HIS Radeon HD 7950 3GB Video Card Review

We check out a stock clocked AMD Radeon HD 7950 video card and see what's going on with performance of the new model.

Manufacturer: HIS
14 minutes & 55 seconds read time

Introduction and The Package

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At the launch of any new GPU we always try to make an effort to put a reference based video card up for testing as it's the best model to set a baseline for what we're dealing with when it comes to a new model. At the same time, though, we be fair and in a first come first serve basis the XFX HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation 3GB was the first to arrive at our labs and not only did it carry with itself an aftermarket cooler, but also an out of the box overclock.

Today, though, we take a step back and look at a Radeon HD 7950 from HIS that carries with it what should be the reference cooler along with the standard reference clocks. Of course before we get into the performance side of things there are a few other areas we need to look at.

We'll start of by checking out the packaging of the card, once we've done that we'll move over to the card itself before we take the time to have a look at the specifications and take a closer look at the reference clocks on offer.

Once we've done that it's into the fun stuff where we find out just what kind of performance the HIS HD 7950 can do for us, of course, though, the package first.

The Package

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Looking at the bundle it's a little smaller than what we saw out of the HIS HD 7970.

We've got the driver CD, paperwork, case sticker, CrossFire bridge, DVI to VGA adapter and new Weight Lifter add on. What's missing is any other kind of converting cables, like HDMI to DVI or mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort.

Like we've said with a few of our recent video card reviews, this isn't a shock as we are seeing companies shrink down bundle sizes a little. As long as the savings are passed onto the consumer, there's not much to complain about. You just want to double check the bundle as you may need to buy a cable or two separately depending on what you're going to use.

The Card and Specifications

The Card

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Checking out the card we can see that the color scheme is identical to that of the HD 7970 reference cooler. The biggest difference is we've got the fan not only in the middle, but also in a more traditional form instead of the centrifugal design we've seen from AMD and NVIDIA for a while now. This design should be a little quieter, we'll find out later, though, when it comes to the testing side of things.

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Doing a quick spin around the card you're not seeing anything out of the ordinary compared to the XFX one when looking at the power with the same two 6-Pin PCIe power connectors present. Closer to the front we've got two CrossFire connectors along with the Dual BIOS switch. The latter item was lacking on the XFX card. If the Dual BIOS switch turns into being something that can give us the ability to flash to a HD 7970 BIOS, we're not sure yet. We'll no doubt find out in time if there's any real use to it.

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The I/O side of things brings with it a Dual Link DVI connector, HDMI and two mini DisplayPort connectors while the top half is simply all vents. Due to the fan design the "Vents" shouldn't come into play as much, since the fan won't push all the air in one direction. Hopefully the cooler performs well, though.


As we mentioned in the introduction we're dealing with a reference clocked card from HIS. Having a look below you can see that means our core comes in at 800MHz which is 100MHz lower than the overclocked XFX Black Edition card we looked at earlier.

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Moving over to the memory side of things we've got 3GB of GDDR5 that carries a clock speed of 1250MHz or a nice rounding 5000MHz QDR. There's really not much more that needs to be said since we covered the main specification changes in our launch coverage using the XFX HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation 3GB.

Benchmarks - Test System Setup

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

Before we get into the performance side of things the first thing we want to do is quickly look over our testbed and the cards we'll be comparing today. On the testbed side of things you won't see any changes if you've seen any of our recent video cards reviews.

On the comparison front the main thing we want to know is how the reference clocked HD 7950 goes against its big brother, the reference clocked HD 7970. We've also thrown in the overclocked XFX HD 7950 BE DD just for good measure to give you an idea what a bit of an overclock can do to performance.

Along with those we've also got the HD 6970, GTX 580 and GTX 570 to round out our collection of video cards today.

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.

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Straight away we can see the kind of performance boost we're able to get out of HIS HD 7950 and how it compares to the overclocked XFX model we looked at.

Compared to the NVIDIA offerings we can see the HD 7950 is clearly able to squeeze out the win at both resolutions.

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.

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Moving along to Heaven we can see even at the stock clocked the HD 7950 performance is very strong under this tessellation heavy benchmark with it pulling out the win against both NVIDIA offerings.

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.

