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Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 OverClock Edition review

The best graphics card on the market right now

As good as the reference version of the AMD Radeon HD 7950 is, the Sapphire HD 7950 OverClock edition is just better.

Coupled with the awesome overclocking potential of the Tahiti core is an excellent cooling array with whisper quiet dual fans.

Being able to keep the temperature well below that of the reference card gives us far more faith in the longevity of the chip given a serious overclock.

Sapphire radeon hd 7950 oc ed

That's a good job considering the excellent Trixx overclocking utility Sapphire bundles with the card.

That software is intrinsic to the extra performance we were able to wring out of the HD 7950 OverClock edition.

The AMD overdrive software runs out of track at 1,100MHz, while Trixx will allow us to push the card up to 1,300MHz and play around with the voltages to help us get close to the limits.

We quickly managed to hit a 1,170MHz core clock speed with the Sapphire sample we've been playing with.

And that's faster than we were able to push the Radeon HD 7970.

So the performance is excellent, on par with the top-end AMD HD 7970, and the cooling array makes for near silent graphical power play.

There's got to be a catch, right?

Well, we're still looking, but we'll be damned if we can find one…

At £360 it's only a tenner more expensive than AMD is recommending the reference design be sold for, and around the same amount cheaper than the rivalling Nvidia top-end card.

We say rivalling, but really there is no contest. The Sapphire HD 7950 is cheaper and knocks the Nvidia GeForce GTX 580 about like a tiger playing with a toddler.

Nvidia then has some work to do to rival this excellent card.

The only problem we can see has no real bearing on the end user at all and is only really an issue for AMD.

Nobody is going to want the HD 7970 now there's a card which is practically as good for over £100 less.

We liked

The raw performance of the HD 7950 is a known quantity now, as is its overclocking potential. With the Sapphire backing though it's an even better GPU.

There's also the power-saving goodness of the AMD ZeroCore Power technology which turns off most of the GPU when it's not needed.

We disliked

We're struggling to think of something negative to say here. Aside from the fact you'll only get the true value of this card with a big-screen, 2560x1440 or 2560x1600 monitor, there's nothing to say.

Verdict

Quite simply this is the only card we'd consider spending cash on if we were looking for a serious GPU upgrade.

Tech Specs

Product TypeGraphic Card
Chipset ManufacturerAMD
Chipset ModelHD 7950
HDMIYes
Chipset LineRadeon
Chipset SeriesHD 7000
DisplayPortYes
Maximum Resolution2560 x 1600
Brand NameSapphire
Standard Memory3 GB
Host InterfacePCI Express 3.0 x16
HDCP SupportedYes
Bus Width384 bit
Multi-GPU TechnologyCrossFireX
RAMDAC Speed400 MHz
Digital SignalYes
Dual Link DVI SupportedYes
DVIYes
Number of DisplayPort Outputs2
Number of DVI Outputs1
Number of HDMI Outputs1
Height115 mm
Cooler TypeFan Cooler
Memory TechnologyGDDR5 SDRAM
Form FactorPlug-in Card
Length275 mm
ManufacturerSapphire, Inc
Memory Speed5000 MHz
Product NameRadeon HD 7950 OC Edition Graphic Card
Package TypeRetail
Manufacturer Part Number11196-02-40G
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.sapphiretech.com/en/
Marketing Information

The SAPPHIRE HD 7950 OC Edition, which is factory overclocked to 900Mhz and features SAPPHIRE's new dual-extractor technology - Dual-X - a highly efficient multi-heatpipe cooler with dual fans providing quiet and very cool operation during normal operating conditions, and superb cooling performance even under extreme load.
For enthusiasts wishing to maximise performance, a new version of the SAPPHIRE overclocking tool, TriXX supporting this latest generation of technology is available free to download from the SAPPHIRE website. TriXX allows tuning of GPU voltage as well as core and memory clocks, whilst continuously displaying temperature. Manual control of fan speed is supported, as well as user created fan profiles and the ability to save up to four different performance settings. Both of the SAPPHIRE HD 7950 models have a dual BIOS, allowing for further experimentation by the enthusiast. On the OC edition, the second BIOS is pre-programmed to allow a higher maximum overclock and more aggressive fan profile.

Package Contents
  • Radeon HD 7950 OC Edition Graphic Card
  • CrossFire Bridge Interconnect Cable
  • DVI to VGA Adapter
  • Mini-DP to DP Cable
  • 2 x 6 PIN to 4 PIN Power Cable
  • HDMI to SL-DVI Adapter
  • HDMI Cable
  • CD
Limited Warranty2 Year
Thickness42 mm
API SupportedDirectX 11.1, OpenCL, DirectCompute 11, OpenGL 4.2