Radeon HD6850 vs HD7790

Previously I had an amazing opportunity to compare HD6850 and HD7770. Two months ago AMD released to market another GPU of HD77xx series – HD7790, so now it is time to test this one.

This time I decided to include some Linux software and to expand amount of games and benchmarks for greater variety. I’m trying to avoid poorly optimized games (for example games based on Unreal Engine 3 with ridiculously high requirements) and games including proprietary technologies which are not working on every GPU (PhysX).

Let me start with few “boring” things such as test environment. These two specific cards are MSI HD6850 Cyclone Power Edition OC 1GB and Gigabyte HD7790 1GB OC. It means they are not referent boards and their clocks are clocked by manufacturer. HD6850 is GPU@860MHz and GDDR5@1100MHz(4400 effective) but HD7790 came with GPU@1075Mhz and GDDR5@1500MHz(6000MHz effective). Hardware I was testing them at maybe is not the latest but enough to show differences between cards. So, hardware specification was:
CPU:  AMD Phenom II x4 B35 @3,4GHz
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-MA785GM-S2H
Audio: Creative X-Fi Titanium

Also very important is software specification as difference between drivers can sometimes be insane.
OS: Windows 7 Enterprise SP1 x64, Ubuntu 13.04 amd64 (kernel 3.8.0-19)
Drivers: 13.5 beta 2 for Windows, 13.4 WHQL for Linux

All tests were run in resolution: 1920×1080.
Testing I started with running Ubuntu and Windows Unigine Valley v1.0 benchmark at ExtremeHD preset. Valley is very interesting piece of software. It was created with Unigine Engine which is multiplatform and it lets to developers creating games and applications for Windows, Linux and MacOS but it is not only for PC. Unigine Engine tools also allow developers to show their skills on PS3, Android and iOS devices. I can recommend to try out games on this engine: Anna and Oil Rush.
As Valley can be run using various APIs I decided to perform varied comparison without focusing on DirectX only. Here is chart showing some things:


As you can see differences between GPUs are almost none.

Next benchmark I performed was Catzilla (1.0 RC3). I have run it in two freely available modes: Kitty and Cat. Program is rendering animations full of effects, details, physics and other things which make it demanding and useful in overall testing.


In case of Catzilla we can observe higher scores of HD7790.

Next benchmark is semi-synthetic, standalone benchmark of game S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat. Of course there were two runs of it, one with AA and one with highest available preset of AA. Benchmark was set up to highest available details.

On left is HD6850, on right, HD7790. Without AA:

stalker noaa

4x  MSAA:

stalker 4xmsaa

Difference is huge, new architecture is bringing impressive boost of FPS.

One of the most demanding games of all time still remains Crysis from year 2007. Version 1.2.1 DirectX 10 x64, ultra detail.

Without AA:

crysis noaa

And here comes 8x MSAA:

crysis 8xmsaa

Without AA there is  no slightest difference between these two very different GPUs and when we turn on highest available in game sample of MSAA we can little, almost insignificantly lower FPS on HD7790. If you read my previous test you know how MSAA in Crysis was dropping FPS down. HD7770 and 7790 both have 16 of ROPs  and HD6850 has 32 of them. Most AA methods are realized by using ROP units so it leads to conclusion that AMD did a lot of a good job on optimizing AA on GCN architecture.

Another pretty demanding game on my list is Hard Reset made by polish studio Flying Wild Hog. As I’m testing hardware in extreme conditions so with this game I did the same and set up ultra detail. Let’s compare some results of built-in benchmark 😉

Without AA:

hard reset noaa

With FSAA x4:

hard reset fsaax4

It is difficult to judge these cards in this game, they perform almost the same.

I love Trine 2 and this game is pretty demanding performance from computer hardware and from Brain hardware. If you want to exercise your brain and have some fun at once you have to try this game 😉 Both GPUs, even in very high detail were rendering the game with high FPS rates over 60FPS what is more than just enough for fluid and enjoyable gaming but when we enable maximum preset of AA….

Trine 2 with FXAA+4xSSAA:

trine 2 maxaa

FPS drops badly on both GPUs. In my opinion FPS loss is not worth of this what we get back, especially in situation where there is almost no aliasing in game by default in 1920×1080 and higher resolutions.

Time for DirectX11 game with some special things: Tomb Raider. The game is using TressFX which was implemented in cooperation with AMD but this feature works on all GPUs supporting OpenCL, not only on AMD hardware. I did use of course the highest available details and benchmarked the game without AA and with highest available preset of it.

Without AA:

tomb raider noaa

With 4x SSAA:

tomb raider ssaax4

To play this game in decent FPS rate we have to mess a bit with settings. Disable TressFX or lower any other details or resolution. Choose what you need and like more.

To many people important matter would be power consumption. I’ve measured power consumption of whole rig. HD6850 in idle takes 140W and in load average about 250W. HD7790 in idle 110W and in load 230W.

Radeon HD6850 is almost 2 years old technology and Radeon HD7790 is just almost 2 months old, brand new thing. On drivers side everything what could be done for HD6xxx series was done and probably there will be no more VLIW5 optimizations but HD7790 received so far only few driver releases and only one of these was WHQL. Cards are performing at least the same good or in some cases HD7790 is getting advantage. If in so early period of time after release GPU’s performance is so well there even more will come with another driver updates. In some games you may observe inconstant GPU usage, jumping from 0 to 100%. In my opinion this problem will be fixed soon. AMD is preparing bigger driver update for June so soon, if this will make sense I will retest this GPU. By buying HD7790 except performance boost you are getting also free games. If you bought the GPU in one of selected shops after May 15th you will receive “Unique ID” which you can use to get digital versions of three games: Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon, Bioshock Infinite and Tom Raider.

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4 Responses to Radeon HD6850 vs HD7790

  1. Stefan says:

    How did you manage to get the Radeon 7790 running on Ubuntu 13.04? I just bought one myself and am desperately stuck on the software mode at 1-2 fps. The only option seems to be the 7790-exclusive Catalyst from AMD’s web site, but it doesn’t want to install because it cannot find “version.h” although I do have the linux headers package installed. Seems that the package doesn’t have that file there from a recent version onwards? And perhaps AMD’s driver still expects version.h to be there? Very frustrating.

    • I have no idea, just installed proprietary driver with instruction i posted in one of previous posts, that’s all. I think you should try to install amd catalyst 13.8 beta. Also remember to install all available system updates to avoid missing files and libraries.

      • Stefan says:

        Thanks for the quick reply. And dude, you saved my life! I was just about to go back to Windows in frustration. I had all but forgotten about the AMD beta drivers. More so, their link to betas is for 13.6, but thanks to your post I persisted in searching until I found their more obscure 13.8 page. It worked like a charm. I think you can see how happy I am. Installing Steam as we speak 😉

  2. Bridget says:

    I was suggested this web site by my cousin. I’m not sure whether this post is written by him as
    no one else know such detailed about my problem.
    You are incredible! Thanks!

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