We have said it before and it is worth saying again here… Let’s get one thing out of the way before we look at the card… its name. We absolutely get that this card performs nearer to the 7800 series than the 7900 series and that gives a reason for it to be called 78xx but for many consumers AMD and their partners calling these Tahiti LE cards 7870 XT, Joker, Myst, whatever… it is just going to cause extreme confusion. Especially when it comes to CrossFire configurations where the XT/Tahiti LE card WILL work in CrossFire with 7950/7970 but WON’T work with 7870/7850. At a push this card could have been called 7875…7880 maybe. Though really would anyone have complained had it been 7910 or something similar? We doubt it… and it would have kept multi-GPU use clear for consumers whether they were looking to pair a 7950 with it, or wondering if a 7870 might work.
Moving to the hardware side of things Sapphire have built an impressive card with their 7870 XT (with Boost). The blue PCB looks good and we were pleased to see a dual fan cooler with decent number of copper heatpipes present to cool the high end GPU. Some other manufacturers have gone with a metal shroud for their card but what Sapphire loose in ruggedness they make up for in lower weight so the change in material isn’t necessarily a negative.
For performance the standard Tahiti LE compares pretty well with a GTX 660 Ti, when we then overclock both (and our CPU) as done in this article there is a real swing back and forward in results. Far Cry 3 for example is a close match. The in other areas such as F1 or 3 screen surround gaming the Radeon moves ahead. The 7870 XT is also able to perform GPU and media tasks with ease (including some nice video enhancements) and the temperatures were better here, despite the GTX 660 Ti we use also being a dual fan model. Power use is higher at load on the Sapphire card but noise levels never an issue, this is a very quiet product.
When it comes to value Sapphire have things priced about right. We get a thorough bundle of extras, in some shops a good gaming pack too and it is cheaper than the comparable NVIDIA part by some way.