Today we have the new XFX take on the HD7790 model with the R7790 Black Edition. As some of you may know, “Black Edition” means “overclocked” and a pretty awesome cooler as well, so let’s open this thing up and see what it can do.[review_ad]
Introduction – XFX R7790 Black Edition
XFX has been a player for some time and used to be Nvidia only until some years back when they started doing ATI/AMD based cards. They seemed to have moved from Nvidia completely, and have now come full circle, offering Nvidia based cards once again on a somewhat smaller scale. Well today we are looking at the XFX offering for the HD7790 lineup with the Black Edition overclocked model R7790.
One thing worth noting here is that all manufacturers for some reason went with a 1075MHz clock speed; with that we have seen a performance difference of about 0.5 – 1% from card to card. This because all of the components are virtually similar and the GPU has proven it is quite consistent and pretty powerful for its positioning.
There are some feature advantages which do vary from card to card which are normally based on cooler styling and performance.
The thing we have to remember is that while enthusiast cards are very high priced, in terms of raw numbers, there are far more of the midrange and mainstream cards sold. These cards form the company’s bread and butter. We can see why AMD would want to make sure that gap between the 7700 and 7800 series is filled well to allow for a broad selection no matter the budget.
Here you can see that the new Bonaire GPU offers some serious muscle from the over 2 billion transistors and much higher texture units available. The much higher speed 6Gbps memory data rate definitely will help blast data along as well which all adds up to a very strong card for those gamers on a budget.
It is worth nothing that the HD7790 does fall into the AMD Newer Settle Campaign which means buyers are elligible to be bundled witha copy of Bioshock Infinite from participating retailers, so that could be a pretty nice added bonus for anyoen looking at picking up the newest Bioshock offering.
Lastly the current street price for the XFX R7790 Black Edition model card is $149.99 which places it right in the middle of the group with all of the other cards we have tested with only a few select 1GB and of course the higher slotted 2GB variants.
New “Bonaire” GPU
The new HD 7790 is powered by a 28nm GCN architecture GPU similar to all of the other 7000 series GPUs. Unlike other 7700 series card which were Cape Verde models. This once again is very similar to the recent 7870 models which did not use Pitcairn GPU like other 7800′s and opted for a Tahiti LE model.
As you can see the Bonaire GPU die is a new design in between 7700 and 7800 series which is larger and as we have already seen carries some definite capabilities for a gaming system.
AMD PowerTune with Boost
The HD7790 supports full dynamic clocking of the GPU speed according to limits of thermal and power envelopes depeding on teh loading of the card. This could allow for a much higher clock for even better gaming performance .
XFX double dissipation Cooler w/Ghost thermal technology
XFX definitely wants you to know they mean business with their cooling solutions with the Dual Dissipation cooler which basically means its a cooling fin array with dual fans blasting heat away. These solutions tend to always work very wekk but XFX stepped things up a bit here witha very nice aluminum fan shroud to ensure the card has a very quality feel to it.
Here you can see a cutaway as we mentioned which shows the airflow through the fans and fin array and the fact that the dual dissipation relates to cooling nut just the GPU but the PCB surface components as well to ensure you have an even more stable and better functioning card overall even in tougher heavy loading environments.
Here you get a comparison showing what they label as “Others dual fan” and also “other single fan” to show off exactly how efficient their cooling solution is at removing thermals from the card compared to other solutions. As always it would be nice to have some sort of reference for what cooler was used for these comparison charts, and what model component and even what stress level or program.
Duratec Professional Grade Components
Here you see that XFX takes build quality very seriously as they highlight what they call “Duratec professional grade” which speaks to the quality components used for the build on their graphics cards. This includes the baord level components such as the Caps and mosfet components to the Dust free fan units and even the specially designed high flow XFX IO cooling bracket.
PCI Express Gen 3 Capable
Like all 7 series AMD GPU’s the HD7790 fully supports PCIe 3.0 for higher speed throughput and better overall bandwidth.
Overview of the XFX R7790 Black Edition
The packaging or the R7790 from XFX is rather subdued with just a mechanical or metallic feel from the XFX logo to the background. This adds to just a clean feel overall even with the key award logos and even the small advertising graphs on the front panel.
Here is a list of all items included in the accessory pack:
- Quick Start Guide/Manual
- Crossfire Bridge
- XFX Door Hanger
- XFX “Black Edition” Case Badge
The accessory package is simple and to the point, it helps get the card started along with many promotional items for their PSU’s which is always nice in case that was maybe your next course of upgrade.
Click Images to Enlarge
Here you can see the card out of the box and ready to roll. The aluminum cooler frame really does add to the unique look and feel of the card which makes for one excellent and beefy feeling unit when we first took it out of the box. The dual fans are quite thin we would say approximately 8-10mm deep at most but this is about standard for most fans on dual fan GPU coolers. the card utilizes a single 6 pin PCIe connector for a total possible card power of 150W which from my testing with other models is more than enough even at max clock.
Click Images to Enlarge
The rear IO supports multiple connectivity options including:
- DVI (x2)
This connector layout is standard for 7790 and allows for the full array of legacy (Via VGA adapter) to newest displays to be easily connected. Also note the XFX logo’d IO panel which allows nice free airflow.
Click Images to Enlarge
Stripping down the card was rather easy honestly although it did take a bit of figuring out which screw was where as the aluminum shroud is actually a separate piece and works very well for a card stiffener. It also adds a definite few points to the appearance factor. Once removed you can see the fan/fin array which is nice and you can also see the copper midplate which is the interface between the heatpipes and the GPU itself.
