Review Index:

AMD Radeon HD 7790 Review - Sea Islands and Bonaire Make an Appearance

Author: Ryan Shrout
Manufacturer: AMD

Pricing and Test Setup

Our performance testing today on the HD 7790 will be fairly quick and focus on the 1920x1080 testing that I think this class of card will be targeted at.  That means the 1GB frame buffer of the HD 7790 and the GTX 650 Ti won't be quite as damning as it would be at 2560x1440.

I know many readers will point out that there are countless other cards in this price range to compare to the HD 7790, but I am focusing on these three with the promise of a new fourth option in the not too distant future.  Check back next week to see what we have in our hands!

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Testing Configuration

The specifications for our testing system haven't changed much.

Test System Setup
CPU Intel Core i7-3960X Sandy Bridge-E
Motherboard ASUS P9X79 Deluxe
Memory Corsair Dominator DDR3-1600 16GB
Hard Drive OCZ Agility 4 256GB SSD
Sound Card On-board
Graphics Card Sapphire Radeon HD 7790 OC 1GB
AMD Radeon HD 7850 2GB
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti 1GB
Graphics Drivers AMD: 13.2 beta 7
NVIDIA: 313.07 beta
Power Supply Corsair AX1200i
Operating System Windows 8 Pro x64

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What you should be watching for

  1. HD 7790 vs HD 7850 - How close does the newer, smaller brother graphics card based on the Bonaire GPU compare to the larger, more expensive Pitcairn?
  2. HD 7790 vs GTX 650 Ti - Even though the HD 7790 is more expensive than the GTX 650 Ti by a fair amount, the GTX 660 (base model) is closer to $230, well out of range of what we are looking at today.

On to the benchmarks!

Video News

March 22, 2013 | 01:19 AM - Posted by John Doe (not verified)

I'd much rather take the rebate and shoot for this:

March 22, 2013 | 12:55 PM - Posted by MarkT (not verified)

If this was a 2gig card it would prolly beat the 7850? Im guessing on that.

March 22, 2013 | 04:38 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

I don't think so - the shader count difference is the main reason performance gap at 1080p.

March 22, 2013 | 01:14 PM - Posted by MarkT (not verified)

question: In both areas, Radeon graphics and A-series APUs, AMD does have some distinct advantages. Clarificiation?

March 22, 2013 | 04:40 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

On the APU side, AMD's edge comes with a higher performance integrated GPU and better parallel compute performance.

On the GPU side, AMD has better price/perf in many market segments, runs slightly more efficient at idle, etc.

March 22, 2013 | 08:39 PM - Posted by John Doe (not verified)

If you're doing single GPU, then 7970 will come in significantly cheaper than a 680 and beat it, but ONLY at STOCK because it has a higher stock clock (Ghz edition).

A 680 clocked over 1350 Mhz can and will blow a 7970 Ghz out of the water.

But it's pretty hard to hit 1400-1500 on stock cooler on a 680. The only cards that can easily do those speeds are the MSI 680 PE, Galaxy 680 White and the Sparkle Calibre 680.

March 23, 2013 | 01:48 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Fair enough but this is a completely different class of card we are reviewing here.  

March 26, 2013 | 06:36 AM - Posted by Anon (not verified)

So the 7970 can't overclock.


March 27, 2013 | 02:22 AM - Posted by John Doe (not verified)

It can. Sigh.

The GHZ edition 7970 is nothing more than a PRE-OVERCLOCKED 7970, so it nowhere has as much headroom as a good 680 solution.

The 7970's aren't built as well or as well clocking as the top notch 680's, since they aren't as efficient.

Not to mention that AMD drivers are currently a complete and total mess.

That new 7990 which just popped out today may be a worth a wait.

