Conclusion: Wrapping up the XFX 7800 Cards
I am glad to see that XFX is still hanging around and offering unique products to the market. They have very nearly caught up to the competition in terms of design, and they are able to offer their products at competitive prices. The quality certainly seems to have gone up over the past few years, and while the warranty is not nearly as nice as it used to be, it is competitive with the industry as a whole. The bonus of transferring a warranty is a big plus though, and certainly unique among manufacturers.
We can get a good look at the relative thickness of the aluminum heatsink and heatpipes on the XFX HD7870. It does the job, but it is not nearly as robust as the next option.
The HD 7800 series of cards is in an interesting place right now. When they were first introduced AMD was very excited by what they were able to bring to the table. At the initial MSRPs of the stock products at $249 for the HD 7850 and $349 for the HD 7870, AMD had a decent lock on price/performance when compared to previous HD 6900 series cards and the competing NVIDIA GTX 500 series. Unfortunately for AMD, NVIDIA has thrown a wrench into the works with the GTX 670 priced at $399. The performance of that card vs. the HD 7870 is very compelling for the extra money. When we start looking at products like the XFX R7870 DD Black Edition for $389, the difference in performance with the GTX 670 is well worth the extra $10 spent. That particular card is a hard sell. The only real thing going for it is availability. The HD 7870 is well represented in retail while the GTX 670 is still sketchy.
The Twin Frozr II based HD 6950 is a lot beefier all around. While the HD 7870 does not need as much cooling as the HD 6950, MSI has transitioned this design to their upcoming models.
The HD 7850 is another story altogether. With performance on par with the HD 6970 and GTX 570 cards, and outstripping the GTX 560 Ti by a goodly amount, the asking price of $249 for a stock 7850 is very reasonable. The XFX R7850 DD Black Edition does retail for $275, but it does feature the nice cooling and an aggressive initial overclock. The ability to take it up to 1050/1375 with no problems whatsoever gives it another boost when considering the value of the product. A full 2 GB of memory onboard should allow this card to handle any new title with comfort up to 1920×1200 resolutions. Going to 2560×1600 in titles like BF3 or DiRT 3 at Ultra quality levels will not cut it though. Putting two of them together in CrossFire could be a very interesting proposition for the price.
Overall I am very pleased with XFX’s entry into the hotly contested midrange market. Their products look unique, perform as expected, and have a few extra surprises under the hood. The pricing on the HD 7870 card is not entirely all XFX’s fault, as AMD has done little to match the price/performance ratio of the GTX 600 series of cards so far. When NVIDIA is finally able to supply these cards in greater numbers, I believe we will see these prices go down.
This is a sharp looking card that will add a lot to a case with transparent sides. Aesthetics are good, and XFX has done a nice job overall with looks and functionality.
Until that time, the XFX R7870 DD BE is just a bit overpriced at $389 to be good option for most users. The HD 7950 is only around $20 more in bone stock form, and the GTX 670 is only $10 more. While XFX has done a nice job with this card, it just is too expensive for what a user actually gets. The HD 7850 is another matter altogether. The XFX version here is only $274, and I believe the user gets a lot of value for that price. Good performance, good cooling, decent bundle and warranty, and a pretty snappy looking card with good capabilities make it THE card to have at that price range.
These are certainly cards to keep a good eye on, and XFX has made a nice splash with these new designs. Hopefully AMD and its partners will adjust pricing and we will see the HD 7870 head below $349 for overclocked models. This will happen, as AMD has built quite a bit of margin into the 7800 series. It is just a matter of when.
XFX R7850 Double D Black Edition