updated 10:10 am EST, Tue January 31, 2012
AMD Radeon HD 7950 targets more common gamers
AMD has hoped to corner the more widely accessible range of high-end video cards Tuesday by unveiling the Radeon HD 7950. It trims back slightly from the range-leading 7970 with 1,792 visual processing cores instead of 2,048, 112 texture units instead of 128, and both 800MHz core and 1.25GHz memory clock speeds versus the 925MHz and 1.38GHz of its counterpart. The chipset is still powerful enough to handle 4K video and carries the 384-bit memory bus and 3GB of video RAM.
The chip is based on the same smaller, more efficient 28-nanometer process as the 7970. Lowering the clock speeds helps cut the power down to 200W, the same as in the older Radeon HD 6950. It has a common idle power of 15W and can go as low as 3W.
The PCI Express 3.0-capable graphics is still relatively expensive, but at $450 for a typical 7950 graphics core is about $100 less than the 7970. Sapphire, XFX, and others are offering factory-overclocked versions for slight premiums. AMD's release is a hard launch with boards already available, although computer makers' support isn't certain. Apple has been including high-end Radeon HD 7000 support in recent Mac OS X 10.7.3 betas and may be one candidate with a possible future Mac Pro update.