The force is strong with this one! If HIS can price it just right in the 275~300 EUR bracket, then for a fair amount of money you can haul in quite a lot of value for money performance wise. The card is lengthy though, be sure to check out that it';ll fit inside your chassis with its 31CM 12.2 Inches length.
Stability and performance wise you'll never have anything to complain about and when you opt an IceQ model, noise never is an issue either. That makes their graphics card above average and well respected. But let's talk about the regulars.
Opposed to the fan of the 7850 IceQ review you recently have seen, we feel this HIS Radeon HD 7950 IceQ X² Boost Clock 3GB looks just so much better. We stated this many times though, HIS really needs to let go of the blue PCB color. Mainstream and high-end graphics card should have a black PCB. Try to imagine the card below all black, yeah that would look more stylish, eh? But sure, this card looks nice overall and that cooler does its job really well though.
Directly related to the cooling are the noise levels. With one card installed you are absolutely fine. In both idle and under stress you simply can hardly hear this card. In that respect the dual-fan IceQ X² cooler is performing just really well, and that's music to my ears (okay lame pun) ! Performance wise you have nothing to complain about either, the idle levels hover in the low 30 Degrees C and stressed we barely got the GPU over 60 Degrees C. That is as good as it's going to get with a GPU of this class really.
The Radeon HD 7900 never has been a power hungry product, aside from the new Tahiti XT2 GPUs that rise towards 250 Watt. Still the 7950 IceQ X² Boost GPU eats a little more power as it is clocked higher and thus will also require a little more voltage. You are looking at 171 Watts under full stress, that's fairly close to the Radeon HD 7970, and sure enough, the 7950 IceQ X² Boost edition card also performance at give or take roughly that same reference 7970.
So yeah, these are acceptable numbers really, so that is not an issue. Obviously you need to add to that the processor, memory, motherboard and other peripheral devices but our recommendation stands at a 550 Watt power supply, even with a decent overclock that should be sufficient.
I found it interesting to see this product tagged as boost model. Allow me to explain, the Boost feature is a dynamic processor. If the graphics cards has power left it may clock upwards towards 950 MHz. Realistically it should have a dynamic clock in-between 875 and 950 MHz. However we monitored several games and notice that the card isn't boosting at all:
As you can see under game stress, the card simply clocks towards 950 MHz. Ironically, I like it that way. The Boost features and dynamic clocks for both AMD and NVIDIA always have been more of a hindrance especially when you start to tweak the card. Bet yeah, this card runs stock 950 MHz, which is a nice 'boost' all by itself.
Overall, and I stated this already, the R7950 series offer tremendous value for money. With a card like the 7950 IceQ X² Boost edition you are gaining performance that settles in the high-end level. Combined with AMDs recent driver updates the R7900 really is positioned well. A game like Crysis 3 for example in 1920x1200 at Very High Quality and FXAA will get you a level 37 frames per second. That is just excellent performance for the sheer amount of game image quality you get thrown at you. Hitman is another such a title that is demanding on the GPU yet offers such nice eye-candy, at 1920x1200 it offers a steady framerate 62 FPS, and that's with 2xMSAA and the quality settings set at HIGH Quality in DX11mode. Absolutely lovely. So overall the R7950 is in perfect sync with today's games versus image quality versus a Full HD 1920x1080/1200 monitor resolution.
Overclocking then, we again notice nice results. The two power headers indicate that the board is allowed to do a little more than usual. Coming from a reference 800 MHz for the R7950, towards 950 MHz factory overclocked is already nice. The reality is that we had it running stable at 1150 MHz with just a few tweaks. But here's what you need to do:
Increase power limiter towards 120%
Set Voltage at 1250 mV
Increase core clock frequency to 1150 MHz
Fix fan RPM at 40% (slightly more noisy)
And alternatively set your memory clock a bit higher at say 1350 MHz.
That memory is 1350 MHz -> quad data rate = x4 and thus 5400 MHz on the memory clock. In total we just gained another 10~15% in performance. You have seen what that does to performance. And in hindsight from a reference 800 MHz going towards 1150 MHz, well a 350 MHz simply is impressive. But yeah, the card is fun to play around with in terms of tweaking.
When the R7950 (reference) was launched, it launched at a sales price of 399 EUR. That's 12 months ago, and the cards can now be spotted for 260 EUR already. The factory tweaked and customized models can be found in the 275~300 EUR range. That's where we expect the HIS Radeon HD 7950 IceQ X² Boost Clock 3GB to sit as well.
For that money you will receive a very good graphics card that can play all the latest games at very acceptable image quality settings with very acceptable framerates, that all at a resolution of 1920x1080/1200. You will benefit from the stock 950 MHz clock frequency. Combined with a cooler that keeps the product silent and chilled down to excellent temps you will not have anything to complain about really.
Even more added value lies in the fact that if you purchase a R7950 (any model) AMD is going to give you Crysis 3 and and Bioshock Infinite for free as part of their Never Settle Reloaded game bundle. That's a hundred bucks wort of games right there.
But let me finish things up. I seriously like what HIS has done with the HIS Radeon HD 7950 IceQ X² Boost Clock 3GB. The card did not Boost though, instead it's just at 950 MHz all the time once in 3D gaming mode, hey that's fine with us! Anyone with a monitor up-to 1920x1080/1200 will get 'very nice' performance with the latest games available whilst applying harsh image quality settings as well. If you can spot this product for say sub 300 EUR then we feel it's a really nice deal that we can recommend very much. Don't forget that AMD has the Never Settle reloaded promotion going, if you purchase a R7950 card you will receive free games. Read more about that here. And that is awesome value.
The HIS Radeon HD 7950 IceQ X² Boost Clock 3GB is a little big, but the cooling performance is great, the noise levels very low, in fact silent, it comes clocked at 950 MHz on the core, has 3GB of graphics memory and comes with that kick-ass game bundle, so I ask you .. what's not to like?
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