Originally posted on September 2, 2012
While I’ve been a fan of PC gaming I’ve not always gone for the best components and instead gone for bundles. My desktop CPU and Motherboard were a bundle from Maplins and so were the case and the graphics card. CPU is a quad-core AMD Athlon II X4 630 at 2.8GHz and motherboard is a ECS GeForce6100PM based on the nVIDIA nForce 6100-430 chipset. The graphics card was a basic XFX Radeon HD 5450 which, while has served me well in the past, was starting to struggle. While it was fairly happy with Minecraft, Battlefield 2 and 2142 could only be ran on middling settings and sometimes World in Conflict and Supreme Commander 2 slowed with a lot of particle effects. Just Cause 2 was unplayable and was like watching a slideshow, while Crysis 2 ran at 15-20 FPS and Battlefield Bad Company 2 seemed to run okay but was very sluggish on the controls.
So it was time for an upgrade. After reading up I decided on either a Radeon 7850 (MSI Twin Frozor) or 7870 (XFX Core edition) and in the end I went for the 7870. So I found myself on my way to Novatech to pick it up and see what it can do.
I also upgraded my power supply from an Artic 500W (originally from eBuyer) to a Novatech 600W (rebadged OCZ or Corsair, according to the sales consultant). 500W is minimum reccomended for the 7870 but for £60 the Novatech was a good buy for a modular PSU.
First impressions when I got home is that this was a big card – a lot bigger than I was expecting. I knew it was a double-slot card but at nearly 25cm long it overlapped 3 out of 4 SATA ports on my motherboard meaning I had to disable the CD/DVD drive. The size of the card is 24.10 x 3.80 x 11.10 cm which, compared to the 5450 it replaced, also dwarfed it.
Top: XFX Radeon 7870. Bottom: XFX Radeon 5450.
Fitting wasn’t an issue as I had to take the PSU out as well to replace it. This was my first modular power supply as well which I found a lot easier to manage compare to the Artic it replaced with the spare cables training everywhere.
Fired the machine up, re-ran the Windows 7 Experience Index tests (raised gaming graphics from 5.1 to 7.9), updated the latest drivers and was met with Just Cause 2 running the benchmarking tests at a spectacular 75 FPS.
A truly excellent card well worth the money.
Name: XFX Radeon HD 7870 Core Edition
Memory Clock: 4.8GHz
Clock Speed: 1GHz
Cooling: Single Fan
Video outputs: 1x HDMI, 2x DVI, 2x Displayport
Price: £199.99 (Novatech, £220 eBuyer)