Gigabyte's Radeon HD 7950 is surprisingly fast, delivering 10% more performance than a stock model on average and sitting only 7% below the HD 7970. Whereas most HD 6950s could be unlocked turning them into fully-fledged HD 6970s, the HD 7950 doesn't seem to require such modifications.
Those willing to dabble with a little extra overclocking should be able to get HD 7970-like speed out of any HD 7950, but Gigabyte's model made the task easier by coming partly overclocked. Its WindForce 3X cooler also helped keeping the card's temperatures in check while making nary a peep.
Gigabyte's HD 7950 also averaged 32% faster than AMD's previous-gen flagship and it bested Nvidia's GTX 580 by 14%, when testing games at 2560x1600. Make no mistake: the HD 7950 is dang fast. But is it worth $490?
At this price, Gigabyte's card is fetching approximately 9% more than the standard HD 7950 (which, again, is about 10% slower) and it's about 13% cheaper than the most affordable HD 7970 (which, again, is about 7% faster). Add the benefits of Gigabyte's cooler and the WindForce 3 drives a hard bargain.
If you're spending $450 on a graphics card, parting with another $40 should be easy. As a side note, we recently published an article warning users about the poor value of factory overclocked cards. We have to commend Gigabyte for bucking this trend with the HD 7950 as its premium is justified.
Pros: Gigabyte's factory overclocking and enhanced cooling prove a worthy addition. Performance to spare. Better value than buying a HD 7970 board.
Cons: High-end graphics cards usually fetch a harsh premium over mainstream boards and this is no exception. Price might be lowered once competition arrives later this year.