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Meet The Radeon HD 7870 & Radeon HD 7850

For today’s review AMD sent over a 7870 and a 7850. Both are built on the 7870 reference design, so the cards are functionally identical except for the configuration of their respective GPU and the number of PCIe power sockets present.

For retail cards this will be very similar to the 7700 series launch, with partners doing semi-custom cards right away. In fact among the list of cards AMD sent us only Club3D will be using the complete 7870 reference design, while everyone else will be using the reference PCB along with their customary open air coolers. The 7850 will be even more divergent since AMD actually has a different, shorter reference PCB for these cards. Consequently our 7850 has very little in common with retail 7850s when it comes to their construction.


The Radeon HD 7850 Reference Design - Only Sampled To Partners

Starting as always with the cooler, the 7870 reference design is effectively a smaller version of the 7970 reference design. Here AMD is once again using a blower design with a slightly smaller blower, shrouded in the same hard red & black plastic as with the 7900. Underneath the shroud we find AMD’s heatsink, which utilizes a copper baseplate attached to 3 copper heatpipes, which in turn run into an aluminum heatsink that runs roughly half the length of the card. This is fairly typical for a blower design for a sub-200W card, but again almost all of the retail cards will be using a completely different open air design.

The 7870 PCB itself runs 9.5” long, with an additional .25” of shroud overhang bringing the total to 9.75”. Our card is equipped with 8 5GHz 256MB Hynix GDDR5 memory chips, the same 5GHz chips that we saw on the 7700 series. For the 7870 power is provided by a pair of 6pin PCIe power socket, while the sub-150W 7850 uses a single socket. Both cards feature a single CrossFire connector, allowing them to be paired up in a 2-way CrossFire configuration.

Meanwhile for display connectivity AMD is using the same configuration as we’ve seen on the 7900 series: 1 DL-DVI port, 1 HDMI port, and 2 miniDP ports. Interestingly, unlike the 7900 series and 7700 series there is a set of pads for a second DVI port on the card, and while AMD doesn’t make use of them at least one XFX card will. The 7800 series as the same display configuration options as the 7900 series though, so while it can drive up to 6 monitors it can only drive 2 TMDS type displays at once, and if you want to drive a full 6 monitors you’ll need a MST hub.

Finally, I wanted to touch on marketing for a bit. We typically don’t go into any detail on marketing, but with the 7800 something AMD did caught my eye. One of AMD’s marketing angles will be to pitch the 7800 series as an upgrade for the 5800 series; AMD doesn’t typically pitch cards as upgrades in this manner, and the 5800 comparison is especially odd.

At 2.5 years old the 5800 series is no longer the video card king but it’s also not particularly outdated; other than tessellation performance it has held up well relative to newer cards. More specifically, the 7800 series performance is roughly equal to the 6900 series, and while the 6900 series as a step up from the 5800 series it was not a massive leap. With its $350/$250 MSRP the 7800 series has common pricing with the 5800 series, but at only 20-40% faster than the 5800 it’s not the kind of step up in performance that typically justifies such a large purchase. Of course AMD’s conservative pricing has a lot to do with this, but at the end of the day it’s odd to call the 7800 series the upgrade for the 5800 series when the 7950 is the more natural upgrade from a performance perspective.

AMD Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition & Radeon HD 7850 Review Further Image Quality Improvements: SSAA LOD Bias and MLAA 2.0
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  • Beenthere - Tuesday, March 06, 2012 - link

    Yes at the moment AMD is most definitely getting top dollar for these Vid cards just as Intel does all of the time on their CPUs - until they have competition.

    In case you didn't notice the new 7xxx series cards surpass Nvidia's current offerings in just about every category so this IS a step forward in performance at the same or lower prices.
    Reply
  • MMoudry - Tuesday, March 06, 2012 - link

    Hello,
    Does anybody know if those two cards would work in crossfire? The Crossfire compatibility chat is not yet up to date and I can't seem to find that information anywhere....

    Sources:
    http://sites.amd.com/us/game/technology/Pages/cros...

    MM
    Reply
  • Hrel - Tuesday, March 06, 2012 - link

    Hd6870 and gtx 560 can be had for 160 and 165 respectively. WHY would anyone want the SIGNIFICANTLY slower 7770? It's not like it's directX 12 or something. Reply
  • Alpert - Tuesday, March 06, 2012 - link

    I can understand why so many get it wrong but I can also clearly see.

    7770 currently retails for $169.99 - $179.99

    6870's currently retail for $189.99 - $209.99 original price was $249.99

    I just checked these numbers from 3 retailer

    7770 is a weaker card then the 6870, sure but performance per dollar is actually a little better with the 7770. Considering the lack of competition from Nvidia why would AMD reduce the price to performance ratio that exists. AMD is selling you more features for a better value card.

    When Kepler arrives AMD price's could go down if Nvidia prices it that way. If Kepler is all the #$%^ it's hyped to be AMD will counter it with a price drop then we all win. Looking at ATI/AMD's history something they have always offered the customer, superior price/performance of the competition.

    AMD will always be better price to performance for less while Nvidia justifies there inflated prices with CUDA, PhysX, TWIMTBP and of course better driver support.

    The value of performance will remain as is. Like a commodity on the stock exchange, why would Nvidia devalue there own stock or at least so quickly?
    Reply
  • Hrel - Wednesday, March 07, 2012 - link

    I checked the prices I listed on newegg just before posting that. Not sure where you got your prices from, but shop newegg in the future... that way you aren't wrong :p. Reply
  • bozolino - Tuesday, March 06, 2012 - link

    There is something REALLY odd about 560 TI numbers on ELDERS SCROLL V.

    Under 7770 REVIEW it shows 7770 right above 550 TI and on the top of all them is a standard GTX 560 with like 46 fps and here, on this review it shows the GTX 560 TI with like 36 fps. The settings look just like the same..

    Please correct that because it is looking like the GTX 560 TI is worse than the 7770, wich it isnt by at least a mile.
    Reply
  • Alpert - Tuesday, March 06, 2012 - link

    With a 7770 the power consumption is below that of the Radeon HD 6870 and GeForce GTX 560 Ti, while still delivering the same gameplay experience of those video cards. About 2%-7% slower then 560 Ti. Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Thursday, March 08, 2012 - link

    This isn't HardOCP Alpert. Reply
  • slypher1024 - Wednesday, March 07, 2012 - link

    My 5850 still server me well @ 1600x900 res.. Not until these prices drop i'll upgrade..

    AMD is obviously maximizing profit with these products, seeing that Nvidia next launch is at least 2 months away...

    SAD
    Reply
  • gammaray - Wednesday, March 07, 2012 - link

    Price wars, really?

    seriously, 250$ for a low end video card and 350$ for a mid range video card, not even the MAIN LINE serie but somewhat weaker versions of their 7900 serie counterpart.

    Video card markets have been ripping off consumers in the past years with their super hefty high prices.

    it should be like that: 150$ for new low end video cards, 250$ for new mid-range and 350$+ for whatever they want to sell to whoever will always buy the most expensive stuff no matter.

    the price of the 6800 should all be below 100$ right now and the 6900 serie prices cut in half .
    Reply

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