MSI Radeon HD 7790 1GB OC Overclocked Video Card Review

MSI Radeon HD 7790 1GB OC Overclocked Video Card Review

We check out another retail AMD Radeon HD 7790 1GB video card. This time it's from the folks at MSI and we overclock it.

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Wed, May 22 2013 12:01 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:31 PM CDT
Rating: 93%Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction and Package

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VIEW GALLERY - 33 IMAGES

The battle of the mid-range video card models from both NVIDIA and AMD has been a strong one. They've both come in at a similar price point; saying that, though, we know that the NVIDIA GTX 650 Ti Boost comes in slightly higher, but at the same time offers double the amount of memory with 2GB, and slightly more performance.

The AMD Radeon HD 7790 comes in at around $20 less, is a little bit slower and also comes with only half the memory. Testing of the Sapphire HD 7790 2GB OC the other day also showed us that doubling the memory really did nothing for overall performance (literally), especially when talking about a real-world playable difference.

The problem is that between the two video cards we have quite a major difference that separates them and for us it's probably what makes the decision to choose one model over the other. AMD have become very aggressive with game bundling over the last six months, and that hasn't just stopped with the high-end models, it's also carried down to the lower-end ones as well.

We'll talk about that all more a little bit later, though. For now we've got to take a closer look at the package of the MSI Radeon HD 7790 1GB OC which we're looking at today, before moving onto the card itself. Due to the fact that we've already looked at a couple of HD 7790's already, we'll today be firing up MSI Afterburner and checking out the overclocking on this particular model.

Once we've covered both the out of the box specifications and what we did on the overclocking side of things, we'll look at our testbed, cover the cards that you'll see in our graphs here today, and get stuck into the performance. As we mentioned, though, the first thing we need to do is see what's going on with the bundle.

Package

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Checking out the box you can see that the design isn't anything too fancy. Unlike the recent MSI GTX 650 Ti Boost 2GB we looked at, this card doesn't fall under the new gaming series that MSI recently created. Overall it's a fairly standard layout, though, with the main information on the front and the back of the box giving us a bit more detail.

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Moving inside the package you can see there's not a whole with just a Quick User Guide, driver CD and a DVI to VGA connector to round off the bundle.

The Card and Specifications

The Card

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You can see that MSI has opted for quite a large fan. Normally we see most companies opt for an 80mm fan, but looking above, you can see we're dealing with something a little larger here. In this case, MSI has gone down the path of a larger 100mm fan. This means that the fan can spin slower and push more air, which in turn means that it operates cooler, and with less noise. Along with the fan, though, you can see the large heatsink at the back and a pair of copper heat pipes.

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We've got a standard setup with a single 6-pin PCIe power connector located at the top towards the back. Staying across the top and moving closer to the front, you can see we've got a single CrossFire connector that allows us to run up to two of these video cards together.

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When it comes to connectivity, we've got the standard setup which means two Dual-Link DVI ports are included with one being DVI-D and the other DVI-I. Alongside those we've also got a HDMI port and DisplayPort to round things off.

Specifications

Like every other HD 7790 we've looked at in the past, the MSI offering comes overclocked out of the box. Looking below you can see out of the box the core comes in at 1050MHz, while the 1GB of GDDR5 carries a 6000MHz QDR memory clock.

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Looking above, though, you can see with the help of overclocking, we managed to push the core up to 1250MHz, while the 1GB of GDDR5 came in at 6500MHz QDR. This is a nice overclock and should yield some decent performance when we start testing it over the next pages.

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 fairly typical line up of video cards here today. From the AMD side we've of course got the overclocked MSI HD 7790 1GB. Along with that we've got the pre OC Sapphire HD 7790's, one being the 1GB model and the other being the 2GB model, which we reviewed recently.

As for the NVIDIA side we've got the reference GTX 650 Ti Boost 2GB along with pre-overclocked versions from both Palit and EVGA. Along with those GTX 650 Ti Boost offerings, we've also got the 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 you can see we've got some great performance out of the box. At the Performance preset you can see this overclocked MSI offering manages to outperform the other cards here, minus the more expensive GTX 660. The Extreme preset we see the card comes out ahead of the other HD 7790's, but falls behind the GTX 650 Ti Boost offerings.

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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As you'd expect, the NVIDIA offerings perform stronger under the tessellation heavy Heaven benchmark. Performance on the MSI offering against the other HD 7790's, though, looks good.

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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Overclocking under this title does little to performance on the HD 7790 with very little change being seen when comparing the three cards. The GTX 650 Ti Boost on the other hand manages to perform not only a bit faster, but also offers us a bit of a boost when it comes to overclocking.

