XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation 3GB Review

We look at the brand new AMD Radeon HD 7950 with the first one coming from XFX under the Black Edition Double Dissipation name.
@TweakTown
Published Mon, Jan 30 2012 11:01 PM CST   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Rating: 94%Manufacturer: XFX

Introduction and The Package

XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation 3GB Review 02 | TweakTown.com
VIEW GALLERY - 29 IMAGES

Over the coming months we're going to see more and more video cards launch from both AMD and NVIDIA. A bit like the HD 6000 series, AMD again find themselves coming to the market earlier than NVIDIA and today we see the second model with in the new HD 7000 series launch.

We are already impressed with what the HD 7970 can do by itself, overclocked, in a pair, in a pair overclocked and running in a trio. Starting at round $550 US and going as high as $1,800 US depending on the brand you buy, the HD 7970, or these setups might not be the one for you.

Like the HD 6950, we hope today that the AMD Radeon HD 7950 comes in at that same strong price point and performance level that makes it such an attractive option for people who want some serious GPU power, but don't want to quite spend the money that's associated with buying the highest end single GPU offering.

Today is of course all about the HD 7950 and the particular one is the brand new Black Edition Double Dissipation model from XFX. This isn't the first time we've see the Black Edition Double D name as we saw XFX launch the HD 7970 Black Edition Double Dissipation 3GB on January 9th.

Already impressed with what the Double D cooler did on the HD 7970, let's hope that it transitions well into the more budget conscious HD 7950. Before we look closer at the performance, though, we need to check out the package. Once that's done we'll move over to the card, look at the specifications a bit closer and then get into the performance side of things to see what exactly the new model from AMD does and this variant from XFX is capable off.

The Package

XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation 3GB Review 03 | TweakTown.com
XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation 3GB Review 04 | TweakTown.com
XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation 3GB Review 05 | TweakTown.com
XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation 3GB Review 06 | TweakTown.com

Looking at the package we've got going on its identical to the XFX HD 7970 we looked at which puts with a bunch of paperwork, a sign for your door knob, HDMI to DVI cable, CrossFire bridge and an awesome XFX Black Edition case badge.

The Card and Specifications

The Card

XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation 3GB Review 07 | TweakTown.com
XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation 3GB Review 08 | TweakTown.com
XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation 3GB Review 09 | TweakTown.com

Moving onto the card we've got a near identical look to the HD 7970 version that uses the same Double D cooler. The main changes are seen in the power setup which is now dual 6-Pin PCIe connectors instead of an 8-Pin / 6-Pin PCIe connector setup. Closer to the front we have the same two CrossFire connectors but the BIOS switch isn't present.

The lack of the BIOS switch is an interesting one. There's clearly room for it and we'll see in time if companies choose to add it. If we do see it introduced, it could mean that we'll possibly see the ability to flash a HD 7970 BIOS to the card, much like we saw the HD 6970 BIOS flashed to HD 6950s. Of course this is just nothing more than speculation.

XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation 3GB Review 10 | TweakTown.com

On the I/O side of things you can see we've got two mini DisplayPorts on the left, a single HDMI and a Dual-Link DVI connector on the far right. Connectivity lines up just as you'd expect with no real surprise present except for the fact that the port is red.

Specifications

On the specification side of things the new HD 7950 looks pretty strong against its bigger brother, the HD 7970. We've got the same 28nm fabrication process and a transistor count of 4.31B. Stream processors come in at 1,792 which is only slightly down on the 2,084 seen on the HD 7970.

Texture Units come in at 112 verses 128 while ROPs are the same at 32. The memory front is where we normally see the most changes, but this time it is actually extremely similar. We've got the same 384-bit memory bus along with the same 3GB of GDDR5 memory. The clock speed is where we see the main change with the HD 7950 rate coming in at 5GHz QDR verse 5.5GHz QDR which is seen on the HD 7970.

XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation 3GB Review 01 | TweakTown.com

Being part of the Black Edition series mean that the card comes in overclocked. Looking above we can see that the core has been pushed to 900MHz while the 3GB of GDDR5 has been pushed in line with the HD 7970 coming in at 5.5GHz DDR. This is a really nice overclock and we should see performance similar to the reference HD 7970 thanks to XFX choosing to play a little with the clocks.

Benchmarks - Test System Setup

XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation 3GB Review 99 | TweakTown.com

We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASUS and Corsair.

Moving into our testbed you're not going to see anything that you haven't seen over the last few months. The main thing we want to know before we get into the testing side of things, though, is the cards that will be included in our graphs today.

Alongside the XFX HD 7950 Black Edition Double D, we've also got the HD 7970 version of the card from XFX, the reference HD 7970, the HD 6970 to see how the new HD 7950 compares against the last generation single GPU card from AMD along with the GTX 580 and GTX 570 from NVIDIA.

Let's get started!

The FPS Numbers Explained

When we benchmark our video cards and look at the graphs, we aim to get to a certain level of FPS which we consider playable. While many may argue that the human eye can't see over 24 FPS or 30 FPS, any true gamer will tell you that as we climb higher in Frames Per Seconds (FPS), the overall gameplay feels smoother. There are three numbers we're looking out for when it comes to our benchmarks.

30 FPS - It's the minimum number we aim for when it comes to games. If you're not dropping below 30 FPS during games, you're going to have a nice and smooth gaming experience. The ideal situation is that even in a heavy fire fight, the minimum stays above 30 FPS making sure that you can continue to aim easily or turn the corner with no dramas.

60 FPS - It's the average we look for when we don't have a minimum coming at us. If we're getting an average of 60 FPS, we should have a minimum of 30 FPS or better and as mentioned above, it means we've got some smooth game play happening.

120 FPS - The new number that we've been hunting down over recent months. If you're the owner of a 120 Hz monitor, to get the most out of it you want to get around the 120 FPS mark. Moving from 60 FPS / 60 Hz to 120 FPS / 120 Hz brings with it a certain fluidity that can't really be explained, but instead has to be experienced. Of course, if you're buying a 120 Hz monitor to take advantage of 3D, an average of 120 FPS in our benchmark means that in 3D you will have an average of 60 FPS, which again means you should expect some smooth gameplay.

Benchmarks - 3DMark 11

3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1

Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com

Product Homepage: http://www.3dmark.com/3dmark11/

Buy It Here

3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world's most popular benchmark. Designed to measure your PC's gaming performance 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation 3GB Review 20 | TweakTown.com

Straight out the gate you can see we've got some strong performance that shows the new XFX HD 7950 BE DD performing extremely strong against not only the older HD 6970, but both the GTX 570 and GTX 580.

Hopefully this will translate into some of our real-world benchmarks outside of the synthetic ones.

Benchmarks - Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.5

Developer Homepage: http://www.unigine.com

Product Homepage: http://unigine.com/press-releases/091022-heaven_benchmark/

New benchmark grants the power to unleash the DirectX 11 potential in the gift wrapping of impressively towering graphics capabilities. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. With the interactive mode emerging experience of exploring the intricate world is ensured within reach. Through its advanced renderer, Unigine is one of the first to set precedence in showcasing the art assets with tessellation, bringing compelling visual finesse, utilizing the technology to the full extend and exhibiting the possibilities of enriching 3D gaming.

XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation 3GB Review 21 | TweakTown.com

Much like the HD 7970 saw some strong gains in Tessellation, it comes as no surprise that the HD 7950 also sees a nice boost. Looking at the numbers you can see it's a considerable boost over the older HD 6970, but also the strong tessellation performing cards from NVIDIA.

Benchmarks - Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.2

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo

Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test

Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/UK/default.aspx

Product Homepage: http://www.hawxgame.com/

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2 is an arcade-style flight action game developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft. The game is the sequel to Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X., released in 2009.

