AMD Radeon HD 7790 - Entry Level gaming going FullHD
If you draw up a pie chart then you'd be surprised that the biggest chunk of the market for graphics cards is entry level. Obviously that makes a lot of sense as OEMs love to include the cheapest card available in a PC. But considering the price level, many people that do not have or want to spend heaps of cash to play a game, pick up one of these cards. I mean think back a year or three, I really liked the Radeon HD 5770 at the time. You know what? Here is a little history lesson on AMD's lineup over the years.
So it was October 2009 when ATI released the Juniper GPU, you know the product as the Radeon HD 5770. It has been one of the best selling graphics cards for ATI-AMD evah, for the very simple reason that for not a lot of money you received a product with 800 shader processors. So for a price just above entry level that made a thing or two possible, gaming at 1600x1200 became a viable reality and next to that a grand feature set was introduced (Eyefinity etc). Later on the 5770 got refreshed as the 6770, which mostly was the same product. Last year, in February 2012 AMD released a product developed under the GPU codename 'Cape Verde', the graphics cards derived from that GPU were the Radeon HD 7750 and 7770 One GHz edition. That was not a refresh, it was a completely new GPU based on their GCN architecture.
Interesting was that with less shader processors AMD was able to make these products faster. They benefitted from the GCN architecture but also had a trump card at hand, as this was the first ever reference card that was clocked at 1 GHz - hence AMD gave all these cards a 'GHz Edition' extension. The 28nm node allows them to place a good 1.5 billion transistors onto the GPU's 123 mm2 die, and that made the card a good 25% faster.
AMD has been focusing on three primary features and key selling points ever since the series 5000 products were released. The new graphics adapters are of course DirectX 11 ready. With Windows 7/8 and Vista being DX11 ready, games immediately took advantage of DirectCompute, multi-threading, Hardware Tessellation and new shader extensions.
Back to the year 2013 though - it's fairly similar to the tick-tock release model from Intel, but yes, we arrive at the tock from AMD, the radeon 7790 is introduced today. The Radeon HD 7790 is still based on a 28nm fabrication process, the GPU empowering these new cards will however be the new Bonaire based GPU based on GCN (Graphics Core Next) architecture. Despite the earlier rumors of 768 shader processors, the GPU actually has 896 stream processors. With 1 GB of GDDR5 graphics memory running over a 128-bit GDDR5 memory bus the card will bring the overall game performance close to the Radeon HD 7850 and beyond the competing GeForce GTX 650 Ti. The card will get a 85 Watt TDP rating and, depending on the model released of course, a reference clock frequency of 1000 MHz whilst boosting the memory clock up to 6.0 GHz (effective data-rate / GDDR5 / 128-bit).
In this review we test the Sapphire Dual-X OC which comes with two fans, dual-DVI, HDMI and display port. This particular model has an even better 1075 MHz clock frequency with 6.4 Ghz on the memory. The Sapphire Dual-X OC comes with two fans, dual-DVI, HDMI and display port. But head on over to the next page where we'll meet and greet Bonaire, aka Radeon HD 7790 and talk about the reference specifications for a bit.
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