Our Summary and Conclusion
Performance Summary: The new Radeon HD 7790 cards featured in this article performed right in line with our expectations. Based on its branding alone, it's obvious that the Radeon HD 7790 falls somewhere in between the Radeon HD 7770 and the Radeon HD 7850 in AMD's product stack, and that's exactly how the card performed. The Radeon HD 7790 is generally faster than the Radeon HD 7770, but it can't quite keep pace with the more expensive Radeon HD 7850. Versus NVIDIA's current offerings, the Radeon HD 7790 typically offers higher performance than the GeForce GTX 650 Ti. Take one step up in NVIDIA's stack though, and the higher-priced GeForce GTX 660 offers significantly higher performance overall.
The new AMD Radeon HD 7790 is a decent little graphics card. There was a gaping hole in AMD's Radeon HD 7000 series graphics card lineup separating the Radeon HD 7770 and Radeon HD 7850, and the Radeon HD 7790 fills that in very nicely. The Radeon HD 7790's performance is closer to the 7770's performance than it is the 7850's, but it's a nice step up nonetheless.
The factory-overclocked Asus Radeon HD 7790 Direct CU II and Sapphire Radeon HD 7790 Dual-X OC cards we tested are a couple of percentage points faster than standard reference models, but they're only a few bucks more expensive. The latest information we have as of press time is that the Asus card will be priced at $154.99, and the Sapphire card will be at $159.99. Considering both cards have identical clocks, custom coolers, and similar output configurations, saving five bucks on the Asus card is a no-brainer unless the extra accessories included with the Sapphire card (and HDMI cable and power adapter) will be put to use.
Reference Radeon HD 7790 cards should be priced around $149, which includes a copy of BioShock Infinite as part of AMD's Never Settle Reloaded bundle, but we're told that some add-in-board partners are going to be somewhat aggressive with their pricing. Unfortunately, we won't know for sure for a couple of weeks because Radeon HD 7790 cards aren't slated to arrive until April 2.
In light of current graphics card offerings and prices, the Radeon HD 7790 would be a good choice for casual gamers that don't want to skimp on features. However, the graphics card landscape is forever changing and may not look the same by the time the Radeon HD 7790 actually arrives on store shelves. If the rumors hold true, NVIDIA may be shipping a card soon that fills the gap between the GeForce GTX 650 Ti and GTX 660. If that card is priced closer to the former, but performs more like the latter, the Radeon HD 7790's value proposition changes significantly. We'll all know more soon.
As it stands today, the new AMD Radeon HD 7790 is a clear step up over the Radeon HD 7770, which should serve budget-conscious gamers well. If you can scrounge up the extra coin for a Radeon HD 7850 or GeForce GTX 660 card though, there's a lot of additional performance to be had for a moderate additional investment.