AMD Radeon HD 7870 and 7850 Video Card Review

AMD is introducing the performance mainstream Radeon HD 7870 and Radeon HD 7850 today. We'll look at performance compared to the competition and talk about pricing and explore value. If you are in the market for a video card between $249 and $349 these video cards will likely need to be on your short list.

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Overclocking

To overclock both video cards we used AMD's Overdrive built into Catalyst Control Center. At this time, no third party utilities support the two video cards. Once a utility becomes available we can then experiment with Voltage tweaking.

Radeon HD 7870

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The Radeon HD 7870 is clocked at 1000MHz by default with 4.8GHz memory. Overdrive allows us to increase to 1400MHz, giving us plenty of freedom for overclock. Of course, we got nowhere near that here, but we did manage to get up to near 1.2GHz without Voltage tweaking.

We found that 1190MHz was the highest stable overclock without Voltage Tweaking. We did set the fan to a manual of 50% to ensure the best overclocking. At 50% the fan was louder, but not loud enough to cause a scene. We were just shy of 1.2GHz, but we feel that with Voltage tweaking we should see in excess of 1.2GHz on the HD 7870.

The memory overclocked well also, we managed to take it up to 1400MHz (5.6GHz). We weren't able to max the slider out here either, indicating that with some more Voltage we might be able to go a bit higher still.

This was a solid overclock that made a noticeable impact on performance.


Radeon HD 7850

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The AMD Radeon HD 7850 did not have as much headroom in CCC's Overdrive. The highest value we could overclock to was 1050MHz with the slider. It just so happens that 1050MHz was stable, so we were able to maximize CCC's Overdrive on the core overclock. We might have been able to go higher without Voltage tweaking, but we don't know yet. Of course, with Voltage tweaking and custom coolers we may be able to go much higher. We may be looking at overclocks around 1.1GHz with those customizations. That is exactly what this video card needs to get performance to where it should be at this price point.

The memory was able to overclock to the same level as the Radeon HD 7870 at 5.6GHz. This overclock provided real-world performance improvements that were noticeable in-game.