Closer Look: XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black DD
The XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Double-D (dissipation) graphics card, model FX-795A-TDFC, sells online for $314.99 (Amazon | Newegg). The kit comes with an accessory package identical to its big brother R7970. Along with the various bits of documentation is a driver CD, a CrossFireX cable, and a passive HDMI to DVI cable. There’s also a cool metal and plastic stick-on “XFX Black Edition” badge you can put somewhere on your case to show off.
If you’ve owned or read other reviews on previous AMD video cards before, you’re familiar with the “black slab with red accents” styling that AMD reference cards have used for the past few years. Indeed, even the new Tahiti-based cards use this styling, and most of the cards you’ll see will consist of the reference design with a vendor-specific sticker applied. XFX, however, has decided that their new high-end cards deserve better:
The first thing you’ll notice is the dual-fan cooler. The cooler is quite elaborate: XFX replaces the stock AMD vapor chamber cooler with a “HydroCell” vapor chamber of their own design. They then apply two Duratec IP-5X dust-free fans whose design prevents dust from ever reaching the fan bearings, and surrounds the whole assembly with an aluminum “Ghost Thermal Technology” shroud whose design is said to improve cooling by directing air out the top and bottom of the card.
That said, there doesn’t actually appear to be a lot of space for air to exit from the top of the card. A red trim panel and the cooler base above it block most of the airflow from the top of the card, although there is some space below the trim panel. As we’ll see later, this doesn’t seem to affect the GPU temperatures, and besides, it looks pretty cool in a tower case with a window.
The back of the card doesn’t have any sort of cover or heatsink plate, so you can see 15 or 16 of the 20+ screws that secure the cooling apparatus to the card. White circular “Warranty void if removed” stickers cover two of the screws. I don’t know if it makes any difference in the real world, but some users might prefer backplates to protect the minuscule components of the card from damage and static.
Let’s take a detailed look at this card in the next section.