Gigabyte Radeon HD 7950 WindForce 3 Graphics Card Review

By on February 24, 2012, 1:55 AM

AMD ended 2011 on a high note, unleashing the market's fastest graphics card (single-GPU) and beating its adversary to the next-generation GPU yet again. Conveniently enough, AMD also offers a valid alternative to its flagship GPU with its Radeon HD 7950, which is essentially a lower-specced and lower-priced version of the HD 7970.

The HD 7950 is set at $419 for the 1536MB version, while the full 3072MB variant is $449. Although it's currently possible to find a 3GB model for $449, you can expect to pay closer to $500.

Gigabyte has redesigned the PCB and included an upgraded cooler that is meant to lower temperatures and improve overclocking. Considering the HD 7970's respectable performance, we expect a solid showing from the HD 7950.

Read the complete review.




User Comments: 39

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H3llion H3llion, TechSpot Paladin, said:

So 580 is still better then the new AMD cards... hmm xD Wasn't the 580 suppose to be the top card for AMD for the 7000 series? Or?...

mosu said:

Why not comparing single GPU cards only? Or why didn't the author use a crossfire setup of the benchmarked card, eg. 7950? Because he needed Nvidia to top the chart! What a lame conduit for a respected site.

Staff
Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

We didn't test in Crossfire because we didn't have a pair of cards.

The SLI results are there for your own reference and not once we hinted Nvidia was faster just because the dual GPU scores are also there. If you read the review you will see it's mostly praises for this card (which received a very positive score of 90 -- we don't just give those away).

If you extrapolate from our results, it's highly likely a pair of these boards will surpass the 580 SLI setup unless Crossfire acts up on a given game.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

mosu, it doen't matter how hard you shill for AMD, Rory Read isn't hiring.

Nice review yet again. The Windforce cooling is definitely one of the better implementations around.

Guest said:

My mistake, I meant, wasn't the 7970 be the top for the 7000 series for AMD?

Arti-x

mosu said:

The first rule of any marketing lesson will tell you to put the product you sell in front of competition at any means.The right name for the review should be "Second Best from AMD Smashes Nvidia Top Of The Line " in every aspect from game results, power consumption and thermal characteristics-hence durability, not to mention having a better price.Now I can see for the first time how infinity equals zero by means of an aussie cook and Nvidia fan.

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

Would be interesting to see the benchmarks with the new drivers for both parties, particularly considering the nvidia perf improvements. Other note - didn't know 12.1 catalysts had a release that supported the HD7xxx series (the AMD page pointed to 11.12 RC11 for ages). Running 12.2 pre-certified here atm and no issues so far.

emmzo said:

I kinda agree with mosu, not of the ranting part, but if you hadn't had 2 cards for CF you shouldn't have put the SLI scores, moreover you should have added a 580GTX 3gigas factory overclocked card for the reference.

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

Sweet card. I just wish it wasn't so ugly.

Staff
Steve Steve said:

Why not comparing single GPU cards only? Or why didn't the author use a crossfire setup of the benchmarked card, eg. 7950? Because he needed Nvidia to top the chart! What a lame conduit for a respected site.

Not sure how to respond really, I am disappointed that this comment actually came from a registered member. It's the same mix of cards we have been using for the past 6 months, the 7950 has simply been added to the mix. If you want to mail me a second 7950 I can e-mail you my address and I promise to update the results asap.

mosu, it doen't matter how hard you shill for AMD, Rory Read isn't hiring.

Nice review yet again. The Windforce cooling is definitely one of the better implementations around.

Thanks dividebyzero and I agree the Windforce is a nice setup.

The first rule of any marketing lesson will tell you to put the product you sell in front of competition at any means.The right name for the review should be "Second Best from AMD Smashes Nvidia Top Of The Line " in every aspect from game results, power consumption and thermal characteristics-hence durability, not to mention having a better price.Now I can see for the first time how infinity equals zero by means of an aussie cook and Nvidia fan.

