Sapphire HD7850 Overclock Edition Review

We have been hard at work for the last week reviewing many new 7000 series cards from AMD’s leading partners. In this review today we are looking at the new Sapphire HD7850 Overclock Edition which features a custom cooling solution and out of the box clock speed enhancements.
Sapphire are AMD’s largest and longest standing partner and their custom cooling solutions have been leading the way in the last year. We reviewed the HD7850 reference card on launch day and noted that it ran cool and quiet, so we have high expectations that this custom Sapphire card will improve dramatically on the reference design.


Product AMD HD7970 AMD HD7950 AMD HD7870
Sapphire HD7850 OC
Core Clock speed 925mhz 800mhz 1000mhz 860mhz (920mhz)
Transistors 4.31 billion 4.31 billion 2.8 billion 2.8 billion
Stream Processors 2,048 1,792 1,280 1,024
Compute Performance 3.79 TFLOPS 2.87 TFLOPS 2.56 TFLOPS 1.76 TFLOPS
Texture Units 128 112 80 64
Texture Fillrate 118.4 GT/s 89.6 GT/s 80 GT/s 55.0 GT/s
ROPs 32 32 32 32
Pixel Fillrate 29.6 GP/s 25.6 GP/s 32.0 GP/s 27.52 GP/s
Z/Stencil 128 128 128 128
Memory Type 3GB GDDR5 3GB GDDR5 2GB GDDR5 2GB GDDR5
Memory Clock 1,375mhz 1,250mhz 1,200mhz 1,200mhz (1250mhz)
Memory Data Rate 5.5 GBps 5.0 Gbps 4.8 Gbps
4.8 Gbps (5.0Gbps)
Memory Bandwidth 264 GB/s 240 GB/s 153.6 GB/s 153.6 GB/s
Sapphire have overclocked both the core and the GDDR5 memory. The core clock speed is increased to 920mhz and the memory receives a 50mhz boost to 1,250mhz (5.0Gbps effective)

The Sapphire HD7850 Overclock Edition is shipped in a small box featuring a 3D render of a woman in army combat clothing.

Sapphire bundle a plethora of video and power converter cables, as well as a Crossfire cable and some literature on their products.

The Sapphire HD7850 is built on a blue PCB and features a glossy black plastic cooler with dual fans. Both of these fans are larger than the reference fan incorporated on the AMD board.

The card features a single Crossfire connector, meaning it can be used in a 2 way configuration for added horsepower.

It requires power from a single six pin PCI power connector.

The card is a dual slot design with a full sized DVI and HDMI port, and two mini Display Port connectors. It is Eyefinity capable. This card can simultaneously output multiple, independent audio streams from the HDMI and mini Displayport connectors at the rear of the card.


The cooler on this card features two thick copper heatpipes which run into a copper base and then two separate racks of aluminum fins on either side.

Sapphire have enhanced the core clock speed by 60mhz to 920mhz. The memory also receives a 50mhz boost (200mhz effective) to 5Gbps. The Pitcairn GPU is manufactured on 28nm technology and this specific card features 32 ROPS, 1,024 shaders and 2GB of GDDR5 memory which is connected via a 256 bit memory interface.
On this page we present some super high resolution images of the product taken with the 24.5MP Nikon D3X camera and 24-70mm ED lens. These will take much longer to open due to the dimensions, especially on slower connections. If you use these pictures on another site or publication, please credit Kitguru.net as the owner/source. You can right click and ‘save as’ to your computer to view later.





