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    iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail

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    PowerColor PCS+ HD7870 EZ Edition 2GB Graphics Card



    Today we'll review a variant of Radeon HD 7870 from TUL (PowerColor), which is actually based on a bit different GPU and has unusual clock rates.

    Specifications

    • Model name: AX7870 2GBD5-2DHPPV2E
    • GPU: Radeon HD 7950 (Tahiti Pro)
    • Interface: PCIe 3.0 x16
    • GPU clock rate (ROPs/shaders): 975 MHz (the standard is 1000 MHz)
    • Memory clock rate, physical (effective): 1500 (6000) MHz (the standard is 1200 (4800) MHz)
    • Memory bus: 256-bit
    • Stream processors: 1280
    • Texture units: 80 (BLF/TLF/ANIS)
    • ROP units: 32
    • Dimensions: 267x111 mm, 2 slots
    • PCB color: black
    • Peak power consumption (3D/2D/standby): 171/57/3 W
    • Output connectors: Dual-Link DVI-I, HDMI 1.4a, 2 x Mini DisplayPort 1.2
    • Multi-GPU mode: hardware CrossFireX (with identical cards only)

    Comparison with the reference design, front view

    AX7870 2GBD5-2DHPPV2E Reference AMD Radeon HD 7870

    Comparison with the reference design, rear view

    AX7870 2GBD5-2DHPPV2E Reference AMD Radeon HD 7870

    The EZ design is simpler than the reference one. There are even 4 power phases instead of 5. From the unusual clock rates we can see the card isn't meant for overclockers hence the simpler design. Speaking of the aforementioned clock rates, this a rare case when the GPU clock rate is actually lower than the reference one. In fact, the GPU itself is not one advertised by the card's name. The die size indicates that this product is actually based on a severely pared down 79xx (Tahiti) core. The crystal is essentially a defective Tahiti core installed onto a PCB with a 256-bit bus. The memory clock rate is, on the contrary, higher than what Radeon HD 7870 has. Thanks to this, the card offers higher throughput and at high resolutions even outperforms the reference variant.

    Since the GPU is actually a special variant of Tahiti, the card can only work in the CrossFireX mode with an identical card. It might also work with Radeon HD 7950/7970, but we're unsure.

    The card has two 6-pin supplementary power connectors.

    Maximum resolutions and frequencies:

    • 240 Hz maximum refresh rate
    • 2048 x 1536 @ 85 Hz max. analog (VGA) resolution
    • 2560 x 1600 @ 60 Hz max. digital (DVI) resolution (for Dual Link DVI-D)

    Coolers

    The massive heatsink with heatpipes is located under a cover with a big fan in the middle. The memory chips have no dedicated cooling. Despite the maximum fan speed of 2000 rpm, the design and build quality almost eliminates noise completely.

    Temperature monitoring results

    We measured temperatures using the EVGA PrecisionX utility.


    After 6 hours under maximum load, the top core temperature was 74°C. This is an excellent result.

    Package contents

    A basic package should include a user manual and a software CD.

    The card comes with a basic package and no CrossFire bridge.



    Box


    Performance tests

    Testbed:

    • 2 x Intel Core i7-3960X (o/c to 4 GHz) CPU
    • Hydro SeriesT H100i Extreme Performance CPU cooler
    • Intel Thermal Solution RTS2011LC cooler
    • ASUS Sabertooth X79 motherboard on the Intel X79 chipset
    • MSI X79A-GD45(8D) motherboard on the Intel X79 chipset
    • 16GB of 1600MHz Corsair Vengeance CMZ16GX3M4A1600C9 DDR3 SDRAM
    • Seagate Barracuda 7200.14 3TB SATA2 HDD
    • WD Caviar Blue WD10EZEX 1TB SATA2 HDD
    • 2 x Corsair Neutron CSSD-N120GB3-BK SSD
    • 2 x 1200W Corsair CMPSU-1200AXEU PSU
    • Corsair Obsidian 800D Full-Tower case
    • Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit, DirectX 11
    • 30" Dell UltraSharp U3011 display
    • VSync disabled
    • AMD Catalyst 13.3beta3; NVIDIA Drivers 314.14

