XFX R7750 Black Edition DD Review

Author: Chris Ledenican
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Sunday, June 10th, 2012
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/s/XFX_R7750_BE/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

The AMD Radeon HD 7750 is designed to be a cost effective solution that is capable of playing modern games at medium settings. This follows in the tradition of graphics cards before it such as the AMD HD 6750 and HD 5750, which were also affordable graphics cards capable of playing most games available at the time. However the HD 7750 is built on AMD’s Graphics Core Next architecture, which is more power efficient and richer in features than the previous generation GPUs while still offering the same level of performance.

Since the release of the HD 7750 we have been able to examine multiple models from various companies, but the XFX model we have on hand is slightly different than what we have seen thus far. The reason being the XFX R7750 Black Edition DD comes with a 6-pin power connector, which will increase the power delivery to the core. With more power available to the board there is a good chance this model will have a higher overclocking ceiling than other models, which up to this point has been lacking.

Looking at the specifications we can see XFX has put the additional power to good use. Instead of using the standard 800MHz base clock, this model is clocked at 900MHz. That is actually a higher clock speed than we have been able to achieve in our labs while overclocking similar models without a power connector. In addition, the R7750 BE comes with XFX’s signature Double Dissipation thermal solution, which is more efficient than the reference cooler while being quieter to boot.

Specifications
Output 1 x Dual-Link DVI
1 x Single-Link DVI
1 x HDMI 1.4a
1 x DisplayPort
GPU 900 MHz Core Clock
28nm Chip
512 x Stream Processors
Memory 1024 MB Size
128-bit GDDR5
4200 MHz Effective
Software Driver CD
Accessory VGA Adapter

Most of the graphics cards under the XFX brand tend to ship in a particular of style packaging, so it's no surprise the XFX R7750 BE comes in a box that that is similar to what we have seen from other Black Edition graphics cards. The Double Dissipation logo adorns the front of this model's package instead of the Black Edition logo. The front of the box also includes all the key features such as the thermal solution being used, the GPU clock speed, amount of memory and the PCIe connection type.

Much like the packaging of their high-end graphics cards, XFX has managed to utilize nearly all the available surface area on the panels to highlight the product information. Looking around the box, we can see there is a panel dedicated to the key features which are presented in the form of a list, while another panel includes images and descriptions of the included features such as multi-monitor support, GPU edging, and XFX's 5-star support. The back panel lists some of the same features, but is dedicated to the "X" factor technologies including XPertise, XFormance, XFactor and XPerience.

Bundled accessories include a VGA adapter along with the drivers disc, installation guides and a "Do Not Disturb" sign. Overall there is nothing overly impressive about the bundle, but this is standard for a mainstream graphics card.

The appearance of the XFX R7750 is the same as all the cards in the Black Edition family, but at just 8.2" it is dramatically smaller than the high-end models. In addition, the card features a sleek brushed aluminum outer cover with a black stripe running down the middle, along with dual 80mm fans.

Since this model is built on the Cape Verde Pro graphics processor the core packs in 1.5 billion transistors and is built on a 28nm node with a die size of just 123mm². Internally the core has 8 compute units giving it a total of 512 streaming processors, 16 ROPS and 32 texture units. All of these specifications are the same as any HD 7750, but where the XFX model differs is in the clock speeds. A reference HD 7750 has a GPU clock speed of 800MHz, while this model is clocked at 900MHz. The memory however didn't get the same treatment, as it has the standard 1GB GDDR5 frame buffer clocked at 1125MHz (4.5Gbps QDR), giving it a bandwidth rating of 72Gb/s.

As we mentioned before, this model is the only HD 7750 to enter our labs with an additional power connector. This gives the board a total of 150 watts of available power, well over the 55W power rating. Of course this model will use slightly more power since it is clocked 100MHz higher than the reference models, but that still leaves nearly 100W of additional power.

The video output options on the R7750 BE include dual DL-DVI connectors along with full-sized DisplayPort and HMI connections. In addition, the rear bracket is also part of the XFactor design. Just beside the lower DVI port is a large XFX logo. This logo opens up the bracket and improves the overall ventilation. According to XFX, this simple alteration for the rear bracket can reduce the temperatures by up to 20% by increasing the rate at which the airflow can be exhausted.

Breaking down the video options, the DisplayPort uses the 1.2 specification to enable support for up to three monitors per port (via MST Hub) as well as AMD HD3D technology. The HDMI 1.4a connector on the other hand supports 3GHz speeds with frame packing. Essentially this allows the connection to run the frames faster, thus creating a smoother gaming experience. The HDMI and DP ports can also be teamed together to support HD3D Surround, which is a feature new to Eyefinity 2.0.

