Powercolor has been a lesser-seen name in the GPU market but their primary focus is AMD based GPU’s since their creation in 1997. Today we have the HD7870 MYST Edition card which is based on the new Tahiti LE GPU, so let’s see what what exactly this thing can do.[review_ad]
Introduction – Powercolor HD 7870 MYST Edition
Powercolor has a long history in AMD cards being owned by TUL and with that Powercolor has made some very interesting designs based on AMD GPUs such as the recent Devil 13 which was one of the only 7990 based models to first arrive on the scene. Powercolor is one of the lesser known names on the market but they have a strong presence in the custom system builder side seen in systems such as those offered by Cyberpower along with other system builders. This could be largely based on Powercolor’s stance on offering a great value for performance to their customer.
The HD7870 MYST Edition is based on the new SKU which AMD pushed to introduce to fill the void between the 7870GHz edition and the 7950 products. The real issue here is that the naming stayed with HD7870 which only causes further confusion as it could have easily been named something different to avoid the mixed association with the Pitcairn product. So far very few manufacturers have launched a model based on the Tahiti LE GPU so it should be interesting to see what it offers in terms of relative performance.
The present market price of the 7870 MYST Edition is $239.99 found on Newegg which places it right in the middle of the fray with the other major players GHz edition models and depending on how the Tahiti LE performs could be a very real performance value!
Tahiti LE GPU
The Tahiti LE GPU is based off of a cut down version of the Tahiti GPU like you would find on a 7900 series GPU but with 1/4 of the GPU disabled or cut off. This means that its a beefier GPU than what was on previous HF7870 parts or even GHz edition parts but at a lower overall clock speed. This should easily be made up for though with the extra brute strength of the Tahiti based GPU.
Gold Power Kit
The Gold power kit consists of three main components. The digital PWM IC’s which are up to 90% effiocient for better power regulation to board components and more granular fine tune adjustments to help with higher performance and more stable overclocking.
DirectFET mosfet design is a metal type mosfet components which offer ultra efficiency up to 91% with power capability of up to 160Amps for more than enough power delivery capability to feed the GPU the GPU and board components the power it needs.
Ferrite Core Chokes are designed for very high power capability which means that even under the most extreme loading conditions you can expect less heat and better durability from the high end board components.
92mm Cooling fan
The MYST Edition employs a large 92mm cooling fan in the cooler to move large amounts of air to ensure the GPU and board components stay nice and cool under the most extreme loads.
Smart Fan Control
The 92mm fan utilizes a 4 pin PWM fan design which allows intelligent fan control and operation for excellent thermal and acoustic properties that can automatically adjust according to loading.
SSU Shaped Direct Touch Heat Pipe Design
The SSU heatpipe layout allow multiple passes of S Shaped Heatpipes and a U shaped heatpipe to have direct contact with the GPU surface and also the cooling fins for optimal thermal dissipation to the surrounding air. This will help ensure the GPU stays plenty cool during operation.
PCI Express Gen 3 Capable
Like all 7 series AMD GPU’s the 7870 MYST edition fully supports PCIe 3.0 for higher speed throughput and better overall bandwidth.
Overview of the Powercolor HD7870 MYST Edition
The packaging for the MYST edition like many others offers some flare to catch your eye on the shelf in the form of a high performance futuristic car design. the card also lists full UEFI Vbios which will enhance compatibility with Windows 8 and its secureboot fucntions. one interesting thing to note is that if you are not in the know about this card and its GPU you could easily mistake it for a standard Pitcairn based model as there is nothing on the packaging I could find that denotes it as being a different GPU at all.
Here is a list of all items included in the accessory pack:
- Quick Start Guide/Manual
- Mini Displayport to Displayport Adapter
The accessory package is enough to get the card hooked up, and it even comes with a mini-DisplayPort to DisplayPort adapter tossed in.
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Here we see the card, it is a rather plan wrap model with a center fan design which will blow heat both out of the chassis and some into the chassis. the cooler looks to be of a performance design with a quite dense fin array and the inclusion of covers for not only the output ports but even the PCIe slot and Crossfire bridge adds to a quality feel for the card. Sometimes its the simple small things that can make a card have a better feel to it.
