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VisionTek Radeon HD 7950 3GB Video Card Overclocked Review

With the recent AMD price drops, we check out the VisionTek Radeon HD 7950 and overclock it with the latest Catalyst drivers.

Published Fri, Apr 27 2012 1:17 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:01 PM CST
Rating: 91%Manufacturer: VisionTek

Introduction and Package

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AMD's Radeon HD 7950 video card has been a model we've liked since its launch earlier in the year. Bringing both strong value and strong performance, there's little to complain about when it comes to buying a video card. And while NVIDIA still only have the GeForce GTX 680; AMD continue to dominate in key areas.

Today we'll be checking out the Radeon HD 7950 from VisionTek; a company that we've been seeing more and more of over recent months. Since we've looked at a number of HD 7950s already we decided that we'd overclock this one today to see just how performance is looking on the model when overclocked these days.

How's the HD 7950 go against the GTX 680 when we overclock the AMD offering? Priced at under $400 as well it's a good option for people who don't want to bust the bank account wide open. This is one of the main things we want to know today as we haven't tested an overclocked HD 7950 on the most recent drivers against a GTX 680.

Considering the $100 plus price difference between the models, we wonder if it's worth just spending a little bit of time overclocking to help boost performance higher and in turn save some money.

As always, though, there are a few things we need to do before we cover the performance side of things and the overclock. We'll start off by checking out what's going on with the box and bundle with the VisionTek HD 7950 before moving onto the video card itself.

Once we've done that we'll check out the specifications and also cover what kind of overclock we managed to achieve with the video card. Once that's done we'll quickly cover the other video cards we'll be using in our comparison before we get into the performance side of things to see what the overclock does for us.


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Inside the package we've got a fairly basic setup with a Quick Install Guide, Driver CD, DVI to VGA connector and two dual Molex to 6-pin PCIe power connectors.

It's not a huge bundle by any stretch of the imagination, but a fairly typical one these days that really comes with everything you should need to get up and running.

The Card and Specifications

The Card

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At launch we saw two designs when it came to the HD 7950. The first was that typical design we're used to seeing which sees the fan down the back that pushes air across the GPU and straight out the back of the case. The other is the design we can see above where the fan sits directly over the GPU in the middle.

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Taking a quick spin around the video card everything is as you'd expect, we've got two 6-pin PCIe power connectors at the back of the video card while closer to the front we've got two CrossFire connectors along with the dual BIOS switch.

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The I/O side of things sees a Dual Link DVI connector, HDMI port and two mini DisplayPort connectors. A typical HD 7950 setup that we see most companies use, be it on a reference design or custom designed model.


The VisionTek HD 7950 as you probably expect follows with it just the reference clocks. Looking below you can see that means the core comes in at 800MHz while the 3GB of GDDR5 memory carries a clock speed of 5000MHz QDR.

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Looking above, you can see what we ended up pushing the video card to as far as clocks go. We managed a healthy plus 300MHz on the core which equates to 1100MHz while the 3GB of GDDR5 was pushed up to 5600MHz QDR. This is a strong overclock and should yield some excellent performance.

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.

Looking above you can see our testbed and as usual there's been no changes to it with the same X79 platform being used with our overclocked 3960X.

Just quickly, though, before we go into the performance side of things we want to quickly look at the other video cards that will be in our benchmark graphs today.

Alongside our overclocked VisionTek HD 7950 we've also got a reference clocked Sapphire HD 7950, Diamond HD 7970 and Sapphire HD 6990. On the NVIDIA side of things we've got two GeForce GTX 680's - one is the reference video card while the other is the overclocked JetStream model from Palit.

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 we're able to get out of our overclocked VisionTek HD 7950. The numbers see it sitting just behind the reference designed GTX 680.

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 into Heaven we see some excellent gains which see us ahead of the other HD 7900 video cards, but in this test NVIDIA has always shown a lot of strength.

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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H.A.W.X. sees some excellent performance and compared to the GTX 680 the cheaper HD 7950 sits just 9 FPS behind it.

