AMD Radeon HD 7790 (Hardware) Review
Mid-range budget graphics cards have had a bad name for some time now. For budget gamers they’re considered too costly and for enthusiasts they’re not powerful enough. The Radeon 7790 should change those opinions.
The Radeon 7790 was released earlier this month and really is a workhorse card in more ways than one. In many ways a logical successor to the 5770 for those looking to upgrade finally from a Radeon 5000 series now that next generation consoles are approaching and PC graphics may increase with console ports.
The 7790 runs with 1GB of GDDR5 memory and factory overclocked rates of 1050MHz which depending on reseller changes slightly to 1075MHz. It uses 85W to run which is more energy efficient compared to the old 5000 series which was well over 100W so will save you some money in the future with the electric bill. The video outputs are DisplayPort 1.2, HDMI 1.4a, DVI-I and DVI-D.
We put the Radeon 7790 through it’s paces with a full battery of tests starting with Battlefield 3. The console shooter is to PC’s now what the original Crysis was in 2007 and Doom 3 before that, a machine killer. It pushes on a graphics card so heavily that on Ultra settings virtual memory is used by the gigabyte in addition to the on-board of the card. For a 5770 to maintain an almost perfect frame rate the graphics have to be set to medium or low and that’s as far as you can push it.
To go fully medium will result on small freezes during high action, forget about shooting an enemy that comes around the corner, to process his textures, lighting etc the game would stop just long enough for you to die in a horrible painful death. It’s awful, humiliating and removes the skill of being the gamer with the fastest trigger finger/mouse click. Swapping in the 7790 and medium settings are a breeze.
The frame rate is so smooth even on high action it’s easy to imagine the card is at the same time filling out a tax return form and watching Netflix it’s so bored with the lack of a challenge. It’s only when every setting is pushed to the maximum from anti-aliasing to anisotropic filtering does the occasional stutter occur and even then it may be down to virtual memory through the page file being allocated.
For other games the Radeon 7790 handles everything flawlessly. SimCity works on maximum settings at the newly reinstated cheetah speed without a single stutter. Dead Space 3, again works at maximum settings which anyone will be thankful for. There’s nothing worse than a monster popping up on screen only to be frozen for a second while the graphics card catches up. Age of Empires 2 HD is no challenge at all and so is the more modern current Company of Heroes 2 closed beta. So it’s only the massive lag that’s going to annoy in COH2.
Hitman, Sleeping Dogs, Far Cry 3 and indeed Crysis 3 all are perfectly playable on the 7790. While Crysis 3 will be a visual overload it’s one of the few games that can’t be played on the highest settings while sustaining the best frame rate without making some sacrifices. So it is one of the small flaws of the 7790. However playing on mostly medium-high settings is no problem.
Tomb Raider, like most can be played on ‘Ultimate’ quality at nearly 40fps or 60fps at a lower resolution. BioShock Infinite, the new sequel in the outstanding shooter series is so ideally matched for the 7790 hardware that those buying the card from certain retailers will get a free copy of the game. You can’t say their not confident the card can take it on.
What enthusiasts may like is the MSI version used for this review comes with the standard MSI Afterburner and Kombustor software. Afterburner is used to monitor every aspect of the cards temperatures and running speeds live via the desktop. It also provides fully functional easy overclocking. Kombustor works as a more hands-off overclocker quickly pushing the card to its most stable limits.
The positive for budget buyers looking to upgrade only once every few years is the 7790 will not let you down. For those wanting to play all current games from Tomb Raider through Starcraft 2: HOTS and even Battlefield 3 on the highest or nearly highest settings the Radeon 7790 will do the job and then some.
Gamers may need or want to turn down a setting or two to crank up higher playing resolutions but that’s something down to the individual. The only downside is while the maximum graphics quality will be your default choice now, those settings will have to be lowered sooner than if you buy a more expensive Radeon card like the hardcore enthusiasts. Buying in the future a second 7790 to run two in Crossfire mode could be an option to slow the tide but be sure it’s for you.
In one line, anyone looking to finally upgrade a budget card should spend a little more and get a Radeon 7790.