A closer Look at the R7790
Click Images to Enlarge
The Hynix IC’s used here are rated for up to 6GHz which we have seen before and usually they have huge headroom above that. For example this card is set at 6400MHz right out of the box.
Click Images to Enlarge
Here we see the power circuitry which is a pretty standard layout and design but with usage of XFX chosen board components all around to ensure the same quality level you come to expect from XFX. The single Crossfire Bridge is in place to allow for up to dual card operation for a extra performance boost with linking two cards.
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||XFX R7790 Black 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|
|Just Cause 2|
|Lost Planet 2|
The XFX card much like all of the other cards we tested pulled a very nice overclock and very easy we must add up to 1200MHz and then dead stopped by the limit on the Catalyst driver.
With the cooling properties of the Double Dissipation cooler we am sure theres some definite room here just waiting to be exploited.
We am very excited for when someone cracks teh software limit so we can see what kind of headroom these gpus really have as we wonder why AMD would put such a strict limit on a very capable GPU.
As the other models have been noted you can expect approximately 6-7% increase depending upon the app from overclocking to the max 1200MHz and we can definitely say that from all of the units we have tested all are fully stable without issue at that speed with no hiccups and no thermal concerns on their stock cooling solutions.
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)|
The Double Dissipation cooler definitely kept things nice and cool even at full tilt 1200MHz under a long heaven benchmark loading we saw a maximum obtained thermal reading of 62C on the GPU and that was only a very short time as it hovered around 60-61C most of the time after a long burn time. Also it should be noted that the cooler stayed very quiet when testing on par or possibly a little better than the other 7790 cards I have tested.
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 like cards before you can see the positioning is right on par with the crowd of other 7790 models we have tested to date. We will give them this, the 7790 GPU is very consistent clock for clock.
Batman Arkham City
Batman Arkham city is one of those games that is just downright fun, and also it is nice as it gives very repeatable results for a game test. PhysX is disabled to level the playing field due to the fact that it would load the GPU on Nvidia based cards more to add the pretty effects which could hinder framerates giving AMD an advantage.
Here The 7790 falls in once again, and we cannot state it enough that we hope for a better driver soon as we think some optimization fell between the cracks on AMD’s side of this and once we have a few driver releases behind us is when this card will really shine.
Just Cause 2
Just Cause 2 has been in my stable of games for awhile, and is quite graphics intensive so we try to bring it out as it is a fun all around game and allows a nice test of a cards capabilities.
Here again the 7790 is in its friendly group and behind the 7770 again which just seems odd to me.
Lost Planet 2
Lost planet 2 even for being a bit older tends to offer a very good load even keeping top end GPU’s capped at a little over 60 FPS so it is definitely a good tool to put the hurt on a more mainstream value card.
Lost Planet 2 plays pretty nice with the 7790 as at max settings you can see very playable framerate averages.
Metro 2033 likely one of the most demanding games that we have tested with, as it brings virtually every GPU to its knees. Here the 7790 once again can impress as at max detail it teeters between playable average and slightly under, but AMD definitely works well with Metro as we remember just one short year or so ago when a top end GPU would struggle for top settings to reach 30FPS.
Unigine Heaven is a very popular benchmark, but due to the fact I am still working on validating the repeatability of scores on the new 4.0 version I decided to stick with the 3.0 version for this test.
Here the R7790 takes a nice spot still a bit behind the GTX 660 but thats not really a surprise honestly as the GTX 660 is quite a leap ahead in positioning, but the 7790 crushes the likes of the 650 Ti and even previous gen GTX 560.
Battlefield 3 is probably one of the most popular FPS titles, and with its range of graphics capabilities definitely a fitting test as it also is played by a alrge part of the PC Gaming crowd.
Battlefield 3 is a very pleasing “eye candy” game and very fun to play as well. The R7790 from XFX does rather well at maximum ULTRA presets and it maintains an average in the 30 FPS range or a little higher is a major achievement Now as we noted before you will have to tune down the detail a little in favor of much smoother gameplay as ultra settings and high settings still show plenty of eye candy.
The HD7790 GPU has proven itself as quite a powerful GPU offering with more clock potential than AMD wants to give it. That is in no way the board partner’s fault and therefore we cannot penalize the cards for it. But it is worth noting that AMD could have one hell of a fun overclocking monster on its hand if they would just let it off its chain here.
XFX build one very nice and solid card with the aluminum shrouded cooler and uber quiet fans it makes itself into a card that looks like a million bucks without costing that. The quality is excellent as normally on mainstream card of this level. This is somewhat surprising as most of these cards are built as cheaply as allowable. We are very happy to see XFX taking the quality feel so seriously on a mainstream model as it just adds to a better user experience overall.
The choice of higher end board level components means that overall the lifespan of the card is much higher or likely to be higher with higher end components to keep problems at bay and keep things running more smoothly.
Overall XFX took a lower level midrange card, polished it like a diamond and made it have the body of a supercar so even the most entry uses can have one hell of a nice card in their right with the fit and finish normally reserved for the elite.
|OUR VERDICT: XFX R7790 Black Edition|
|Summary: The XFX R7790 Black edition offers a excellent lower midrange card with an excellent price point but the feel of a much higher end card. For this it earns the Bjorn3D Silver Bear Award.|