Though AMD announced the Radeon HD 7800 series nearly two weeks ago, it won’t be until Monday that the cards officially go on sale. While we’re still at work on our full launch article, our first retail card, PowerColor’s PCS+ HD7870, recently arrived and we’ve just finished putting it through its paces.

The PCS+ HD7870 is fairly typical of what will be launching; it’s a factory overclocked card with a heatpipe based open air cooler. PowerColor has pushed the card to 1100MHz core, 4.9GHz memory, representing a 100MHz (10%) overclock and a much more mild 100MHz (2%) memory overclock. Given the very high overclockability we’ve seen in the entire Radeon HD 7000 series, PowerColor is one of the partners looking to take advantage of that headroom to stand out from the pack.

We’ll have the full details on Monday, but for the time being we wanted to share a couple of numbers.

Compared to the reference 7870 The PCS+ HD7870 is faster and quieter at the same time, the latter of which is largely a result of PowerColor using an open air cooler as opposed to a blower as in AMD’s reference design. The 100MHz overclock adds a fair bit of performance to the PCS+ 7870, and for AMD’s partners this is a big deal as allows them to put more space between their factory overclocked models and stock models as compared to the less overclockable 6000 series.

As far as construction goes the PCS+ 7870 is a rather typical semi-custom 7870. PowerColor is using AMD’s PCB along with their own aluminum heatpipe cooler. As we speculated in our 7870 review, partners are using the second DVI header on the PCB, with PowerColor using a stacked DVI design here to offer a second SL-DVI port.

Finally, how’s overclocking? We hit 1150MHz core on our reference 7870. With PowerColor already binning chips for their PCS+ 7870 we landed a chip that could do a full 1200MHz, a full 20% over the reference 7870 and 9% over PowerColor’s factory overclock. And like the reference 7870 this is all on stock voltage – we haven’t even touched overvolting yet.

But what does 1200MHz do for a 7870? For that you’ll just have to check in on Monday when we look at our full collection of retail Radeon HD 7870 cards.



View All Comments

  • Death666Angel - Sunday, March 18, 2012 - link

    Okay. I thought it was strange that the 7870/7850 review didn't have 7970 numbers either. :-) Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Monday, March 19, 2012 - link

    When drawing up the charts I didn't think anyone would care about the 7970 given the $200 difference. But clearly I was wrong. Oh well, this is why we have Bench. Reply
  • Peanutsrevenge - Sunday, March 18, 2012 - link

    So where's the article damn it?

    Pfft, bloody colonials ;)
  • chrnochime - Sunday, March 18, 2012 - link

    2% memory OC is standing out in the pack? GPU clock I can understand but that memory OC might as well be reference. Reply
  • Ankarah - Monday, March 19, 2012 - link

    Why shell out $350+ for a card that could be (but more likely 'would be', from what I've heard so far) trumped by Kepler line of cards at the same price point in a couple of months time.

    Unless your GPU just went up in flames and you need a new one right now, I'd wait for Kepler and see how they do before upgrading.
  • eachus - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    Those people who want to wait for Kepler, fine. But realize that the 680 will probably compete on performance with the overclocked 7870s and stock 7950s, not the 7970. Huh?

    Be realistic. Unless nVidia has some blue crystals, they will have slightly more memory bandwidth than the 7870 (both 256 bits wide, the 680 a few percent faster clock), and about 1/3 less than the 7970. On power, the 680 is widely reported to have two 6 pin connectors. They may use more of that power, but I have to assume that nVidia is trying to get away from cards that break the (power) bank. Computing shaders times clocks again is in AMDs favor, although I assume that part of the reason for slowing down the shaders compared to the 500 series is due to more work being accomplished per clock. Good for nVidia, that saves power. But we still have the memory bandwidth limit as an issue. (I don't see 2 vs 3 or even 1.5 Gig of memory as a big deal unless you are running multiple displays, and even then you have to get to 6 2 Megapixel displays from one card to have a problem.)

    We will see what happens in a few weeks, and one thing that probably will happen is that if the 680 comes out at the expected price point, the 7950 and 78xx cards may drop in price. Note that I have a 6950 right now and no dog in this fight, since I normally upgrade every two generations.

    Oh and for CeriseCogburn, the 7870 that compares to the GTX 570, it is a reference design that you won't be able to find in stores anyway. The Powercolor card tested here outperforms the 570 significantly. Probably not enough to matter if you have a 2 Megapixel display (say 1920x1200). But what will matter is the noise. This card generates half as much (3db less) as the GTX 570. Your choice.
  • CeriseCogburn - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    No, "we" will see what happens day after tomorrow, and "I've" already seen the leaked benchmarks (TH had a 'little problem").
    Sorry to say (for you) you are miserably underestimating the GTX680.
    Day after tomorrow the 23rd is NDA day, so it won't take weeks, the amd card crown for single core is gone, and it is arguable if the GTX590 still holds the dual core card crown - as the 680 passes it and the lower 6990 at times.
    I don't agree with your 7870 assessment you can't find in stores when the GTX570 is available in quantity and $100 cheaper, and scales like crazy with OC which is considerable, and of course not shown in this review, resulting in your skewed misstatement.
    amd is scalping everyone, nvidia has awesome prices right now, from the gtx460 at $110 smoking the 7770 to the GTX570 @ $269 smoking the 78xx series to the GTX580 at yes $359 at the egg blowing away amd on price perf we are told is all important for years, and let's not forget Nvidia just dropped the 680 price by 50 bucks while it absolutely defeats without question the 7970 by 5-40 percent and on average 18% in games...
    We cannot suddenly pretend with ourselves when amd's prices are insanely high and immense value is offered by equal and superior Nvidia products whose extra features are for some important as well and increase the value eve more.
    None of these current cards deal with 1920x1200 or 1920 X 1080 or 1050 / and are barely good enough for 1680x 1050 so there is no use claiming only triple monitor resolutions tell all.
    Try one of them and you'll see, even an OC 2500k driving them is not enough for solid gaming with the eye candy up let alone single monitor 3D, and certainly not triple monitor anything.
    Casual gamers need one of these top cards and more at average resolution to be effectively covered.
    Isn't it time gamers stop having to struggle to make use of their games full capability at their monitors native resolution ?
    We cannot have faster discreet GPU's fast enough, there is a large misconception out there that they are sufficient and they are not none of them are.
    3decibels for a decision is laughable BTW - and highly likely to be far within the error margin and model margins - that was one sad attempt that makes me mistrust you just to let you know.

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