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Sapphire Radeon HD 7790 1GB Dual-X OC Video Card Review

Sapphire Radeon HD 7790 1GB Dual-X OC Video Card Review

AMD has released a new model and we see just what the Radeon HD 7790 is about with the Dual-X OC model from Sapphire.

@ShawnBakerTW
Shawn Baker
Published Fri, Mar 22 2013 2:45 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:31 PM CDT
Rating: 92%Manufacturer: Sapphire

Introduction and Package

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VIEW GALLERY - 32 IMAGES

At the start of this year / end of last year we saw the release of the HD 7870 XT, a Tahiti LE based video card with PowerColor showing it off in the form of the HD 7870 Myst Edition and Sapphire showing it off in the form of the HD 7870 XT. Both were really great video cards and a good addition to a very strong line up from AMD as well.

The middle of last year also see the HD 7000 series grow with a new higher end version of the HD 7970 in the form of the GHz Edition model which helped AMD secure the top spot for single GPU performance. Of course we know recently that spot has been taken back by NVIDIA with the release of the GEFORCE TITAN, a model that we unfortunately haven't had the pleasure in testing, but hope that we will soon.

Today, though, we see the growth of the HD 7000 series even further, a series that we really thought would be coming to an end as it hits being over a year old now. AMD want to continue to push more and more life out of the series, though, and that comes today with the release of a new mid-range card. The HD 7790 that's been released today sits as you'd expect between the HD 7770 and HD 7850.

While we've got a couple on route, today we'll be looking at the first one which arrived, and that was a video card from Sapphire. The HD 7790 1GB Dual-X OC is not only the first HD 7790 we're looking at, but also the first card that's going to be tested in our latest benchmarking changes which we'll cover a little later on.

For now there's a few things we need to do and that starts off with us looking at the package of the model. Once we've done that we'll take the time to look at the card along with a closer look at the specifications which will cover the main changes against the HD 7770. Finally it's then onto the test system setup and straight into the performance side of things.

Package

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The front of the box gives us the model. Some of the main highlights here include the fact the card is overclocked and carries with it the Dual-X fan. The back of the box gives us some AMD specific features like 28nm architecture, GDDR5, EyeFinity and CrossFireX support to name a few of the main ones.

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Moving inside the box and looking at the bundle it's a very typical mid-range Sapphire bundle. We've got the standard line up of paperwork alongside a driver CD. You can also see the standard CrossFire bridge, DVI to VGA connector, Molex to 6-pin PCIe power connector and a HDMI cable to round everything off.

The Card and Specifications

The Card

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Checking out the Sapphire HD 7790 Dual-X OC you can see it's of course a dual fan card as you'd expect by the model name. Overall, though, it's a good looking card with the black and silver setup. What we really love, though, is the matte black PCB which would go fantastic with a matte black GIGABYTE motherboard. As for the heatsink setup you can see it's pretty strong with the copper heatpipes running through the middle to pull hot air away from the GPU.

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Moving across the top you can see just a single 6-pin PCIe power connector is needed for power while closer to the front we have just a single CrossFire connector giving us the ability to run two of these cards in CrossFire.

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Looking at the connectivity side of things you can see two DVI ports alongside a HDMI and full size DisplayPort connector. You can see a small vent setup, but nothing too major due to the larger amount of connectors that are offered here.

Specifications

Getting onto the specification side of things we can see some of the main specs below. We'll cover it in a bit more detail here, though, as we look at some of the other key areas. Compared to the HD 7770 we see an increase in stream processors from 640 to 896. At stock both cards carry with it a default 1000MHz core clock and 1GB of GDDR5 on a 128-bit memory bus remains the same. Due to an increase in memory speed, though, the memory bandwidth has increased from up from 72GB/s to 96GB/s. Average power draw on the model has also slightly increased from 80w to 85w.

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Looking above you can see that Sapphire has got the core coming in at 1075MHz which is 75MHz up on the reference speed. The 1GB of GDDR5 has been increased from the default 6000MHz QDR to 6400MHz QDR, as you can see above.

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.

Alongside the Sapphire HD 7790 Dual-X OC we've got the HIS HD 7750 IceQ X Turbo, the HIS HD 7770 iCooler overclocked, the HIS HD 7850 IceQ and the MSI GTX 660 HAWK. Unfortunately our collection of NVIDIA cards is a little limited for reasons no doubt known. That should be changing in the coming months, though, as we start to work closer with NVIDIA.

One more thing before we get into the performance side of things - below you'll see we've added a new section in regards to some of our graphs being incomplete. In an effort to expand our benchmark line up we're now constantly evaluating the games we use for testing. This is the first review we've done this and today you'll see the inclusion of both Tomb Raider and Hitman Absolution.

Both games only have results for the Sapphire HD 7790 Dual-X OC, but as the summary below mentions, more and more cards will be added in the coming weeks, as we test more and more video cards.

