Sapphire mITX and a Budget Tahiti GPUby Jarred Walton on January 12, 2013 2:17 AM EST
Like most graphics companies, Sapphire didn’t have anything major to announce at CES. Their suite was mostly dedicated to showing off their Mini-ITX Edge VS boxes, which were launched previously. The new addition to the Edge VS series is the option for a DIY box—you get the case, motherboard, power and have to supply the CPU, RAM, and storage. This is a nice alternative for those that like to roll their own, as pre-configured systems often make component selections that disappoint enthusiasts. Pricing should be around $300 for the barebones kit (don’t quote me on that—it’s merely an estimate), so with a moderate CPU, 8GB RAM, and an SSD you’re looking at roughly $600 for what could prove to be a nice little HTPC-type box.
Besides Edge, there are a couple interesting GPUs to discuss. First up is the low profile, single-slot HD 7750 offering, which is probably the fastest GPU you’re likely to find at retail in a low profile design. What’s more, Sapphire still offers the ability to drive up to five displays: two from the Mini-DisplayPort, one mini-HDMI, and two from the DL-DVI connector. It’s mostly aimed at digital signage, but I’m sure at least a few of our readers could find other interesting uses for it.
The other GPU is at the higher end of the spectrum: a cut-down Tahiti offering with 1536 cores. Full Tahiti in the HD 7970 has 2048 cores at 1GHz (or 950MHz in the original release); the trimmed solution in the 7950 goes with 1792 cores at an 800MHz clock, and Sapphire’s offering will have 1536 cores clocked at 925MHz (975MHz Boost); Sapphire also cuts the bus down to 256-bit, though that should still be fine for a lower tier part.
So what’s the name of the part? The HD 7930 would make the most sense, but apparently AMD isn’t playing that game and is requiring the part to be sold as a 7800 series card. Sapphire calls their card the HD 7870 XT, but it’s important to note that this is still a full Tahiti GPU in other areas and it should easily outperform the HD 7800 Pitcairn offerings (which max out at 1280 cores clocked at up to 1000MHz stock). Pricing should fall roughly in between the 7870 and the 7950, so it’s yet another option for the sub-$300 market.