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Pros: Well-priced, great design for keeping the GPU cool, and this card alone does better than two Sapphire 2GB 6950s in CrossFireX. That said, this card struggles in Unigine Heaven 2.5 when it's close to objects, with settings of high shaders, extreme tessellation, anisotropy of 16, 8x anti-aliasing, at a 1600x900 resolution. That is to say that this card will do everything in its power not to drop below 26fps at the toughest of conditoins. Average at those stats was 46-59fps, limited by my monitor.
It's also wonderfully quiet, even with a load. Or maybe I'm not giving it enough of a load when I max out benchmarks, Burnout Paradise, Bioshock franchise, Dirt 3, Borderlands 2, Portal 2, Dead Island, and other heavy hitters.
Cons: Physical design does cause compromise for other cards beneath it, but I really don't see myself ever planning to shop for anything bigger than a wireless card, or a sound card if I'm getting -really- serious. Still, with slight adjustments, such things can fit beneath this card, depending on the motherboard.
Other Thoughts: As I mentioned, I had two 2GB Sapphire 6950s in CrossFireX, and they were dropping to 16fps at those Heaven 2.5 stats, maxing 44fps. I don't think I've ever seen a 2GB Radeon card perform so well, but my current build is my first AMD/Radeon, just for the sake of having the experience. I do prefer Intel/AMD, but with this card, I'm really not all that intent on building another computer yet.
AMD FX-4100 @ 4.2GHz (7.3)
ASUS M5A97 R2.0
G.Skill 8GB 1600 (2x4GB) (7.6) (RMA with my two 8GB sticks, soon to make 16GB in this rig)
HIS 7870 GHz Edition (7.9, 7.9)
Crucial M4 64GB SSD (7.9)
WD Caviar Green 2TB HDD
Windows 7 Ultimate x64
Corsair Carbide 300R windowed (with NZXT Hue for flare. >.o)
Pros: Outperforms two Sapphire 2GB Radeon HD6950s by just the single card itself
Driver software is stable and installs well (from fresh install with no former AMD drivers on the system)
Quiet. Surprisingly quiet. I've pushed the card to the max on Sonic Generations, Borderlands 2, Portal 2, Sega All-Stars Racing, Heaven 2.5, Furmark, and many of those being played on a 20" and 42" monitor at the same time (screens duplicated). Former 6950s in CrossFireX could do that with only one or two games in my library (the lowest-weight ones at that). Speaker volume has been low, and the fan sounds like it's at 30% when the card has a load. Temperatures were stable and efficient.
Comes with CrossFireX bridge
Works in 970 chipsets.
Cons: The fan. Oh yes, but it's not a horrible con. The fan is the most efficient I've seen on Radeon cards, and the fan part itself will take up the next and third slot on your motherboard if you plan to have a long card in there. My motherboard's PCI-E ports are three apart though, so I'm fine.
Long. I could fit one into my system, but I'll likely have to take out my hard drive bays to fit the second one I plan to buy. One is powerful enough to be decent, but two is another layer on a cake.
Other Thoughts: FXfirstname.lastname@example.orgGHz
ASUS M5A97 970 motherboard
8GB (temporary until an RMA gives me 16GB)
64GB Crucial M4 SSD (OS, utilities)
60GB OCZ Agility II (non-Steam games)
2TB Seagate Barracuda (personal data)
Corsair Carbide 300R (windowed)
Windows 7 Ultimate x64
Pros: They work just beyond tolerably when they work.
Cons: Low framerates in benchmarks (down to 22fps on Heaven 2.5 at full stats, no 3D, 1600x900 res) and best framerates of 60fps when there are very few things to render.
Cards in CrossFireX can't successfully duplicate my monitor from a 20" screen to a 42" screen except on low-power games (only TF2, to be direct).
Game freezes to the effect of restarting my computer.
Cards don't accept driver updates.
---I install updates, it gets to the last item, and then I get a blue-screen. Updates install in safe mode, but I get a blue-screen upon reaching the logon screen.
Foul customer service.
---I've dealt with EVGA before (only cards I've bought in the past), and they, without question, send a replacement card so I can use something while they look at the original card. Sapphire/AlthonMicro absolutely refuses, suggesting I buy another temporary card, or simply don't use my computer.
DirectDraw and Direct3D completely fail, making games like Halo (original) unable to be played.
Other Thoughts: I bought two of these and connected them via CrossFireX.
If you want quality, go for another brand. I'm never buying Sapphire again. The word is now a profanity in my house, and I hope the business crumbles from the electronics market.