The Radeon HD 7950 3GB is a worthy follow-up to the HD 7970 3GB. In comparison to Nvidia’s 15 month old GTX 580 1.5GB, it’s instantly the better choice; the HD 7950 3GB is not only cheaper (at least at time of writing), but is as-fast or faster in almost all our tests, draws less power both when idle and under load, runs quietly, and overclocks like a badger hopped up on Lucozade and strawberry Chewits.
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However, the important phrase you should take out of the above paragraph (apart from the Badger/Chewits bit) is ‘in comparison to Nvidia’s 15 month old GTX 580 1.5GB.’ We’re still waiting for the full 28nm GPU picture to develop, and until then AMD is pitching and pricing its new cards against last year’s cards, at last year’s prices. Whether it’s due to the current low yields of TSMC’s 28nm fabrication process or AMD’s need for a profitable quarter, 7-series pricing is painfully high. We certainly doubt those who’ve bought high-end Nvidia 5-series or AMD 6-series over the last year will be rueing their purchases yet.
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Usually we see high-end parts come in and replace existing name-sakes, not arrive at yet another, even higher price point. Of course, AMD has a right to charge what it thinks users will pay, but we’d have preferred to have seen the market move forward and the HD 7970 3GB and HD 7950 3GB arrive at their 6-series counterpart’s price points of £310 and £240 respectively. If this had been the case, we’d be falling over ourselves to recommend these cards, but as it is, the HD 7950 3GB is merely a better option than last year’s Nvidia card, and priced as such.
With Team-Green set to launch its own range of 28nm Kepler GPUs soon though, we’d advise caution. While the HD 7950 3GB is a good GPU for the money right now and in comparison to the current market, we don’t know how long that’ll last. However, if you absolutely can’t wait for that new graphics card the HD 7950 3GB delivers plenty of everything we look for in a GPU; we just wish it was a bit cheaper and shook up the graphics market a bit more.