MSI Radeon HD 7790 OC Edition: Mid-Range Graphics

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Introduction and Specifications

Just before the mid-range AMD Radeon HD 7790 hit store shelves in early April, NVIDIA countered with the GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST. NVIDIA’s move also involved pricing changes that were good for mid-range card shoppers, but what matters most is that the card NVIDIA managed to launch coincident with the Radeon HD 7790’s launch, offers better performance in most of our benchmarks. With the dust settling, all that’s left now is for the factory-overclocked cards to battle it out.

Asus and Sapphire have already taken a crack with their overclocked Radeon HD 7790s. Those cards definitely out-perform the stock-clocked Radeon HD 7790 we tested in March, but couldn’t always overcome the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST. Today, we’re looking at the MSI Radeon HD 7790 OC Edition (R7790-1GD5/OC), which has a slightly lower base clock speed of 1,050MHz than its Asus and Sapphire counterparts. The frame buffer is also clocked a touch slower, but keep in mind that the MSI 7790 is set to street at around $135 (currently listing for $139 on Amazon after rebate), while the Asus and Sapphire cards are priced at $154.99 and $159.99, respectively.

MSI Radeon HD 7790
MSI Radeon HD 7790
Available at Amazon for $139.99 currently, after rebate.

As we mentioned, MSI’s Radeon HD 7790 has a core clock speed of 1,050MHz. The card also has 1GB of GDDR5 memory and a memory clock right at 6Gbps. That’s really not much slower than the memory bandwidth offered by the other cards; our Asus and Sapphire boards offer 6.4Gbps. But it’s enough to mean a slight edge for those cards in the benchmarks, as we’ll see on the following pages.

As a mid-range card, the MSI Radeon HD 7790 has a modest footprint in your system – though it will take up two slots at the back of your chassis. The card is 7.17 inches long x 4.16 inches tall, and 1.5 inches across, thanks to the cooling shroud on one side. That shroud covers copper heat pipes and an aluminum heatsink, all of which is cooled by a surprisingly quiet fan. According to MSI, the fan features its proprietary “Propeller Blade Technology,” which provides 20% more airflow than your average graphics card fan.

MSI also touts the quality of the card’s components, garnering it the company’s own “Military Class III” rating, because the card meets the U.S. MIL-STD-810G durability standard. Marketing-speak aside, this is a feature worth looking for in your components, particularly when you plan to undertake overclocking.

PCB Side Of The MSI Radeon HD 7790

MSI Radeon HD 7790 PCB View

The MSI Radeon HD 7790 is powered by a single six-pin PSU connector and the Thermal Design Power requirement is 100W. For output, the card offers two DVI ports, an HDMI port, and a DisplayPort. It supports resolutions up 2560x1600 and handles DirectX 11 and OpenGL 4.2. And, of course, the card has support for AMD’s CrossFire. The card includes two physical accessories: an external power cable and a DVI/D-Sub adapter.

Before we dig into MSI’s software bundle, we should point out that the card is selling on some retailers with a limited-time bundle that includes a couple of noteworthy titles: BioShock Infinite and Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon. That bundle also includes a copy of Futuremark’s new 3DMark benchmarking tool.

Output Panel of the MSI Radeon HD 7790
The MSI Radeon HD 7790's output ports.

As for the MSI software typically included with the video card, you’re looking at a Norton Internet Security trial, MSI Afterburner, MSI Dual Core Center, MSI Live, and MSI StarOSD. The most important of these applications is Afterburner, which is MSI's popular, robust overclocking utility. The program has overclocking profiles that let you quickly kick your card into overdrive when you’re ready to fire up a game (or even switch in-game), and it includes tools for logging the card’s status and identifying important info, like the BIOS version. The utility also has a video-capture feature called Predator for recording your game sessions.

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