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The Sapphire AMD 7870 HD Review

Hardware Reviews By Arden Bartlett on May 11, 2013

Today we're going to take a look at the Radeon HD 7870 OC Edition provided to us by Sapphire to MMORPG.  I'm going to give you a general overview of the card, a few FPS stats from runs I conducted with Tera, Planetside 2, and Mechwarrior, and my final opinion on if this piece of hardware is worth looking at when you are deciding on a new video card for your system.  So we’re not going to get too technical, but you should get a good idea on what you're getting when you purchase Sapphire’s OC version of the AMD 7870HD.

Overview:

The card comes equipped with AMD's third generation 28nm GPU running at 1GHz, 2GB of GDDR5 at 12000mhz, 2 DVI, 1 HDMI, and 1 Display Port. It’s DirectX 11 compatible, and also supports the PCI Express 3.0 x16 standard.  I should note that other cards in this series from Sapphire come with Mini-Display port as a connection, and the potential for more RAM (1,2,3 GBs) so you do have options if you are looking for a specific interface or specs.  Sapphire is also includes an HDMI cable, a crossfire cable, a VGA to DVI connector, and two six pin to four pin power cables for ease of installation.

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I should also make note of the Dual-X multi-heatpipe with dual fans which comes with this video card.  I had a hard time telling when or if the card's fans where running due to how quiet they are during normal use, and even during intense bouts of gaming.  My hard-drive and other case fans are actually noisier than the card's.

Testing:

I tested the 7870 with three MMOs (Tera, Planetside 2, and Mechwarrior Online) all using different graphic engines.  I used FRAPS to capture the FPS and screen shots of the games.  All tests ran ten minutes, all games where in full screen mode and I turned on every graphical option available in the games to push the card. My system specs are middle of the line: AMD Phenom II X4 945 (800mhz), 8GB DDR3 PC3-10700 (667mhz), and a stock generic SATA HDD at 3GB/s. All resolutions were set at 1920x1080.

Tera

Full Screen, Everything turned to '11': Avg: 29.975 - Min: 28 - Max: 32

The card handled Tera very well.  Nothing unsual to report beyond the fans sometimes running a bit faster when you had a good amount of action going on, but still I found that my case fans, and the hard drive, were still louder than the 7870's fans.  Color was crisp, magic/action effects showed no slowdown, and game looked really impressive when you zoom into your character.  That’s the power of the Unreal Engine, I suppose.

Planetside 2:

Full Screen, Everything turned to '11': Avg: 33.378 - Min: 32 - Max: 36

Planetside 2 looked spectacular with the 7870.  There was no loss or slowdown during any action while playing the game.  No pixilation when driving around in vehicles, and the 7870 handled anything thrown at it by Planetside 2.  It might be the engine that Planetside 2 uses (Lightforge, SOE’s own engine), but I never head the card's fans speed up when there was significant number of players and action on the screen. I’d heard a lot about the system resource hogging in PS2, and was pleasantly surprised to see it perform so evenly even on my quite basic rig.

MechWarrior Online:

Full Screen, Everything turned to '11': Avg: 45.266 - Min: 32 - Max: 62

The 7870 handled Mechwarrior Online (MWO) also very well.  The high average FPS on the higher side compared Tera and Planetside which I found odd considering it uses CryEngine 3 (Crytek’s Crysis also uses this engine).  However, I didn't see anything that would lead me to conclude that the card had any issues handling all the different types of mechs on the screen, and I never saw any screen anomalies while playing.  Terrain looked great, mechs looked awesome, and the gameplay was smooth. 

Conclusion:

If you are in the market for a video card on a budget, I would give the Sapphire 7870 HD a look due to its great performance, and a terrific bang for your buck.  Right now this particular card is selling in the $200 range and I think it’s a real bargain for the performance you get.  A great card, great performance, and ultimately a good deal.  Mid-range cards like this used to be lacking in power, but the Sapphire 7870 proves this is no longer the case.

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