Black Edition Double-D Final Thoughts
AMD’s 7950 GPU closely resembles a Radeon HD 7970, but with four of its compute units (representing 256 shaders) disabled. The Black Edition Double Dissipation is XFX’s most expensive version of the 7950; as with the 7970, it’s offered in four different versions: Core Edition, Black Edition, Double Dissipation, and Black Edition Double Dissipation. The highest-end card carries a $50 premium over the base Core Edition. It’s exactly $100 less than the 7970 version of the same card. For this 20% savings you give up a little over 9% in frame rate, measured across these benchmarks.
That seems a reasonable trade off, especially since you can easily overclock the R7950 to virtual performance parity with the stock-clocked R7970. And even when overclocked, the GPU temperatures remained very low (at the cost of some noise under load, although according to XFX the retail cards will be quieter), so you don’t need to fear for your card’s longevity.
XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black DD Conclusion
IMPORTANT: Although the rating and final score mentioned in this conclusion are made to be as objective as possible, be advised that every author perceives these factors differently. While we each do our best to ensure that all aspects of the product are considered, there are often times unforeseen market conditions and manufacturer revisions that occur after publication which could render our rating obsolete. Please do not base any purchase solely on this conclusion, as it represents our rating specifically for the product tested which may differ from future versions. Benchmark Reviews begins our conclusion with a short summary for each of the areas that we rate.
My ratings begin with performance, where the $315 XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black DD graphics card is positioned between the $250 GeForce GTX 760 and $400 GTX 770 in terms of price. In DirectX 11 tests the XFX 7950 rarely performed to GTX 770 levels, and was a closer match to GeForce GTX 760 in benchmark tests. Ultra-demanding DX11 games such as Batman: Arkham Asylum produced 87 FPS from the factory-overclocked 7950, which outperforms the GTX 760’s 72 FPS while closing in on the GeForce GTX 770’s generated 90 FPS. Battlefield 3 gave the GeForce GTX 760 a small 5-FPS lead over the XFX Radeon HD 7950 when Ultra quality settings were used. Lost Planet 2 played well on all graphics cards when set to high quality with 4x AA, but still forced the XFX 7950 to trail behind the GTX 760 by 8 FPS. In Aliens vs Predator the performance was more competitive, with Radeon HD 7950 enjoying an 8-FPS lead over GTX 760 while GTX 770 was separated by only a few FPS. Metro 2033 is another demanding game that requires high-end graphics to enjoy high quality visual settings, and the XFX Radeon HD 7950 used its factory overclock to outpace the GeForce GTX 760 by 5 FPS while trailing GTX 770 by just as much.
Synthetic benchmark tools offer an unbiased read on graphics products, allowing video card manufacturers to display their performance without special game optimizations or driver influence. Futuremark’s 3DMark11 benchmark suite strained our high-end graphics cards with only mid-level settings displayed at 720p, allowing the XFX Radeon HD 7950 to build a slight lead over the GeForce GTX 760, but not enough power to compete against the upper-class GTX 770. Unigine Heaven 3.0 benchmark tests used maximum settings that tend to crush most products, yet the XFX Radeon HD 7950 and GTX 760 were separated by only 1-FPS.
Appearance is a much more subjective matter, especially since this particular rating doesn’t have any quantitative benchmark scores to fall back on. AMD’s Radeon HD series has traditionally used the same recognizable ‘black and red brick’ design over the past few years, which tends to dull consumer appeal. XFX breathes new life into the aging series with their Double Dissipation twin-fan cooler and GHOST Thermal Technology fan shroud. Unfortunately this modified design exhausts most of the heated air back inside the computer case, which may increase operating temperatures. Fashionably good looks could earn points with some consumers, but it’s the card’s low heat output and quiet operation that should leave the biggest impression.
Nobody likes to RMA their video card because it usually means going without use of the computer, which is why construction is the one area AMD graphics cards continually shine. Thanks to extremely quiet operation paired with highly efficient GPU cores, the Radeon HD 7950 consumes less energy while emitting less heat. The card requires two 6-pin PCI-E power connections, which are available on practically every mainstream PSU. Additionally, consumers have a top-end single-GPU solution capable of driving three monitors with AMD HD3D support using the two DL-DVI ports with supplementary DisplayPort outputs.
As of mid-July 2013, the XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation graphics card (model FX-795A-TDFC) sells online for $314.99 (Amazon | Newegg). This price tag adds $65 to the GeForce GTX 760, but comes in $85 below the GTX 770. Based on the benchmark tests the retail price is accurate in relation to performance, however XFX’s Double-Lifetime warranty adds to the products overall value. For a limited time, some online retailers are offering a rebate on this graphics card that reduces the final price to $299.
My conclusion: the XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Double-Dissipation graphics card (model FX-795A-TDF) is ideal for standalone installations, however multi-card CrossFire sets are possible in enclosures with above average ventilation and cooling. This video card already runs cool under full load, so there’s little need for excessive case cooling for single-card installations. Even with a rebate, the XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black DD still has room for better pricing. It’s a good card at $315, a solid buy at $300, but it would really clear shelves at $275.
+ Outperforms GeForce GTX 760
+ Excellent DX11 video game performance
+ Supports CrossFireX and DisplayPort output
+ Triple-display and AMD HD3D support
+ XFX Double-Lifetime warranty
+ Cooling fans operate at very quiet acoustic levels
+ Relatively low power consumption under load
+ 3GB GDDR5 video RAM
+ 4K Super-HD display support
– Heated exhaust is circulated back into enclosure
– Expensive enthusiast product
Final Score: 8.75 out of 10.
Quality Recognition: Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award.
COMMENT QUESTION: Do you prefer NVIDIA GeForce or AMD Radeon graphics cards?