27-Jul-12 // Techpowerup Editors choice on the HD 7850 1GB royalQueen


Club 3D Radeon HD 7850 1GB GDDR5 royalQueen

Not long ago, AMD released the HD 7800 Series, based on the company's Pitcairn silicon which uses the GCN shader architecture on a 28 nm process. HD 7850 provides great midrange capabilities beating the Radeon HD 6950 and the NVIDIA GTX 560 Ti.

Club3D has chosen a special memory configuration for its HD 7850 Royal Queen. Unlike the 2 GB found on the reference design and on most other HD 7850 cards, the Royal Queen uses just 1 GB of GDDR5 memory. This lets Club3D price its card at only $195, $35 cheaper than the reference design. At this point you are probably exclaiming, "1 GB! That'll never be enough for the latest titles at higher resolutions". Our testing will conclusively show whether this card has any chance of competing with offers in its market segment or whether it's just a big pile of fail. 

The card uses a black-and-red design which looks quite stylish. The flat cooler looks a bit odd, but maybe Club3D wanted to make it look like a playing card.

Display connectivity options include one DVI port, one full-size HDMI port, and one full-size DisplayPort. You may use all the outputs at the same time.

An HDMI sound device is included in the GPU, too. It is HDMI 1.4a compatible which includes HD audio and support for Blu-ray 3D movies. The DisplayPort outputs are version 1.2 which enables the use of hubs and Multi-Stream Transport.

Club3D's fansink uses just one heatpipe, which is doubled up though. The card doesn't need an expensive copper base either.

The card requires one 6-pin PCI-Express power cable for operation. This power configuration is good for up to 150 W of power draw.


Value and Conclusion

The Club3D HD 7850 RoyalQueen is available for $210 in Europe.

Great price and performance per dollar
Excellent overclocking potential
Low power consumption in 2D
Native full-size HDMI and DisplayPort output
Support for ZeroCore power
Support for PCI-Express 3.0 and DirectX 11.1
Not overclocked out of the box
Performance penalty at 2560x1600 and 5760x1080
Limited memory overclocking potential
No software voltage control
CCC Overdrive limits too low

The Club3D HD 7850 RoyalQueen comes with only 1 GB memory, whereas most other HD 7850 cards on the market have 2 GB. When I first got the card, I was extremely sceptical whether such capacity could provide enough performance for the latest and greatest titles. Now, after finishing the review, I am impressed. At resolutions up to, and including, 1920x1200, the card is just as fast as the HD 7850 with 2 GB, if not a little bit faster. Only at resolutions of 5760x1080 (Eyefinity), and at 2560x1600 in some games, did we see a performance penalty from the smaller frame buffer. Personally, I don't consider this an issue, because a single HD 7850 is just too slow for these resolutions anyway.
The card not only is fast, but also has a great cooling system. We see significantly reduced noise levels from the card, which means it could be used in a media PC that supports full HD gaming. Temperatures are great too, lower than those of many other "big" HD 7850 cards. Thanks to the lower memory density, power consumption is also down, especially during desktop work. In 3D, we see similar power consumption as the 2 GB reference design, which could be explained by the use of a more cost-effective VRM design. This also means that the voltage controller has no support for software voltage control, but this is not that big a deal in this market segment.
GPU overclocking works great, better than that in many other HD 7850 cards. Our manual overclocking yielded an extra 27% real-world performance, putting the card on the same performance level as NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 580, just a bit lower than HD 7950. Memory overclocking doesn't do so well, because Club3D chose Elpida memory chips which are slightly cheaper, but do not offer as much overclocking potential as chips from Samsung or Hynix.
Club3D's cost savings measures are reflected in the consumer price, which is $195 when converted from euros to dollars, as the card is only available in Europe at this time. A typical 2 GB HD 7850 costs $230 and won't be faster at full HD resolutions. In terms of price/performance the HD 7850 RoyalQueen is the fastest upper mid-range card on the market today, by a quite big margin. For a serious gamer on a budget, lacking enough money for a GTX 670, this is definitely the card to get. I would certainly recommend it to my friends.


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