To test today we are using our long standing Core i7 970 system, which is overclocked. We have a variety of hardware benchmarked on this system within the last couple of months which will make for an interesting market comparison.
Main Test System:
Processor
: Core i7 970 @ 4.6ghz
Graphics: Sapphire HD7850 Overclock Edition
Cooling: Coolit Vantage
Motherboard: MSI X58A-GD65
Chassis: Thermaltake Level 10 GT
Power Supply: Corsair AX1200
Memory: 6GB ADATA @ 2133mhz 9-10-9-32
Storage: Kingston SSDNow V+ 512GB Gen 2 SSD (Storage) / Crucial RealSSD C300 256GB (OS boot)

Comparison Cards:
MSI R7970 Lightning Edition
HD7970
HD7950
XFX HD7870 Black Edition
HD7870
HD7850
HD6990 (880 core)
HD6970
HD6950
HD6870
Sapphire HD7770 1GHZ OC Edition
XFX HD7770 Black Edition S CFx
HD7770 CFx
HD7770
Sapphire HD7750 Ultimate Edition
HD6790
HD6770
HD6670
GTX590 SLi
GTX590
GTX580 SLi
GTX580
GTX570
Monitors: Dell U3011
Software:
Windows 7 Enterprise 64 bit
Unigine Heaven Benchmark
3DMark Vantage
3DMark 11
Fraps Professional
Steam Client
FurMark
Games:
HomeFront
Alien V Predator
Dead Island
Tom Clancy HAWX 2
Resident Evil 5
Far Cry 2
F1 2011
Total War: Shogun 2
All the latest BIOS updates and drivers are used during testing. We perform generally under real world conditions, meaning KitGuru tests games across five closely matched runs and then average out the results to get an accurate median figure. If we use scripted benchmarks, they are mentioned on the relevant page.
Some game descriptions are edited from Wikipedia.
Unigine provides an interesting way to test hardware. It can be easily adapted to various projects due to its elaborated software design and flexible toolset. A lot of their customers claim that they have never seen such extremely-effective code, which is so easy to understand.
Heaven Benchmark is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on advanced Unigine engine from Unigine Corp. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. Interactive mode provides emerging experience of exploring the intricate world of steampunk.
Efficient and well-architected framework makes Unigine highly scalable:
  • Multiple API (DirectX 9 / DirectX 10 / DirectX 11 / OpenGL) render
  • Cross-platform: MS Windows (XP, Vista, Windows 7) / Linux
  • Full support of 32bit and 64bit systems
  • Multicore CPU support
  • Little / big endian support (ready for game consoles)
  • Powerful C++ API
  • Comprehensive performance profiling system
  • Flexible XML-based data structures
We use the following settings: 1920×1080 resolution. Anti Aliasing off. Anisotrophy 4, Tessellation normal. Shaders High. Stereo 3D disabled. API: Direct X 11.


The Sapphire HD7850 Overclock card averages a little higher than the reference card, but not a noticeable difference.
Futuremark released 3DMark Vantage, on April 28, 2008. It is a benchmark based upon DirectX 10, and therefore will only run under Windows Vista (Service Pack 1 is stated as a requirement) and Windows 7. This is the first edition where the feature-restricted, free of charge version could not be used any number of times. 1280×1024 resolution was used with performance settings.


The Sapphire HD7850 falls in behind the GTX570, by around 1,500 points. It outperforms the last generation AMD HD6950 by a couple of hundred points.
3DMark 11 is designed for testing DirectX 11 hardware running on Windows 7 and Windows Vista the benchmark includes six all new benchmark tests that make extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading.
After running the tests 3DMark gives your system a score with larger numbers indicating better performance. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.
If you want to learn more about this benchmark, or to buy it yourself, head over to this page.


The overclock helps improve Direct X 11 performance, scoring 5,722 points … which is slightly more than the last generation HD6970 flagship.
HQV Benchmark 2.0 is an updated version of the original tool and it consists of various video clips and test patterns which are designed to evalute motion correction, de-interlacing, decoding, noise reduction, detail enhancement and film cadence detection.
There are two versions of the program, standard definition on DVD and high definition on Bluray. As our audience will be concentrating on HD content so will we.
This has a total of 39 video tests which is increased from 23 in the original and the scoring is also up from a total of 130 to 210. As hardware and software gets more complicated, the software has been tuned to make sure we can thoroughly maximise our analysis.
Read our initial analysis over here

