Graphics Cards Guide

PowerColor HD7950 3GB GDDR5 review

PowerColor PCS+ HD7950 3GB – Southern Islands Arrives

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Physique and Features

New Clashes Begin

AMD has welcomed 2012 with its all-new family of desktop GPUs known as Southern Islands. Succeeding the Northern Islands group of GPUs (Radeon HD 6000 series), the new lineup is more commercially-known as the Radeon HD 7000 series. While rumors about the Radeon HD 7000 have been circulating since Q4 of 2010, AMD just officially announced it last month. Coinciding with the announcement, several vendors have released their own graphics card incarnations, among which is TUL Corporation, the company behind the label PowerColor.

The PCS+ HD7950 3GB is distinct among PowerColor's Radeon HD 7000 series graphics cards because of its customized cooling solution which is designed to suit the card's overclocked persona.

For the Radeon HD 7900 series, PowerColor’s lineup is currently composed of five models. While three graphics cards in the series follow AMD’s reference design, the PCS+ HD7950 3GB is customized just like the HD7970 3GB GDDR5 (V2). As its moniker suggests, the PCS+ HD7950 3GB makes use of PowerColor’s modified cooling solution equipped with two 92mm fans and heatpipes, each measuring 8mm in terms of diameter. Passing through an extensive network of aluminium fins, the heatpipes are connected to a copper block which has direct contact with the GPU.

Here is a closer look the the graphics card's GPU, the AMD Radeon HD 7950. Based on the 28nm manufacturing process, the Radeon HD 7950 is smaller than its predecessor which is the 40nm-based HD 6950. The surrounding memory chips make up the card's ample 3GB GDDR5 memory, a relevant spec when working with multiple displays.

Taking the PCS+ HD7950 3GB apart, the graphics card reveals its GPU which is surrounded by 12 memory chips. Codenamed as Tahiti, the Radeon HD 7950 GPU is manufactured based on the 28nm process, hence, its die size is smaller than its predecessor, the 40nm-based HD 6950. The HD 7950’s core clock is rated at 800MHz, whereas its memory is clocked at 1250MHz. Similar to previous PCS+-labeled cards from PowerColor, the PCS+ HD7950 3GB is factory overclocked as well. Its core clock is 80MHz faster than the reference design, although its memory still operates at 1250MHz speed.

Scroll down to see the PowerColor PCS+ HD7950 3GB graphics card more in details:

From this angle, it is clear that the PCS+ HD7950 3GB is a dual-slot graphics solution. On the connectivity front, the card carries two Mini DisplayPorts, a standard HDMI, and a DVI connector. The set is considerably standard among today's high end graphics cards.

Users will need a pair of six-pin power connectors to power up the PCS+ HD7950 3GB graphics card.

While the graphics card leverages on PCI-Express 3.0, do take note that the interface is still compatible with the older PCIe 2.0 standard, so there shouldn't be a problem if you still own a motherboard that doesn't have PCIe 3.0 slots.

Here is a closer look at the card's CrossFireX connectors.

Removing the custom cooler from the graphics card's printed circuit board (PCB), we can see here the cooler's extensive network of aluminium fins. Passing through the fins are heatpipes that are connected to a slab of copper.

The PCS+ HD7950 3GB makes use of a black PCB. Noticeable on its top side is a metal guide which helps in keeping the PCB in the right shape.

For the PCS+ HD7950 3GB, most of its solid capacitors and chokes are situated near the two six-pin power connectors.

PowerColor has supplied the PCS+ HD7950 3GB with these adapters. Apart from the manual, the graphics card comes with (from left to right) an HDMI to single-link DVI cable, a Mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort cable, a CrossFire bridge, and a DVI dongle.