I find myself legitimately shocked at the moment! It comes as no surprise to me that the HD 7950 was able to offer a strong overclock; it does come as a surprise that it was able to offer an overclock that was this strong. With the overclock here today you can see we move from those unplayable numbers to playable ones, and that was the biggest issue we had with the HD 7950 when compared to the HD 7970.
Something that is really worth noting, though, is the fact that we were benching as high as 1275MHz on the core under 3DMark 11 and Unigine Heaven. One thing we always aim to do in our overclocking articles, though, is tell you what kind of overclock you're able to achieve across everything and not just one or two benchmarks like some other websites do. Because of that we had to shave 60MHz off the core and we found ourselves at a point that was stable across all of our benchmarks. If you wanted to play it really safe, you could move down to something like 1150MHz and you shouldn't run into any problems at all.
Something else that's really impressive, though, is the fact that this is done on the reference cooler. What's going to happen when we start to see TwinFrozr versions from MSI, IceQ from HIS and TOXIC from Sapphire? Are we going to see even more overclocking potential?
The HD 7950 is ultimately going to be the card to buy over the HD 7970 if you're interested in doing a bit of tweaking yourself. There's huge potential to be had if you're happy to go into something like MSI Afterburner and have a play around with it.
Out of the box a reference HD 7950 or even one clocked to around the 900MHz will fall shy at the highest resolution. You can see today that if you move up to the 1200MHz on the core, a number that equates to a 50% overclock, there's simply some massive performance to be had here.
The HD 7950 price, combined with the potential, makes this a really fun card. We'd highly suggest you take the time to do a bit of overclocking, though, as that's where you're going to have the most fun and benefit.