As part of the Black Edition family, the R7750 BE comes with the "XFX XPERTISE 1.0" design which is basically a three-part solution that consists of a large copper base, Double Dissipation fans, and an aluminum fin stack To better understand the technologies in use, we are going to break down the heatsink so we can get a closer look at it part by part. It should be noted that XFX has taken a strong stance against their heatsinks being disassembled, given how the warranty stickers cover the retention screws and the closed design of the heatsink itself. So, if you plan to disassemble the heatsink, know that it will void your warranty

The bottom of the thermal solution simply consists of a large copper base that has small pads located throughout it. These pads ensure the base of the cooler is secured to the core with the proper amount of pressure. Just above the core is a large aluminum fin stack and the double dissipation fans. Since this graphics card only uses around 65 watts of power, this thermal solution should be more than enough to keep the temperatures under control

The entire thermal solution falls under the "XFactor" part of the XPertise design, and the Duratec components leverage most of its technologies. The Duratec technology consists of professional grade components including all-solid capacitors, ferrite core chokes, a 2oz copper layout throughout the PCB and dust-free IP-5X fans. These features improve the thermal efficiency of the graphics card, but perhaps more importantly also increase the durability of the graphics card and ensure both the fans and components will last for years.

Overclocking:

When it came to overclocking we were extremely pleased with the results. In our previous testing of graphics cards using the Cape Verde Pro GPU we have only been able to increase the clock speed by around 90MHz. However, since this model has 150W of power available to it, the results were substantially better.

As you can see from the image below we were able to push the GPU clock speed of the R7750 BE well beyond 1GHz, and it didn't start to show signs of instability until around 1150MHz. That is well above any other graphics cards in the Cape Verde family we have tested, and looking at it in terms of percentages it is 40% higher than a standard HD 7750 with an 800MHz base clock. The memory also scaled well for a HD 7750 graphics card, as we were able to increase the GDDR5 frequency nearly 15% to 1287MHz (5148MHz effective).

Hardware Configuration:

Drivers:

Benchmarks DX11:

Test Settings:

Usage:

Specifications:

(Note: All models might not be included in this review. The table below is to be used for comparisons)
AMD Specifications
Model
AMD Radeon HD 7970 AMD Radeon HD 7950 AMD Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition AMD Radeon HD 7770 XFX R7750 Black Edition DD
Processing Cores
2048 1792 1280 640 512
Core Clock
925MHz 850MHz 1000MHz 1000MHz 900MHz
Memory Clock
1375MHz 1250MHz 1200MHz 1125MHz 1125MHz
Memory Interface
384-bit 384-bit 256-bit 128-bit 128-bit
Memory Type
3GB GDDR5 3GB GDDR5 2GB GDDR5 1GB GDDR5 1GB GDDR5
Fabrication Process
28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm
MSRP
$479 $379 $329 $149 $125
NVIDIA Specifications
Model
Nvidia GTX 670 Nvidia GTX 680 Nvidia GTX 480 Nvidia GTX 570 Nvidia GTX 580
Processing Cores
1344 1536 480 480 512
Core Clock/ Boost Clock
915MHz / 980MHz 1006MHz / 1058MHz 700MHz 742MHz 782MHz
Memory Clock
1504MHz 1504MHz 924MHz 1250MHz 1002MHz
Memory Interface
256-bit 256-bit 320-bit 320-bit 384-bit
Memory Type
4GB GDDR5 2GB GDDR5 1.5GB GDDR5 1.25GB GDDR5 1.5GB GDDR5
Fabrication Process
28nm 28nm 40nm 40nm 40nm
MSRP
$399 $499 $239 $299 $389

Futuremark's latest 3DMark 2011 is designed for testing DirectX 11 hardware running on Windows 7 and Windows Vista. The benchmark includes six all new benchmark tests that make extensive use of all the new DirectX 11 features including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading.

In 3DMark 11, the R7750 BE's increased clock speeds helped it perform better than the reference model, and once overclocked we were able to get an additional boost. Still, it wasn't quite enough to match the performance of the HD 7770.

Unigine Heaven became very popular very fast, because it was one of the first major DirectX 11 benchmarks. It makes great use of tessellation to create a visually stunning heaven.

At 900MHz the XFX R7750 was able to reach a average frame rate of 24FPS rating in Unigine and 27FPS once overclocked. This is impressive considering the settings are maxed out and the Tessellation was set to extreme.

Batman: Arkham City is the sequel to the smash hit, Batman: Arkham Asylum. The game was created with the Unreal 3 Engine, and includes areas with extreme tessellation, high res textures and dynamic lighting. Batman, also includes native support for PhysX and is also optimized for Nvidia 3DVision technology.

In Batman Arkham City the XFX R7750 BE was only 1FPS faster than the reference model at the stock setting. However, once we overclocked the model to 1120MHz it was able to rival its older sibling, as it was just one frame shy of tying with the HD 7770. Also, regardless of the setting the R7750 BE scored over 30FPS, making the game playable without stutter even at high settings.

Battlefield 3 is designed to deliver unmatched visual quality by including large scale environments, massive destruction and dynamic shadows. Additionally, BF 3 also includes character animation via ANT technology, which is also being utilized in the EA Sports franchise. All of this is definitely going to push any system its threshold, and is the reason so many gamers around the world are currently asking if their current system is up to the task.

