We couldn’t wait to get our hands on the Sapphire Radeon HD 7790 2GB GDDR5 OC video card as we really wanted to see what doubling the frame buffer would do when it comes to performance. Lately we’ve been testing sub $250 graphics cards at screen resolutions of 1920×1080 and under. Not too many people are buying multiple panels or a 30-inch display for hardcore gaming and slapping in a sub $250 graphics card. Sadly, at 1920×1080 we really didn’t notice a significant difference between the AMD Radeon HD 7790 with 1GB and 2GB of memory. Sapphire also didn’t make it easy on us as all of their AMD Radeon HD 7790 graphics cards come with different clock speeds and GPU coolers, so some of that was masking the performance differences. Before we could call this review complete we took the Sapphire Radeon HD 7790 Dual-X 1GB OC and the Sapphire Radeon HD 7790 2GB OC and ran them at the same clock speed. We cranked them up to 1200MHz on the core, 6400MHz on the memory and put the power control settings to +20% on both cards. We also ran them on a Dell 30-inch monitor at 2560×1600 to see how they performed.
This chart basically sums up everything you need to know about the AMD Radeon HD 7790 and should you have 1GB or 2GB of GDDR5 memory. If you’re running 1920×1080 or lower then you’ll not see any significant difference on the vast majority of the game titles out today. If you are gaming at higher resolutions then you’ll see the benefits from the larger 2GB frame buffer. That said even with the extra memory and higher performance at 2560×1600 we still found Battlefield 3 and other games to still have some stutters and weren’t that playable. The AMD Radeon HD 7790 ‘Bonaire’ GPU is powerful, but doesn’t have what it takes to power cutting edge games at massive resolutions with the image quality cranked up.
We also measured the memory usage and GPU temperature when playing a bit of BF3 at 2560×1600. The 1GB card has 993MB of memory being used while the 2GB card had 1523MB being used, so the larger frame buffer also help. Notice that the Sapphire Radeon HD Dual-X 1GB OC card was 12C cooler, but it was louder as the two fans were running at 2000+ RPM.
So, if we had to pick one card which would it be and why?
|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|
Of the three three versions of the AMD Radeon HD 7790 offered by AMD the Sapphire Radeon HD 7790 Dual-X 1GB OC is our preferred card. The sweet spot of the AMD Radeon HD 7790 ‘Bonaire’ video card is 1920×1080 and lower resolutions. The extra frame buffer helps above 1920×1080, but the 7790 GPU just doesn’t have the muscle to play it smoothly. The thing that seals the deal is that the Sapphire Radeon HD 7790 2GB OC retails for $169.99 plus $3.99 shipping. That makes it $173.98 out the door right now. The Sapphire Radeon HD 7790 Dual-X 1GB OC is $34 less and had better overall performance at 1920×1080 along with lower power consumption and temperatures. To spend an extra 20% or $34 for more memory just doesn’t appear to be worth the reward. We suggest saving that money for your next PC upgrade!
Legit Bottom Line: The Sapphire Radeon HD 7790 2GB GDDR5 OC is a solid performing card, but you don’t see much benefit from having the additional memory until you go higher than 1920×1080.