You are comparing Nvidia's 15 month old GPUs to AMD's month old GPUs. Maybe you should wait till later in the year before talking such rubbish.

Would be interesting to see the benchmarks with the new drivers for both parties, particularly considering the nvidia perf improvements. Other note - didn't know 12.1 catalysts had a release that supported the HD7xxx series (the AMD page pointed to 11.12 RC11 for ages). Running 12.2 pre-certified here atm and no issues so far.

There isn't much difference in the games tested, I have already checked.

I kinda agree with mosu, not of the ranting part, but if you hadn't had 2 cards for CF you shouldn't have put the SLI scores, moreover you should have added a 580GTX 3gigas factory overclocked card for the reference.

The card is operating at default GTX 580 frequencies and I have no idea why you wouldn't want to see as many configurations as possible.

slh28 slh28, TechSpot Paladin, said:

The temps are very impressive... sadly the price is not. In the UK this card retails for £400 and that is just too much to spend even on a high end card.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

slh28 said:

The temps are very impressive... sadly the price is not. In the UK this card retails for £400 and that is just too much to spend even on a high end card.

I was just checking and £400! wow!

Never mind, won't be getting one of these in a hurry

BTW, good review, ignore the haters, Fact of the matter is i still got all the information I needed to make a decision on this and make an opinion on its performance. Overall good performance but just a little too pricey...

Sarcasm Sarcasm said:

Steve said:

Why not comparing single GPU cards only? Or why didn't the author use a crossfire setup of the benchmarked card, eg. 7950? Because he needed Nvidia to top the chart! What a lame conduit for a respected site.

Not sure how to respond really, I am disappointed that this comment actually came from a registered member. It's the same mix of cards we have been using for the past 6 months, the 7950 has simply been added to the mix. If you want to mail me a second 7950 I can e-mail you my address and I promise to update the results asap.

mosu, it doen't matter how hard you shill for AMD, Rory Read isn't hiring.

Nice review yet again. The Windforce cooling is definitely one of the better implementations around.

Thanks dividebyzero and I agree the Windforce is a nice setup.

The first rule of any marketing lesson will tell you to put the product you sell in front of competition at any means.The right name for the review should be "Second Best from AMD Smashes Nvidia Top Of The Line " in every aspect from game results, power consumption and thermal characteristics-hence durability, not to mention having a better price.Now I can see for the first time how infinity equals zero by means of an aussie cook and Nvidia fan.

You are comparing Nvidia's 15 month old GPUs to AMD's month old GPUs. Maybe you should wait till later in the year before talking such rubbish.

Would be interesting to see the benchmarks with the new drivers for both parties, particularly considering the nvidia perf improvements. Other note - didn't know 12.1 catalysts had a release that supported the HD7xxx series (the AMD page pointed to 11.12 RC11 for ages). Running 12.2 pre-certified here atm and no issues so far.

There isn't much difference in the games tested, I have already checked.

I kinda agree with mosu, not of the ranting part, but if you hadn't had 2 cards for CF you shouldn't have put the SLI scores, moreover you should have added a 580GTX 3gigas factory overclocked card for the reference.

The card is operating at default GTX 580 frequencies and I have no idea why you wouldn't want to see as many configurations as possible.

15 months later or not, simple fact is that RIGHT NOW the 7950 > GTX 580 relative to current pricing. And this is coming from a GTX 580 owner myself.

Of course though we'll see how the next Nvidia cards stack up. But I really don't know if they will get those low power consumption numbers of the 7900 series.

Staff
Steve Steve said:

15 months later or not, simple fact is that RIGHT NOW the 7950 > GTX 580 relative to current pricing. And this is coming from a GTX 580 owner myself.

Of course though we'll see how the next Nvidia cards stack up. But I really don't know if they will get those low power consumption numbers of the 7900 series.