The XFX R7750 BE ran Battlefield 3 just shy of 30FPS. This being the case, it will be impossible for the R7750 to run this game without stutter at the highest settings. Sill, this is to be expected considering it is one of the most demanding games currently on the market.

Crysis 2 is a first-person shooter developed by Crytek and is built on the CryEngine 3 engine. While the game was lacking in graphical fidelity upon its release, Crytek has since added feature such as D11 and high quality textures. This improved the in-game visuals substantially, which in turn pushes even high-end hardware to the max.

In Crysis 2 the results at 900MHz were just over 20FPS, so the R7750 BE will have some issues running this game stutter free at very high settings. The massive overclock we were able to achieve did help push the performance up to 30FPS, and we only noticed minimal stutter while benchmarking at this level.

DiRT 3 is the third installment in the DiRT series and like it's predecessor incorporates DX11 features such as tessellation, accelerated high definition ambient occlusion and Full Floating point high dynamic range lighting. This makes it a perfect game to test the latest DX11 hardware.

DiRT 3 is not as demanding as either of the two previous benchmarks, so the results are quite good considering the cost of the XFX R7750 BE. Still, at the default settings the card was not quite able to maintain a level of performance above 30FPS. The performance level jumped dramatically once the card was overclocked as it was able to reach an average frame rate of nearly 40FPS.

Metro 2033 puts you right in the middle of post apocalyptic Moscow, battling Mutants, rivals and ratio-active fallout. The game is very graphics intensive and utilizes DX11 technology, making it a good measure of how the latest generation of graphics cards perform under the latest standard.

Metro 2033 runs best on hardware with plenty of memory bandwidth, so the 128-bit memory bus on the R7750 does impact performance. Still, XFX's card was able to nearly reach 30FPS, which is impressive considering its low price point.

Total War: Shogun 2 is a game that creates a unique gameplay experience by combining both real-time and turn-based strategy. The game is set in 16th-century feudal Japan and gives the player control of a warlord battling various rival factions. Total War: Shogun 2 is the first in the series to feature DX11 technologies to enhance the look of the game, but with massive on-screen battles it can stress even the highest-end graphics cards.

Total War: Shogun 2 was playable at high settings on the XFX R7750 BE, but there were times when the game would stutter. The stutter usually only occured during large scale battles though, so for the most part the card was able to run the game well.

Temperature:

To measure core GPU temperatures, we run three in-game benchmarks and record the idle and load temperature according to the min and max temperature readings recorded by MSI Afterburner. The games we test are Crysis 2, Lost Planet 2 and Metro 2033. We run these benchmarks for 15 minutes each. This way we can give the included thermal solution and GPU time to reach equilibrium.

Its safe to say these results are hard to beat for a card at this level! In our labs the XFX model was over 20% more efficient than the reference model while remaining nearly inaudible during operation.

Power Consumption:

To measure power usage, a Kill A Watt P4400 power meter was used. Note that the numbers represent the power drain for the entire benchmarking system, not just the video cards themselves. For the 'idle' readings we measured the power drain from the desktop, with no applications running; for the 'load' situation, we took the sustained peak power drain readings after running the system through the same in-game benchmarks we used for the temperature testing. This way we are recording real-world power usage, as opposed to pushing a product to it's thermal threshold.

With the extra power connector comes extra power consumption. At load the XFX model consumed 23W more power than its stock counterpart and once overclocked, the XFX 7750 BE required the same amount of power as a stock HD 7850.

When it comes right down to it the XFX R7750 Black Edition DD is the best HD 7750 graphics card we have tested to date. This is due in no small part to XFX’s highly efficient X-Factor design, and the inexpensive $124.99 price point. But beyond just these factors the XFX Black Edition graphics card has something other HD 7750s just don’t have; a 6-pin power connector. This increases the power available to the board by 100%, which is the reason it has a default clock speed of 900Mhz and can overclock well beyond 1GHz.

In our labs the XFX R7750 Black Edition DD was able to scale all the way up to 1120Mhz. At this speed the power consumption spiked to the point where it was using as much power as a reference HD 7850, but it also increased the performance of the graphics cards by around 10%. This allowed it to rival the HD 7770 and at times it was even extremely close to performing at the same level as a GTX 560 Ti. So, when it comes to outright performance this model is really going to be hard to beat at its respective price point.

The thermal solution was another excellent aspect of the card. During our testing the R7750 was extremely efficient, as the core temperature never exceeded 67°C. In addition the card performed well from an acoustic standpoint, as even during load periods the fans were inaudible. In fact the only time the fans became noticeable was when we manually set them above 50% to keep the core cool while overclocking. However, the thermal performance can be attributed to the dual slot design of the heatsink, which makes this card more suitable for a standard chassis and not a HTPC enclosure.

Overall XFX did an outstanding job in designing an near flawless mainstream graphics card,  and if I was in the market for a card under $130 this one would be my first choice.

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