The game begins with Colonel David Crenshaw participating in a routine patrol mission in the Middle East. After halting an insurgent attack, a volley of missiles is fired at the Air Force base that Crenshaw was stationed at, with one of the missiles disabling Crenshaw's aircraft, resulting Crenshaw being in enemy captivity. A joint strike force composed of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and a Ghost Recon squad executes an operation to rescue Crenshaw. In Scotland, Royal Navy Pilot Colin Munro encounters an unidentified passenger aircraft that explodes from an on-board bomb when undergoing training exercise. In Russia, an air force squadron led by Colonel Denisov and Captain Dmitri Sokov engages separatist aircraft but is ordered to retreat from the region after numerous Russian military installations have been attacked.

XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation 3GB Review 22 | TweakTown.com

Moving into H.A.W.X. 2 we can see that performance continues to be very strong across the board. Compared to the NVIDIA offerings we can see the HD 7950 does lag a little bit behind, we've still got extremely playable numbers across the board, though, and H.A.W.X. 2 has always been more NVIDIA favored than AMD favored.

Benchmarks - Mafia II

Mafia II

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.2kczech.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.mafia2game.com/

Buy It Here

Mafia II is a third-person action-adventure video game, the sequel to Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven. It is developed by 2K Czech, previously known as Illusion Softworks, and is published by 2K Games. The game is set from 1943 to 1951 in Empire Bay (the name is a reference to New York's state nickname "The Empire State"), a fictional city based on San Francisco and New York City, with influences from Chicago and Detroit. The game features a completely open-ended game map of 10 square miles. No restrictions are included from the start of the game. There are around 50 vehicles in the game, as well as licensed music from the era.

XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation 3GB Review 23 | TweakTown.com

We can see at all resolutions we've got very strong FPS out of the HD 7950 BE DD here and no issue with the model taking on both the GTX 570 and GTX 580 with the best gains being seen at the higher 2560 x 1600 resolution.

Benchmarks - Lost Planet 2

Lost Planet 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark - Test A Scene 1

Developer Homepage: http://www.capcom.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.lostplanet2game.com/

Lost Planet 2 is a third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the sequel to Lost Planet: Extreme Condition which is also made by Capcom, taking place ten years after the events of the first game, on the same fictional planet. The story takes place back on E.D.N. III 10 years after the events of the first game. The snow has melted to reveal jungles and more tropical areas that have taken the place of more frozen regions. The plot begins with Mercenaries fighting against Jungle Pirates. After destroying a mine, the Mercenaries continue on to evacuate the area, in which a Category-G Akrid appears and attacks them. After being rescued, they find out their evacuation point (Where the Category-G appeared) was a set-up and no pick up team awaited them. The last words imply possible DLC additions to the game, "There's nothing to be gained by wiping out snow pirates... unless you had some kind of grudge."

XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation 3GB Review 24 | TweakTown.com

Getting into the tessellation heavy Lost Planet 2 benchmark we can again see some strong performance that puts it ahead of the NVIDIA offerings as we move to 1920 x 1200 and 2560 x 1600. The big difference here between the HD 7970, though and the HD 7950 is you can see we fall just below that 60 FPS average we aim for at 2560 x 1600.

Benchmarks - Aliens vs. Predator

Aliens vs. Predator

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.rebellion.co.uk/

Product Homepage: http://www.sega.com/games/aliens-vs-predator/

Aliens vs. Predator is a science fiction first-person shooter video game, developed by Rebellion Developments, the team behind the 1999 original PC game, and published by Sega for Microsoft Windows, the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. The game is based on the Alien vs. Predator franchise, a combination of the characters and creatures of the Alien franchise and the Predator franchise. There are three campaigns in the game, one for each race/faction (the Predators, the Aliens and the Colonial Marines), that, while separate in terms of individual plot and gameplay, form one overarching storyline.

Following the storyline of the campaign modes comes the multiplayer aspect of the game. In this Multiplayer section of the game, players face off in various different gametypes in various different ways.

XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation 3GB Review 25 | TweakTown.com

This is another really intensive benchmark that sees some excellent performance at 1680 x 1050 and 1920 x 1200. Like our HD 7970, though and every other single GPU solution here we see that we fall shy of that 60 FPS average at 2560 x 1600.

