Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 FleX Video Card

One thing that all the different models, from all the different manufactures have one common is that in order to run AMD’s EyeFinity 3 feature you need to either include at least one monitor that has a DisplayPort capability, or are using some type of adapter to convert DisplayPort into the connection your monitor supports. At least that is the case except for the model we are about to touch on today, the Sapphire FleX HD 7950 3GB, which can run this Eyefinity with all the monitors being DVI. How about that for saving a few dollars? And at the moment, this is the fastest Radeon card that can do that.

Closer look

According to AMD and their specification page, the reference Radeon HD 7950 are run at an impressive 800MHz for the Core, with the Memory running at 1250MHz (5000MHz effective) Memory clock speed. Sapphire have bumped up the Core to 860MHz, leaving the GDDR5 Memory clock at the 1250MHz reference speed. Both numbers are reduced from the faster Tahiti XT (HD 7970) which comes in at a reference 925MHz and 1375MHz, respectively.

The transistor count remains the same between the two chips but offer different shader counts, being 1792 SPs for the Tahiti Pro which is down from the 2048 SPs of the Tahiti XT. Texture units on the HD 7950 are set at 112, vs 128 on the HD 7970, and both have 32 ROPs. The lesser specs of the Tahiti Pro result in a slightly lower maximum TDP of 80 watts compared to 230 watts for the XT.

Now it is time to get into the card itself.

We begin with the FleX’s cooling system which is a dual fan setup versus the single fan setup of the reference models. The reference model cooler setup would exhaust the air out the rear of the case, whilst the FleX model does that as well but also allows some of the air to be let off into the interior of the case. With the aid of case fans, this warm air is circulated out of the case. This more advanced setup allows the fans to blow directly over the card’s GPU, memory and VRMs for a more effective cooling system.

From the side profile we see that the FleX is a dual slot unit. The cooling system also comprises of a series of copper heat pipes and aluminum heat fins to dissipate the heat produced by the components of the card. The base of the cooler does not come in contact with the memory modules but just the core. Sapphire uses a plate that covers all the memory modules plus some of the VRM to aid in the cooling, and this is where those dual fans really become beneficial.

If the user wishes, additional Radeon cards can be added to the FleX in order to utilize AMD’s CrossFireX multi-GPU technology. Up to four cards can be added for a really nice “QuadFire” setup. When in parallel like this, during 2D operations when only the primary card is being used, the added cards will automatically be switched off (based on load) to help save on energy; AMD calls this ZeroCore Power.

For video outputs we have dual mini-DisplayPorts, a regular HDMI, a dual link DVI-I connections on bottom, and a single link DVI-I position above it. The card comes with a several adapters and cables to use in order to take advantage of the FleX features. This includes a legacy DVI-VGA adapter, mini-DP to DisplayPort cable, HDMI to SL-DVI adapter, and a 1.8M (5.9Ft) HDMI cable.

Looking at the top end of the card we see there are two 6-pin power connectors. AMD recommends that the user use at least a 500W quality power supply for this card. Sapphire has also included two 4-pin Molex to 6-pin PCIe Power adapter cables in case you should for some reason require them.

The FleX HD 7950 also comes with full support for the new PCIe 3.0 specifications that is starting to turn up on motherboards.

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