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MSI Radeon HD 7850 2GB Power Edition Overclocked Video Card Review

MSI expand the Power Edition series with the release of the Radeon HD 7850. We overclock it a lot and see what the model is capable of doing.

@TweakTown
Published Thu, May 24 2012 10:23 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:01 PM CST
Rating: 95%Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction and Package

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VIEW GALLERY - 29 IMAGES

AMD's Radeon HD 7850 is a model we haven't had a huge look at since its launch earlier in the year. With a number of models launching around it from both AMD and NVIDIA and then a new CPU and chipset launch from Intel meant that the HD 7850 probably didn't get quite the attention that it deserved.

Today, though, we're looking at one that grabbed our attention straight away. The HD 7850 we're looking at today from MSI comes in as part of the Power Edition series, a series that has looked good every time we've tested one.

The HD 7850 is a good model to fall under the Power Edition series, though, due to the fact that out of the box we don't get voltage adjustment on the HD 7850. Adding the ability to adjust the voltage on the core along with a few other areas should bring with it strong overclocking ability.

As always there are a few things we need to do before we cover the overclocking side of things. The first thing we want to do is take a closer look at the package to see what MSI is giving us with this model here today. Once we've done that we'll then move onto the video card itself to see what it's able to offer us.

Once we've taken a look at the video card we'll take a closer look at the specifications and see what kind of clocks we get out of the box from MSI before we then cover the overclocking side of things. Of course once we've done that we'll take a quick look at the testbed and then get into the performance side of things to see just how this Power Edition model from MSI goes.

Package

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Looking at the box we get a good idea of some of the main features that are on offer here today. The big one with the Power Edition series is of course the Triple Over-Voltage feature that brings the ability to increase the voltage of the Core, Aux and memory which in turn should bring with it a stronger overclock compared to a video card that doesn't include this ability.

Along with that we've got the Military Class III components which bring Hi-c CAP, Super Ferrite Choke and Solid Capacitors. Finally the other big feature to the video card is the Twin Frozr IV cooler which we'll take a closer look at in a moment when we move onto the video card.

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As for the bundle we've got the normal line up of paperwork and the standard driver CD. Along with that we've got a dual Molex to 6-pin PCIe power connector, DVI to VGA connector and MiniDP to DisplayPort connector to round the bundle off. Overall we've got a nice bundle and the inclusion of the MiniDP to DP connector is a good inclusion that we continue to see most companies skip nowadays.

The Card and Specifications

The Card

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Pulling the video card out of the box we've got a TwinFrozr cooler that we're used to seeing with the black and blue color scheme. We've got two fans and behind that is a large heatsink that has a couple of heatpipes running through it.

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Taking a quick spin around the video card we've got a single 6-pin PCIe power connector at the back while closer to the front we've got a standard CrossFire connector which gives us the ability to run up to two of these video cards in CrossFire mode.

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Finishing up on the I/O side of things you can see we've got a Dual-Link DVI connector on the right with a HDMI connector next to that. Finally to round out the connectivity side of things we've got two Mini DisplayPort connectors. As mentioned on the large page, it's great to see that MSI have chosen to include a MiniDP to DP connector in the bundle.

Specifications

Being part of the Power Edition series means that the video card of course comes overclocked out of the box and looking below you can see we've got a 950MHz core and 4800MHz QDR memory clock on the 2GB of GDDR5. While the memory hasn't changed, this is a 90MHz increase on the default 860MHz core that we see on reference clocked cards.

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Being a Power Edition card, though, means that we're more interested in what we can do with the clock then looking at what MSI do with them. Looking above you can see our core ended up at 1250MHz, a massive 390MHz over the reference clocks while the 2GB of GDDR5 was pushed up to 6000MHz QDR, a massive 1200MHz QDR over the default clocks!

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.

As far as our testbed goes there's nothing out of the ordinary with the same X79 platform we've been using all year present.

Before we get into the performance side of things let's quickly cover the video cards that will be in our graphs today that will help give us a good idea of just how the HD 7850 Power Edition from MSI performs.

Alongside the older HD 6950 we've got reference clocked HD 7000 series video cards including the HD 7770, HD 7850, HD 7870, HD 7950 and HD 7970. The main video card we'll be comparing against today is of course going to be that reference clocked HD 7850 as we want to see what kind of extra performance the MSI overclock brings to the table.

Not to be left out we've also got some video cards from NVIDIA including the GTX 560 Ti, GTX 570 and GTX 580. When it comes to the 600 series, this mid $200 price bracket is left empty at the moment. I'm sure we'll see something from NVIDIA fill this area in the coming months, though.

