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Overclocking: Gaming & Compute Performance

As always we’ll keep the commentary thin here, but overall the overclocked performance of the 7800s looks very good, which is what you’d expect with a 15%+ core overclock and a 12% memory overclock. With the exception of Skyrim performance at 19x12, the overclocking performance increase for both cards is roughly split between the core and memory overclocks, meaning we’re seeing a 13.5% average performance increase for the 7870 and a 17% average performance increase for the 7850. As the 7800 series has the same number of ROPS as the 7900 series, it looks like we’re running headlong into the memory bandwidth bottleneck that makes the 384-bit memory bus on the 7900 series sing.

All things considered among our tests we have everything from even the 7850OC beating the GTX 580, to the GTX 580 still holding onto its lead versus the 7870OC. But even if you can’t beat a GTX 580 with a 7870OC you can get very close on a card that costs a good bit less.

Meanwhile for compute performance the gains are similar: 12.5% on the 7870, and 19.5% on the 7850.

Overclocking: Power, Temp, & Noise Final Words
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  • rburnham - Monday, March 05, 2012 - link

    I tend to skip one or two generations of video cards before upgrading, but the 7850 looks like a fairly respectable upgrade over my current 6850. I love that low power draw, although I might wait until someone like MSI comes out with a quieter version. Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Thursday, March 08, 2012 - link

    Your 6850 is 2 watts higher power draw at idle. But you're a gamer, so load draw is important. The 7850 is 14 watts higher power draw on normal load, and 26 watts more on high load. Powertune slider only increases that. Reply
  • smoka - Monday, March 05, 2012 - link

    A lot of people are saying power draw is not important, but it is for some of us upgrading. I have been running a GTX460 for about a year now and I'm finally thinking about jumping on the Eyefinity bandwagon. I was eying the 6950 a few weeks ago, but I decided to wait for the 78xx to come out. My plan is to move to a single card and run at a lower resolution (3072x768 or 3840x1024) until I can upgrade to a CF setup and run at 5760x1080.

    Also keep in mind that I have a 600W PSU, which would need an upgrade a 69xx CF or GTX570/580 SLI setup. Many people who are in the mid-high end gaming market (which the 78xx is aimed at) don't have a 1000W PSU. Upgrading to these top-tier PSUs is also another expense to add to an already expensive graphics card overhaul.

    The 7870 series fits the bill exactly for me, except for the $350 price-point. I really wanted the it to be priced at $300 or less. I am hoping it will hit this price either due to brand competition, store promotion, or after kepler release.
    Reply
  • kallogan - Monday, March 05, 2012 - link

    Actually i care about power consumption more than stupid power hungry raw performance.

    You are not responsible citizens when buying nvidia stuff. Buy amd and save the planet.

    HAHA
    Reply
  • compvter - Monday, March 05, 2012 - link

    Sure performance/price matters most, but what i find interesting in current amd generation cards is zerocore that allows me to keep my computer running with low power draw when i don't use it. I don't really care about power draw when i am using computer, but i do care about noise, and those are kind of related. Still most of the cards are silent enough for me, but most of the time my coputer is on idle (or long idle) with software running that i can't turn off (irc client), so zerocore would save me a lot of money compared to Nv offerings. Still i am interested to see what nv offers, but at the moment im considering 7870 to replace my 3870x2. Would go 79xx, but don't want to buy new case =/ Reply
  • mattgmann - Monday, March 05, 2012 - link

    save the planet...lol. Though saving on the electricity bill would be nice. The power hungry 4890 tandem in my rig surely adds a few tens of dollars a month to my bill. Reply
  • pieguy - Monday, March 05, 2012 - link

    In the paragraph about 7800 series voltage, you mention 7950 voltages but I think you mean 7850 voltage, else I am not understanding...

    Also, a question about these voltages of 1.213 - 1.219. I don't know much on the subject. If these are the voltages under load, what are they actually set to (before vdroop)? If this voltage is standard for these cards, does it mean that we shouldn't be concerned about using this voltage on other 28nm 7XXX series cards for extra OC headroom and 24/7 usage? I'm just trying to figure out a max "safe" 24/7 voltage for my 7950 since the overclocking scales really well with voltage increases.

    Thanks for the great review!
    Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Monday, March 05, 2012 - link

    Hi Pie, thanks for the correction. As for the voltages, those are the VIDs, so it's without vdroop. As for what a safe voltage is, there's no easy answer to that. Though 1.21v is likely safe for 7900 cards that are already in the 1.17v range. Reply
  • ObeseMaurice - Monday, March 05, 2012 - link

    I bought a 2GB 6950 2 weeks ago for $240 and $20 mail in rebate. The 7870 is worse on all resolutions of Battlefield 3 and priced significantly higher. Very unimpressive product launch from AMD. Reply
  • silverblue - Monday, March 05, 2012 - link

    Has anybody stopped to think how much extra performance you might get from these cards when AMD has proper drivers for them, or is this considered a moot point? Needless to say, nowhere on the BF3 benchmarks in this review is the 7870 slower than the 6950, rather it's a consistent 20% faster. Throughout the review the 7870 ranges from about 15% (Batman 1920x1200) - 70% (Civ5 1920x1200) faster depending on the title. Granted, the gap isn't always this large at 2560x1600 but it's still sizeable in a good number of cases. Are you in fact referring to the 7850?

    AMD are pricing these cards at that level because they can. It's certainly not going to last forever.
    Reply

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