Early this morning the NDA on reviews of the HD7790 lifted and simultaneously sites all around the world let rip their performance results for the new GPU, which I’ll be checking out later in an Analysis article. For the moment, the HD7790 is the value-winner in the $150 segment and replaces the 1GB version of the HD7850. The reason behind that is because these days chip-makers like Hynix and Samsung are no longer mass-producing 128MB chips and it becomes expensive to fit those onto a 256-bit bus, especially if you’re only putting eight of them on there for a limited-run product. That aside, the HD7790 is now AMD’s go-to product between the HD7770 and the 2GB versions of the HD7850. To sweeten the deal, it comes with it’s own “Never Settle” bundle – most cards should ship with a free copy of Bioshock Infimite.
The reference cooler features in many of the products you’ll see today and some manufacturers have been savvy, removing the plastic shroud off some of their lower-end models to save on the final purchase price. If I may say so, I also think it looks brilliant without it. Several companies have products available on launch and its possible that we may see a few of these on our shores within the week, especially for the more popular brands like Gigabyte, ASUS and PowerColor.
In addition, many of our local retailers will run out of HD7850 1GB stock pretty soon as AMD ceased shipments just over a month ago. They’ll be forced into buying the new stock so if you’re patient enough, stock of the HD7790 will arrive. Lets take a look at some of the brands and their offerings in more detail. Note that none of them feature 2GB cards at launch and we won’t see those for some time.
ASUS starts it off with a DirectCU II version…
ASUS kicks off their launch with a reference model featuring the Direct CU II cooler. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s ASUS’ dual-fan design that features on many of their cards and facilitates, on average, higher overclocks than their competition, or at the very least the same overclocks at lower temperatures. The DirectCU II family also usually incorporates things like voltage adjustment and higher overclock limits than other some brands which have to use AMD’s Catalyst Control center to change their settings. Both ASUS and MSI will be the ones to watch if you’re an overclocker. ASUS expects this one to retail around $150 on launch in most regions for the vanilla version of this card, while the factory-overclocked one should be $10 more. The vanilla version ships with reference clocks of 1GHz core and 6GHz memory and for the overclocked version the default clocks are 1075MHz core and 6.4GHz for the memory.
Sapphire gives birth to twins…
As one of the closest partners to AMD, you’d expect Sapphire to come out guns blazing and it looks like they’ve done that, somewhat. Eschewing reference coolers, Sapphire ships the overclocked version at $160 with their in-house-designed Vapor-X cooler using two smaller 80mm fans, while the reference version ships with a retail price of $150 and a dual-exhaust blower-style cooler, using a 92mm fan and a heatsink with two copper pipes for better heat ventilation. Like the rest of the HD7790 variants with a dual-slot cooler, you get one single-link DVI with analog output port coloured black, a dual-link DVI below that along with HDMI and full-sized Displayport output. Clock speeds for the overclocked version are the same as ASUS’s DirectCU II OC, with 1075MHz core and 6.4GHz for the DDR5 VRAM.
PowerColor downplays their importance…
PowerColor shoves out its two HD7790 versions, both reference boards with coolers that follow the dual-fan trend we’re seeing today. The reference version chops off the stock shroud (pity, I really like them) and keeps everything out in the open and naked. The difference, however, is that for the same $150 as everyone else is charging, it ships with an extra 30MHz on the core clocks, but keeps the memory stock. The video outpus are the same as everyone else, sporting one single-link DVI port, one dual-link (both now black, confusingly) and one HDMI and Displayport output. The TurboDuo version strangely clocks the core up to 1075MHz, but keeps the memory clocks standard. In any case, it’ll be starting at the same $160 as other overclocked versions.
VTX3D brings Ruby back!
Because PowerColor and VTX3D are both subsidiaries of TUL Corporation, they mostly share the same product line and that’s why the only HD7790 from VTX3D also eschews the cooler shroud and ships with the same clocks of 1030MHz core and 6GHz for the memory. The PCB, you’ll notice, is also a little smaller than the versions that use dual-fan coolers and I’m guessing that’s more for weight distribution than anything else. These cards, though, being so ridiculously small, will easily fit into any chassis of any size. For $150 or thereabouts, I’d say that’s pretty darn neat.
MSI rolls out another Power Edition GPU
MSI’s Power Edition versions of the graphics cards have found a huge audience in people who want a card that’s similarly capable to the ASUS DirectCU II family, but that want their warranty to apply even when overclocking using AfterBurner. After all, what’s the point of flaunting GPUs that can be overclocked and overvolted within the same software the manufacturer lovingly crafted that makes it so simple? The aftermarket cooler uses a 10cm fan and while MSI has made no mention of clock speeds, you can be sure it’ll probably be 1075MHz core and 6GHz for the VRAM, enough to give buyers headroom for their own tweaks, The first batches of cards seem to be able to overclock beyond 1.2GHz for the core and 6.8GHz for the memory, which is pretty sweet – that puts it firmly into the same territory as the outgoing 1GB HD7850. Pricing will probably be at $160 as well.
XFX offers a haunted GPU with the GHOST cooler
XFX does things a bit differently and has customised the cooler and the backplate, ethching in their logo using a laser cutter and moulding the heatsink out of aluminium. The cooler shroud is also aluminium, featuring a brushed effect on the non-painted areas and if I’m honest, it’s pretty damn sext. XFX doesn’t specify clock speeds or price, but you can bet it won’t be cheap. Still, it’ll be a reference PCB with 1GB of DDR5 RAM and it’ll fit into any chassis you can imagine, right down to ITX enclosures like those from Lian-Li.
HIS also has one, now everyone’s doing it!
HIS chimes in with a reference version of the HD7790, shipping with reference PCB and clock speeds as well as the iChill cooler, which uses a single 80mm fan. The cooler shroud overhangs the card’s edge and might present a cleaner view inside a chassis, because the PCI-E 6-pin PEG power cable will be hidden from view. Aside from that, it’s the same get-up as all the other versions and this is a good thing. This launch is really good PR for AMD because they’ve been keeping a tight schedule with getting third-parties ready for shipping and retail in time for launch. The fact that there’s so many options helps with stock issues and keeps things level across the market.
Gigabyte finishes the launch with a new cooler design
Gigabyte’s one of the manufacturers in business today that’s spoken of in the same terms as ASUS and MSI. They produce good cards and they’ve even been in the NAG Dream Machine a few times with their high-end products like the GTX680. Their version of the HD7790 comes with a smaller version of their Windforce cooler, using a 100mm impeller blade design and an aluminium heatsink. Clocks are 1075MHz core and 6.4GHz VRAM and it’ll be retailing for $150, undercutting the competition’s efforts by $10. Considering that the HD7790 doesn’t need big coolers to keep it happy, this also means that eventually we’ll see single-slot versions that’ll truly fit in anywhere. Gigabyte says their HD7790 will be available worldwide, but whether or not it comes with the free copy of Bioshock Infinite isn’t known. Still, great value for money.
As time passes we’ll see more GPUs come out of the shadows and who knows, perhaps some custom and highly overclockable models will surface, along with 2GB buffers, even though the 128-bit bus will hamper performance in the future.