AMD Radeon HD 7950 Video Card Review

The new Radeon HD 7950 marks the launch of AMD's more affordable Radeon HD 7900 series GPU. The Radeon HD 7950 is priced to compete with the GeForce GTX 580. We'll look at performance in comparison to several video cards in single-GPU, dual-GPU CrossFireX, Eyefinity, and Overclocking to see where it truly lands.


Battlefield 3

We had no issues with BF3 detecting and selecting the appropriate resolutions on any video card setup tested here today.

Highest Playable Settings - CrossFireX Eyefinity

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Thankfully for AMD BF3 renews the performance advantage of the new Radeon HD 7950 CrossFireX configuration compared to GeForce GTX 580 SLI. In this game, Radeon HD 7950 CFX was faster, and allowed a better gameplay experience.

Radeon HD 7950 CrossFireX was the only configuration that was able to play BF3 at 5760x1200 with the highest in-game settings. With all the other video card configurations we would have had to lower in-game settings in order to make 5760x1200 playable. In order to keep the highest in-game quality settings the next lowest resolution, 5040x1050, was what we had to use for GTX 580 SLI and HD 6970 CFX.

None of the video cards were able to play BF3 smoothly with 2X or 4X AA enabled at these resolutions. Out of all the video cards, GeForce GTX 580 SLI seemed to be the most sensitive to AA settings at these resolutions. With the Radeon HD 7950 CFX and Radeon HD 6970 CFX, when we raised the AA settings performance got slower, but it wasn't choppy or pausing every few seconds. With GTX 580 SLI, when we enabled even 2X AA gameplay performance became choppy and paused and hitched, indicating that the VRAM limit was being hit severely with the 1.5GB on each video card.

Though AMD Radeon HD 7950 has 3GB of RAM per video card, it doesn't have the performance to actually utilize 2X or 4X AA in this game at these resolutions. The space is there for it to work, but the performance isn't there, at these resolutions. Perhaps with triple-HD 7950 GPUs, or dual 7970 GPUs, the performance will be there to push 2X and 4X at 5760x1200, where no other video card can go. This is certainly something we intend to test when we can.

For multi-player gamers, we found that we could play at 5760x1200 with Radeon HD 7950 CrossFireX and FXAA. However, instead of the highest in-game settings, we found that turning off Motion Blur and reducing from HBAO to SSAO gave us the needed performance to have a smooth multi-player experience.


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We've got two apples-to-apples graphs to show you here. This first one compares the game at 5760x1200 with FXAA and all Ultra settings.

We can see that even at 5760x1200 with FXAA the GeForce GTX 580 is struggling quite a bit and has a lot of severe drops in performance. It felt to us like the video cards were hitting the VRAM limit at this resolution. Radeon HD 7950 CFX and Radeon HD 6970 CFX are much smoother.

However, while it appears HD 6970 CFX could possibly be playable, it did not feel so in-game. This is a phenomenon we will talk about in the conclusion. The gist of it is that the framerate displayed, and the actual physical feeling of playing the game, end up feeling different.

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This second graph is to demonstrate the game running 2X MSAA and FXAA at 5040x1050. Here, you can see drastic performance differences between the video cards.

AMD Radeon HD 7950 CFX is 56% faster than GTX 580 SLI. This is a big turn-around from Batman.