With the Ghz versions of popular Radeon cards floating about in the market, AMD is doing all they can to keep market share in the anticipation of the mass exit of Nvidia fans who have been waiting for the GTX660Ti release. The Red team is doing all they can to keep consumer interest on their side, including a recent BIOS update published for reference versions of the cards.
Unlike the update to the HD7970 to a GHz edition card, which merely involved a BIOS update and some power tweaking, or the HD7750 GHz edition which required extra power circuitry, the BIOS update available today gives HD7950 owners a GHz card of their own for free, complete with higher default clock speeds and AMD’s PowerTune Boost technology.
The new default clock speeds sees the card start out with a default clock of 850MHz (up from 800MHz) with a boost profile using PowerTune to dynamically change the clock speed up to 920Mhz. Memory frequency remains the same, Prompting speculation that new HD7950 cards in future will ship with both this update and better RAM chips operating at higher frequencies.
The BIOS update is, however, attempted at your own risk. Should you brick it with AMD’s approved BIOS version though, I’m sure a RMA replacement wouldn’t be a hassle since you were only trying to get your money’s worth from the product. This does mean that enthusiasts buying a new card with the updated BIOS from the end of this month will have to watch carefully which versions of the card they buy. Very often cards are hardware locked by third-party manufacturers to prevent tampering, so in most cases you’re left looking out for a revised card right off the bat.
While the extra speed boost and the inclusion of PowerTune looks like a good thing, I”ve been disappointed by the way the GHz editions are being handled. Not only do the higher clock speeds bring only about 5% in performance gains in most cases, but the revised BIOSes and cards operate at higher voltages – in practice, TechpowerUp! found that the HD7950 BIOS update increases power consumption by around 20%, further driving a card that isn’t the most energy-efficient model out there further down the desirability ladder, considering the GTX670 costs about the same but uses less power.
With the GTX660Ti around the corner, only time will tell how much of an improvement this update makes to AMD’s offerings in terms of holding loyalty with their customers. I don’t see it doing much to help things as they are already. It is worth considering, though since the update also increases the limits in AMD’s Catalyst Control Center to increase clock speed limits to 1200MHz core and 1575MHz for the RAM.