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Asus HD 7870 DirectCU II TOP review

Is this the top graphics card in terms of bang for your buck?

Our Verdict

For

  • Good performance
  • Full Pitcairn GPU tech
  • Decent overclock

Against

  • A bit pricey
  • More demanding titles still struggle a bit

Conventional wisdom says the second-rung effort in any family of graphics chips is where the sweet spot sits, and that's where it lies in AMD's current range of GPUs.

Even better, this is the full-fat iteration of AMD's second-fiddle Pitcairn graphics chip. Unlike the 7850, which makes do with 1,024 of AMD's GCN shaders, you get all 1,280 here. That's substantially up on the 1,152 GCN shaders in the PS4 and the Xbox One's 768.

Then factor in the 1,100MHz core clock (this Asus board is factory overclocked beyond the standard 1GHz spec) and the gap grows wider. Although it's tempting to make comparisons with the games consoles now that both are based on PC-derived technology, it's never quite that simple. Consoles tend to have lower overheads, and developers make that little bit more effort to get their games running inside the two well defined boxes.

So you want your PC graphics card to have something in hand over the consoles when all the next-gen ports pour out. Which is exactly what the 7870 offers. The 7870 knocks out some very healthy frame rates at 1080p.

Benchmarks

1,920 x 1,080

DirectX 11 gaming performance
Sleeping Dogs: Frames per second: Higher is better (Min/Avg)

Sapphire HD 7770 GHz Edition: 13/19
Sapphire HD 7790 Dual-X OC: 16/24
AMD Radeon HD 7850: 19/28
Asus GTX 650Ti Boost Direct CU II OC: 18/28
Nvidia Geforce GTX 760: 24/41
Asus HD 7870 Direct CU II TOP: 25/36
Asus HD 7950 Direct CU II: 27/39
Nvidia Geforce GTX 770: 30/52
Sapphire HD 7970 GHz Edition Vapor-X: 36/52
Nvidia Geforce GTX 780: 36/60
AMD Radeon HD 7990: 59/97
Nvidia Geforce GTX Titan: 31/65

Grid 2: Frames per second: Higher is better
Sapphire HD 7770 GHz Edition: 34/43
Sapphire HD 7790 Dual-X OC: 40/50
AMD Radeon HD 7850: 42/52
Asus GTX 650Ti Boost Direct CU II OC: 39/52
Nvidia Geforce GTX 760: 56/73
Asus HD 7870 Direct CU II TOP: 57/73
Asus HD 7950 Direct CU II: 56/71
Nvidia Geforce GTX 770: 67/90
Sapphire HD 7970 GHz Edition Vapor-X: 73/87
Nvidia Geforce GTX 780: 71/85
AMD Radeon HD 7990: 50/60
Nvidia Geforce GTX Titan: 75/93

Company of Heroes 2: Frames per second: Higher is better
Sapphire HD 7770 GHz Edition: 11/19
Sapphire HD 7790 Dual-X OC: 13/21
AMD Radeon HD 7850: 15/28
Asus GTX 650Ti Boost Direct CU II OC: 11/22
Nvidia Geforce GTX 760: 15/31
Asus HD 7870 Direct CU II TOP: 22/39
Asus HD 7950 Direct CU II: 21/35
Nvidia Geforce GTX 770: 20/40
Sapphire HD 7970 GHz Edition Vapor-X: 28/46
Nvidia Geforce GTX 780: 27/49
AMD Radeon HD 7990: 26/44
Nvidia Geforce GTX Titan: 31/55

Metro: Last Light: Frames per second: Higher is better
Sapphire HD 7770 GHz Edition: 13/22
Sapphire HD 7790 Dual-X OC: 19/28
AMD Radeon HD 7850: 20/30
Asus GTX 650Ti Boost Direct CU II OC: 14/33
Nvidia Geforce GTX 760: 8/45
Asus HD 7870 Direct CU II TOP: 19/39
Asus HD 7950 Direct CU II: 21/40
Nvidia Geforce GTX 770: 24/56
Sapphire HD 7970 GHz Edition Vapor-X: 25/51
Nvidia Geforce GTX 780: 21/65
AMD Radeon HD 7990: 23/75
Nvidia Geforce GTX Titan: 27/70

BioShock Infinite: Frames per second: Higher is better
Sapphire HD 7770 GHz Edition: 13/28
Sapphire HD 7790 Dual-X OC: 14/34
AMD Radeon HD 7850: 21/41
Asus GTX 650Ti Boost Direct CU II OC: 17/47
Nvidia Geforce GTX 760: 15/65
Asus HD 7870 Direct CU II TOP: 19/51
Asus HD 7950 Direct CU II: 16/57
Nvidia Geforce GTX 770: 21/78
Sapphire HD 7970 GHz Edition Vapor-X: 19/74
Nvidia Geforce GTX 780: 23/91
AMD Radeon HD 7990: 14/123
Nvidia Geforce GTX Titan: 21/98

Heaven: Frames per second: Higher is better
Sapphire HD 7770 GHz Edition: 13/19
Sapphire HD 7790 Dual-X OC: 13/23
AMD Radeon HD 7850: 16/28
Asus GTX 650Ti Boost Direct CU II OC: 17/31
Nvidia Geforce GTX 760: 21/43
Asus HD 7870 Direct CU II TOP: 18/36
Asus HD 7950 Direct CU II: 20/40
Nvidia Geforce GTX 770: 24/52
Sapphire HD 7970 GHz Edition Vapor-X: 23/51
Nvidia Geforce GTX 780: 780 29/69
AMD Radeon HD 7990: 30/100
Nvidia Geforce GTX Titan: 30/77

Verdict

OK, some of the minimum frame rates look less than great. It drops below 20 frames per second minimum in both BioShock Infinite and Metro: Last Light. But in reality, the predominant experience is smoothness. This GPU is a performance win.

What it's not, however, is a bargain. Plain Jane 7870 GHz edition boards can be had for less, and that's where our money would go.

Tech Specs

Product TypeGraphic Card
Chipset ManufacturerAMD
Chipset ModelHD 7850
HDMIYes
Chipset LineRadeon
Chipset SeriesHD 7000
DisplayPortYes
Maximum Resolution2560 x 1600
Brand NameAsus
Standard Memory2 GB
Host InterfacePCI Express 3.0 x16
HDCP SupportedYes
Bus Width256 bit
Multi-GPU TechnologyCrossFireX
RAMDAC Speed400 MHz
Analog SignalYes
Digital SignalYes
Dual Link DVI SupportedYes
DVIYes
Number of DisplayPort Outputs1
Number of DVI Outputs2
Number of HDMI Outputs1
Cooler TypeFan Cooler
Memory TechnologyGDDR5 SDRAM
Form FactorPlug-in Card
ManufacturerASUS Computer International
Memory Speed5000 MHz
Product ModelHD7850-DC2T-2GD5-V2
Product NameHD7850-DC2T-2GD5-V2 Radeon HD 7850 Graphic Card
Processor Speed1000 MHz
Manufacturer Part NumberHD7850-DC2T-2GD5-V2
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://uk.asus.com
Marketing Information

Cranked 140MHz over reference for an ultimate engine clock of 860MHz

  • DirectCU thermal utilizes direct-contact GPU heatpipes for 20% cooler and vastly quieter performance than reference.
  • Acclaimed DIGI+ VRM with Super Alloy Power technology delivers precise digital power and enhanced durability for stable overclocking
  • GPU Tweak utility helps you modify and tune clock speeds, voltages, and fan performance via an intuitive interface.
API SupportedDirectX 11.0, OpenGL 4.2