As always we wrap up our review of a customized card with a look at overclocking performance. Since the HD 7870 OE is a semi-custom card - meaning it's using AMD's reference board - there aren't a lot of surprises here. With competent cooling overclocking comes down to the luck of the draw; Sapphire's basic binning process for their OE cards should push the better boards into the OE product line, but even then there's no real guarantee how much higher any of these boards can go.

When it comes to overclocking our HD 7870 SE topped out at 1150MHz for the core clock and 5.4GHz memory clock. This is a 100MHz (9%) core overclock and 400MHz (8%) memory overclock respectively. As with other 7870 boards a 5.4GHz memory clock is a rather constant factor since all of these reference boards start seeing diminishing returns on performance at higher memory clocks due to memory bus errors, while the core overclock is 50MHz lower than we've seen on other 7870s, but as we said before this comes down to the luck of the draw.

Radeon HD 7800 Series Overclocking
  AMD Radeon HD 7870 Sapphire HD 7870 OE HIS IceQ Turbo 7870 PowerColor PCS+ HD7870
Shipping Core Clock 1000MHz 1050MHz 1100MHz 1100MHz
Shipping Memory Clock 4.8GHz 5GHz 4.8GHz 4.9GHz
Shipping Voltage 1.219v 1.219v 1.219v 1.219v
Overclock Core Clock 1150MHz 1150MHz 1200MHz 1200MHz
Overclock Memory Clock 5.4GHz 5.4GHz 5.4GHz 5.4GHz
Overclock Voltage 1.219v 1.219v 1.219v 1.213v

So how well does the HD 7870 OE hold up once further overclocked?

Our overclock pushed up power consumption by 10W under Metro and 18W under OCCT. Without any overvolting capabilities power consumption is largely kept in check, though we're still drawing nearly 40W more at the wall compared to a reference 7870.

The slight increase in power consumption (and thereby heat generated) does little to faze the HD 7870 OE much here. Temperatures rise between 2-3C; even under OCCT the card is still relatively cool at 73C.

The tradeoff for holding those temperatures however is that the HD 7870 OE does give up some of its noise advantage. At 45.7dB under Metro it still easily maintains its reputation as the quietest 7870, but its lead has diminished and by the time you move into OCCT it's not significantly quieter than any other overclocked 7870.

Finally, how does performance look? We'll skip the running commentary on performance, but overall overclocking the HD 7870 OE has the expected performance improvements. In games where the 7870 was already close to the 7950 to begin with overclocking can push performance ahead of stock 7950 performance, which makes the HD 7870 OE's low noise all the more impressive. The fact that we only hit 1150MHz on our sample does mean that it slightly trails the other retail 7870s we've reviewed, however.

Power, Temperature, & Noise
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  • princehamlet - Saturday, April 28, 2012 - link

    the Sapphire HD 7870 OE Load uses 219 V under load? Fascinating!!
  • Ryan Smith - Saturday, April 28, 2012 - link

    Yep, but the amperage is astoundingly low! Thanks for pointing that out; fixed.
  • ImSpartacus - Saturday, April 28, 2012 - link

    Best correction response ever. Jarred will need to up his game.
  • axelthor - Sunday, April 29, 2012 - link

    Best response ever. I think today is the first time I actually laughed out loud reading Anandtech.
  • xeizo - Saturday, April 28, 2012 - link

    As it is best in "just about every metric" as Charlie D wrote long before it's launch.

    But, it could be interesting for the uninitiated to see just how much is sacrified by chosing a cheaper solution, that's why it should have been included in this an upcoming tests.
  • CeriseCogburn - Sunday, April 29, 2012 - link

    Yes, but they had to show only amd winning to satisfy their fanboy love.
    Just expect it here every time, right down to wording and phrasing, not just the charts.
    Anyway, if we go back to the abandoned price vs performance metric that was spewed here for years and instantly abandoned when AMD spit out their greedy failship that cost me dearly, I'd say the GTX570 is one sweet deal - and they did include that in the charts.
    Overclock it and you almost have the 580 - also in the charts.
    Here is it for $269, and it's a quad monitor, surround single card MDT overclocked out of the box.
    Never mentioned is the FACT that Nvidia's newest driver 301.24 takes ALL the wonderful GTX680 special driver features and ports them all the way back to the 8 series Nvidia cards.
    That's FXAA, dynamic V-sync, etc, etc -all the way back to anyone and everyone including gems like 8800GT/X, all the rebrands !
    ROFL @ amd's driver fail
    Think about that - all that hatred over all those years now Nvidia is stepping up like the men amd only wished they could be and providing enormous added value for long discontinued cards - with so many owners one can only hope these review sites swallow their bias and actually report on the wonderful development.
    What this means is cards going way back for Nvidia purchasers just got new life breathed into them, the adaptive v-sync does wonders for gaming smoothness.
    I've dumped the flagship amd card overboard for failure to support the end users and gamers and scalping us like crazy until they got hammered back by Nvidia, then what did they do ? Dumped support for my 4000 series amd cards.
    Good bye amd, who cares what your fps say at we won't show nvidia 680 websites, and your lousy amd no added valueless fail crash drivers.
    And that's the way it is. Good night.
  • CeriseCogburn - Sunday, April 29, 2012 - link

    Here's the driver link
  • snakefist - Sunday, April 29, 2012 - link

    errrr... are you sane?

    being a fanboy is one thing, but having THAT ridiculous argumentation is... well, *quite* different

    where I came from, there is absolutely NO GTX680 available, neither for love nor money... i see not much point in argument that "almost fictional graphic card seen only on reviews or as a gift on lottery" to be a necessary addition to a completely different price-range card review

    or, if we want to play make believe reviews, let me introduce brand new, revolutionary Einstein-architecture graphic card called Snakefist GTX+1699, which has recommended price of sub-300$, beats both AMD and NVIDIA flagship solutions in all benchmarks for blazing 30+%, and require no additional power...

    only catch is, this magnificent card is available only on reviews, and can't be bought in real life... but surely, this lacking review would profit greatly if a Snakefist GTX+1699 was included, therefore i protest for its malicious excluding... and this site is well known to be biased to BOTH AMD AND NVIDIA, as well as for BOTH AMD AND INTEL... and dropping out GTX+1699 only confirms this fact

    anyway, people *that* full of rage should refrain from posting... at least until they cool off a bit...

    as for me, this review includes all relevant, similarly priced and AVAILABLE cards in the price range... and as much as i would like to be able to see my make-believe card showing its shiny blue colour in, for example, budget card comparison, dominating everything else by 30-30000% margin, it's just... not necessary

    and, please, do a comment about my grammar, i'm not a native english speaker, but i surely deserved that. and lacking grammar is a sure sign of being completely wrong in all points, that is a fact well known of this site. please. just this time. it will strengthen your argumentation and make you feel superior
  • CeriseCogburn - Sunday, April 29, 2012 - link

    In other words everything I said is true and you decided to call names and make up fantasies for 8 paragraphs because you have no other method of dealing with the truth.
  • snakefist - Monday, April 30, 2012 - link

    i have no problems in dealing with a truth (and no problems with typing, either - besides, i don't see mine post was longer than yours). thing is, you were raging and spilling hate because ~500$ card was missing for sub 300$ comparison. and because you presumably had a problem with a card, every review from there on has to be 680 vs 7970? if you need it in writing: "680 is better than 7970". happy?

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