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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Moving into Mafia II we can see at the highest resolution our overclocked VisionTek HD 7950 is able to come out ahead by a single FPS.

This is pretty impressive considering the price difference.

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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Lost Planet 2 sees some awesome gains and at the highest resolution you can see we've got an extremely playable 66 FPS. Compared to the GTX 680 we're 5 FPS behind which equates to about 8% in this case.

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 isn't doing great on the new GTX 680 and we can see here that the HD 7950 comes close to it. Unfortunately, Aliens vs. Predator on a whole just isn't really making use of the overclock that's on offer.

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 sees some great gains which pushes us to playable numbers at 2560 x 1600. Compared to the GTX 680, we fall behind at the lower resolutions, but at the highest both video cards score the same at 72 FPS.

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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Metro numbers across the board are really good and again we see the overclock pushes us to a playable FPS at 2560 x 1600. More importantly we've got stronger FPS across the board when compared to the GTX 680.

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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Dirt 3 again continues with the strong gains and we again see the FPS at 2560 x 1600 become playable. Compared to the GTX 680 in this case we're falling a little behind with the margin being about 20% at the highest resolution.

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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Far Cry 2 performance across the board is strong as you'd expect and we can again see at the highest resolution the VisionTek HD 7950 is able to actually pull out a win when it comes to the minimum FPS.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF

High Quality AA and AF

While we test all our games with maximum in-game settings, turning on Anti-Aliasing (AA) and Antistrophic Filtering (AF) helps take the intensity of our testing to another level.

Here we see video cards go from playable FPS to an unplayable FPS and the real power houses continue to help break that 60 FPS mark we always aim for to provide a smooth gaming experience.

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We see some awesome gains under our AA and AF tests and numbers that put us inline or slightly ahead of the GTX 680. The most appreciated gains come under Aliens vs. Predator, though, where we move from unplayable FPS to playable FPS.

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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On the heat side of things as soon as we up the voltages we see the heat really spike. At stock we had an idle of around 40c and load of 65c. Looking above you can see how much heat gets added into the mix when we overclock so high.

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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The added heat means the fan on the video card is working harder and as you can see we get a spike in noise levels.

Power Consumption Test

Using our 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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Finally finishing off with the power draw side of things we don't see anything too out of the ordinary. Fairly standard numbers here that a quality power supply won't have an issue with.

Final Thoughts

Following the reference design isn't a bad thing these days when AMD and NVIDIA both offer such strong performing reference coolers. Out of the box the VisionTek HD 7950 is going to perform like any other reference clocked HD 7950 that shares the same reference cooler.

On a whole there's nothing out of the ordinary when it comes to the VisionTek offering. We've got strong performance as you'd expect and a fairly basic bundle like we see most companies offering these days.

The model really starts to shine, though, when we fire up something like MSI Afterburner. When adjusting the voltages on the video card (while adding to both heat and noise), do wonders when it comes to overall performance.

Looking through our graphs today you can actually see at times the overclock quite often helps push our FPS over 60 FPS when gaming at 2560 x 1600, a resolution that is normally reserved for the top single GPU offerings when running at stock. Today, though, we see the overclock helps push us from unplayable to playable. It's times like that where we really appreciate the overclock.

Coming in at over $100 cheaper than the GeForce GTX 680 2GB as well, we can see an overclocked HD 7950 is a strong competitor for sure. Sure, you can overclock the GTX 680 as well, but you're going to be paying an extra $100 for that privilege overclocked or not.

For the most part I feel that the AMD Radeon HD 7950 is one of the best models currently on the market when it comes to ticking all the boxes. Strong out of the box performance, awesome overclocking ability and a competitive price point make it one of the best video cards on the market at the moment.

If you want to grab a HD 7950 at that $399 price point, then the VisionTek is a good option thanks to it offering everything you need to get up and running and that same strong overclocking ability we've seen on other Radeon HD 7950 video cards.

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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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