Sapphire HD7850 Overclock
Dial
4
Dial with static pattern 5
Gray Bars 5
Violin 5
Stadium 2:2 5
Stadium 3:2 5
Horizontal Text Scroll 5
Vertical Text Scroll 5
Transition to 3:2 Lock 5
Transition to 2:2 Lock 0
2:2:2:4 24 FPS DVCAM Video
5
2:3:3:2 24 FPS DVCam Video
5
3:2:3:2:2 24 FOS Vari-Speed
5
5:5 FPS Animation
5
6:4 12 FPS Animation
5
8:7 8 FPS Animation
5
Interlace Chroma Problem (ICP)
5
Chroma Upsampling Error (CUE)
5
Random Noise: Sailboat
5
Random Noise: Flower
5
Random Noise: Sunrise
5
Random Noise: Harbour Night
5
Scrolling Text
5
Roller Coaster
5
Ferris Wheel
5
Bridge Traffic
5
Text Pattern/ Scrolling Text
5
Roller Coaster
5
Ferris Wheel
5
Bridge Traffic
5
Luminance Frequency Bands
5
Chrominance Frequency Bands
5
Vanishing Text 5
Resolution Enhancement
15
Theme Park
5
Driftwood 5
Ferris Wheel
5
Skin Tones
7
Total 196
A score of 196 points is class leading right now, the ideal solution for high definition media playback on a big screen.
F1 2011 is the newest Direct X 11 racing game from industry pioneers CodeMasters. The 2011 Formula One season is the 62nd FIA Formula One season. The original calendar consisted of twenty rounds, including the inaugural running of the Indian Grand Prix before the cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix. Pirelli returns to the sport as tyre supplier for all teams, taking over from Bridgestone. Red Bull Racing are the reigning Constructor’s Champions. Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel is the defending Drivers’ Champion, one of five World Champions appearing on the grid.


The overclocked settings don’t really translate to much of a performance gain with this engine. A single, extra frame per second was all we recorded.
Homefront’s PC version was developed by Digital Extremes, a Canadian developer responsible for numerous Unreal Tournament games and Bioshock ports. It received mixed reports, although Kitguru really likes the single player aspect of this title. The engine isn’t the most demanding on the market, but it requires decent partnering hardware for solid frame rates at 1080p.


The overclocked speeds push the frame rates a little higher, although it would be hard to tell in the real world. The Sapphire HD7850 Overclock managed to equal the AMD HD6970 flagship from the last generation, which is an impressive achievement.
Aliens V Predator has proved to be a big seller since the release and Sega have taken the franchise into new territory after taking it from Sierra. AVP is a Direct X 11 supported title and delivers not only advanced shadow rendering but high quality tessellation for the cards on test today.
To test the cards we used a 1080p resolution with DX11, Texture Quality Very High, MSAA Samples 1, 16 af, ambient occulsion on, shadow complexity high, motion blur on. We use this with most of our graphics card testing so cards are comparable throughout reviews.

This is an intensive Direct X 11 engine and demands capable partnering hardware. The Sapphire HD7850 Overclock maintains smooth frame rates throughout, dropping once to 33 frames per second during an intensive area of the environment.
Dead Island is a first person horror action-adventure video game developed by Techland and published by Deep Silver for Microsoft Windows. It is centered on the challenge of survival on a zombie-infested open world island with a major emphasis on melee combat. It is rather good fun, for a short while, but it becomes repetitive.


The overclocked Sapphire HD7850 almost catches up with the HD6970 in this test, falling only 2 frames per second behind.
Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. 2 is an arcade-style flight action game developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft. After the events of the first game, the H.A.W.X squadron is sent to Middle East, where a high level of violence is being registered, and the appearance of various insurgents leaders in various hotspots. The team also has to investigate the mysterious disappearance of Russian nuclear weapons. The player will be controlling three groups: one American (Hunter), one British (Munro) and one Russian (Sokov), each with its own pilots and supporting characters. There will also be references to other characters in the Tom Clancy universe.
We are testing in full DX11 mode with all settings to maximum.


