XFX Radeon HD 7850 Black Edition 2GB Video Card Review

Part of the much loved Black Edition series from XFX, we see what has been done with the AMD Radeon HD 7850 GPU.

@TweakTown
Published Fri, Jun 15 2012 10:07 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:01 PM CST
Rating: 93%Manufacturer: XFX

Introduction and Package

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With Computex Taipei 2012 over it's time to get back into the swing of things and the first item that's getting on this train comes from XFX and is part of the popular Black Edition video card series, a series that we've really begun to love since we started looking at a number of HD 7000 based video cards under the name.

Today the exact video card we're looking at is the XFX HD 7850 Black Edition. AMD's Radeon HD 7850 is of course one of those models that we've really praised since its introduction. The continued fact that NVIDIA continue to offer nothing in this price range under the new GEFORCE 600 series name also means it's given AMD a chance to run with it.

As always, though, there's a number of things we need to do before we can check out the performance of the HD 7850 Black Edition from XFX and the first thing is we need to know what's going on with the bundle. Once we've done that we'll move onto the video card itself and see what kind of setup this Black Edition model offers.

Before we get into the testbed and performance side of things we need to quickly take a look at the specifications. Being part of the Black Edition series means it comes overclocked out of the box. We need to find out just what kind of overclock is on offer, though. So with all that said let's get into the package side of things.

Package

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Looking at the box you can see we've got the same kind of design that we've seen out of other Black Edition based video cards. With the TweakTown award logo sitting at the top of the box and the main focus being on the Double D or Double Dissipation cooler that we've seen XFX use for a while now.

We can see that the cooler offers almost three times the airflow compared to a single fan one and helps the card run both quieter and cooler. The Double D cooler hasn't let us down so far so we'll find out just what it's capable off a little later on.

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Opening up the box we can see the same bundle we've seen from other XFX cards which include a bucketload of paperwork and a "Do Not Disturb I'm Gaming" sign that can be hung off your door. Along with the driver CD, we've also got a CrossFire bridge and Black Edition case sticker, which looks awesome. A solid package.

The Card and Specifications

The Card

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Looking straight on with the video card it's not all that different to other Black Edition HD 7000 series video cards we've seen in the past due to that Double D cooler being present and taking up majority of the PCB.

If we look closely we can see a large heatsink sitting behind the two fans and across the top you can see the copper heatpipes that are going to make sure the video card runs as cool as possible.

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A quick spin around finds two dual 6-pin PCIe power connectors at the back while closer to the front you can see we've got a single CrossFire connector which gives us the ability to run up to two of these video cards together.

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Finally we finish with the I/O side of things and you can see we've got a to DVI connectors in the form of a Single-Link one and Dual-Link one. Along with that we've also got a full size HDMI port and two Mini DisplayPort connectors to round off the connectivity side of things.

Specifications

As we've mentioned already, being part of the Black Edition series means that this model is going to carry an overclock out of the box and looking below you can see that the 975MHz core is a strong overclock when compared to the stock 860MHz clock that we see on reference versions of the Radeon HD 7850.

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The good news is that XFX has also taken the time to increase the speed of the 2GB of GDDR5 memory. We can see that comes in at 1250MHz or 5000MHz QDR which is slightly up on the stock 4800MHz QDR clock.

Overall this is a nice boost in clock speeds and should yield some strong performance over a reference clocked version.

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 always our testbed for our video card testing hasn't changed with the same Ivy Bridge platform being used. Before we get into the performance, though, let's just quickly cover the video cards that will be in our graphs here today.

We've of course got the XFX HD 7850 Black Edition card alongside a HD 6950, HD 7770, HD 7850, HD 7870, HD 7950 and HD 7970. Of course the main video card we want to concentrate on at the moment is the reference clocked HD 7850.

Along with the AMD cards, though, we've also got a couple of NVIDIA ones to round out the lineup including a GTX 560, GTX 570 and GTX 580.

