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AFOX Radeon HD 7850 (Single Slot), MSI R7870 Hawk Graphics Cards

A couple of nicely overclockable mid-range videocards.

September 11, 2012



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Today, we shall review a couple of mid-range video adapters based on the Radeon HD 78xx GPUs. Thanks to their vast potential, these graphics cards perform on par with certain more expensive solutions. Let's take a more detailed look at that.

Specifications

AFOX Radeon HD 7850 (Single Slot)

  • GPU: Radeon HD 7850 (Pitcairn Pro)
  • Interface: PCIe 3.0 x16
  • GPU clock rate (ROPs/shaders): 860 MHz (standard)
  • Memory clock rate, physical (effective): 1200 (4800) MHz (standard)
  • Memory bus: 256-bit
  • Stream processors: 1024
  • Texture units: 64 (BLF/TLF/ANIS)
  • ROP units: 32
  • Dimensions: 210x100x18 mm
  • PCB color: black
  • Peak power consumption (3D/2D/standby): 129/43/3 W
  • Output connectors: Dual-Link DVI, HDMI 1.4a, Mini DisplayPort 1.2, DisplayPort 1.2
  • Multi-GPU mode: hardware CrossFireX

MSI R7870 Hawk

  • GPU: Radeon HD 7870 (Pitcairn XT)
  • Interface: PCIe 3.0 x16
  • GPU clock rate (ROPs/shaders): 1100 MHz (the standard is 1000 MHz)
  • Memory clock rate, physical (effective): 1200 (4800) MHz (standard)
  • Memory bus: 256-bit
  • Stream processors: 1280
  • Texture units: 80 (BLF/TLF/ANIS)
  • ROP units: 32
  • Dimensions: 277 x 120 x 40.5 mm
  • PCB color: dark brown
  • Peak power consumption (3D/2D/standby): 178/60/3 W
  • Output connectors: Dual-Link DVI, HDMI 1.4a, 2 x Mini DisplayPort 1.2
  • Multi-GPU mode: hardware CrossFireX

Comparison with the reference design, front view

AFOX Radeon HD 7850 (Single Slot) Reference AMD Radeon HD 7850

MSI R7870 Hawk Reference AMD Radeon HD 7870

Comparison with the reference design, rear view

AFOX Radeon HD 7850 (Single Slot) Reference AMD Radeon HD 7850

MSI R7870 Hawk Reference AMD Radeon HD 7870

AMD made its Radeon HD 7850 simply by unmounting some parts from the Radeon HD 7870. AFOX didn't follow this example and, not without reason, developed its own PCB, making it shorter and simpler than the original one. The 4-phase VRM is located on the board's 'tail' part. The set of intefaces is also different, with one of the original Mini DisplayPorts replaced with full-size variant.

In turn, MSI has invested in the PCB as well: their R7870 Hawk includes an 8-phase VRM instead of the reference 5-phase one, and it also has a 2-phase memory VRM, which is very nice for overclocking. The graphics card has a standard set of interfaces at that.

In addition to the more advanced VRM, MSI R7870 Hawk offers a very interesting feature: on its back we find a small plastic cover that sticks out a bit. (It hardly affects card's overall dimensions, though.)



Under the cover, we find a small board dubbed "GPU Reactor" connected to the PCB. It unlocks the clock rate and removes power consumption limitations of the GPU and the AMD BIOS and can be used with any overclocking utility. We used MSI Afterburner and increased the clock rate up to 1200 MHz, which was amazing! All the voltages were increased automatically at. As a result, MSI R7870 Hawk outperformed the reference Radeon HD 7950 adapter and almost caught up with HD 7970!





Both adapters support up to four displays simultaneously, thanks to AMD Eyefinity.

Both adapters also have supplementary power connectors: the MSI adapter has two 6-pin ones, the AFOX card has one.

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

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