We have the potential for a perfect storm here. Back when the HD79x0 cards were released we discovered that although the HD7970 was the powerhouse we expected it to be, the HD7950 was actually the sensible choice. At stock it was average but it took to the overclock so well it was easily a match for the HD7970 without the hefty price-tag. So the chip beating at the heart of the Club3D Royal King is one we already like a lot.
Club3D themselves came from out of the blue to amaze us with the HD7850 Royal Queen. Of course we were aware of them but it had been so long since we'd reviewed one of their cards that the Royal Queen stunned us with how well it performed, especially being able to be overclocked within an inch of its life.
So that takes us to today's review. We have a company who've recently left us wide-eyed with the quality of their Poker range of cards, bringing us one based upon one of the best overclocking GPUs around.
Is the Club3D HD7950 Royal King a cool as you like BB King or a Stephen King horror show?
The Royal King HD7950 comes with a decent overclock when compared to the reference HD7950, but nothing particularly amazing out of the box. Otherwise it's a spitting image of the Royal Queen we reviewed recently, with the Coolstream cooler on an otherwise standard board.
Product Name: Radeon HD 7950 RoyalKing
Product Series: Radeon HD 7000
Bus Interface: PCI Express 3.0
GPU Chipset: Tahiti Pro2
GPU Clock: 880 MHz
GPU Boost clock: 930 MHz
Stream Processors: 1792
Multi-GPU: Quad CrossFire Ready
Memory Size: 3072MB
Memory Interface: 384BIT
Memory Type: GDDR5
Memory Clock: 5000 MHz
Cooling Type: Active, CoolStream High Performance Cooling Technology
Idle ZCP mode enabled: 3W
Maximum load: 200W
DirectX version: 11.1
OpenGL version: 4.2
OpenCL version: 1.2
Slot Width: 2 Slots
Profile: Standard profile
Card Size: 268 x 122 x 36 mm
Card Weight: 672 grams
DVI: 1x Dual-Link DVI-I, 1x Single-Link DVI-D
VGA: via Dongle
HDMI: 1x version 1.4a
Mini DisplayPort: 2x version 1.2
HDCP ready: YES
Maximum Resolution analog: 2048x1536 (via Dual-Link DVI to VGA adapter)
Maximum Resolution Single-Link DVI: 1920x1200
Maximum Resolution Dual-Link DVI: 2560x1600
Maximum Resolution HDMI 1.4a: 4096x3112
Maximum Resolution Mini DP 1.2: 4096x2160
Maximum Outputs Simultaneously: 4
Club 3D Radeon HD 7950 RoyalKing graphics card
Club 3D CrossFireX bridge interconnect cable
Club 3D knob hanger
Driver & E-Manual CD
Quick install guide
We loved the packaging for the Royal Queen and the Royal King continues the trend of stylish looking, sturdy packaging.
With so many cards these days, especially AMD ones, having an array of DisplayPorts, but DP monitors still not being as pervasive as their DVI or HDMI cousins it's nice to see that Club3D have included plenty of adaptors to ensure you can connect easily.
Whereas the Royal Queen had a single fan as part of the CoolStream cooler, the Royal King ups the ante (ha) with two PWM fans alongside a serious set of heatpipes and fins.
As the second most powerful single GPU card in the AMD range the Royal King requires two 6pin power inputs.
The red PCB is a bit divisive. On the one hand it is almost retro, reminding us of the 9800Pro and other outstanding early Radeon cards, and certainly will match any red and black system. However, it does rather dominate proceedings and if you have chosen any colour combination other than the near-default red and black it will stand out like a Belieber at a Slayer concert.
Club3D HD7950 Royal King
Catalyst 12.10 Drivers
Intel Core i7-3960X @ 4.6GHz
ASUS Rampage IV Extreme
Corsair Dominator Platinum
Corsair Neutron GTX
Windows 7 Ultimate x64
The overclocking capabilities of the Royal King are nothing short of jaw-dropping. No need to gently balance the overclock of each part to obtain the finest overclock possible. Just ramp it up to the stops and it sits there like a defiant heretic, belittling you if that's all you've got to offer.
The cooler on the Club3D does everything you could require. It is seriously quiet in use, even under loading with our hefty overclock in place, and also manages to keep the card nice and cool.
Talk about a tale of two halves. At stock the Royal King is average bordering on poor. But overclocked it's a whole different ballgame, capable of matching the ASUS Matrix HD7970 and getting darn close to the SOC GTX680. Incredible performance gains.