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.

Why are some graphs incomplete?

Adding new game benchmarks is a long, tedious and time consuming task as every video card has to be re-tested in those new benchmarks. Because of that reason we have always just evaluated our benchmark line up every six months. To stay up to date and current with the latest benchmarks and games available, we've changed our approach to adding new benchmarks.

Our benchmark line up will progress and be updated as newer more intensive games with benchmarks comes to light. While this will mean that initially you may only see a single video card in those particular graphs, as the weeks go on and we test more and more video cards, the results will grow quickly. This will help keep our benchmark line up as up to date as possible as we introduce and remove games on a constant basis.

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 out with 3DMark 11 we get a good idea with how the new HD 7790 sits compared to the other models. Let's dive in a little deeper, though, to see just what exactly we're dealing with here today.

Benchmarks - Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Version and / or Patch Used: 3

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 gives us a great idea of how the new model compares to the HD 7750 with double the performance being seen at both resolutions. Compared to the HD 7770 we can see gains of around 30% at the highest resolution.

Benchmarks - Phantasy Star Online 2

Phantasy Star Online 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.sega.com/?t=EnglishUSA

Product Homepage: http://www.pso2.com/us/html/index.html

Play Phantasy Star Online 2 and experience revolutionary combat in an action-driven, free-to-play multiplayer online RPG from SEGA. Take a journey into an immersive sci-fi fantasy narrative and explore mysterious worlds to unravel their secrets. Join fellow adventurers and fight against the legions of darkness to banish them from the galaxy.

Score explanation: Less than 2000: Please adjust your game settings because the processing load is quite heavy.

2000 through 5000: The game runs fine at the setting, if you have room, you can adjust some settings.

5001+: The game works wonderfully at this setting.

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Checking out PSO2 we can see the card just sneaks into the "game runs fine" area. Of course it's important to realize that we test PSO2 at 2560 x 1600 so there's plenty of room to move.

Benchmarks - Lost Planet 2

Lost Planet 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark

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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While older Lost Planet 2 continues to be very intensive due to the heavy focus on tessellation. You can see we struggle to hit 60 FPS at all resolutions, but we're not too far away from it at 1680 x 1050. Within game settings maxed out we've got some room to move and bring those numbers up.

Benchmarks - Just Cause 2

Just Cause 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

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 you can see the HD 7750 doesn't offer us playable numbers at any resolution while the HD 7770 manages to sneak in just over 60 FPS at 1680 x 1050. As for the HD 7790, you can see we manage to get playable numbers at both 1680 x 1050 and 1920 x 1200.

Benchmarks - F1 2012

F1 2012

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

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

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

In F1 2012 players will feel the unparalleled thrill of becoming a FORMULA ONE driver with a host of new features, wide-ranging technical and gameplay advancements and extensive competitive and co-operative multiplayer components. F1 2012 will feature all of the official teams, drivers and circuits from the 2012 FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, including the debut of the 2012 FORMULA 1 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX at Austin, Texas and the return of Germany's famous Hockenheim circuit to the calendar.

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F1 2012 numbers are a repeat of what we just saw in Just Cause 2. The HD 7750 doesn't offer playable numbers at any resolution while the HD 7770 manages to sneak in playable number at 1680 x 1050. The HD 7790 on the other hand manages to give us playable numbers at both 1680 x 1050 and 1920 x 1200.

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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Getting into Metro 2033 performance you can see we just sneak past the 60 FPS barrier at the lowest resolution. Past that we don't have playable numbers.

Benchmarks - Dirt Showdown

Dirt Showdown

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

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

Product Homepage: http://www.codemasters.com/uk/dirtshowdown/360/

DiRT Showdown is the new arcade racing game from the team that brought you the award-winning DiRT series, uncaged in 2012. Pick up and play controls combine with electrifying events, frenzied crowds and stunning graphics to deliver high octane, dive in and drive thrills from event one.

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Across the board you can see the new HD 7790 falls shy of that 60 FPS number. The good news is we're only 2 FPS away from it at 1680 x 1050 and with our in-game details maxed out, we've got plenty of headroom to move the settings.

Benchmarks - Nexuiz

Nexuiz

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.alientrap.org/

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

Nexuiz is an Arena First Person shooter coming soon to consoles. Nexuiz is fast paced with extremely competitive game play. IllFonic brings Alientrap Software's Nexuiz to next-gen gaming consoles around the world while staying true to the game play refined over the years through development. IllFonic introduces a new Victorian influenced art style that is simultaneously futuristic and sophisticated. Nexuiz for consoles is powered by CryENGINE 3.

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It comes as no surprise that across the board the performance is just unplayable under Nexuiz.

