P1010126 MSI R7850 Power Edition 2GD5/OC Review

MSI has well earned a reputation for making quality custom graphics cards. Here for review we have their newest release, the R7850 Power Edition. With its use of quality components and the new Twin Frozr IV cooler, the card should be a significant improvement over the reference HD 7850. We look forward to putting this factory overclocked version through its paces.

Back when the AMD Radeon 7850 'Pitcairn' card launched, we felt it was a competent but not stunning card, primarily due to the fairly steep launch price of US $249. In the couple of months since the launch, several custom cards have launched with non reference PCB's and coolers. MSI is well known for their high quality custom graphics card designs and have overhauled the Radeon 7850 reference design resulting in the R7850 Power Edition.

P1010131 MSI R7850 Power Edition 2GD5/OC Review

We'll start with a quick overview of the AMD 7850 GPU. The 7850 is built around the Pitcairn Pro GPU with 1024 'Graphics Core Next' SIMD based stream processors. The move away from prior VLIW based architectures means the GCN cards represent the biggest architectural overhaul since the R600 based 2900XT. It's built using TSMC's high-K metal gate 28nm process which is allowing some Pitcairn cards to ship with 1100Mhz+ core clocks. It supports PCI Express 3.0, a 256 bit memory interface and comes with just a single 6pin PCIe power input thanks to a moderate 130w TDP.

The R7850 Power Edition comes with a 90Mhz factory overclock resulting in a final core clock of 950Mhz with the memory at the reference spec of 1200Mhz (4800Mhz effective.) This brings a theoretical ~10% boost in performance over a reference card. Add in the promised cooler running and quieter noise levels of the Twin Frozr IV cooler and clearly we have something altogether different from the reference card.

MSI typically has three tiers of custom graphics cards. The Lightning series is exclusively reserved for the top end GPU's, the Hawk series is for the upper mid range and the Power Edition series is for the mid range. Like the Lighnings and Hawks, the Power Edition series comes with triple overvoltage control of the GPU, memory and VDDCI thanks to the superb MSI Afterburner application. There should be a heap of overclocking potential on tap.

Before we get to the card itself, lets have a look at the box, accessories and specifications.

The card ships in a fairly compact, well protected box. It is securely fitted in an internal foam shell and should easily survive the handling of sometimes careless couriers.

P1010042 MSI R7850 Power Edition 2GD5/OC Review

P1010044(1) MSI R7850 Power Edition 2GD5/OC Review

 

The accessories list is about what you would expect from a mid range offering. We have the usual driver & software CD as well as a manual and quick start guide. The adapters consist of DVI-VGA, mini Display Port to full size Display Port and twin molex to 6pin PCIe adapters.

P1010048 MSI R7850 Power Edition 2GD5/OC Review

Now for the card itself: The R7850 Power Edition uses the latest iteration of MSI's highly regarded Twin Frozr cooler which we'll go over in more detail later. It's a dual slot card yet has a compact length of just 210mm making it a good choice for a small form factor or HTPC case. The card looks good and gives the impression of having very good build quality.

P1010126 MSI R7850 Power Edition 2GD5/OC Review

 

Specifications

 

Graphics Engine AMD Radeon HD 7850
Technology 28nm
Stream Processors 1024
Interface PCI Express x16 3.0
Memory Type GDDR5
Memory Size (MB) 2048 MB
Memory Interface 256 Bits
Core Clock Speed (MHz) 950
Memory Clock Speed (MHz) 4800
Memory Bandwidth (GB/s) 153.6
Texture Fill Rate( GTexel/s) 60.8
DVI Output (Dual Link) 1
D-SUB Output 1 (via adapter)
HDMI-Output 1
Mini DisplayPort 2
DirectX Version Support 11
OpenGL Version Support 4.2
CrossFire Support Yes
Card Dimension (mm) 210 x 118 x 39