I'm not debating that at all, did anyone read the conclusion? I'm just saying why abuse the older Nvidia range so much when ... well its so old?

mosu said:

It seems that pointing something true upsets a lot of people.Never mind, I do not consider I'm ranting anything as long what I've said it's real.By the way, in Romania the Gigabyte Radeon HD 7950 WindForce 3GB DDR5 384-bit GV-R795WF3-3GD costs 475 US $ before tax.In other words, the 580 card is second iteration Kepler and has under a year of availability.The only way to be truly objective is comparing apples to apples.not launching dates or anything else than unbiased testing suites.

Coodu Coodu said:

Nice review guys. I was looking at getting one of the Sapphire OC edition 7950 and give the old 6850 to the wife, but this looks like a great model too from GB.

Guest said:

Can you guys include a noise test?

captainawesome captainawesome said:

@mosu - did you get the divorce papers this morning or something? Why are u so cranky ??!

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

Why not comparing single GPU cards only? Or why didn't the author use a crossfire setup of the benchmarked card, eg. 7950? Because he needed Nvidia to top the chart! What a lame conduit for a respected site.

All I could say was "wow.. guess you really can't please everyone."

Not everyone is a fanboy and I was able to quickly look at the charts and discern that the 7950 is generally faster than the 580 (a bit of a surprise to me really.) If the pricing were fixed (it's clearly very broken) then it would be even more impressive. This iteration of the 7950 seems like a stopgap between the reference 7950 and 7970 for a couple dollars less making it kind of meh.

FYI - I think anyone seriously looking to purchase cards in this performance range can look at charts and understand them well enough to see which card performs best with the applications or application types they may use. When reading a review I want it compared to as many other offerings as possible so in my opinion this comparison was great. Thanks for the review Steve.

edit: captainawesome - you're not allowed to use the word cranky in your posts... it's too confusing for me

Staff
Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

LNCPapa said:

FYI - I think anyone seriously looking to purchase cards in this performance range can look at charts and understand them well enough to see which card performs best with the applications or application types they may use. When reading a review I want it compared to as many other offerings as possible so in my opinion this comparison was great. Thanks for the review Steve.

Thank you, Papa.

Guest said:

mosu,

Are you an AMD shill or something?

"The only way to be truly objective is comparing apples to apples.not launching dates or anything

else than unbiased testing suites."

1) The article clearly showed that HD7950 is better than GTX580;

2) The article even highlighted that HD7950 by Gigabyte is a better buy than a reference HD7970 due to factory pre-overclock, additional overclocking with very noise levels courtesy of 3x Windforce heatsink, and due to lower price and power consumption.

Other results, such as GTX580 SLI, were included with HD6970 CF, HD6990, GTX590, etc. Using your retarded logic, the review should remove all Crossfire and SLI configurations too?

Also, everyone understands that it's "fair" to compare cards that are currently for sale. But HD7950 should easily beat GTX580 considering the latter is 15 months old. In technology, we expect faster performance at the same price or much lower price with similar performance. That's the point Steve was trying to make.

The only true way to gauge how good HD7950 really is to see what the competitor has. Technically, yes HD7950 is better than GTX580, but those cards are really meant to be competitors to Kepler. If HD7950 is faster than GTX670 Ti, then yes it's a great card. But if 2 months later NV launches a $299 GTX670Ti that beats an HD7950, then HD7950 @ $490 will look like the worst buy in a LONG time.

Right now, this review shows us where the new 7900 series stands and provides us an idea whether or not it's worth it to buy a 7900 series with an aftermarket cooler such as what Gigabyte has given us. But don't pretend to be oblivious to the fact that Kepler IS coming.

Your logic is so flawed in fact, it's like comparing the new Lamborghini Aventador and claiming it destroys the Ferrari 599, totally oblivious that the fact that the new Ferrari 620 GT's launch is imminent.