Almost 100 frames per second average with this game, falling around 4 frames per second behind the more expensive reference clocked HD7870.
Resident Evil 5, known in Japan as Biohazard 5, is a survival horror third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the seventh installment in the Resident Evil survival horror series, and was released on March 5, 2009 in Japan and on March 13, 2009 in North America and Europe for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. A Windows version of the game was released on September 15, 2009 in North America, September 17 in Japan and September 18 in Europe. Resident Evil 5 revolves around Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar as they investigate a terrorist threat in Kijuju, a fictional town in Africa.
Within its first three weeks of release, the game sold over 2 million units worldwide and became the best-selling game of the franchise in the United Kingdom. As of December, 2009, Resident Evil 5 has sold 5.3 million copies worldwide since launch, becoming the best selling Resident Evil game ever made.


Still a very impressive looking Direct X 10 game and it runs exceptionally well on this hardware, averaging 133 frames per second.
Far Cry 2 (commonly abbreviated as “FC2 or “fc2″) is an open-ended first-person shooter developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It was released on October 21, 2008 in North America and on October 23, 2008 in Europe and Australia. It was made available on Steam on October 22, 2008. Crytek, the developers of the original game, were not involved in the development of Far Cry 2.
Ubisoft has marketed Far Cry 2 as the true sequel to Far Cry, though the sequel has very few noticeable similarities to the original game. Instead, it features completely new characters and setting, as well as a new style of gameplay that allows the player greater freedom to explore different African landscapes such as deserts, jungles, and savannas. The game takes place in a modern-day East African nation in a state of anarchy and civil war. The player takes control of a mercenary on a lengthy journey to locate and assassinate “The Jackal,” a notorious arms dealer.
Far Cry 2 is still a popular game and the open world environment can be taxing on even the latest hardware available today.
Settings: 1920×1200, D3D10, Disable Artificial Intelligence(No), Full Screen, Anti-Aliasing(8x), VSync(No), Overall Quality(Ultra High), Vegetation(Very High), Shading(Ultra High), Terrain(Ultra High), Geometry(Ultra High), Post FX(High), Texture(Ultra High), Shadow(Ultra High), Ambient(High), Hdr(Yes), Bloom(Yes), Fire(Very High), Physics(Very High), RealTrees(Very High).

A demanding engine requiring powerful hardware to run well at these settings. The system averages 76 frames per second, identical to the HD6950 of the last generation.
Shogun 2 is set in 16th-century feudal Japan, in the aftermath of the Ōnin War. The country is fractured into rival clans led by local warlords, each fighting for control. The player takes on the role of one of these warlords, with the goal of dominating other factions and claiming his rule over Japan. The standard edition of the game will feature a total of eight factions (plus a ninth faction for the tutorial), each with a unique starting position and different political and military strengths.
We are using the built in benchmark which is available via the STEAM client for this game.



The additional core and memory speeds enhance the frame rate a little, increasing 1080p performance from 43 frames per second to 45 frames per second.
We have changed our method of measuring noise levels. We have built a system inside a Lian Li chassis with no case fans and have used a fanless cooler on our CPU. We are using a heatpipe based passive power supply and an Intel SSD to keep noise levels to a minimum. The motherboard is also passively cooled. This gives us a build with completely passive cooling and it means we can measure noise of just the graphics card inside the system when we run looped 3dMark tests.
Ambient noise in the room is around 20-25dBa. We measure from a distance of around 1 meter from the closed chassis and 4 foot from the ground to mirror a real world situation.
Why do this? Well this means we can eliminate secondary noise pollution in the test room and concentrate on only the video card. It also brings us slightly closer to industry standards, such as DIN 45635.
KitGuru noise guide
10dBA - Normal Breathing/Rustling Leaves
20-25dBA – Whisper
30dBA - High Quality Computer fan
40dBA - A Bubbling Brook, or a Refridgerator
50dBA - Normal Conversation
60dBA - Laughter
70dBA - Vacuum Cleaner or Hairdryer
80dBA - City Traffic or a Garbage Disposal
90dBA - Motorcycle or Lawnmower
100dBA - MP3 player at maximum output
110dBA - Orchestra
120dBA - Front row rock concert/Jet Engine
130dBA - Threshold of Pain
140dBA - Military Jet takeoff/Gunshot (close range)
160dBA - Instant Perforation of eardrum

