Rejoice and revel in the glory of 28nm graphics that wonít necessitate a new line of credit, as we get our hands on a 7870 from ASUS. Not an ROG card, but certainly a powerful piece of gaming hardware. This guy performs very similar to a 6970 or GTX 580, but costs less, runs cooler, takes less power to drive, and is somewhat more modest in size.
Some basics for starters, which you probably already know. This is the Pitcairn AMD GPU, with the Graphics Core Next design and 1280 stream processors. There are 2.8 billion transistors in the GPU, yet the power draw isnít too bad, with just the PCI Express 3.0 slot and two 6-pin connectors doing the trick. No 8-pins for the 7870.
The ASUS DirectCU II version of the HD 7870 runs cooler thanks to direct contact heatpipes and dual 100mm fans, which are also around 10dB quieter than the single-fan reference cooler. Additionally, ASUS has been able to factory overclock the GPU to 1100MHz, which is 100MHz more than reference. The card comes with a 256-bit interface (was personally hoping for a wider bus, but itís all good), and 2GB GDDR5 running at 5000MHz actual.
In short, you get a nice 20%-50% boost over the 6870 with this one, depending on application. No wonder they call this segment the sweet spot.
While perhaps not as frill-tastic as an ROG card, the HD 7870 DirectCU II is an awesome piece of hardware, and is a great choice for more budget-minded gamers who want good performance in 1080p and above with almost everything turned to max. And if youíre inclined to overclock, the GPU Tweak utility is in the box for all sorts of tuning and overvolting goodness.
I love this card because I can actually comfortably afford it, whereas its bigger 7900 series siblings are just too much for the old wallet at this juncture. Itís a very nice golden median anyone looking for new graphics should consider.
As usual, ASUS makes sure the card gets to you in one piece. Itís very tight in that box, let me tell you!
Not too many accessories inside, just your Molex to 6-pin, CrossFire bridge, and DVI to VGA
Hereís the culprit in the flesh, looking nice with the dual fans and DirectCU II shroud/cooler. This one doesnít really cover the entire PCB, so itís not as neatly boxy as the reference AMD cards, but cooling is definitely better for it. The card is also a reasonable 2-slot part, and ďonlyĒ 10.6″ long. It should fit nicely in just about any mATX/ATX case, and is obviously more down to Earth than the monstrous triple-slot 7970.
Not much to see on the front, but thereís plenty of space for hot air to get out. It gets more of the heat into the case proper than the enclosed variants, but you will not notice the difference in daily use.
On the front, we get two DisplayPorts, one HDMI, and one DVI. For me this is more than plenty, as I donít do multi-screen, but you can drive up to six monitors via this card if youíre into really generous desktop real estate.
On the side we have just the two 6-pin connectors, making this an easy upgrade for anyone whoís currently running something like the 6800 series from 2010. Literally a swap and game affair, really.
For me this is the highlight of the AMD 28nm 7000 range, as I really loved what the 6800′s offered, and this product takes that further. Iím not an over the top kind of gamer, but I suspect the overlocking potential on the HD 7870 is quite good as right out the gate they give you a 10% factory overclock with no risk of instability or overheating. This is nice, so get yours soon!