ASUS Radeon HD 7870 DirectCU II

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ASUS Radeon HD 7870 DirectCU II

October 15, 2012 by Lawrence Lee

Product
ASUS HD 7870 DirectCU II
HD7870-DC2-2GD5-V2

PCI-E Graphics Card
Manufacturer
ASUS
Street Price
US$240

Recently we reviewed the ASUS GeForce GTX 680 DirectCU II OC, a top-of-the-line graphics card with a large and impressive dual fan heatsink. While it's a superb video card, as with most cutting-edge PC hardware, it's a prime example of diminishing returns on investment. The more you pay, the less improvement you get; a US$460 GTX 680 unfortunately doesn't offer twice as much performance as a card half the price like the Radeon HD 7870. Slower cards tend to almost always give you more bang for your buck until you hit the sweet spot which is actually somewhere around the US$100 mark.

High-End Radeon HD 7000 Comparison
Model
HD 7850
HD 7870 GHz Edition
HD 7950
HD 7970
Transistor Count
2.8 billion
2.8 billion
4.3 billion
4.3 billion
Die Size
212 sq. mm
212 sq. mm
352 sq. mm
352 sq. mm
Shader Units
1024
1280
1792
2048
Core Frequency
860 MHz
1000 MHz
800 MHz
925 MHz
Memory Type
1GB / 2GB GDDR5
2GB GDDR5
3GB GDDR5
3GB / 6GB GDDR5
Memory Frequency
1200 MHz
1200 MHz
1250 MHz
1375 MHz
Memory Bus
256-bit
256-bit
384-bit
384-bit
TDP
130W
175W
200W
250W
Street Price (USD)
$170 / $190
$230
$300
$380 / $600

The HD 7870 doesn't represent the best value available but it certainly offers more than it did at release. Launched in March with a MSRP of about US$350, the HD 7870 has since tumbled in price by more than US$100 though it still occupies a mid-to-high position in AMD's Radeon HD 7000 lineup. Based on AMD's 28 nm "Pitcairn" architecture, the 7870 die is packed with with 1280 stream processors and a 256-bit memory interface. The reference model calls for a core clock speed of 1000 MHz (making it a "GHz Edition", a seemingly superfluous naming convention) and 2GB of GDDR5 1200 MHz, to which our ASUS HD 7870 DirectCU II sample conforms.


The ASUS HD 7870 DirectCU II.

Though "DirectCU II" is printed clearly on the box and heatsink shroud, it isn't the same bulky cooler found on the GTX 680 DirectCU II OC. The moniker describes the style of cooler ASUS uses on most of their cards to differentiate it from reference cooling solutions — it's not a single, distinctive heatsink model. Compared to the GTX 680's heatsink, this is a much smaller cooling solution, taking up only two slots in total as the fans are substantially thinner. The layout is also completely flipped around, with fins running down the length of the board rather than widthwise, and heatpipes intersecting them on the perpendicular.

ASUS Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition Model Comparison
Model
HD7870-DC2-2GD5
HD7870-DC2-2GD5-V2
HD7870-DC2T-2GD5
HD7870-DC2TG-2GD5-V2
Core Clock
1010 MHz
1000 MHz
1100 MHz
1100 MHz
Memory Clock
1210 MHz
1200 MHz
1250 MHz
1250 MHz
Outputs
2 x Mini-DP, HDMI, DVI
DP, HDMI, 2 x DVI
2 x Mini-DP, HDMI, DVI
DP, HDMI, 2 x DVI
Additional Features
N/A
DIGI+ VRM
N/A
DIGI+ VRM
Extras
CF cable, VGA adapter,
CF cable, VGA adapter
CF cable, VGA adapter, power cable
CF cable, VGA adapter, Diablo III mouse pad

To befuddle consumers, ASUS is currently offering four separate versions of the HD 7870 with minor variations in the model number to differentiate them. The D2T's are clocked higher than the DC2's, at 1100/1250 MHz, while the V2 editions have more advanced voltage regulation circuitry (DIGI+VRM) and trade two mini-DisplayPorts for one regular DisplayPort and an additional DVI connection. Our sample is the HD7870-DC2-2GD5-V2 (in bold in the table above).

ASUS HD 7870 DirectCU II (HD7870-DC2-2GD5-V2): Specifications (from the product web page)
Graphics Engine
AMD Radeon HD 7870
Bus Standard
PCI Express 3.0
Video Memory
GDDR5 2GB
Engine Clock
1000 MHz
Memory Clock
4800 MHz ( 1200 MHz GDDR5 )
RAMDAC
400 MHz
Memory Interface
256-bit
Resolution
D-Sub Max Resolution : 2048x1536
DVI Max Resolution : 2560x1600
Interface
D-Sub Output : Yes x 1 (via DVI to D-Sub adaptor x 1)
DVI Output : Yes x 1 (DVI-D), Yes x 1 (DVI-I)
HDMI Output : Yes x 1
Display Port : Yes x 1 (Regular DP)
HDCP Support : Yes
Accessories
1 x CrossFire cable
1 x DVI to D-Sub adaptor
Software
ASUS Utilities & Driver
ASUS Features
DirectCU Series
Dimensions
01.47 " x 4.25 " x 1.54 " Inch


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