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The rear IO supports multiple connectivity options including:
- Mini-DisplayPort (x2)
This is enough connectivity to control a nice array of displays should the need for an Eyefinity setup arise.
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The card stripped down now you can see the VRM covered by a small aluminum cooler which uses the passive air from the main cooling fan to keep thermals under control. Also here you can see the direct touch heatpipes which keep GPU thermals in check.
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The base of the GPU contact surface is super flat and as you can see by the TIM spread it makes great contact. Also here you can see the heatpipes passing through multiple times for optimal thermal transfer.
A closer Look at the MYST Edition
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The Hynix IC’s used here are rated for up to 6GHz which is right where the card is set to. I have seen these IC’s before and they have been able to be pushed quite a bit higher but that always varies from card to card especially depending upon the memory controller as well.
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Here we see some of the power control circuitry built onto the card which will ensure solid and reliable operation.
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Here you see the CHiL CHL 8225 PWM controller which si configured for precise voltage control and monitoring via most popular software interfaces available presently. This will ensure that when you wanna push the card it should be of no issue making that happen.
Testing & Methodology
We’ve expanded our testing suite considerably since the X79 chipset release, and will continue to use the same methods for most of the motherboards and CPU’s we test. In the interests of thoroughness and accurate results, we run each test at least three times, and some tests more than that. We average the total of all the tests from each benchmark then report the average here.
The OS we use is Windows 7 Pro 64bit with all patches and updates applied. We also use the latest drivers available for the motherboard and any devices attached to the computer. We do not disable background tasks or tweak the OS or system in any way. We turn off drive indexing and daily defragging. We also turn off Prefetch and Superfetch. This is not an attempt to produce bigger benchmark numbers. Drive indexing and defragging can interfere with testing and produce confusing numbers. If a test were to be run while a drive was being indexed or defragged, and then the same test was later run when these processes were off, the two results would be contradictory and erroneous. As we cannot control when defragging and indexing occur precisely enough to guarantee that they won’t interfere with testing, we opt to disable the features entirely.
Prefetch tries to predict what users will load the next time they boot the machine by caching the relevant files and storing them for later use. We want to learn how the program runs without any of the files being cached, and we disable it so that each test run we do not have to clear Prefetch to get accurate numbers. Lastly we disable Superfetch. Superfetch loads often-used programs into the memory. It is one of the reasons that Windows occupies so much memory. Vista fills the memory in an attempt to predict what users will load. Having one test run with files cached, and another test run with the files un-cached would result in inaccurate numbers. Again, since we can’t control its timings so precisely, it we turn it off. Because these four features can potentially interfere with benchmarking, and and are out of our control, we disable them. We do not disable anything else.
We are revamping our testing method in order to better represent motherboard performance and offering to the consumer. Also we want to make it an easier read for you without miles of endless charts. We ask that you provide feedback in an effort to help us deliver better reviews for you.
|Case||Open Air Test Bench|
|CPU||Intel Core i7-3770K|
|Motherboard||ASUS Maximus V Formula
|Ram||16GB Patriot Viper Xtreme 2400MHz +|
|CPU Cooler||Swiftech H20-320 Edge|
|Hard Drive||Western Digital Velociraptor 300GB|
|SSD||Intel 510 series SATA III 120GB|
|GPU||Powercolor HD7870 MYST Edition|
|PSU||Thermaltake Toughpower XT 1475W|
|Mouse||Tt eSPORTS Theron gaming mouse|
|Keyboard||Tt eSPORTS Meka G1 mechanical gaming keyboard|
We will use the following applications to test the performance of the graphics card.
Synthetic Benchmarks & Games
|Batman Arkham City|
|Sniper Elite V2|
The Powercolor HD7870 MYST edition card overclocks very similarly to what I have seen from other 7000 series GPU’s from AMD. The MYST being based on a cut down Tahiti I was not sure what to expect so I loaded up the system to take some runs and see how far the GPU could go.
Upon pushing the GPU I was surprised to see the Tahiti LE overclocks much like the full 7900 series GPUs I have overclocked before as the GPU ramped up to 1230MHz and was completely stable. Anything above that and stability started to become a concern so i stopped there and moved to the memory. Memory was able to be pushed to 1650MHz (6600MHz QDR) which means there shoudl be no bottleneckl on teh memory side but I have seen teh memory go higher but taht can vary from card to card.