March 23, 2013 | 07:26 AM - Posted by Tri Wahyudianto (not verified)

yes maybe 7790 is better price/performance than 650Ti, but i think nvidia PhysX got greater effect in gamer's eyes, or at least for me

so my conclusion is a draw, 7790 + never settle = 169 and 650Ti + PhysX = 149

plus in my country, AMD always get more dollar than in newegg, but Nvidia's price exactly same.

thank you for the review and simple, refreshing and new visual graphic

March 23, 2013 | 01:51 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Thank you for the feedback!  I just don't tend to put much weight behind PhysX because it is used in so few games and when it is, I don't feel the effect is particularly interesting.  

March 23, 2013 | 03:49 PM - Posted by John Doe (not verified)

It depends entirely on how well PhysX is implemented in it.

Regardless, I agree that PhysX is nothing more than a pile of shit at it's current rate.

It will probably die once Unreal 3 Engine dies.

March 23, 2013 | 04:01 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

I just don't know how much more money NVIDIA is going to be willing to spend on it, considering none of the new consoles will ever use it.

March 24, 2013 | 11:44 AM - Posted by renz (not verified)

lol i heard rumors about unreal engine 4 will use PhysX as their physic engine. btw we might not see much about gpu accelerated physics from PhysX in the future but i don't think physx will die just like that. PhysX is a complete physic engine so they can license the tech for any developer that interested to use third party physic engine.

March 25, 2013 | 04:58 PM - Posted by aparsh335i (not verified)

Never Settle > PhysX

March 23, 2013 | 01:17 PM - Posted by Trey Long (not verified)

What happened to latency testing?

March 23, 2013 | 01:49 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Stay tuned very shortly!!

March 23, 2013 | 08:22 PM - Posted by Wolvenmoon (not verified)


March 23, 2013 | 08:51 PM - Posted by John Doe (not verified)

It's basically a 7770 on roids. It wouldn't perform all that well on Luxmark, which seems to depend and base the power it requires on shader strenght.

This card isn't as strong as a 7850 in the shader department, like nowhere is. It bases it's power on high clock frequencies.

If you want something to render, then that 7850 I linked to would do a much better job.

Also, this card is done on a 650-like PCB with many different capacitors, chokes, coils etc. all thrown across from whatever they had in stock. I'm not even sure how reliable this card would be on the long run.

That Asus 7850 DCII I linked to would be a much more superior choice, both in terms of power, build quality and longevity.

March 23, 2013 | 11:59 PM - Posted by K. Brent Church (not verified)

Any idea how this fairs against a GTX 460? Would it be enough of a jump to make the $150 worth it? I only game at 1080p and so far the 460 is holding up. GeForce Experience helps with some games very well and I don't have the really new titles to push it more. For that matter, I have two monitors, both hooked up to the 460. Would hooking up the second monitor to the my i5's 3570 Intel HD4000 graphics help with frame rates on the main monitor?

March 24, 2013 | 12:58 PM - Posted by renz (not verified)

it depends on how much performance jump that you can consider as an upgrade.

March 29, 2013 | 07:28 AM - Posted by rrr (not verified)

7790 is about on par with 6870.
460 (1GB 336 SP in particular) is on par with 6850, SE versions might be somewhat slower.

So it is one performance tier up at worst, one and a half tier at best.

April 16, 2013 | 04:43 PM - Posted by GTX460 (not verified)

I actually have the same question/problem and could really use some help. I only game at 1080p, and have a GTX 460 I bought for a new build in December 2010 (Core i7-950).
The card is holding up for me, I just finished FarCry3 a few weeks ago without complaints.
But the AMD deal for Bioshock Infinite and FC3 Blood Dragon, included with an HD 7790 for $160 has me scratching my head. I mean, I almost bought Bioshock two days ago for $59.99 on Steam. What to do????

March 24, 2013 | 12:21 PM - Posted by John Doe (not verified)

I'd just save up and get something real like this:

March 25, 2013 | 04:57 PM - Posted by saneblane (not verified)

You are the first person I have seen to refer to the 7790 as Sea Islands. Is this confirm by Amd?,or is it a best guess situation.

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