The first thing I noticed when overclocking the Sapphire cards here today was that we didn't quite have the same success when it came to the core speed as to when we looked at the reference card. Really it doesn't all come to fruition until the very end of the article as well when we look at the temperature and sound numbers.
Sapphire has clearly opted for a fan profile that favors on the quiet side of things and that comes at the cost of overclocking ability. You've always got the option to push the fan speed up manually, but you can see today with these extremely low noise levels, and even low temperature levels, we're able to push the performance of our HD 7950 CF setup to past that of the HD 7970 CF setup when running at stock.
Considering the more attractive price tag of the AMD Radeon HD 7950, you can see it's a clear option over the HD 7970 for people who are interested in jumping on the HD 7900 bandwagon without blowing the bank. Combined with the excellent CrossFire scaling when you move to a second HD 7950, this becomes a really optimum setup for people who want some serious gaming performance.
The biggest shock with the cards today continues to be the cooling and noise numbers from the Sapphire HD 7950 video cards. They're just amazing and you can see they stand out for all the right reasons against all the other setups in our graphs today.
Looking at the performance numbers and looking at the temperature and noise numbers, they just don't seem right. You expect a setup like this to run both warmer and louder, it simply doesn't, though, and that's a real testament to the latest generation of cooler from Sapphire.
If you want to spend closer to $900 instead of $1100, the AMD Radeon HD 7950 CrossFire option is going to be a perfect choice as it stays under that dreaded "$1k" mark. The Sapphire version is going to set you back a little more, but if you're after a solution that is not only fast, but quiet and cool, then you're not going to have much trouble justifying the extra cost associated with the Sapphire offering in my opinion.