Only a fanboy, or a person who can drop $500 on GPUs every 6 months would jump at the HD7950 without seeing what NV has to offer. But hey, if 7900 series drops $100-200 in the next 2 months, don't come crying here.

howzz1854 said:

i've got one of those bad *** HD 7950 from Sapphire.. although mine is the reference design, not the OC version. the thing is a beast. i am doing 1100mhz core and 1450 mem all with just 1.15 core voltage. i don't know how Sapphire did it... but all there cards voltages are lower than the AMD reference spec, even their OC version is too. i'm scared to push more because the skimpy reference cooler that's on right now might not be enough. i am really eager and can't wait to get the Zalman's new 79XX VF3000 cooler to come out. i wanna see how much more this GPU can push. as it stands at the moment, 1100/1450, that's 37% more performance than the stock card. can't beat that. the VRM module also seem to run surprisingly cooler than i thought. VRM is one those things people tend to overlook, but can easily fry your card if you let it cook up to 120c. luckily those HD 7950's usually hover around 85c~90c at the most, plenty cool for a VRM module, consider there's no heatsink what so ever covering them on the reference design.

Relic Relic, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

LNCPapa said:

FYI - I think anyone seriously looking to purchase cards in this performance range can look at charts and understand them well enough to see which card performs best with the applications or application types they may use. When reading a review I want it compared to as many other offerings as possible so in my opinion this comparison was great. Thanks for the review Steve.

+1

ravy said:

now they should make an HD 7970 WindForce 3.. but with a black PCB, this one's ugly

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

Here you go ravy - [link] - sorry but the PCB is the same color on this card.

Guest said:

Great review.

You covered cards from low end 6870 to high end hd6990,gtx590, you also throwed in the crossfired 6970 scores to. I really like that and to me that not a negative at all.I will say again good job on the review it really shows everyone at a glance how the card preforms and show how it performs against other that are available for purchase now and that what a review should do.

My only gripe is with AMD about pricing of there whole 7000 line of cards is high. I have know idea f the markup and the cost to produce the cards but it a lot higher than normal at least for AMD. Maybe there recouping on the cost for the die shrink or there trying to get a little extra while they can before nvidia new release. But i think if it cheaper then a lot more people would jump on the bandwagon and by the card now instead of waiting for the nvidia release.

I think a cost of $400 US reference and $450 US non reference would have been better for the 7950 series card would have been more in line and a little easier for people to swallow.

I also think depending on what Kepler is going to do you will see price drop to that level.

To me if that the case why not do it now and save the pissed off reaction that your going to get when you do it from your customer that bought it at the higher price. Because if you do lower it then that means their was markup and you as a company come off as greedy bunch especailly when there is the current economic hardship in the world.

Just my opinion on it, I have always said that companies can always be fair and make a profit on there products without gouging on pricing and also fostering loyalty to the company that has treated them fair with there pricing.

Guest said:

Is there a reason the PCB screen-printed number is sticker-ed over. This is mentioned as a non-reference PCB, but in order to confirm it for Watercooled blocks I need to see the PCB serial number.

Great zoom on the PCB picture but there's a product sticker covering the PCB number.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

Is there a reason the PCB screen-printed number is sticker-ed over. This is mentioned as a non-reference PCB, but in order to confirm it for Watercooled blocks I need to see the PCB serial number.

Great zoom on the PCB picture but there's a product sticker covering the PCB number.

The fact that the Gigabyte board deviates substantially from the reference PCB should be abundantly clear. 6+1 instead of 4+1 phase power (which shouldn't affect waterblock compatibility) , totally revised capacitor layout between the voltage regulation and the front of the card (which will), and the deletion of a number of securing points would be the obvious giveaways.

BTW: If you're going to be watercooling, why bother paying for a card that has increased cost attached because of an air cooler you won't be using? It's not as if reference HD 7950's aren't overclockable.