3D Mark Vantage
3D Mark 11
Alien vs Predator gives us the same results as we saw in 3D Mark. Pretty poor stock performance gives way to eye-popping overclocked results.
Batman Arkham City
We have a bit of a change in Arkham City. Compared to the reference HD7950 even the stock performance is very good, but once again, and we think this might be a running theme, the overclocked performance is exceptional. Happily maxing out what is possible from the engine.
The game has changed, the result is the same. This definitely isn't a card you want to run at stock, but the performance when overclocked is so good why would you run anything else?
We very nearly double the stock frame-rate in Dirt 3. Insanity.
Far Cry 2
This is getting a bit ridiculous. We know you can gain a few frames with an overclock, or a lot with a really responsive card, but the Far Cry 2 result is as if we've run the stock tests on a HD7770 and the overclocked ones on a HD7990.
New or old, it doesn't seem to matter what game we test the overclocked Club3D Royal King just munches through the polygons like Adele at an all-you-can-eat buffet.
Metro 2033 is famous for being stingy with its results. A five frame improvement is considered a stunning achievement. The 12FPS improvement we saw between the stock and overclocked Crossfire HD7970s is the current record. The Royal King.. 19FPS better than at stock. Nineteen. Savour it.
Resident Evil 5 - DX10
Another game, another almost unbelievable difference between the stock and overclocked performance. In this case we see a 90FPS average improvement. To put that in perspective it's like gaining a HD7770 just by overclocking the Club3D HD7950.
We're rapidly running out of new ways to say the same thing. Stock is meh, overclocked is insane. Next.
Even piling on the image quality doesn't detract from the capabilities of the Royal King. Mind-blowing performance.
The Witcher 2
This was the test in which we thought the endless parade of brilliant overclocked results would find the Club3D card coming unstuck. After all The Witcher 2 is the most demanding game on the planet. Oh ye of little faith. 15FPS improvement. It's unending.
We have a fairly strict rule here at OC3D. Whilst we are Overclock 3D, and as a bunch of enthusiasts we adore the fun of overclocking, we always try and score our reviews as if you just got it out the box and plugged it in. Although overclocking is now so easy that everyone should be able to do it, we're always aware that many people either haven't the bravery to try it, or are so fearful of breaking their hard earned purchase that they stick with how it comes out of the box. After all, if everyone overclocked then manufacturers would never sell those factory overclocked models that come with a big price premium.
With the Club3D HD7950 Royal King we're going to make an exception though. To run this card at stock is like buying a Ferrari 458 and using it to go to the shops for some milk. The stock results are, let's not beat about the bush, pretty poor. If you just plug this in and go, you'll be wondering what all the fuss was about.
It's a very Jekyll and Hyde card. At stock it's the mild-mannered, mild performing Dr Jekyll. No, this is a card built to be overclocked. It's made to be tinkered with. It's all about being Mr Hyde. Or, if you prefer your analogies a little more pop culture, then to watch the Hulk just to see Bruce Banner is missing the point entirely.
The overclocked performance, and let there be no doubt about this whatsoever, is staggering. Stunning. Brilliant. Our thesaurus runs dry. In every test the overclocked performance took the Club3D HD7950 Royal King from the ordinary to the extraordinary.
We regularly saw average frame-rates double that of the stock card. No matter how simple or complex the game, the Royal King chewed it up and begged for more. It's a wolf in sheep's clothing. Up there with the best single-GPU cards you care to name. We don't care if you bring a Matrix HD7970 along. We don't care if you have a Super Over Clock GTX680. The Club3D HD7950 Royal King when overclocked will stand proud against the lot of them.
The only thing that lets it down is the decision to use a red PCB, which does limit it if you're OCD about the colours you'll allow into your rig. Although you'd be missing out on one of the GPU bargains of 2012 if you did so.
So we're not going to give it a score based upon stock performance. It would be like rating the quality of a cake by eating the flour. If you're the kind of person who abhors the thought of overclocking, move along. But, and there is no reason why you shouldn't, if you're willing to grab your overclocking program of choice and give it the beans then there are few cards on the market who will out-perform it.
Purely for the insane overclocked performance we have to give the Club3D HD7950 Royal King our Gold Award. You owe it to yourself to see the true value of overclocking your hardware, and nothing will give the same benefits as this card.
Thanks to Club3D for supplying the HD7950 Royal King for review. Discuss your thoughts in the OC3D Forums.