In review: Sapphire Radeon HD 7870 XT Boost

Sapphire’s HD 7870 XT may have been on the market for months, but it still takes first place in our price comparison in popularity. Reason enough for us to take a closer look at the Sapphire Radeon HD 7870 XT and see what the reason for its long-lasting popularity is.

For just a little more than 200€, you should get a performance close to that of an HD 7950, which is more than 50€ more expensive. If this proves to be true in our test, then it’s no wonder that the graphics card is in such high demand and sold out repeatedly.

The model we tested from Sapphire relies on the proven Dual-X cooler as a cooling solution, which is supposed to ensure a pleasant background noise both in desktop mode and under load.

The test will show whether this is the case and, above all, how the performance of the tuned-up HD7870 is.

At this point, we thank Sapphire for making this review possible by providing the test sample.

Scope of delivery and technical data

As usual from Sapphire, you get the graphics card in slightly military-designed packaging. In the “Full Retail Version” available to us, in addition to the graphics card, there are also several accessories in the box: an HDMI cable, an HDMI-to-DVI adapter, a mini-DP-to-DP adapter, an internal Crossfire Bridge cable, a DVI-to-VGA adapter, a PCI Express adapter (2 x 4-pin Molex to 1 x 6-pin), a driver CD and a quick start guide.

Anyone who buys the card from a shop participating in “AMD Never Settle Reloaded” also gets three-game codes (Bioshock Infinite, Tomb Raider, and Far Cry: Blood Dragon) for free. Overall, a very tremendous and satisfactory scope of delivery leaves nothing to be desired.

As you can see from the table and the name of the graphics chip (Tahiti LE), the HD 7870 XT is a slimmed-down HD 7950, and the data is also between the reference models of the HD 7870 and the HD 7950.

However, there is a noticeably high Chip clock, especially in boost mode, through which the HD 7870 XT can become dangerous for the HD 7950. Unfortunately, this is bought at the expense of significantly higher power consumption.

With 210 watts under load for the graphics card alone, the HD 7870 XT draws an average of 30 watts more from the socket than its big sister card. We will clarify below whether this also harms heat development.



So let’s take a closer look at the object of desire. With the HD 7870 XT, Sapphire did not rely on AMD’s reference design with a closed heat sink and a fan mounted in the middle but instead installed the Dual-X cooler found on many Sapphire graphics cards.

As the name suggests, this cooler in a two-slot design consists of two axial fans, which are supposed to blow the heat from the aluminum fins of a large heat sink. Four heat pipes ensure the heat is transported from the Tahiti LE chip to the cooling fins. A visual highlight is the engraved Sapphire logo on the slot bracket – even if it is useless, it enhances the card’s look again.

Sapphire used a blue color variant for the PCB, which we like. Since the weight of the in-house Dual-X heat sink is not relatively as high, there is no need for a reinforcing backplate.

Two 6-pin PCI Express connectors are waiting for a connection for the power supply. As mentioned, this is also urgently needed since the HD 7870 XT likes to consume more power than the supposedly more powerful HD 7950 with up to 210 watts.

With the Sapphire Radeon HD 7870 XT, up to four monitors can be operated simultaneously. A dual DVI, an HDMI, and two mini-DP connections are available. With the full retail version, all the necessary adapters and cables (except for one DVI cable) are included in the scope of delivery.

The length of the card is given as 27.5 centimeters. This makes the HD 7870 XT one of the more extended graphics cards, and you should check whether it fits into your case before you buy it.


But enough of the technical illustration. Now we come to the most crucial part of a graphics card test: the benchmarks. We sent the subjects through a total of seven different disciplines. Four are synthetic benchmarks, and three are games that push the graphics card and our test system to the extreme.

Our test system

Futuremark has been developing 3D benchmarks for years, which demand the latest graphics cards. The 3D Mark 11 relies mainly on DirectX 11 benchmarks, whereby tessellation, depth of field, volumetric lighting, and direct computing are included.

The previous 3DMark 11 used DirectX 10 effects as the first benchmark. Here, too, current high-end systems still work up a sweat.

Among other things, this benchmark tests the tessellation performance of graphics cards. Physically correct calculations and dynamic lighting effects ensure a meaningful test.

Unigine Valley is new to our benchmark marathon. The successor to Unigine Heaven demands everything from current systems. Vast landscapes, detailed vegetation, and realistic weather conditions push the GPU to the extreme.

The massive world of Skyrim, with an unbelievable number of textures and effects, is currently one of the games with the highest demands on a gaming PC. We measured the FPS on a round trip through the white run.

Both water and fire effects, a viewpoint, houses, and people ensure suitable utilization of the graphics card. *Unfortunately, Vsync could not be disabled on the AMD Catalyst then, so the HD7950 could not display more than 60 FPS.

Of course, the latest version of the multiplayer classic should be included in our test. The display of countless soldiers and people with realistic weapons and vehicles also demands a lot from the graphics card here.

The integrated benchmark in Mafia II shows various complex scenes and effects: just the right thing for a graphics card test.


The benchmarks speak for themselves: the graphics card, which costs €215, can stand up to the HD 7950 and even trumps it in most benchmarks. Only because of the smaller available memory of two gigabytes – in comparison to the HD 7950 with 3GB – does the HD 7870 XT lose out with larger resolutions.

Thanks to the current driver (Catalyst 13.3), the test subject can surprisingly overtake the GTX 670 in Battlefield under “High settings”. However, as soon as the memory-heavy “Ultra settings” are set, the HD 7870 XT has to fit again. But the performance is awe-inspiring considering the purchase price of just over €200 compared to the GTX 670 at around €330.

Regarding the volume, it became apparent why Sapphire installed the Dual-X cooler instead of the reference cooler. The card cannot be heard from the system when idling under Windows. A humming of the fans, which is by no means annoying, is only noticeable under full load.

Acoustically, the card almost came close to our Asus HD6950 Direct CU II reference card, which is barely audible even under load. But a reasonable volume is only half the battle with a cooler: of course, it also has to cool well. The temperature did not exceed 71°C under Furmark. A short time later, the temperature leveled off at around 44°C while idling – both excellent values, especially with a card that uses more power than the big HD 7950.


It’s no wonder that the card is so popular: With the HD 7870 XT, Sapphire has launched a price/performance bargain unrivaled in the €200 price range. The only downside is the slightly higher power consumption compared to the almost equally fast but more expensive AMD HD 7950. The built-in Dual-X cooler works at a pleasant volume and keeps the temperatures in check.

In terms of performance, the HD 7870 XT overtakes the HD 7950 in almost all disciplines – but as soon as you increase the quality and resolution, it has to admit defeat. Thanks to the current AMD Catalyst drivers, it even scratches the values of a significantly more expensive GTX 670 in Battlefield 3. From our side, we recommend the card without any reservations.

Are you interested in the HD 7870 XT? What would be your reasons for or against this card?

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Hello, I'm the author and creator of I've got over 12 years of expertise in the field. In my time, I've tested and looked over hundreds of graphics cards to build custom PCs. I am confident that my experience and experience will assist you to pick the best card that matches your requirements and budget.

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