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Sapphire Radeon HD 7790 2GB OC Edition Video Card Review

Sapphire Radeon HD 7790 2GB OC Edition Video Card Review

Sapphire doubles the memory on the Radeon HD 7790 to 2GB and we find out if it makes any difference in our gaming tests.

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Mon, May 13 2013 11:14 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:31 PM CDT
Rating: 86%Manufacturer: Sapphire

Introduction and Package

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VIEW GALLERY - 33 IMAGES

One of the main differences between the slew of GTX 650 Ti Boost and the HD 7790 video cards we've received is the amount of memory that is included onboard. While AMD has opted to push the 1GB model, NVIDIA opted for 2GB. The higher cost associated with the GTX 650 Ti Boost seems to be more due to the fact it carries with it twice as much memory when compared to its new AMD competitor.

With the model for the most part being consistently faster than the AMD option, we wondered if the 2GB version of the HD 7790 would help close the gap. We're also hoping to get the chance to test the 1GB version of the GTX 650 Ti Boost in the coming weeks.

If history tells us anything, though, doubling the memory on a mid-range video card like the HD 7790 should have little effect on overall gaming performance. The same should go for halving the memory on the GTX 650 Ti Boost to just 1GB. With the help of Sapphire, we're going to be able to get the chance to see just what doubling the amount of memory does on the HD 7790.

While some of video cards we've looked recently haven't come with a package, the Sapphire HD 7790 2GB OC does. From here we'll take the time to look at the box to see what's going on with it and the contents, after that we'll move onto the card itself, take a quick look at the specifications, go over our testbed and the cards you'll see in our graphs today, before finally getting into the performance.

Package

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Having a look at the overall box design you can see it's fairly typical for Sapphire with the woman on the front and the main highlights including model, amount of memory and the fact that we're dealing with an OC Edition card.

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Moving inside the box we've got a pretty typical line up from Sapphire with the normal paperwork, driver CD, CrossFire bridge, DVI to VGA connector, Molex to 6-pin PCIe convertor and a full length HDMI cable.

The Card and Specifications

The Card

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Checking out the Sapphire HD 7790 2GB the first thing that comes to mind is just how sexy it looks. Alongside a new shroud design, which looks awesome, the black PCB looks fantastic too. You can see a large fan sitting in the middle and a couple heat pipes near the top.

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You can see the standard 6-pin PCIe power connector at the back. Here, though, you also get to see the aggressive look of the shroud. Closer to the front you can see the typical CrossFire bridge that gives the ability to run two of these cards in CrossFire.

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When it comes to the I/O, we've got two Dual-Link DVI ports - one DVI-D and the other DVI-I. We've also got the typical HDMI port alongside a DisplayPort.

Specifications

As we mentioned earlier, the video card we're looking at today is an OC Edition model. Out of the box the standard HD 7790 comes with a 1000MHz core, while the 1GB or 2GB of GDDR5 comes in at an even 6000MHz QDR.

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Looking above you can see that Sapphire pushed the core up to 1050MHz, while the 2GB of GDDR5 memory is pushed slightly to 6400MHz QDR.

This isn't a bad overclock and falls in line with most other HD 7790s we've looked at recently. To date we're still yet to test a reference clocked HD 7790 since most companies are releasing overclocked models straight out of the gate.

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.

We've got a number of video cards in our graphs today, but the main one we're going to be looking at is of course the performance of this 2GB model against the 1GB version.

The clock speeds of the two cards do have to be noted, though. The 2GB card as we mentioned comes in with a 1050MHz core and a 6400MHz QDR memory clock. The 1GB version on the other hand comes with a slightly elevated 1075MHz core - the memory is clocked the same at 6400MHz QDR.

A 25MHz difference in core clock is going to make very little difference to performance. It's of course something that we have to clearly mention - if the extra memory is going to really help, though, the extra 25MHz on the core will be negated easily.

Alongside these two others included are the HIS HD 7750 IceQ X Turbo, HIS HD 7770 iCooler overclocked to over 1100MHz on the core, along with a couple of NVIDIA cards including the reference GTX 650 Ti 2GB Boost, the pre-overclocked Palit GTX 650 Ti Boost and the MSI GTX 660 Hawk 2GB.

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 off with 3DMark 11 we can see that the models aren't separated at all. The higher Extreme preset where we thought we might see a little bit of change shows nothing. Hopefully this isn't a trend that continues.

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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Moving into Heaven performance we can again see that there's really no difference between the two models - hopefully we start to see something when we get into the gaming side of things over the next bunch of pages.

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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Getting into the gaming side of things we start with PSO2 and you can see again there's no difference between the two setups.

The slightly elevated score on the 1GB model is due to the core clock difference.

