SAPPHIRE recently sent over the Sapphire HD 7950 3GB Overclock Edition graphics card for testing. The SAPPHIRE HD 7950 OC Edition is factory overclocked to 900MHz on the core, but the memory remains stock at 1250MHz (5000MHz effective). This video card looks nothing like the AMD Radeon HD 7950 reference design that we previously reviewed, but we don’t have any issues with that. Since we’ve already reviewed a couple Radeon HD 7950 video cards in the past month we are going to jump right into looking at this card and seeing what it can do.
Sapphire has without a doubt beefed up their GPU cooler on the Sapphire HD 7950 OC Edition and we can’t wait to see how loud it is and how it performs. It seems that all video card companies are coming up with crazy names for their cooling solutions and SAPPHIRE is no different. They say the HD 7950 OC Edition comes with dual-extractor technology or Dual-X for short. This GPU cooler has 5 massive copper heatpipes topped with dual fans to run quiet during normal operating conditions, yet still handle the heat when under full load.
Sapphire currently offers two AMD Radeon HD 7950 cards, so their product stack isn’t too confusing to understand. You have a standard clocked card and an overclocked card.
Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 Video Cards:
Turning the Sapphire HD 7950 OC Edition video card over you can see that it doesn’t have a back plate or any of the GDDR5 memory chips on the back of the blue colored PCB. The serial number sticker is the most important thing that is located on the back of this card. This number is critical if you plan on ever RMA’ing it under the 2-year limited warranty period should anything ever go wrong. The PCB of
the card measures ~10.25″ in length and stands at ~4.0″ in height. It
noted that the black plastic fan shroud extends past the PCB, so the true length
of the card is ~11.0″ in length. Sapphire is using PCB model number 109-C38137-00 in case you are curious or want to know what water blocks are compatible.
With the video card flipped upside down you can better see the five copper heatpipes that help keep the ‘Tahiti Pro’ GPU nice and cool. The Dual-X cooling solution is one of the more impressive GPU coolers that we have seen.
The SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 7950 has a pair of mini-DisplayPort 1.2
connectors, a full size HDMI 1.4a output for 3D video (Blu-ray 3D)
support, and a dual-link DVI-I when it comes to video outputs. The AMD
Radeon HD 7900 series supports up to six DisplayPort displays by
“daisy chaining” them to two mini-DisplayPort outputs. XFX also placed their logo in the exhaust fan as you can see in the image above.
The SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 7950 has two CrossFire interconnects and you can link up to four of these cards together for improved performance. Unlike other Radeon HD 7950 cards that we have seen in the past, SAPPHIRE is using the BIOS switch and the card has two BIOS versions on it. Both of the SAPPHIRE HD 7950 models have a dual BIOS, which allow for further experimentation by the enthusiast. On the OC edition that we are reviewing here today, the second BIOS is pre-programmed to allow a higher maximum overclock and more aggressive fan profile.
The Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 has two 6-pin PCIe connectors located along the top of the PCB that need to be hooked up. AMD says that the Radeon HD 7950 requires a 500W or greater power supply with two 75W 6-pin PCIe connectors for proper operation.
The Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 OC Edition video card that we were sent to review had an insane amount of warp visible along the PCI Express slot. In a five inch section we measured 0.25-inches of warp, which is the most that we have seen on a video card Printed Circuit Board (PCB) in many years. Many video card companies include stiffening brackets to prevent warping and it is our opinion that Sapphire should look into that as well.