AMD Radeon HD 7850 2GB vs. Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 2GB vs. AMD Radeon HD 7870 2GB (Part 3)

11/22/2012 9:21:30 AM

AMD Radeon HD 7870 2GB

The HD 7870 2GB is another AMD card that’s greatly benefitted from recent price cuts and driver updates. Launching at around $386, it now finds itself on the wallet-friendly side of $321.5 and competing with Nvidia’s GTX 660 2GB. This has, in the past, been the bang per-bukc sweet spot, with earlier cards such as the GTX 560 Ti 1Gb and HD 5850 1GB offering great value.

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Based on AMD’s Pitcairn XT PU, the HD 7870 2GB shares the same dual front-end as the HD 7900 series of cards. Its reduced stream processor count allows for a smaller 212mm2 die and a 2.8 billion transistor-count. With 12 of the Southern Islands architecture’s maximum of 32 compute units disabled, the HD 7870 2GB’s 20 remaining CUs boast 80 SIMD engines, for a total of 1,280 stream processors and 80 texture units. The GPU runs at mighty 1GHz core frequency though; higher than that of the 7950 3GB and the stock HD 7970 3GB. As much, in front-end heavy tasks such as tessellation, the HD 7870 2GB is faster.

While it retains 32 ROPs, two of the four 64-bit memory controllers have been disabled, leaving a 256-bit memory interface. With a 1.2GHz (4.8GHz effective) memory frequency, this results in a peak memory bandwidth of 153.6GB/sec

With its high core frequency, the HD 7870 2GB handles Unigine heaven’s tessellation heavy benchmark well, with its score of 1,306 marginally eclipsing that of the competing GTX 660 2GB. The two cards were also extremely well matched throughout our benchmark suite. The GTX 660 2GB has an advantage in Skyrim at 1,920 x 1,080 with 8x AA, thanks to a minimum frame rate of 61fps compared to the HD 7870 2GB’s 56fps. In The Witcher 2 at 1,920 x 1,080, the HD 7870 2GB leads the way with a minimum frame rate of 48fps compared to the Nvidia card’s 46fps.

At higher resolutions, there’s little to separate the two cards across all our benchmarks, with both returning near-identical minimum frame rates at 1,560 x 1,600. The HD 7870 2GB has a slight advantage when it comes to power efficiency, though, pulling a peak system power of 192W compared to the GTX 660 2GB’s power draw of 205W.


Description: Description: AMD Radeon HD 7870 2GB

The HD 7870 2GB and GTX 660 2GB are very evenly matched, which is reflected in their similar pricing. Across our range of benchmarks it’s hard to separate them by any significant margin, although we’d hesitate to recommend them for high-resolution use; the ideal resolution for both is 1,920 x 1,080. As the GTX 660 2GB is available for a marginally lower price, it just pips the HD 7870 2GB, but the Radeon remains extremely competitive and is good value for money.


Similar to the GTX 660 2GB, but marginally more expensive

Gigahertz: Slightly quicker than a GTX 660 2GB at 1,920 x 1,080; low power consumption

Giga-Hurts: Dearer than the GTX 660 2GB

Typical street price: $299



1920 speed: 13/20

2560 speed: 12/20

5760 speed: 2/5

Value: 45/55


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