Today's Hard|Forum Post
Today's Hard|Forum Post

GIGABYTE Radeon HD 7870 OC Video Card Review

GIGABYTE has a new custom cooled and factory overclocked version of the Radeon HD 7870 known as the GIGABYTE GV-R7870OC-2GD. We examine how well GIGABYTE's Windforce 3X cooling technology allows us to overclock this next generation video card. We will compare it to a Radeon HD 7950 and a GeForce GTX 570.

Introduction

GIGABYTE is a hardware manufacturer and one of the most respected PC component builders in the business today. The company was established in 1986 in Taipei, Taiwan, and is best known for its motherboards. GIGABYTE has a vast product line, including motherboards, graphics cards, notebooks, LCDs, mobile devices, tablet computers, computer cases, and many other PC peripherals.

On our test bench today is the, the GIGABYTE GV-R787OC-2GD video card.

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AMD Radeon HD 7870

AMD introduced its new Radeon HD 7870, code-named "Pitcairn," on March 4th, 2012. Pitcairn follows the Tahiti architecture which represents a departure from previous architectures for AMD. It calls the new architecture "Graphics Core Next," or GCN. The Radeon HD 6000 series used AMD's VLIW 4 and 5 architectures. GCN features a smaller die at 28nm, compared to the 40nm process used for the previous generation.

Aside from the process shrink, GCN offers a number of features over previous generation GPUs. One particularly noteworthy feature is "ZeroCore Power." This feature disables unused GPUs (or portions of them) during long idle periods to save power and increase efficiency. This can save energy not only in terms of power consumed by the video card, but it can also lead to decreased heat generation, which can save money in terms of cooling costs.

The Radeon HD 7870 GPU itself is comprised of 2.8 billion transistors packed into 1280 stream processors with a clock speed of 1GHz. There are 80 texture units, 128 Z/stencil units, and 32 ROPs. That is a 14.3% increase in stream processors and 42.9% increase in texture units compared to the Radeon HD 6870. Compared to a Radeon HD 6970 this is 256 stream processors and 16 texture units less, but with the same number of ROP, increased clock speeds, and other optimizations it should still result in more efficient rasterization.

The Radeon HD 7870 is designed to be paired with 2GB of GDDR5 memory on a 256-bit bus, running at 1200MHz for a 5.0Gbps data rate and a maximum theoretical bandwidth of 153.6GB per second. The typical board power is only 175 Watts which will provide more efficient and lower overall power consumption.

GIGABYTE Radeon HD 7870 OC

The GV-R787OC-2GD is one of GIGABYTE's overclocked video card in the HD 7000 series. It is designed to give a small performance boost Out-of-Box without the user needing to change anything. AMD's reference Radeon HD 7870 design has clock speeds set to 1000MHz on the core and 1200MHz on the memory. GIGABYTE factory overclocked this video card to 1100MHz on the core, and left the memory unchanged. From what we have seen in previous testing, memory bandwidth has not been a bottleneck at stock clocks for most configurations.

GIGABYTE loaded this custom video card up with its Ultra Durable VGA components. These include first tier Samsung and Hynix memories, high quality capacitors, ferrite chokes, and MOSFETs. Together these components combine for several benefits for the video card. GPU temperatures will be lower, it will provide for better overclocking ability, and will improve power efficiency which can increase performance.

GIGABYTE's most unique feature on this video card is its custom cooling system, the "Windforce 3X." The Windforce 3X cooling system has a few key features. It starts on the GPU where the most heat is shed. Contacting the GPU are three 8mm copper heat pipes which spread through the heatsink directly over the GPU, and to two other elevated heatsinks. The heatsink directly contacting the GPU has another feature called "Triangle Cool." The three copper pipes run through this triangle shaped heatsink. This angle on the heatsink helps direct airflow from the fans towards the top and bottom of the video card, instead of blowing directly on to the PCB.

These heatsinks are built with very thin fins, which allow heat to come off the copper heat pipes and spread across the surface of each fin. The heat is removed from the fins by the Windforce 3X's, three ultra quiet PWM fans. And when we say ultra quiet, we mean nearly silent. These are set on a small, alternating inclines that helps reduce air turbulence and reduce noise. Each fan has several sharp, smooth blades that help cut through air and reduce wind resistance providing the cooling we want, without the noise we dread.

The GIGABYTE Radeon HD 7870 model GV-R787OC-2GD is available on Newegg for $359.99 plus shipping and handling. It is currently tied for the fastest clocked AMD Radeon HD 7870 video card available.

GIGABYTE Radeon HD 7870 Pictures

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GIGABYTE sent us this video card before the packaging was finished, we got an early sample that represents the full retail product, just without the box being ready. We don't have a box or the packaging material to show you, but all the included parts are indicated on the website. GIGABYTE's website has listed that the video card comes with a CrossFireX bridge, a pair of 6-pin auxiliary power connectors, and driver installation CD.

The front of the GIGABYTE GV-R787OC-2GD features a glossy black plastic cover that serves to house the 3 fans and cover the heatsink. Although it is thin and light weight, it feels extremely durable and does not have any issue handling pressure in our experience.

You can see underneath the black cover that the heatsink spans the entire length of the video card and extends past the PCB by about one inch. The far left and right parts of the heatsink are also elevated which allows for quicker heat spread and dissipation.

On the I/O panel there are four ports. These include two mini-DP ports, a DVI-D connector, and one HDMI connector. The power connectors are on top of the video card and require two 6-pin PCI-e power connections. The video cards measurements are 11 inches in Length, 1.5 inches Wide, and 5.25 inches in Height.