Pros

Good price/performance

Cons

Fan shroud came misaligned from factory, causing the fan to hit it; very simple cooler design; no voltage modification available; extremely limited core and memory overclocking compared to other HD7870 models

Star Rating

XFX HD 7870

Introduction

Here we're reviewing the XFX Radon HD7870 Core Edition, based on the AMD Pitcairn architecture.  This is a very standard version of the card, with the following specifications:

  1. it'sthe same length as the AMD reference model, at 9.5" long.
  2. it ships without a factory overclock, meaning it operates at the reference specifications of 1000MHz core, 1200MHz.

The accessory bundle was below-average, including only a Crossfire cable and XFX's humorous door hanger, but no PCIe power adapter or video output adapters, as are included with many other cards.

Features

Its single-fan cooler is quite basic, using an aluminum fin array with two copper heat pipes, where many competitors (and even XFX's higher-end models) would use four heat pipes. XFX refers to the design as "Ghost," referencing the open-sided body as a benefit for cooling capability. Essentially, the XFX-branded silver housing simple functions as a mount for the heatsink and fan. Overall, the fan is admirably quiet at idle, which by default uses a 20% fan speed. It idled at about 29C in an ambient of 22C using a relatively well-cooled test bench. Under a gaming load, it got up to 67C and 50% fan.

Performance

The test bench we used for this article consisted of an Intel Core i7-3770K@4.4GHz, a Asus Maximus V Gene motherboard, 16GB RAM, Win7x64, and AMD Catalyst Driver Version 13.2 beta 3

3dmark

Nothing too surprising here - 3DMark Fire Strike presents a much more demanding load than 3DMark 11, in part because it renders at a much higher resolution (1080p versus 720p). The XFX HD7870 achieves 5394 in the Fire Strike Graphics Score, and 7349 in the 3DMark 11 Graphics Score.

Additional synthetic and gaming benchmarks below show that the stock HD7870 has plenty of graphics processing power, averaging almost 58 frames per second over three 60-second runs of Battlefield 3 single-player with every setting turned up to max. Even new games like Hitman Absolution can be played at very high settings. The HD7870 really is a good starting point for playable performance in recent games.

games

Overclocking

We found the maximum stable overclocked setting on the card was 1075MHz core/1350MHz memory, or only 7.5% above reference for the GPU core and 12.5% for the memory. The card crashed at 1100MHz core, and exhibited negative scaling beyond memory speeds of 1350MHz. 

The modest overclock provided a 5-6% boost in performance.

Conclusion

XFX's "Core" line is its most basic line of graphics cards. Overall, unless this card is significantly cheaper than other dual-fan models, we recommend skipping it in favor of offerings from other manufacturers.

It's available from Newegg for $239.99, with a $20 rebate and two free games, as of our publication date.

[Update: Over two years since we first reviewed this card, we're happy to report that it's still in daily use, despite the issue we had with the fan. It's grown a bit noisy, though, suggesting that the fan bearings might not last for the long haul!]