AMD recently came out with its Tahiti and Graphics Core Next architecture with a bang in the HD 7970 and HD 7950. Today, HIS released the first of at least two mainstream cards, the HIS HD 7750. We are going to put the card through its paces and see how it fares in our testing.
Specifications and Features
Below are some slides (Courtesy AMD) showing the some of the features and architecture of the card. The 7700 series of cards come equipped with the “Cape Verde” graphics core which utilizes all of the features as the 7900 series cards do including ”Graphics Core Next”, but with disabled stream processors, ROPS, and memory bandwidth. This translates in to a more efficient and powerful clock for clock solution versus previous generation mid-range cards, including a large boost in compute power versus the previous generation.
You can see a few more details on this architecture from a great article at Anandtech.com.
Looking at the slide/table below, you see its 28 nm, 1.5 billion transistor die has 512 stream processors, a core clock of 800 MHz, and memory coming in at 1125 MHz. Board power is coming in at a very low 55 W. This is so low in fact that all power comes from the slot so there is no need for external power sources. I tried to get a GPUz screenshot of the card, with version 5.9 but it wouldn’t read a thing on it! No clock speeds, BIOS, barely anything.
|HIS HD 7750 Specifications
|Engine Clock||800 MHz|
|Compute Performance||819 GFlops|
|Texture Fillrate||25.6 GT/s|
|Memory Type||1 GB GDDR5|
|Memory Clock||1,125 MHz (4500 MHz)|
|Memory Data Rate||4.5 Gbps|
|Memory Bandwidth||72 GB/s|
|Typical Board Power||55 W|
|AMD ZeroCore Power||<3 W|
The first shots you see here are the HIS retail packaging. On the front is an Excalibur sword along with the mention of its maximum resolution, memory type and quantity as well as showing off the PCIe3 badge. On the backside of the box it goes in to a few more details about the features such as SM5, 7.1 Audio, OpenGL 4.2, as well as listing the suggested PSU requirement (400 W+). Inside the retail packing is a black box holding the card, driver disk (not pictured), and DVI to HDMI adapter. It fits nice and snug inside its foam packing made specifically for the card. So there shouldn’t be any worries so long as the courier doesn’t decide to play soccer with your package before getting to your home, but no amount of appropriate packaging would prevent that kind of abuse anyway.
Well folks, there she is…her diminutive little self. I can say it’s been a long time since I owned a card that was this short and looks pretty quaint on the test bench compared to the other monsters that have sat there before. This is your first glance at the iCool cooler from HIS. According to HIS, the iCool cooler is less than 28 dB while in 2D mode. While I don’t have any equipment to measure dB levels, I do know it’s hardly audible at idle even if it’s the only fan running on the PC. With any other fan running this cards noise just seems to vanish. One thing to note is that the memory is not actively cooled by the heatsink, but two of them are VERY close to touching it. It almost appears as if a thermal pad should be there, but isn’t. Regardless, I’m sure they don’t put out a lot of heat, but that doesn’t leave much high hope for overclocking it perhaps. Much ado about nothing on the rear of the card. One thing that you haven’t seen on this card is a PCIe power plug. This card is powered by the slot only. Taking a look at the outputs in the third picture, you can see 1x DVI (2560 x 1600 max resolution), 1x HDMI 1.4a (4096 x 3112 max resolution), and 1x DisplayPort 1.2 (4096 x 2160 /display).
Now it’s time to strip off its heatsink and see what is going on under the hood. Not a terrible thermal paste application here, but as usual, we will clean it up and strap the cooler back on. Notice the RAM is not cooled by this setup, though the heatsink comes so close to the memory IC’s that slipping in a thermal pad between them would likely help keep the RAM cool. The next photo here is a cleaned up shot of the core. On this particular die, I do not see any markings a mere mortal such as myself can decipher what is actually under the hood outside of what HIS tells us. But here she is in all her 28 nm shiny glory! Next to the core shot is the memory chips, which are made by Hynix. When looking up the number on these IC’s we find it is the same ones in the 7950 PCS+ that we reviewed here. At 1.5 V, that memory is rated for 1250 MHz. Even though the 7950 article doesn’t show it (published before I really pushed on the memory), this same vRAM went up to a stunning 1800 MHz on the 7950!!
Performance and Overclocking
- Intel i7-2600K CPU (Overclockers.com Approved!)
- Asus Maximus IV Extreme
- G.Skill RipjawsX 2 x 4 GB 2133 MHz CL7 @ 1.65 V
- OCZ 60 GB Vertex 2 SSD (Overclockers.com Approved!)
