Last month AMD filled in the performance gap between the Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition ($95) and Radeon HD 7850 ($180) desktop graphics cards with the AMD Radeon HD 7790 at $149. When AMD launched the Radeon HD 7990 ‘Bonaire’ cards they did so with cards having 1GB of memory and just in the past week the 2GB versions started shipping from various add-in board (AIB) manufactures. The very first company to release a 2GB version of the AMD Radeon HD 7790 just happens to be Sapphire and we managed to get our hands on this card. We reviewed the Sapphire Radeon HD 7790 Dual-X OC 1GB graphics card the day it came out, so we’ll skip the basics and get right to the heard of the matter. If you’d like a technology refresh, be sure to visit the launch article here.
|Sapphire HD7790 GPUs||Entry Level
|GPU Core Clock||1000MHz||1075Hz||1050MHz|
|Memory Amount||1GB GDDR5||1GB GDDR5||2GB GDDR5|
|Price||$157.25||$149.99 ($139.99 AR)||$169.99|
Sapphire currently offers three versions of the AMD Radeon HD 7790. The ‘base’ card offered by Sapphire is a Radeon HD 7790 with model number 100356L. This card is clocked at 1000MHz on the Core, the 1GB of GDDR5 memory is clocked at 6000MHz (effective) and it has a custom GPU cooler with a single fan. This card is a solid entry level card, but it’s not a good buy due to the next card.
You can get the same card, but with it factory overclocked for less money. Usually it’s a few pennies, but right now it’s over $15 less. So, for $15 less you can get the Sapphire Radeon HD 7790 Dual-X OC 1GB that is clocked at 1075MHz on the core, 6400MHz (effective) on the memory and a much better Sapphire Dual-X (dual fan) GPU cooler. This is a very solid card for the price and is the card that we reviewed last month. Due to the price and features of this card there is no reason anyone should pay more and get the entry level card. The newest and most expensive card is Sapphire Radeon HD 7790 OC 2GB and it is the card we are looking at today. It costs an extra $30 (before $4 shipping) and comes overclocked right out of the box, but the core clock speeds are lower than the Dual-X card and it has a single fan GPU cooler on the card. The best thing about the card is that it comes with 2GB of GDDR5 memory versus 1GB of GDDR5 memory. Does that really matter? Gamers long for a larger frame buffer, so we’ll take a look at the Sapphire 7790 Dual-X OC 1GB versus the 7790 OC 2GB today (the two cards shown above.)
We asked Sapphire why they used two different core clocks on their overclocked cards and this is what they had to say.
“The Dual-X cooler on the 1GB part givea a little better cooling, so there is a little more headroom in production and the ability to ship production volumes consistently at the higher rated core clocks. Because of the innovative design on the cooler for the extra memory on the ‘Back’ side of the 2GB part, we do not need to change the rated memory OC – it is the same on both models.” – Sapphire PR
The Sapphire HD 7790 2GB GDDR5 OC has a good overall appearance with a black PCB, black plastic fan shroud and a black fan. The triple black motif is broken up with some chrome accents across the fan shroud and the exhaust bracket itself. You can also see the two copper U-shaped heatpipes, which adds a third dimension when it comes to the color pallet.
Sapphire opted not to go with the Dual-X GPU cooler design on the HD 7790 2GB GDDR5 OC, but they did put a nice looking GPU cooler on the card. It features dual heatpipes and a single aluminum aerofoil to help keep the GPU cool on this dual-slot video card. The black PCB on the Sapphire HD7790 2GB OC measures 8.5″ in length and features part number 109-C58247-00A_02. This is the same part number as the Dual-X 1GB version, but while the component layout is identical, the 2GB version has more holes in it for the custom metal backplate.
Most sub-$200 graphics cards don’t feature a backplate, but the Sapphire Radeon HD 7790 2GB OC does! This metal backplate looks good, keeps the rear GDDR5 memory IC’s cool and helps stiffen the PCB to keep it from warping. This backplate has one feature though that we’ve never seen before.
The last couple inches of the Sapphire Radeon HD 7790 PCB is bare, so Sapphire opted to cut a rather large hole in the dead space in order to attach a finned heatsink to the backplate. The finned heatsink is attached to the backplate with two screws and extends into the airflow from the cooling fan on the front of the card. Sapphire says that this design really helps to carry heat away from the components on the rear of PCB and reduces memory temperatures to as low as 13C. Pretty innovative and it does get warm during use, so we assume it works.
When it comes to video outputs you have DisplayPort 1.2, HDMI 1.4a, DVI-I and DVI-D. The mounting bracket also has hot air exhaust slots to help exhaust some air out of your computer case. This cards GPU cooler design really blows air in all directions, so not much is exhausted out due to the openness of the fan shroud.
The SAPPHIRE HD 7790 2GB OC Edition model supports the FleX feature, pioneered by SAPPHIRE, that allows three digital displays to be connected to the DVI and HDMI outputs and used in AMD Eyefinity mode without the need for an external active adapter. All four video outputs can be used in AMD Eyefinity mode, but the fourth display must be a DisplayPort monitor or connected with an active adapter.
Just like all AMD Radeon HD 7790 video cards, you’ll find a 6-pin PCI Express power connector located along the top of the video card near the end of the PCB. Sapphire recommends a 450W or greater power supply with one 75W 6-pin power connector for this video card to operate properly. This card also has a single CrossFire connector on it, so you can join up to two of these cards together for up to double the gaming power on some titles.
Let’s take a look at the retail box and the accessory bundle that comes with this card.