Sapphire 7950 Dual-x graphics card review

Sapphire 7950 Dual-x graphics card review

Sapphire 7950 Dual-x graphics card review.

The Sapphire AMD 7950 GPU is a fantastic graphics card for crypto mining.  The chipset, code named "Tahiti" in the 7950, is very similar to the 7970 chipset.  The 7950 has 1792 Stream processors, as compared to 2048 stream processors in the 7970.  The performance is impressive, and has broad over clocking ability.

This review is based on mining litecoins, in a single gpu mining rig.  Your results may vary.

System details

Motherboard: ASUS M5A99FX PRO

Processor: AMD FX 6100 6-Core Processor

Memory/RAM: Corsair Vengeance 8GB

Power Supply: Cooler Master Silent Pro M - 1000W 80 PLUS Bronze Power Supply

Graphics card: Sapphire AMD Radeon 7950 Dual-x Grahics Card

Operating system:  Xubuntu 12.04

AMD Drivers: 13.8 Beta

AMD SDK: 2.8.1.0

AMD ADL: 5.0

 

Overview

The Sapphire AMD Radeon 7950 Dual-x GPU, is is the little brother to the 7970.  While not quite as fast as the 7970, the 7950 is one of the best hash/per-performance cards on the market.  It has a relatively small footprint, and can fit in 2 pci slots, albeit a tight fit.  The fan shroud is plastic, and should be noted, that some of the exhaust air is blown horizontally, from the top of the card.  

The card comes comes factory unlocked.  Meaning you can adjust the voltage, with the appropriate software on Windows machines only.  Linux still has a problem adjusting the voltage of these cards.  The only way to adjust the voltage in Linux, is to flash the Sapphire with a bios that has a lower stock voltage.  I don't recommend doing this, as it has the potential of bricking your card.  Not to mention eroding any chance of warranty assistance.  

 b2ap3_thumbnail_SA7950_IMG_1135.jpg   b2ap3_thumbnail_SA7950_IMG_1132.jpg

b2ap3_thumbnail_SA7950_IMG_1129.jpg   b2ap3_thumbnail_SA7950_IMG_1128.jpg

 

Mining performance

The Sapphire 7950 dual-x, can be tricky to get operating at a high hash rate.  The 7950 is the only gpu that I've had to adjust the "Gpu-threads" & "Intensity" options differently.  For some reason, this card performs well using 1 gpu-thread, at an intensity of 18-20.  The high intensity renders the desktop essentially useless.  There is very little multi-tasking that can be done while this card is hashing away.  

Initial settings:

gpu-threads = 2

intensity = 13

engine = 1190

mem clock = 1615

powertune = 20%

worksize = 256

thread concurrency = 20,400

Net Result: = 575 kh/s 

b2ap3_thumbnail_SA7950_Selection_012.png   b2ap3_thumbnail_SA7950_Selection_013.png

Second configuration:

gpu-threads = 1

intensity = 18

engine = 1195

mem clock = 1620

powertune = 20%

worksize = 256

thread concurrency = 20,400

Net Result = 660 Kh/s  (with hardware errors)

b2ap3_thumbnail_SA7950_Selection_008.png   b2ap3_thumbnail_SA7950_Selection_010.png

Final configuration:

gpu-threads = 1

intensity = 18

engine = 1175

mem clock = 1575

powertune = 20%

worksize = 256

thread concurrency = 20,480

Net Result = 675 Kh/s

b2ap3_thumbnail_SA7950_Selection_017.png   b2ap3_thumbnail_SA7950_Selection_016.png

Conclusion:

As you can see, the 7950 performs extremely well, in terms of hash rate.  It does come with the cost of higher temperatures.  I didn't measure the wattage draw, so that I could compare the price/performance/efficiency ratio to the 7970.  If there is enough demand, I will do that for a future update.  

Even with the high hash rate, the 7950's take back seat to the 7970 in my opinion.  Running at higher intensities can cost you some stability.  Not to mention the increased heat.  I've had these cards running on windows, undervolted, and pulling 600 Kh/s at 68.0C.  With two cards, they both averaged around 75.0C, after undervolting them.  

These cards are amongst some of the communities favorites, because of their high hash rate, and reasonable prices.  However, it's important to weigh the factors involved, when choosing between the 7950 & 7970 Sapphire.  It is still an exceptional card to mine bitcoins, litecoins, or other crypto currencies.

Pros: 

Fast hash rate

voltage is unlocked (for windows machines)

Price

Cons:

Hot!  When configured to run at high hash rate

To achieve high hash rate, it must be configured using high intensities.  Which can cause instability

Exhaust flow can be less than ideal

You can read more about the Sapphire 7950 in the "How to configure cgminer for windows 8 tutorial"

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