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Review: AMD HD 7950 vs. HD 7970 - at the same clocks

by Tarinder Sandhu on 3 February 2012, 09:00

Tags: AMD (NYSE:AMD)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qabb6j

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Concluding thoughts

Our look at the reference Radeon HD 7950 and HD 7970 cards shows there to be a 15 per cent gap in performance in favour of the range-topping GPU. But raise the HD 7950's clocks to the higher speeds of the 7970 and the gap melts away to around five percent, often a little less, depending upon gaming title.

This type of analysis is sometimes moot because the second-rung GPU often has problems in running at the higher speeds of the very best card in the family, yet such is the frequency headroom of the HD 7950, ramping way, way past the 925MHz core and 5,500MHz clocks of the HD 7970, that overclocking it is wonderfully easy. Indeed, add a bit of voltage into the mix and it flies.

So what have we really learnt from this exercise? The Radeon HD 7970 is still the better card for performance junkies; it offers a smidge more performance and is guaranteed to run at 925MHz/5,500MHz clocks without any fiddling from the end-user. However, if it was our money on the table and the choice was between a £350 HD 7950 or £440 HD 7970, knowing what we do, we'd go for the cheaper offering and push up the speeds ourselves. Heck, we'd even be saving some power, too.

Sweetening the deal for prospective 7950 purchasers is the knowledge that factory-overclocked models are now cropping up with relatively small premiums over the reference card.

Want a feature-rich, fast, relatively cool and quiet card for high-resolution gaming thrills and spills? Take a look at the Radeon HD 7970, sure, but we recommend you sharpen focus on the HD 7950 instead.

A full list of partner Radeon HD 7950 3GB cards can be viewed here.



HEXUS Forums :: 6 Comments

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That's assuming all cards will overclock to 7970 speeds - what's the news in the wild?

Also... if you shell out the extra £100 for the 7970 and can o/c to similar levels seen in your 7970 review [hexus.net] then you'll have ~12% (in AvP) extra performance over the standard 7970.

Was about to compare the 7970 o/c results with the 7950 o/c results but looks like you're running different driver versions so cant get a figure for what % extra you get for the £100.

Still beyond my budget, I picked up a 4870 for £175 when they were newish, and then another for £50 2nd hand... not sure how many months (years?) it'll be before the 7950/70 gets sub-£200...
Tremendous piece of analysis.

It really does get you thinking about how best to spend your money - higher end cooling and lower spec card or biggest most vulgar card.

Hope to see the same with NVidia when they release, plus a like for like comparison so we can judge performance EFFICIENCY per clock and watt.

Keep up the excellent work.
its a solid review and exactly what i was thinking you guys should compare :D. I was thinking/expecting more of a 10 - 15% but it really shows that there can be just to much in terms of raw power at some point, i guess its due to devs not always taking full advantage of it but the key point is as you say... the backend hasnt been killed off like AMD tend to do with lower models which is excellent news for the consumer especially if when Nvidia release kepler then we can have the 7950 at £200 and 7970 at £250/£300, unlikely but youll never know :D.
Nice review.
great review .. but intill games run at a snails pace on my 5870 then can't see why i need to spent £350.. i'll wait for the next one ..