Benchmarks - Just Cause 2

Just Cause 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.2

Timedemo or Level Used: Dark Tower

Developer Homepage: http://www.eidos.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.justcause.com/

Just Cause 2 employs the Avalanche Engine 2.0, an updated version of the engine used in Just Cause. The game is set on the other side of the world from the original Just Cause, on the fictional island of Panau in Southeast Asia. Panau has varied terrain, from desert to alpine to rainforest. Rico Rodriguez returns as the protagonist, aiming to overthrow the evil dictator Pandak "Baby" Panay and confront his former mentor, Tom Sheldon.

XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation 3GB Review 26 | TweakTown.com

Looking at Just Cause 2 performance we've again got some good numbers here and unlike our previous two benchmarks we're able to break the 60 FPS barrier at the higher 2560 x 1600 resolution.

Benchmarks - Metro 2033

Metro 2033

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.4a-games.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.thqnordic.com/

Metro 2033 is an action-oriented video game with a combination of survival horror and first-person shooter elements. The game is based on the novel Metro 2033 by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. It was developed by 4A Games in Ukraine and released in March 2010 for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360.[3] In March 2006, 4A Games announced a partnership with Glukhovsky to collaborate on the game.[4] The game was announced at the 2009 Games Convention in Leipzig;[5] a first trailer came along with the announcement.[6] A sequel was announced, currently titled Metro: Last Light.

XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation 3GB Review 27 | TweakTown.com

Moving back to the Lost Planet 2 / AvP pattern we can see some excellent performance again at 1920 x 1200 and 1680 x 1050 while 2560 x 1600 performance falls a little shy of that 60 FPS average which we aim for.

Benchmarks - Dirt 3

Dirt 3

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.codemasters.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.dirt3game.com/

DiRT 3 boasts more cars, more locations, more routes and more events than any other game in the series, including over 50 rally cars representing the very best from five decades of the sport. With more than double the track content of 2009's hit, DiRT 3 will see players start at the top as a professional driver, with a top-flight career in competitive off-road racing complimented by the opportunity to express themselves in Gymkhana-style showpiece driving events.

XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation 3GB Review 28 | TweakTown.com

Dirt 3 continues the patter of some excellent performance at 1920 x 1200 and 1680 x 1050 that puts the HD 7950 ahead of the current crop of NVIDIA cards. Moving to 2560 x 1600 we again see the setup fall shy of the 60 FPS average we want. Even if it's by only two FPS, it's again below that 60 FPS mark we set.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01

Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long

Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.farcry2.com/

Buy It Here

The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.

XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation 3GB Review 29 | TweakTown.com

Moving into FarCry 2 it comes as no surprise we've got strong performance across the board that puts it ahead of the NVIDIA offering. We can see that performance between our overclocked HD 7950 from XFX here is also very close to that of the reference clocked HD 7970.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF

High Quality AA and AF

Our high quality tests let us separate the men from the boys and the ladies from the girls. If the cards weren't struggling before they will start to now.

XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation 3GB Review 30 | TweakTown.com
XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation 3GB Review 31 | TweakTown.com
XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation 3GB Review 32 | TweakTown.com

Cranking up the AA / AF detail we see some strong performance again. We can see under Aliens vs. Predator, though, we're coming in at a 59 FPS average, again just shy of that 60 FPS number we like to see.

Temperature Test

Temperature Tests

The temperature of the core is pulled from MSI Afterburner with the max reading used after a completed run off 3DMark Vantage and the Performance preset.

XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation 3GB Review 40 | TweakTown.com

Temperature on the XFX HD 7950 BE DD is very strong with it sitting towards the bottom of the pack.

Sound Test

Sound Tests

Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.

After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).

XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation 3GB Review 41 | TweakTown.com

Noise levels aren't bad and sit towards the middle. Compared to the HD 7970 BE DD, it comes in a little louder. We'll talk about that a little bit more when we wrap up the card in the final thoughts, though.