Original HD 7950 reference shot can be found here

ravy said:

Here you go ravy - [link] - sorry but the PCB is the same color on this card.

thanks mate, looks nice, but i think i'll go with the XFX 7979 OC Double Dissipation.

Guest said:

I would like to see how well these cards perform generating bitcoins.

mosu said:

I was right when I've said : Nvidia promises to ship next-gen Kepler GPU this year (not!) see comments! back in august 2011

and sadly I am ranted again when obvious is not so clear for Nvidia supporters.Please show me that I'm wrong with arguments, in the spirit of fairness.

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

Nice move - you just called everyone who disagreed with you nVidia supporters. This is the same method used by politicians and religious fanatics. If you're not with us, you're against us. It's not a matter of you having been right or wrong in the past, it's just that many people strongly disagreed with what you said earlier in this thread. I'm actually a fanboy of both ATI and nVidia - whoever has the best offering at the time.

mosu said:

In my first post I only pointed what I'm thinking to be wrong in a test comparison otherwise relevant and informative.Instead I'm called politicianist and fanatic, I assume because I see commercialism where others don't.My point being that if you're right, it doesn't matter how many think otherwise because, well, you're right at the end of the day.So please, let wait together for Nvidia's new card to answer AMD and the rest of the world.And yes, I expected this forum to be more democratic, respect for other people's opinion and not a Miss Congeniality contest.

Staff
Steve Steve said:

In my first post I only pointed what I'm thinking to be wrong in a test comparison otherwise relevant and informative.Instead I'm called politicianist and fanatic, I assume because I see commercialism where others don't.My point being that if you're right, it doesn't matter how many think otherwise because, well, you're right at the end of the day.So please, let wait together for Nvidia's new card to answer AMD and the rest of the world.And yes, I expected this forum to be more democratic, respect for other people's opinion and not a Miss Congeniality contest.

What if you are wrong? Which you most certainly are and others have pointed that out. I think you will find the back lash came from how politically incorrect you worded your opinion.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

In my first post I only pointed what I'm thinking to be wrong in a test comparison otherwise relevant and informative.

Inferring bias/corruption against the sites staff was out of line...Saying that a review should be titled ""Second Best from AMD Smashes Nvidia Top Of The Line " probably tipped off the forum members to your lucidity...or lack thereof.

Instead I'm called politicianist and fanatic

It's "politicist"...and no I don't see you as a politicist...fanatic yes, politicist no.

[link]

go AMD!

[link]

[link]

Now I can see for the first time how infinity equals zero by means of an aussie cook and Nvidia fan.

Leaving aside your lack of Geography skills. I probably have more posts recommending AMD graphics than you have posts in their entirety

[1] , [2], [3], [4], [5], [6]...etc, etc...

Probably safer to say I'm an Intel fan, since I seldom if ever recommend AMD CPU's and chipsets. I'd also note- as LNCPapa touched on, that I'm a devotee of performance, and performance-per-$ to a smaller extent. I don't blindly follow a company nor endorse that company wholesale -as seems your mandate. Every product stands or falls on it's own merit.

As for the company ethos and ideology, I appreciate the determination to do well far above a headless-chicken act and indecisiveness

Put together the post while Steve was posting, and between prep shifts. Read the post with his comment in mind

mosu said:

This review makes my point.link:http://www.vortez.net/articles_pages/gtx580_vs_hd
970_the_ultimate_face_off,1.html

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

Let's refrain from making any personal attacks. I don't want to delete any more posts.

Guest said:

"AMD ended 2011 on a high note..."

HAH! Good one Techspot. AMD just failed with there Bulldozer processors and actually lost 177 million dollars at the end of 2011....

Staff
Steve Steve said:

"AMD ended 2011 on a high note..."

HAH! Good one Techspot. AMD just failed with there Bulldozer processors and actually lost 177 million dollars at the end of 2011....

So we were talking about the GPU division as we pretty much explained in that same sentence.

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