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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Starting off with 3DMark 11 you can see some massive performance out of the HD 7850 Power Edition which puts it ahead of the HD 7950 in the performance preset and right on top of it under the higher resolution Extreme one.

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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Heaven also sees very strong performance with numbers that sit just behind the HD 7950 and well ahead of the HD 7870 at both resolutions. It's looking good for the new MSI HD 7850 Power Edition, but let's see how it goes when we get into some games.

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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Moving into H.A.W.X. 2 we can see the strong performance continues. In this case we've got performance which actually puts the HD 7850 Power Edition ahead of the high-end HD 7970 from AMD.

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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Mafia II continues the trend with some really strong performance and in this case we've got performance between the HD 7950 and HD 7970. The time we tend to find the HD 7850 Power Edition fall back is at the highest resolution as more pressure is applied to the memory bus.

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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Checking out the intensive Lost Planet 2 we can see that we're sitting just behind the HD 7950 across the board. That means we've got playable numbers at 1920 x 1200 and 1680 x 1050 while 2560 x 1600 are below what we would consider smoothly playable.

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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Across the board we can see performance ahead of the HD 7950 here; unfortunately the boost isn't enough to bring our 2560 x 1600 numbers up to a playable level. Fortunately though, 1920 x 1200 and 1680 x 1050 numbers look good.

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.

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Looking at Just Cause 2 performance we can see that we're actually ahead of the HD 7970 at 1920 x 1200 and 1680 x 1050. Unfortunately we fall behind at 2560 x 1600 where just an extra FPS would've put us into that 60 FPS area that we consider to offer a solid gaming experience.

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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Under Metro 2033 we can see performance that sits just behind the HD 7950. While we've got playable numbers at 1920 x 1200 and 1680 x 1050, you can see that we continue to struggle at 2560 x 1600 under these intensive benchmarks.

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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Looking at Dirt 3 we can see some fantastic gains against the reference clocked HD 7850, but the HD 7850 Power Edition just doesn't have the grunt to offer us playable FPS at the higher 2560 x 1600 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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Under Far Cry 2 we've got playable numbers across the board as you'd expect from the HD 7850 Power Edition. Strong gains again see it sit just ahead of the HD 7950 video card in this case.

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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Some fantastic gains are seen here as we see Mafia II move from an unplayable 55 FPS to a very playable 70 FPS. Aliens vs. Predator also sees some massive gains from 30 FPS to 46 FPS. Unfortunately we're below that playable number here, though.

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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With the increase in voltages across the board and a massive boost in clock speeds, the temperature of the MSI HD 7850 Power Edition continues to look extremely impressive.

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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Noise levels out of the video card are also very good sitting towards the middle of the pack. Considering the power we're getting out of the smaller HD 7850, these numbers are impressive.

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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Power draw is up as you'd expect, but at just over 400 watts at load, it isn't a number that you should be worried about. Any good quality 650 or above watt power supply isn't going to have an issue running this video card.

Final Thoughts

MSI's Radeon HD 7850 Power Edition doesn't disappoint! I'm not shocked by that, MSI honestly are one of the most consistent companies when it comes to producing quality video cards and the Power Edition series is another one of those lines that stands out against the competition in a big way.

Thanks to the ties they have with MSI Afterburner, it really opens up what they can do when it comes to overclocking. Series' like the Power Edition, HAWK and Lightning give MSI the ability to stand out from the competition.

I think one of the biggest highlights to these series, though, is that you don't need to have some insane cooling setup to make real use of them. The quality of the Twin Frozr cooler from MSI means that out of the box you're able to achieve clocks higher than competing brand models without doing anything more than load up MSI Afterburner.

On the bundle side of things we've got nothing too out of the ordinary. The inclusion of the MiniDP to DP connector is a really nice inclusion, though, especially when MSI have opted for a I/O setup that includes two MiniDP connectors on it.

The performance is what makes the MSI HD 7850 Power Edition really shine, though. The triple over-voltage feature really opens up the video card for higher clocks and you can see today we're quite often bouncing around performance that sees it fall in line with the HD 7900 series cards with it managing to even out perform the high-end Radeon HD 7970 at times. FPS at 1600 and 1920 is great, but you'll need to look for something with more grunt for gaming at 2560.

Like other Power Edition, HAWK and Lightning based cards, though, there's also this fun factor that's present. Knowing that you have more headroom when it comes to your core and memory clock really means that you get to have a good play with MSI Afterburner and your shiny new video card.

If you're looking for a video card that's going to come in under that $300 mark and you're happy to get down and dirty with the overclocking side yourself, the MSI HD 7850 Power Edition is going to be a video card you should be looking at without a doubt in my mind. The performance you're able to get out of it is amazing which makes for a really well valued video card that sees no negative points.

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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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