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Thursday, 05 April 2012 08:40

XFX Black DD Radeon HD 7850 2GB reviewed - A closer look at Black DD R7850

Written by Sanjin Rados

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Review:
Silent mid-range performer

XFX’s R7850 Black Edition’s full name is Black DD Radeon 7850 975M 2GB D5 2Xm DP HDMI 2XDVI (Part No.: FX-785a-CDBC). Hand in hand with its launch of AMD 7000 series of graphics cards, XFX introduced the Ghost cooler. It comes in two flavors – single and double fan versions. The latter is called Double Dissipation (DD) and is the one used by our test card. The version with two fans is quieter and offers better overclocking potential. All the coolers used by XFX on HD 7900/7800/7700 series were two slots wide, regardless of whether they had a single or two fans.

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Ghost cooler has no plastic parts – it’s all metal, aluminum and copper. The weight and quality are felt from the moment you grab the card and we must admit the DD cooler is quite a looker. The card’s name is written on a large aluminum strip on top of the cooler and it will most certainly look at home in any case with a side panel window. 

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A wide black strip stretches across the cooler but it’s there purely for aesthetic reasons. We were quite impressed to see XFX use the soft-touch coating that we haven’t seen much after Nvidia’s GTX 290.

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Although they may seem identical at a glance, Double Dissipation coolers on HD 7900/7800/7700 series are quite different. Namely, the HD 7900 series cooler uses vapor chamber technology; HD 7800 uses heatpipes while HD 7700 series relies on copper blocks combined with aluminum heatsinks. The difference in build quality is understandable seeing as how the cards are in different price ranges and don’t really have identical thermal properties.

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The R7700’s DD cooler is 21.3cm long and visibly cheaper – it has no soft-touch coating, no chromed outlet rings, no stylish aluminum bar on top of the cooler nor does the cooler close the end of the card, which is the case with faster models. Still, there’s no cheap plastic inside and this DD cooler’s performance is one of the best and quietest we’ve had so far.

As far as performance goes, DD coolers are tailored to the cards’ specific needs and really do excel in what they’re made to do.

The R7900 series’ DD cooler is about 27cm long, while the R7800’s is about 25cm. The aluminum shroud on both coolers seems identical as both feature soft-touch coating and chromed outlet rings. IP5X Dust Free fans prevent dust from penetrating the fans, prolonging their life while ensuring optimum performance levels.

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The Black Edition R7850’s cooler uses four heatpipes in charge of heat transfer.

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It’s interesting to see that XFX opted on using the HD 7870’s PCB. This is why the DD cooler can be used on both cards. Truth be told, AMD used identical PCBs for 7870 and 7850 cards upon launch but almost all partners chose the shorter PCB, which uses a single 6-pin power connector.

The Black DD R7850 975M card draws power via two 6-pin power connectors. Specs list a TDP of 130W for HD 7850 cards, but XFX wanted to make sure that the overclocked Pitcairn Pro chip has some headroom. The second power connector will come in very handy for further overclocking, especially since the original 130W TDP design is pretty close to the 150W limit on 6-pin power connectors.

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XFX DD Radeon 7850 975M card is equipped with 2048MB GDDR5 memory. The GDDR5 memory chips are made by Hynix (model number H5GQ2H24MFR-T2C). They are specified to run at 1250MHz (effective 5000MHz).

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The holes in the bracket are important with closed, tunnel designs where the fan is at the end of the cooler. The XFX logo leaves more room for air exiting but it won't matter much with XFX's DD Radeon 7850 card. Namely, the cooler is open design so air exits all around the card and not only through the holes in the bracket. XFX's Bracket Design is definitely among the details that will make XFX's cards instantly recognizable.

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Knowing that the cooler can handle the factory overclocked Pitcairn Pro chip, XFX could use a part of the bracket for the second dual-link DVI out. AMD’s reference design uses the closed, tunnel type cooler with a fan at the end of the card. The reference design uses two mini DisplayPort 1.2 connectors and a single dual-link DVI out, but XFX though it was better to include a standard DisplayPort 1.2 and two dual-link DVIs. Both designs provide users with standard HDMI 1.4a connectors. HDMI 1.4a provides HD audio and support for Blu-ray 3D movies.

XFX's DD Radeon 7850 will simultaneously support three displays, although the third display will have to be via DisplayPort.

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You may combine the XFX's Black DD Radeon 7850 card with another HD 7850 card from any vendor in CrossFire.

(Page 3 of 8)
Last modified on Thursday, 05 April 2012 08:58
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