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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Across the board you can see the overclock gives us a slight boost in performance. Unfortunately you can see across the board we're still below the 60 FPS number that we need for the game to be playable.

The GTX 650 Ti Boost on the other hand manages to achieve above that at both 1680 x 1050 and 1920 x 1200.

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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Just Cause 2 performance looks good. We've got a nice bump in performance, and solid numbers are being seen 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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Looking at F1 2012, you can see the performance mirrors that of Just Cause 2. We've got a slightly boost from the overclock at all resolutions and playable numbers at both 1920 x 1200 and 1680 x 1050.

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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Overclocking under Metro 2033 gives us a couple of FPS boost across the board. The most helpful comes at the 1680 x 1050 as we squeeze a bit more into the playable 60 FPS range.

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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Looking at Dirt Showdown performance you can see that the overclock helps boost performance from under 60 FPS to over it. This is exactly what we like to see when overclocking. Outside of the GTX 660, it's also the only video card that's able to break the 60 FPS number.

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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Nexuiz performance is a little weird when it comes to overclocking on AMD Radeon video cards. Performance goes a little down in some scenarios; it's not the biggest issue here, though, as performance under Nexuiz is so poor across the board on all the setups we have here anyway, so it doesn't matter.

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 across the board sees a bit of a boost, but you can see at all resolutions, we're below the 60 FPS number we always aim for to provide a solid gaming experience. The GTX 650 Ti Boost 2GB video cards on the other hand are in the 60 FPS realm at 1680 x 1050.

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 performance looks good at 1920 x 1200 and 1680 x 1050 with some decent numbers being seen alongside a slight boost in performance from the overclock. While we also see a bit of a jump at 2560 x 1600, the numbers are too low in this scenario for good gameplay.

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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Across the board we see a bit of a boost in performance, but as you'd expect, we've got strong numbers at all resolutions.

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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Hitman Absolution performance at 1680 x 1050 is passable thanks to the 38 FPS minimum - we'd prefer an extra couple of FPS in the average department, though. Above that the numbers are a little too low. As for overclocking, though, it's a little weird. While the overall average gets a bit of a boost, the minimum takes a bit of a hit.

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 performance across the board is just too low, even with the slight boost in overclocking performance.

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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Overclocking does little here when it comes to adding more performance on the AMD video cards. Overall, though, you can again see that the numbers are just too low.

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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Far Cry 2 sees a little bit of movement, but you can see, FPS still isn't where it needs to be here.

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While you can see a bit of positive moment across the board, as soon as we move into these more intensive games, AA and AF enabled graphics settings just aren't an option.

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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Even with a decent overclock, you can see that the fan is clearly doing a good job, with this being the coolest running HD 7790 video card that we've looked at so far.

The decision to go for the larger 100mm fan was clearly a good one by MSI.

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 also look good sitting in the bottom half of the graph. MSI has done a good job with cooling this video card.

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 overclock, the MSI HD 7790 OC sits very much towards the bottom of the pack, with a couple of other HD 7790's we've looked at recently.

Pricing, Availability and Final Thoughts

At the time of writing you can pick up the MSI HD 7790 1GB OC over at Newegg for a competitive $139.99, after a $10.00 rebate. What makes this video card so much more appealing over the NVIDIA competition is the bundle that's on offer thanks to AMD. While not really seen here, you can see over at Newegg that it comes with not only a copy of BioShock Infinity, but also a copy of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. If that wasn't enough to wet the taste buds, MSI have also thrown a copy of 3DMark 11 into the mix for you as well.

Outside of the bundle, though, the other big highlight is the inclusion of the 100mm cooling fan. Most companies opt for an 80mm fan or a dual fan setup. In this case, MSI decided to just choose a larger single fan, and the results are extremely strong, as you saw in our graphs today.

Even when it comes to the video card being overclocked, temperature levels are the best out of the HD 7790 video cards we've tested so far, and noise levels are also extremely strong, sitting in the bottom half of the pack.

Performance on a whole is as you'd expect - overclocking yields, for the most part, a slight boost in FPS numbers, across the board. It does sit behind the GTX 650 Ti Boost 2GB in most scenarios. For the most part you'd argue that the extra $25 associated with the NVIDIA option is probably worth it. If you own both of the games that come in the MSI bundle, then it probably is.

If you don't own the games, though, then the MSI / AMD option has a huge amount of appeal. The added games into the mix add a huge amount of value. The thing is, though, you can't just talk about the added value from the perspective of how much the game costs, because we can do that for any game. The difference here is that you're talking about two, hot gaming titles. The effort AMD has gone to with these bundles is what helps them truly stand out from the competition at the moment in my opinion.

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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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