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 we can see a really nice boost in performance over the reference clocked video card which sees the numbers come closer to the more expensive HD 7870.

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 again see a really nice boost in performance and you can see in this instance we're really close to the HD 7870 at both resolutions.

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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Looking at H.A.W.X. 2 performance we can see gains of about 10% at the highest resolution when compared to the reference clocked version of the video card.

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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Across the board we can see a nice little gain come from the XFX video card.

Unfortunately at the highest resolution where we need it the most we've only got a single FPS extra present which means we're still sitting just below that 60 FPS number we aim for to provide a solid gaming experience.

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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Moving into Lost Planet 2 we can see some nice gains where the extra MHz helps push our 1680 x 1050 numbers over 60 FPS making the game playable. 1920 x 1200 also sees a really nice boost in performance as well, but we fall just three FPS shy of that 60 FPS mark.

The good news is that it would only take a minor detail drop for the game to be playable at this resolution. Of course just falling shy at 1920 x 1200 means that 2560 x 1600 isn't an option.

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 nice performance at 1680 x 1050, but as you move up in the resolution table, performance drops significantly.

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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Just Cause 2 sees a nice bump in performance and we've got strong numbers at 1680 x 1050 and 1920 x 1200. As we move to 2560 x 1600 we see a small bump, but overall we're still a good way away from that 60 FPS average we need at the highest resolution for a smooth 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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Metro 2033 performance looks great and we see the performance increase helps move our 1920 x 1200 numbers from below 60 FPS to over 60 FPS. At 1680 x 1050 you can see our numbers look good while we also see a gain at 2560 x 1600, but unfortunately our numbers are too low to be playable at this high screen resolution.

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 numbers we again see the overclock come in extremely handy as our 1920 x 1200 resolution moves from below 60 FPS to over 60 FPS again. This is the kind of gains we want to see when it comes to overclocking.

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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As you'd expect Far Cry 2 numbers are strong across the board and compared to the reference version of the video card we see gains at all resolutions.

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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Mafia II sees a slight boost in performance as we move from 55 FPS to 57 FPS. We're with in throwing distance of that 60 FPS number, but still just shy. Of course we'd only need a minor detail change to bring that number up.

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Alien vs. Predator sees a nice performance increase, but the intensity of the game means that the HD 7850 just isn't an option for gaming at these kinds of settings.

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Looking at something a little less intensive we can see that Far Cry 2 is playable with AA and AF on with a 44 FPS minimum.

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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Checking out the temperature numbers they're looking good sitting in the middle of the pack.

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 look good on the XFX offering which doesn't come as a surprise as the Double D cooler has proven itself a couple of times already now in some of our past reviews.

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 numbers look awesome just as the HD 7850 sits at the bottom of the pack with the XFX offering drawing only slightly more than the reference version of the video card at load settings.

Final Thoughts

We've always been happy with the Black Edition series from XFX and combining our love for the series with our love for the AMD Radeon HD 7850, a model that comes in at an excellent price point and offers great performance, we end up with a model that looks really strong.

XFX has done a really good job here, the Double D cooler has proven itself again with some strong performance, we've got good cooling numbers coming from the core and noise levels also are very good.

Outside of the cooler, though, one of the main standout features for the video card is the strong overclock that XFX is offering us out of the box. Going through our benchmarks we could see at times the overclock was enough to push us from unplayable to playable numbers. This is exactly what we love to see when it comes to overclocking.

Sure, it's nice to see our numbers move from 80 FPS to 90 FPS for example, but when we can move from under 60 FPS to over 60 FPS or low 60 FPS numbers to higher ones, we've got a performance difference that really changes your gaming experience making it overall more enjoyable and playable.

If you're looking for a video card under the $300 mark, the AMD Radeon HD 7850 is a really good option and if you're looking for something that moves away from the reference cooler and clocks well, the Black Edition version we've got here from XFX is a really good option you should consider.

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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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