First-look benchmarks: AMD launches the Radeon HD 7790

Dave James

Boom, it's new graphics card Friday! I've got the latest graphics technology from AMD, the Sapphire Radeon HD 7790, sat in my test-rig right now and it's chewing through gaming benchmarks like a good budget card should.

The HD 7790 is based on an “entirely new 28nm Graphics Core Next ASIC” and they're using the GCN 2.0 moniker to shout about it. The new Bonnaire XT GPU that makes up the new card isn't actually doing anything massively new with the Graphics Core Next architecture, the 2.0 part simply denotes a second round of the same GCN tech. But it is a new design, with just over two billion transistors, around 1.8TFLOPS processing power and a healthy 896 Radeon cores.

This new make-up puts it nicely in between the Cape Verde XT GPU in the HD 7770 and the Pitcairn Pro in the HD 7850.

And so it stacks up in terms of gaming performance too.

Synthetic DX11 benchmark

Unigine Heaven 3.0 - FPS: higher is better

Sapphire HD 7790 1GB - 18.9

MSI HD 7850 1GB - 21.6

Zotac GTX 650 Ti - 17.4

MSI HD 7770 1GB - 15.1

DX11 gaming benchmarks

Batman: Arkham City (1920x1080) - FPS: higher is better

Sapphire HD 7790 1GB - 55

MSI HD 7850 1GB - 71

Zotac GTX 650 Ti - 57

MSI HD 7770 1GB - 42

DiRT Showdown (1920x1080) - FPS: higher is better

Sapphire HD 7790 1GB - 51

MSI HD 7850 1GB - 56

Zotac GTX 650 Ti - 21

MSI HD 7770 1GB - 26

Max Payne 3 (1920x1080) - FPS: higher is better

Sapphire HD 7790 1GB - 32

MSI HD 7850 1GB - 37

Zotac GTX 650 Ti - 22

MSI HD 7770 1GB - 24

The HD 7790 is being set up as the perfect 1080P budget card, but the difficulty is that already exists in the HD 7850 1GB card.

That has 16 GCN clusters compared with the HD 7790's 14 - making for 1024 cores versus the new chip's 896. The HD 7850 1GB card also comes with a beefy 256-bit bus - twice that of the HD 7790 - making dealing with high-res textures much easier.

The HD 7850 1GB is also priced around the same sort of area as this new HD 7790.

It's just not the HD 7850 1GB...that makes Dave a sad panda.

And this is where I start to feel very sad. Generally the launch of a new graphics card has me all excited, but the launch of the latest AMD Radeon card, the HD 7790, is ringing the death-knell for my favourite budget card of this generation.

AMD is now making the lovely HD 7850 1GB end-of-life.

While the HD 7790 is capable of generating decent 1080P frame rates, the better silicon inside the HD 7850 1GB gives it the lead in the benchmarks.

The new 1080P budget card

So, if you're in the mood for some quality budget gaming cards then you need to act quickly before the current stock levels of HD 7850 1GB cards gets so thin on the ground that the retailers start upping the price.

The HD 7790 seems like a decent 1080P graphics card, but we've already had better.

Stay tuned for the full review next week, and there may be some other exciting graphics news too...

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