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Under H.A.W.X. 2 we can see that performance is very strong, but it does lag behind the GTX 500 offerings as H.A.W.X. 2 has always favored NVIDIA.

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.

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Checking out Mafia II performance we continue to see some good numbers out of the HD 7950 with good performance across the board which puts it ahead of the GTX 580 at the highest resolution with a very playable 70 FPS average.

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."

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Looking at Lost Planet 2 performance we could see that the overclocked XFX HD 7950 feel a little shy of the 60 FPS average we need at the highest resolution.

Unfortunately this means that the HIS HD 7950 at its reference clocks falls behind even more. Moving to 1680 x 1050 and 1920 x 1200 sees very good performance, though.

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.

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Aliens vs. Predator sees some awesome performance at 1920 x 1200 and 1680 x 1050, unfortunately like every other card here we see that 2560 x 1600 performance falls below that 60 FPS average that we always aim for.

Benchmarks - Just Cause 2

Just Cause 2

Version and / or Patch Used:

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.

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Just Cause 2 follows the trend we're seeing out of those more intensive games with 2560 x 1600 performance falling shy of the 60 FPS average we want. Below that we see some awesome performance come out of the HD 7950.

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.

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Another benchmark and another result we see the HD 7950 fall shy of that 60 FPS mark at the higher 2560 x 1600 resolution. Below that, we can see some excellent performance with the HD 7950 dealing with 1920 x 1200 and 1680 x 1050 with no issue. Moving to the ultra-high 2560 x 1600, though, continues to be a bit too much for the HD 7950.

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.

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One more time before we move over to FarCry 2 we again see the HD 7950 struggle at the higher 2560 x 1600 resolution. With no surprise, though, we see below that performance is extremely strong.

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.

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Across the board we get some fantastic performance out of the HD 7950 under FarCry 2. Compared to our other offerings the reference clocked HD 7950 falls only behind the overclocked HD 7950 and 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.

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Cranking up the detail in a couple of games we can see some strong performance with the HD 7950. Under something a bit older like FarCry 2 we can see the card has no issue, moving to something newer, Mafia II also sees playable numbers.

It isn't till something more intensive like Aliens vs. Predator that we see our numbers drop below a playable figure.

Temperature Test

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.

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Moving on to the temperature side of things we can see that the reference cooler does a good job keeping temperature at a very good level under both load and idle.

Sound Test

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).

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What's probably more exciting is the fact that the strong cooling performance hasn't come at the cost of a lot of noise. You can see above that the noise level sit very strong compared to other cards here.

This is good news for people who are looking at a card that will use this cooler design.

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.

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Looking at power draw it comes as no surprise that the HIS HD 7950 sits right at the bottom of the pack.

AMD has done an excellent job dropping power levels on the new HD 7900 series cards and that's extremely obvious with this reference designed card.

Final Thoughts

Moving away from the overclocked AMD Radeon HD 7950 video card which we looked at earlier and checking out a reference clocked model, we get a better idea of the new model from AMD. We of course see performance lag behind on the reference clocked card when compared to the overclocked XFX model we looked at earlier. However, the most important thing to take away is that we come to the same kind of conclusion; at 2560 x 1600, the HD 7950 continues to struggle.

For the most part in the end performance is what we expected it to be. I think the biggest surprise came from the cooler and just how effective it was. Not only did it do a great job of keeping our GPU cool, but it also does this while running at an excellent noise level.

Really there's not a whole lot more that needs to be said about the HIS HD 7950. Overall the performance is strong and after testing the overclocked XFX version earlier, the numbers sit at where we'd expect.

The best thing to note about the HD 7950 is the fact that if you're going to be gaming at 2560 x 1600, it's going to struggle in most new games. Performance is good and sometimes it only falls just behind the 60 FPS mark, but it's consistent, unlike the HD 7970 which consistently tends to be on the other side of the 60 FPS number we aim for.

If you're going to be gaming on a 2560 x 1440 / 1600 screen, we'd recommend you throw the extra dollars at the AMD Radeon HD 7970. If you're on a 1920 x 1200 / 1080 or 1680 x 1050 screen, the HD 7950 is an awesome card for you and the associated $399 US price tag makes it a stand out option for a lot of people, especially those wanting to jump on the new HD 7900 series bandwagon.

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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.

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