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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Getting into something a bit more intensive like Lost Planet 2 I was hoping that we'd see the extra memory come in handy. But, as you can see above, there continues to be no difference (or very little) seen between the two HD 7790's for the most part.

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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Again we see that there's no difference between the two models with the numbers being almost identical at all resolutions.

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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It clearly seems that the trend is going to be that no difference will be seen between the two models.

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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Looking at another intensive engine, we see that the extra memory again really does nothing for extra performance.

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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Dirt Showdown seems to benefit from the overclock slightly more as we see the 1GB model sit a little bit ahead at the higher resolution.

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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If anything was going to make use of the extra memory available it was going to be Nexuiz, but you can see across the board, there's just nothing.

We know that the extra memory wouldn't move it from unplayable to playable just because of the sheer intensity of the game, but we thought that it might see a little bit of a bump to let us know that the extra memory is coming in handy at least some.

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 continues the trend of performance that's very similar between both the 1GB and 2GB cards at all resolutions.

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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Again it's safe to say that the doubling the memory makes no difference to performance with the numbers being very similar across the board.

The 1GB model comes out just ahead, which is due to the slight bump in the core clock.

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 as you'd expect also doesn't make use of the extra memory that's on offer. Due to the lower intensity of the game, though, this was never a surprise.

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 I/O Interactive and published by Square Enix. It is the fifth entry in the Hitman game series, and runs on I/O 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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Checking out one of our newer games you can see that Hitman Absolution shows no difference between the cards.

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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Tomb Raider is actually up across the board in all areas. The increase in this situation is really nice, but the problem is overall the numbers are just too low at all resolutions to be able to provide a solid gaming experience anyway.

Benchmarks - BioShock Infinite

BioShock Infinite

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://irrationalgames.com/

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

BioShock Infinite is a first-person shooter video game and the third installment in the BioShock series. Previously known as "Project Icarus", it is being developed by Irrational Games and was released worldwide on the Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 platforms on March 26, 2013. BioShock Infinite is not part of the storyline of previous BioShock games but features similar gameplay concepts and themes.

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We added BioShock Infinite into our testing suite after the HD 7790 1GB, so we can't compare it. Overall, though, you can see the numbers are too low at all resolutions, just like the GTX 650 Ti 2GB Boost.

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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Turning on AA and AF in Far Cry 2 shows again the two HD 7790's perform almost identical to each other with no change being seen. Stop the pain already!

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You can see under Sleeping Dogs and Metro 2033 the gains that the 2GB model offer at the highest resolutions are massive. Clearly these are settings that's maxing out the memory on the card.

Nonetheless, though, the performance is still just way too low for a good gaming experience.

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, you can see we're sitting in the middle of the pack. The load number comes in at the same point we see the Palit GTX 650 Ti Boost come in at.

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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While a little warmer, the noise levels on the card are amazing. You can see we're sitting right at the bottom of the graph here with only one card coming in below it.

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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Even with the extra memory, you can see power draw on the model remains low in both the idle and load department.

Pricing, Availability and Final Thoughts

Coming in at $169.99 at the time of writing, the 2GB variant of the HD 7790 from Sapphire comes in at the same price point of the GTX 650 Ti Boost 2GB. With the NVIDIA options being generally the faster option, we'd really struggle to recommend this video card for this price point.

It's not a bad video card by any means. The performance of it is ultimately what you'd expect from an FPS standpoint. The cooler is fantastic as well - it looks great against the black PCB and just overall looks extremely aggressive. Outside of the aesthetics of the cooler, though, the performance is really strong. You can see looking at the numbers Sapphire has opted for a profile that makes it run a little warmer. By doing so, though, they've created something that runs extremely quiet, which is fantastic.

While it's not a video card we'd recommend as we feel you'd be better off spending this money on either the GTX 650 Ti Boost 2GB or save a few dollars and buy the 1GB version, we know that people will still buy the model, as they just want a video card that has the extra memory.

We can see that under extremely intensive areas, the extra memory can provide a strong boost in performance. The problem is that under Metro 2033 with AA and AF on, while moving 6 FPS average to a 21 FPS average sounds fantastic, it ultimately has no impact on real-world performance. While the 300% performance increase sounds amazing, 21 FPS as an average remains way too low to be playable and provide a good gaming experience.

This is overall a nice video card despite everything said, but if you want this cooler, we'd recommend you just save the $10 price difference between the 2GB and 1GB models, and go buy yourself a beer or something. If you're not fussed about the cooler, then we'd highly recommend the Sapphire HD 7790 1GB Dual-X OC video card, which can be had for as cheap as $134.99 after rebate at the time of writing, which is really quite a steal.

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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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