The overall performance you can expect from this overclock in real world apps is approximately 4-7% depending upon the application. This may not seem like much but it is enough for a few FPS.
In order to ensure no system bottleneck we clocked the CPU to 4.6GHz to ensure there is no reason the system will slow down the card’s performance at all.
Some may ask why we chose the mainstream Z77 system, and we can explain. Up until recent the X79 enthusiasts platform did not really support PCI-E Gen 3 on the Nvidia 600 series GPU’s. Because of the inherent instability many have seen with the X79 platform with Gen 3 products, Nvidia has been hesitant to enable it, and now there is a workaround via registry to get it working. However, in order to ensure the most consistent testing possible, we have stuck to the natively supported Z77 platform.
Important note: Overclocking can cause component failure. Please exercise caution when attempting any level of overclock on system components.
The temperatures were recorded with full loaded Heaven benchmark looping for over 30 minutes or longer depending how long it took for the card to level out in temps and sat at a plateau for more than 10 minutes.
|GPU Temperatures||Temperature (Idle/Load)|
|HD7870 MYST OC||32C/76C|
The Tcooler on teh MYST edition while it may be basic does the job and keeps things nice and chilly even at an overclock of over 1200MHz core.
Real world/Gaming Benchmarks
3DMark 11 is the newest in Futuremark’s suite of benchmarking utilities. Its a fully capable DirectX11 benchmark which also stresses and analyzes the system performance as a whole to simulate a heavy rendering environment such as a high end game or other app the end user may run. This benchmark was run with Performance settings 5 times and all runs were averaged for the result below.
Here you can see that the new Tahiti LE makes for some very nice performance jumping well ahead of the 7870GHz edition and even the previous gen GTX580. This means that this card can be a very strong performer for anyone looking for a nice cool running budget card with massive gaming power.
Sniper Elite V2
Sniper Elite V2 is an interesting game based around being a highly skilled military sniper in WWII era. the graphics are quite nice and when cranked to max can be rather stressful for even a top end GPU.
Here we see that the HD7870 MYST comes in right at the top just shy of the 680, as all of teh cards tend to bunch up at the mid 60 FPS level with this game. This card should pull more than acceptable performance levels at max settings.
Metro 2033 likely one of the most demanding games that we have tested with, as it brings virtually every GPU to its knees. The MYST falls behind the GTX 580 on this one aas it slots just a couple FPS above the 7870 GHz edition, but still very close to playable framerates and if details were tweaked back just slightly I think this card could even play metro at nice smooth framerates.
Batman: Arkham City
Batman is a popular game, which is why we include it. Here the MYST comes in right behind the HD7950 which is an amazing GPU and a testament to the capability of the MYST card.
Dirt 3 was highly marketed by AMD, And the MYST does excellent with it as it churns out over 170 FPS once again easily beating out the GTX 580 and just on the tails of its much bigger brother the 7950 model card.
When I first saw news of the new 7870 models I thought it was pretty bad of AMD to not come up with a better name as it just causes confusion to the consumers. But they did it and for those in the know can get a great performing GPU at a steal.
The performance is great with the card pulling numbers well above the Pitcairn based 7870′s and just below the Tahiti based 7950 GPUs.
the overclocking potential of teh Tahiti LE is very strong and I cannot deny that it makes the card a even more powerful entity pending you want to spend the time to tweak some free performance from the card.
The downsides are a lil problematic as those who do not know better could buy thsi to crossfire with their GHz edition card and be left in teh cold as this card will crossfire with any 7900 series card but not with Pitcairn based 7870′s.
Anyone looking for a decent performance value card and doesnt need the bleeding edge top end card should give this one a serious thought as it can play most games on higher level graphics at HD resolutions or even pair it up with a 2nd for extreme graphics performance for the cost of a single high end GPU.
|OUR VERDICT: Powercolor HD7870 MYST Edition|
|Summary: The Powercolor HD7870 MYST is a nice card with good performance for a very decent value. for this it earns the Bjorn3D Silver Bear award|