Benchmarks - Sniper Elite V2

Sniper Elite V2

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

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

Product Homepage: http://sniperelitev2.com/us/age.html

Sniper Elite V2 features detailed sniping simulation with advanced ballistics, taking into account gravity, wind, velocity, bullet penetration, aim stability and more. Guaranteed to provide players with the most realistic simulation of military sharpshooting yet available.

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Sniper Elite V2 falls shy of the 60 FPS number at every resolution. With some adjustments in the settings we should be able to get the 1680 x 1050 numbers up, though, to a playable level.

Benchmarks - Sleeping Dogs

Sleeping Dogs

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://eu.square-enix.com/en

Product Homepage: http://www.sleepingdogs.net/

The core gameplay of Sleeping Dogs consists of giving the player an open world environment in which to move around freely. Sleeping Dogs is played as an over-the-shoulder, third-person perspective action-adventure game with role-playing elements. The player controls Wei Shen, a Chinese-American police officer, as he goes undercover to infiltrate the Sun On Yee Triad organization. On foot, the player character has the ability to walk, run, jump, climb over obstacles and swim, as well as use weapons and martial arts in combat. Players also drive a variety of vehicles including cars, boats, and motorcycles.

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Sleeping Dogs numbers look good and you can see we've got playable numbers at 1920 x 1200 and 1680 x 1050. It's no surprise that we're not able to get playable numbers 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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As you'd probably expect we've got playable numbers across the board under Far Cry 2.

Benchmarks - Hitman Absolution

Hitman Absolution

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.ioi.dk/

Product Homepage: http://hitman.com/

Hitman: Absolution is an action-adventure stealth game developed by IO Interactive and published by Square Enix. It is the fifth entry in the Hitman game series, and runs on IO Interactive's proprietary Glacier 2 game engine. Before release, the developers stated that Absolution would be easier to play and more accessible, while still retaining hardcore aspects of the franchise. The game was released on 20 November 2012, which is in the 47th week of the year (in reference to the protagonist, Agent 47).

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Under Hitman we've got the opportunity to see both the average and the minimum. While we're below the 60 FPS average we like to see, we're above 30 FPS minimum at both 1680 x 1050 and 1920 x 1200. We'd say you'd have a decent experience at 1680 x 1050, but 1920 x 1200 might be pushing it slightly.

Benchmarks - Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

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

Product Homepage: http://www.tombraider.com/us/base/agegate?refer=184&

Tomb Raider is an action-adventure platform video game. Published by Square Enix, Tomb Raider is the fifth title developed by Crystal Dynamics in the Tomb Raider franchise. As the first entry in a new Tomb Raider continuity, the game is a reboot that emphasizes the reconstructed origins of the culturally influential lead character Lara Croft. Tomb Raider was released on 5 March 2013 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows to universal critical acclaim.

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Looking at another one of our new benchmarks you can see the new Tomb Raider is exceptionally intensive and we've got unplayable numbers across the board. You'd really need to adjust the settings to bring those numbers up.

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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With a 29 FPS minimum and a 57 FPS average at 1920 x 1200 you could say we'd just sneak in at playable here. The slightest change would bring us over the 30 / 60 setup we want.

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As for the rest of our AA and AF tests you can see it's really not an option on the new HD 7790.

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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Temperature numbers look good as we're sitting towards the bottom of the pack - always a good place to be in this test.

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 are fantastic and you can see we're sitting at the very bottom of the pack here.

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 are also very strong sitting very close to the bottom.

Pricing, Availability and Final Thoughts

With a suggested retail price of $149 the AMD Radeon HD 7790 is going to hit at an excellent price point. Of course this priced is based on a reference card, for the option from Sapphire, you're probably looking at an extra $10 - $15. This is a price increase that we'd say is worth it due to the overclock, but more so the quality of the cooler, which performs extremely well.

As for availability we're still a few weeks out from the model officially hitting with it expected to show up in the first week of April. It continues to look like the HD 7000 series is going to be around for a while longer and AMD have room to create a HD 7890 now if they wanted along with a HD 7990.

If AMD really wanted to create a new single GPU card to take on the Titan they could release a HD 7990 and bring in a dual GPU card under a name like HD 7900 X or HD 7990 X2 to different it from the single GPU offerings.

Moving away from that, though, and instead focusing again on the HD 7790, we've got a strong model that as we just mentioned above is going to hit at a strong price point. You can see it plays well with newer games like Sleeping Dogs and Hitman Absolution at 1680 x 1050 and 1920 x 1200 becomes an option under some games.

I think something that's going to be interesting is CrossFire performance which will be something we look soon. At $300 for a pair you could end up with quite a nice little dual GPU powerhouse for your rig at an excellent price point.

Of course you're probably always going to prefer to have something higher end, but if you're looking for a video card and your budget is around that mid $100 mark, the HD 7790 is looking to be a great option, and Sapphire has only worked to make it better. Of course we'll have to see how NVIDIA respond.

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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.

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

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