AMD’S MARKETING pitch for the new Radeon 7800‑series GPUs suggests that “serious gaming starts here.” Built on AMD’s Graphics Core Next, the 7800 series, previously code-named “Pitcairn,” offers impressive performance for less than the price of AMD’s 7900 series. Let’s take a quick look at key features, as compared to the Radeon HD 6870 and 6950 GPUs, AMD’s previous players in the midrange.
The 7870 has 1,280 stream processors—more than the 6870, but fewer than the 1,408 in the Radeon HD 6950. The 7870’s 1,000MHz stock clock speed is 11 percent higher than the 900MHz of the 6870, and twice the 6950’s 500MHz clock. In the Black Edition HD 7870, XFX boosts the core clock an additional 5 percent to 1,050MHz. The 7870 ships with the same 2GB of 256-bit GDDR5 as the 6950—double the 1GB of the 6870.
The Black Edition ships with XFX’s semi-custom dual-fan cooling solution. As with past cards in this class, the HD 7870 requires two 6-pin power connectors. One disappointment: XFX is continuing its policy of leaving out monitor adapter connectors, so if you don’t have a DVI, HDMI, or DisplayPort connector on your monitor, then you’ll need to shell out a little extra for one. It’s mostly not a problem for single-display users, but people with multiple monitors may need to acquire adapters.
It’s not unusual to see factory-overclocked videocards ship with custom cooling solutions—a few months after the GPU launches. This time, XFX hits the ground running with their Radeon HD 7970 Black Edition. This is a factory-overclocked card with a custom cooling solution that aims to take the performance crown. Based on what we’ve seen to date, XFX has delivered the fastest single-GPU card on the planet.
AMD today adds to its Phenom processor line with a new flagship part, the Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition. The new chip updates the company's Dragon platform, which combines a Phenom II CPU with an ATI Radeon 4870/4890 graphics card and 790GX-based motherboard.
We're told the silicon in the X4 965 BE is unchanged from the X4 955 BE, so you're essentially looking at a clockspeed bump with a slightly higher TDP. Specifically, the 45nm chip comes clocked at 3.4GHz and contains 6MB of L3 cache, and 8MB of total cache (2MB total L2 per processor). And because it's a 'Black Edition' part, the new CPU is unlocked.
AMD also tells us that its own internal testing has shown the X4 965 BE to be a better overclocker than the previous 955, which isn't always the case when releasing a faster-clocked processor built on the same architecture. We currently have one of these chips in our Lab, so look for our own performance impression in the very near future.
Best of all for the AMD faithful, AMD has set an MSRP of $245 for the 965, the same official MSRP the 955 previously held..
Patriot Memory has buddied up with AMD to release its first co-branded Gamer Series memory kit, the AMD Black Edition Ready DDR3 G Series.
"Platforms featuring the latest socket AM3 for AMD processors, including the AMD Phenom II processor family, takes full advantage of the new Patriot Gamer Series memory," said Leslie Sobon, VP of Product Marketing, AMD. "Combined with AMD OverDrive software version 3.0.2, users can experience a state-of-the-art, real time over-clocking utility that allows unprecedented control over their AMD processor / chipset and memory to help push the performance threshold to it peak limits."
Marketing jargon aside, the kits come in both DDR3-1600 and DDR3-1333 frequencies in Low Latency (9-9-9-24) and Enhanced Latency (7-7-7-20) form. Voltage requirements vary by kit, ranging from 1.5V (DDR3-1333 Low Latency) to 1.9V (DDR3-1600 Enhanced Low Latency).
It can be argued that AMD didn't start to build an enthusiast following until the Barton days. Back then, the company's efficient processors not only held their own in performance, but destroyed Intel when it came to the bang/buck factor, both in regards to processor pricing and the overall platform (you could pick up a high end AMD motherboard for under $200). Ever since Intel finally responded with its Core 2 architecture, AMD has had a tougher time competing on the performance front, forcing AMD to slash prices, and that's what happening again. In addition to price cuts, AMD is also expanding its tri-core line.
The newly announced Phenom X3 8450e comes clocked at 2.1GHz and the Phenom X2 8250e putters at 1.9GHz. Both processors sport 512KB of L2 cache and 2MB of L3 cache, and both also come rated with a 65W TDP, compared to 95W for AMD's standard Phenom tri-core line. No pricing information has yet been announced for either model.
On the higher end, AMD's Phenom X3 8750 Black Edition will bring an unlocked multiplier to the table and cruise along at 2.4GHz. It will come with the same amount of L2 and L3 cache as the 8450e and 8250e processors, but rated at the aforementioned 95W TDP. Pricing has been set to $134 for bulk orders.
So what about the price cuts? AMD will drop it's X3 8450 (without the 'e' designation) down to $104 and X3 8650 down to $119, both in bulk.