Power Consumption Tests

Using our new PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01 or "Power Thingy" as it has become quickly known as to our readers, we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated graphics cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).

There are a few important notes to remember though; while our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10% more. We test at the exact same stage every time; therefore tests should be very consistent and accurate.

The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a SSD hard drive is used with a single CD ROM and minimal cooling fans.

So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.

XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation 3GB Review 42 | TweakTown.com

Power draw on the HD 7970 was great and the new HD 7950 is no different with excellent idle and load numbers coming from the new model.

Final Thoughts

The first thing I want to say before we get into the performance side of things is cover the Temperature / Noise numbers out of the card. After testing the card, XFX sent us an email letting us know that a new BIOS had been released for the card which adjusted the fan profile. It made for a slightly quieter, but warmer running card. This is the BIOS that will be seen on the stock that is shipped out.

With that said, XFX told us you'll be able to grab the BIOS we're using today which moves to a cooler running setup at slightly more noise. If you look through the noise numbers they're extremely solid so if you'd prefer to have your card run a little cooler you could opt for the BIOS we're using today. On the other hand if you prefer lower noise over anything else, then you'll be glad to know that a few dB is shaved off the shipping BIOS.

On to the performance side of things. Not a lot has to be said to be honest with you, performance across the board is very strong and you can see that majority of the time the new HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation has no problems dealing with the high-end GTX 500 offerings from NVIDIA. Of course something that has to be noted is the fact that the XFX card here is overclocked and will yield slightly better performance than a reference clocked card. Something worth noting, though, is that AMD partners have really been given free rein on the HD 7950 and for that reason we should see a lot more non-reference / overclocked cards at launch.

The theme is obvious across the board when it comes to performance. The HD 7950 just falls behind that 60 FPS average we aim for at 2560 x 1600 under the more intensive benchmarks. The great thing about the HD 7970 is that it really is a single GPU solution that can give you playable FPS across the whole range of single monitor resolutions. The HD 7950 can give us playable numbers at 2560 x 1600, but even on the overclocked model here from XFX, we can see it falls behind a few times.

There's no denying that if you've got the extra money then the HD 7970 is going to be the better option for 2560 x 1600 gaming. Of course if you game at a resolution lower than that and you want to save some money, then the HD 7950 is a fantastic option and continues on with this trend of strong performing single GPU cards from AMD that hit at a good price point.

On the topic of the price, the HD 7950 is coming in with an MSRP of $399 US and I'd put the XFX version we've got here today at around the $440 US mark. Stepping away from the XFX specifics that make the card we're looking at today and just looking at the HD 7950 as a whole, we've ultimately just got another really good card from AMD that is worthy of the new "HD 7900" series tag. Move in a bit closer and look at the extras that make this a Black Edition Double Dissipation model from XFX, and you've got some nice tweaks that are no doubt going to make the card stand out. The bumped up clock speeds combined with the new DD cooler makes for a really nice card.

While AMD continue to struggle against Intel when it comes to the CPU game, they follow the trend of doing extremely well against NVIDIA. As the coming months come and we see AMD complete a top to bottom setup of the HD 7000 series, it looks like they could have another very successful year in the GPU department. And finally before we wrap everything up I just wanted to see what was going on with the overclocking side of things quickly. At the moment we don't have an Afterburner version that allows us to adjust voltage; instead we just had to head into Overdrive which is in the driver.

XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation 3GB Review 11 | TweakTown.com

We ended up running the core at a cool 1000MHz and pushed the memory up to 1575MHz or 6300MHz QDR which boosted our 3DMark 11 score to P8455 as you can see above. This is a nice boost over the default P7687 run and no doubt when we see a version of Afterburner that lets us adjust the voltage of the HD 7950, we'll see even more performance.

What do TweakTown.com awards mean? Click for details!

PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.

USUnited States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com

UKUnited Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.co.uk

AUAustralia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com.au

CACanada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca

DEDeutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de

Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

Related Tags

Newsletter Subscription

Latest News

View More News

Latest Reviews

View More Reviews

Latest Articles

View More Articles