The Sapphire HD7850 Overclock Edition is extremely quiet, almost silent when idle. When gaming, the fans spin up around 1,700 rpm and can only be heard from a close distance. Furmark causes the fans to spin higher, peaking at 2,200 rpm.
The tests were performed in a controlled air conditioned room with temperatures maintained at a constant 24c – a comfortable environment for the majority of people reading this.
Idle temperatures were measured after sitting at the desktop for 30 minutes. Load measurements were acquired by playing Crysis Warhead for 30 minutes and measuring the peak temperature. We also have included Furmark results, recording maximum temperatures throughout a 30 minute stress test. All fan settings were left on automatic.


The dual fan cooler is an improvement over the reference design, much as we would expect. The card peaks around 55c when gaming and this rises to 63c when loaded in Furmark.
To test power consumption today we are using a Keithley Integra unit and we measure power consumption from the VGA card inputs, not the system wide drain. We measure results while gaming in Crysis Warhead and record the results.
In such an energy aware climate, AMD are making a big deal out of their new ‘ZeroCore Power’ technology. Many solutions today use power gating, clock gating and memory compression to reduce idle power requirements, but ZeroCore power technology can completely power down the core GPU while the rest of the system remains active.

The Sapphire card consumes a little less than the reference board we tested a few weeks ago.
Today we used Catalyst Control Center for the overclocking results. We asked Sapphire for an updated version of TriXX but sadly we had


We were able to maximise both sliders to 1050 mhz on the core and 1450mhz on the memory (5.8Gbps effective). We think there is more headroom on this core, but until we get a software tool which can open up the scale a little more we can’t tell.


The increase on the clocks managed to push the score higher by 634 points, as shown above. At these speeds, the card is less than 200 points behind the GTX580, which is an incredible result.
The Pitcairn cards are without question the best buy in the new 7 series of AMD hardware. The HD7950 and HD7970 are assuredly the performance leaders, but the £360+ asking price is prohibitive for most people.
If we look at the Sapphire HD7850 Overclock Edition which we reviewed today, it offers comparable performance to the last generation HD6970, at a fraction of the cost. In regards to maximum ‘bang for the buck’, the HD7850 is hard to beat right now.
The Sapphire HD7850 Overclock Edition builds upon the excellent reference card performance, while lowering noise levels significantly and increasing both core and memory speeds for additional frame rates. The two fan cooler is both quiet and attractive, fully utilising the thick copper heatpipes to transfer heat from the core as quickly as possible.
There is a huge amount of headroom on the HD7850 core and we maximised the sliders in Catalyst Control Center without experiencing instability to 1050mhz core /1450mhz memory. We would imagine that 1100mhz+ is possible thanks to the excellent Sapphire cooler but we need an updated TriXX tool to fully support this hardware.
When overclocked to 1050mhz, the HD7850 is only a little behind the GTX580 which is incredible considering the price difference. The PitCairn cards really do come into their own when pushed past the 1GHZ mark thanks to the excellent shader performance and 256 bit memory interface.
The Sapphire HD7850 card is the finest card we have tested in this range and would be ideal for a high performance media center, due to the very low noise levels. We would imagine there will be a small price premium when this card is available, but we would assume that Sapphire will want to hit the £200 inc vat price point.
Pros:
  • Almost silent.
  • Great performance.
  • plenty of overclocking headroom.
  • runs cool.
Cons:
  • Nothing.
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3 comments:

  1. Good review. I cannot seem to find the Performance Tab on my CCC? Any idea how I can attempt to OC my 7850 OC?

    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wish you had done benchmarks after you performed the max oc..

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