The first demo is titled "Deep Sea" and involves a few vessels exploring what looks to be a sunken U-Boat. The second demo is titled "High Temple" and presents a location similar to South American tribal ruins with statues and the occasional vehicle around. The demos are simple in that they have no story – they are really just a demonstration of what the testing will be like. The vehicles have the logos of the sponsors MSI and Antec on their sides – the sponsorships helping to make the basic edition free. The four graphics tests are slight variants of the demos. I will use the three benchmark test preset levels to test the performance of each card. The presets are used as they are comparable to what can be run with the free version, so that results can be compared across more than just a custom set of test parameters.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again both XFX cards performed very close together and gave a nice performance boost after the overclock.

Testing:

Temperature testing will be accomplished by loading the video card to 100% using Unigine's Heaven Benchmark Version 2.5, 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.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As it turns out XFX's cooler can do more than just look cool, it can keep the cards cool as well! After turning the dual fans up to 100% we saw even cooler temperatures.

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 2.5 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.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not only did the two XFX cards stay nice and cool with their dual fanned coolers, they kept the power consumption nice and low as well. While the cards weren't the most efficient in our suite, they didn't draw so much power that you'd be paying an arm and a leg every time you wanted to play a game.

Conclusion:

In the end I have to say that I was very impressed with both XFX cards. However, I was more impressed with how close the XFX Double Dissipation HD 7850 was able to perform to the HD 7870. Considering the XFX Double Dissipation HD 7850 comes in at almost $100 cheaper than the HD 7870, it makes it almost a no brainer. Not only that, but we were easily able to overclock it enough for it to perform faster than a stock HD 7870, which again makes it a no brainer.

Both cards gave extremely playable performance through every single one of our benchmarks. They also gave fairly decent performance in our Eyefinity/Surround tests as well. I must say that I was also pleasantly surprised about how well XFX's Ghost coolers work. Even before the dual fans had been spun up to 100% the temperatures were nice and easy to deal with. The cards kept a nice low power consumption as well.

The XFX Double Dissipation HD 7870 comes in at $374.99, whereas the XFX Double Dissipation HD 7850 comes in at just $269.99! Considering how close the HD 7850 performs to the GTX 580, which is about $300 more expensive, I would recommend it to anyone looking to pick up a new video card. I would even argue that the HD 7850 is one of the best bang for your buck video cards currently available on the market. Both of the XFX cards overclocked very well too. Again though, if you are thinking of picking up a new video card, go for the HD 7850. It's about $100 less than the HD 7870, and can easily be overclocked to match the performance!

 

Pros:

 

Cons: