Double the framebuffer
It is HEXUS' belief that the Radeon HD 7790 'Bonaire' GPU, launched six weeks ago, has largely failed to make a much-needed impression on the £100-£150 graphics card market. The primary reason for this, in our opinion, is the similar pricing of faster GPUs such as the Radeon HD 7850 and GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost.
We've seen a number of Radeon HD 7790s pass through the labs, overclocked by varying degrees, and all have been equipped with a 1GB framebuffer. This makes sense as the mid-range settings the GPU is ideally suited to rarely require memory footprints larger than 1GB.
But with product differentiation firmly in mind and with the enticement of a double-sized framebuffer, XFX is releasing a Black Edition Overclocked HD 7790 kitted out with 2GB of memory.
XFX uses the now-familiar Double Dissipation with Ghost cooler on top of a 20cm PCB. Overclocked to 1,075MHz core and 6,400MHz memory, up from the 1,000/6,000MHz clocks of the reference card, the speeds are about as good as they get for the HD 7790 GPU.
It's interesting that XFX also sells the Core Edition version of the card, with a 1GB framebuffer and identical (1,075/6,400MHz) frequencies. What's more, that card is only 17cm long, thus making it useful in smaller chassis.
The DD cooling design calls for two 80m fans to be semi-suspended over an array of aluminium fins. The casing is purely there to stop the fans from being damaged; being open-air means that it doesn't channel airflow in any meaningful way. Also, we reckon it would make more sense to have the six-pin power connector on the side of the card, rather than the front.
Unlike all previous Radeon HD 7790s, this model carries four memory chips on the rear, as well as under the heatsink. This means that while the Hynix memory density is no different than 1GB-equipped Bonaire GPUs, XFX requires twice as many chips - eight in total - to constitute the larger buffer.
The very small logo-emblazoned exhaust highlights that XFX doesn't envisage much air being propelled out of the rear. Outputs are standard for a mid-range GPU and take in two dual-link DVI and full-size HDMI and DisplayPort.
Two heatpipes come into view when removing the metal shroud. Both fans function identically because they're linked together and then connected to a PCB header.
XFX includes various marketing paraphernalia in the box but no hardware of note. Jumping on the AMD Reloaded software bandwagon, purchasers can redeem Steam copies of BioShock Infinite and Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon at no extra cost, which is considerably better than NVIDIA's anaemic software offering on comparable cards.
This XFX HD 7790 Black Edition Overclocked 2GB is backed by a two-year warranty and retails at £145. We're of the thinking that Radeon HD 7790 1GB cards should cost no more than £100, so let's see what an extra 1GB dollop of memory can bring to the performance table.