- Seasonic 1 kW Platinum PSU
- HIS HD 7750
- Windows 7 64 bit Operating System
- Catalyst 12.1 (8.932.2)
- All Synthetic benchmarks were at their default settings
- Alien vs. Predator was run at its default setting (textures high, no AA), and the highest it offered (4x AA, textures set to highest)
- Hawx 2 was run at a resolution of 1920×1080 with 8x AA and every setting at its highest (DX10)
- Dirt 2 was run at a resolution of 1920×1080 with 8x AA/16x AF and all settings at their highest
- Stalker: COP was run at a resolution of 1920×1080 using Ultra settings, 4x AA with tessellation enabled using the Sunshafts portion of the benchmark only
- Unigine Heaven (HWbot) was run with the “extreme” setting
Taking a look at the metrics here, this card handily beats out the 6750 in 03 and 06 putting up 54.8k scores at stock in 03 and 17.5k in 06. This card really puts a hurting on the 6750 in 03, which is surprisingly still a GPU-heavy benchmark. Those are pretty respectable scores though for a such a diminutive (physically) card. Although it’s clearly not a direct translation, it does allude that it can play some older titles fairly well. We will see a bit later if that does translate.
Moving on to benchmarks that are a bit more modern, The Song Remains the Same (love Led Zepplin!) with the 7750 besting the 6750 by almost 18% in Vantage and 15% in 3DMark 11. In Heaven, this card simply put a hurting on the 6750 at almost 48% better. Seems like the Graphics Core Next is showing up the GLIW architecture from the previous generation so far. Again, we will see a bit later how this translates to tessellation heavy games.
Aliens vs. Predator is a DX11 game using tessellation. Looking at these results, the FPS for the High Quality tests at 1920 x 1080 don’t come close to 30 FPS. You would have to lower the resolution and likely disable AA to get to 30 FPS here. The good thing about this benchmark is we run it at two different settings. Without AA and one ‘notch’ lower texture settings, this becomes ‘playable’ when overclocked.
Dirt 2 is a DX11 title as well, using tessellation on some textures such as banners, the crowd, and water making things a bit more realistic. This game is wholly playable with the settings cranked getting over 41 FPS average on the benchmark. Hawx 2, to nobody’s surprise is playable without the tessellation being used. Even with it on, the frame rates would still be WELL over playable. The last game in this testing is Stalker: Call of Pripyat. Another DX11 tessellation heavy game. At the settings we test, the FPS are below our magic 30 FPS threshold, but barely when overclocked. Again, jumping down a notch on the settings or the resolution will likely yield a pretty good game experience.
At the time of publishing, I am unable to get any temperature readings from this card outside of CCC, so no maximum readings here as there is no logging in CCC. I tried the latest version of GPUz, Afterburner, and TriXX, and none would show any sensor information. I’m sure support for these cards won’t be a long time coming. CCC showed this card to idle at 33 °C with 39% fan which was inaudible to me over three Yate Loons at 800 RPM. After running 3DMark11 fully overclocked, I jumped out as soon as I could to see the temperature at 49 °C. Again, I am not sure what the peak temperature was. Getting in to the power side of things, as you have read/seen above, this board does not have any external power source, it all comes from the PCIe slot. The slides state typical board power around 55 W which is well under the 75 W maximum the slot can give. Using 3DMark11 and the system noted above at stock speeds, power consumption peaked at 147 W in the combined test (as it uses the CPU heavily as well) at stock speeds. So if you are gaming with this system at stock, this should be a worst case type number your system will draw from the wall. In the graphics tests the system peaked at 142 W.
Pushing the Limits
Due to the limits of any software overclocking, I was only able to push the core to 900 MHz and the memory to 1250 MHz. So any boost here will be solely from the CPU. With that fact staring me down, I did not even run these tests as it is not an accurate reflection of the card in the synthetic tests, and most game benchmarks did not respond to the CPU speed increase much anyway. As soon as updated software becomes available, I will update in the comments section.
Being a hardcore enthusiast, it’s awfully tough to wrap my head around a mainstream card these days. However, I was pleasantly surprised at the results here. The HIS HD 7750 is able to play some of the titles with settings on their highest at 1920 x 1080 and accomplishing achieving playable frame rates such as Dirt2 and HawX2. Yet a couple of others showed like in Alien vs. Predator with the highest settings, things were getting a little shaky and dropping below the magical 30 FPS mark which many deem the line in the sand for playable frame rates. This card isn’t supposed to be able to pound through games with the settings at their highest. It’s a mid-range gaming card and with that either a lower resolution can be used, or turning the settings down a bit in modern games will help bring the frame rates back up. It does handily beat its predecessor (if only by name) the 6750 in nearly all tests. So it uses less power by almost 20% and performs better. With pricing on this card coming in between $100-200 (according to AMD slides), and I’m guessing much closer to $100, you have a pretty solid card so long as your expectations are cognizant of the class of card the HD 7750 fills. You will not be able to play some of the latest GPU crushing titles like BF3 with the highest settings and loads of AA at 1920 x 1080 without things falling below 30 FPS as an average. Turning settings down a notch or two will need to happen to get the most enjoyable gaming experience. Older games, or ones that are not as hard on the GPU, will yield even better results. The overclocker in me is hopeful that the hardware used will allow for software voltage additions to push on the clocks even more. With or without the additional overclocking, and as long as this card is no more than $150, but preferably lower, you have a solid budget gaming card.