    Benchmarks:

    • Hard Reset - DirectX 11.0, built-in benchmark, maximum quality settings.
    • 3DMark (2013) (FutureMark) - DirectX 11.0, FireStrike, Performance settings.
    • Aliens vs. Predator (Rebellion/SEGA) - DirectX 11.0, Very High settings, run from in game.
    • Nexuiz (2012) (IllFonic/THQ) - DirectX 11.0, built-in benchmark, maximum quality settings.
    • Crysis 2 Maximum Edition (Crytek/EA) - DirectX 11.0, Very High settings, Central Park level, launched with the Adrenaline Crysis 2 Benchmark Tool.
    • DiRT: Showdown (Codemasters) - DirectX 11.0, Ultra High settings, launched as follows: dirt showdown.exe -benchmark example_benchmark.xml.
    • Heaven Benchmark 2.5 Pro (Unigine) - DirectX 11.0, High settings.
    • Valley Benchmark (Unigine) - DirectX 11.0, Maximum settings
    • Metro 2033 (4A Games/THQ) - DirectX 11.0, Super High settings, PhysX disabled, run from in game.
    • Total War: Shogun 2 (Creative Assembly/SEGA) - DirectX 11.0, maximum quality settings.
    • Sleeping Dogs (United Front Games/Square Enix) - DirectX 11.0, built-in benchmark, maximum quality settings.

    Total War: Shogun 2

    Hard Reset

    Unigine Heaven Benchmark DirectX 11

    Aliens vs. Predator DirectX 11

    Nexiuz (2012)


    Unigine Valley Benchmark DirectX 11

    3DMark FireStrike (2013)

    DiRT: Showdown

    Metro 2033

    Sleeping Dogs

    Crysis 2

    Final thoughts

    The capability rating compares each graphics card with GeForce GT 630, which is considered a baseline, or 100%. The rating is based on both synthetic and gaming results and shows, as the name implies, what a product is capable of.

    The usability rating is obtained by dividing each card's capability rating by its price. It basically shows whether a given product is over or underpriced, considering what it can do, and thus how reasonable it is to buy it.

    The complete ratings can be found in our i3Dspeed. Below are just the parts relevant to today's review.

    Sorted by capability (high to low)

    # Card Capability rating Usability rating Approx. price, USD
    16 GTX 660 Ti 2048MB, 915-1030/6000 630 203 311
    18 PowerColor HD 7870 2048MB, 975/6000 570 237 241
    19 HD 7870 2048MB, 1000/1000/4800 560 216 259
    21 GTX 660 2048MB, 993-1053/6000 530 221 240

    Sorted by usability (high to low)

    # Card Usability rating Capability rating Approx. price, USD
    06 PowerColor HD 7870 2048MB, 975/6000 237 570 241
    10 GTX 660 2048MB, 993-1053/6000 221 530 240
    12 HD 7870 2048MB, 1000/1000/4800 216 560 259
    15 GTX 660 Ti 2048MB, 915-1030/6000 203 630 311

    In its part of the usability rating, the tested card placed first thanks to the attractive price. You can see that GeForce GTX 660 is overall cheaper than Radeon HD 7870, and has higher usability. However, the PowerColor's variant of Radeon HD 7870 is even cheaper.

    PowerColor PCS+ HD7870 EZ Edition 2GB Graphics Card is a very attractive graphics card positioned very close to the top Radeons. It has a great cooler which is almost silent. The price is reduced by using simpler power circuitry and a rejected Tahiti die (those are very cheap). This greatly boosts card's usability.

    This graphics card can be recommended to regular users but not overclockers. Although our sample worked stable at 1050 MHz core clock. You might think why won't AMD introduce something like Radeon HD 7930, but the difference between this product and a regular Radeon HD 7870 is still minute.


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