Today is the launch date of AMD's Radeon HD 7950, the cut-back version of the Radeon HD 7970. This new 28nm model has 1792 stream processors, a 800MHz core, 3GB GDDR5 memory clocked at 5000MHz, and a 200W TDP. The launch price is $449, which is $100 less than the Radeon HD 7970.
Lets take a look at some reviews to see how this card performs. First up is The Tech Report, they conclude the Radeon HD 7950 undercuts the GeForce GTX 580 in price while offering better performance. Additionally, the reporter also found that the Radeon HD 7970 now seems unnecessary due to all of the overclocking headroom in the 7950.
Before we go, I should narrow my recommendations a little bit based on some important considerations. If you have "only" a two-megapixel display, something with a 1920x1200 or 1920x1080 resolution, then a Radeon HD 7950 is probably overkill, even for the very latest games. Gorgeous, fluid, seriously desirable overkill, but still—you could get away with a card like the GeForce GTX 560 Ti 448 and play nearly all of today's games at very nice settings. The 7950 is probably best suited for four-megapixel displays or multi-monitor gaming setups.
Next is AnandTech, they also conclude that the 7950 renders NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 580 obsolete.
Ultimately it’s not a fair fight, not that AMD ever intended it to be one. Outside of a few corner cases the 7950 renders the GTX 580 irrelevant, and while it’s not quite as immense as what the 5850 did to the GTX 285 2 years ago the outcome is much the same. With the 7950 AMD can deliver performance similar to if not better than the GTX 580 while consuming significantly less power and enjoying all the temperature & noise benefits that provides, making it a very attractive card.
On that note the cooling situation makes the launch of the 7950 one of the more unusual high-end product launches in recent history. With high-end cards typically sticking to reference designs for the first phase of their lives the 7950 lineup is going to be much more varied than normal, not only in gaming performance due to factory overclocks but in cooling performance too.
Our final stop for this quick comparison is Legit Reviews, which offers a pretty similar conclusion.
After spending some time with the AMD Radeon HD 7950 we found it to be to be a very capable graphics card that was hands down faster than the AMD Radeon HD 6970/6950 from the previous generation. From our performance numbers it looks like the AMD Radeon HD 7950 should have no problem beating the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 video card and as you saw in our test results it was even able to beat out the EVGA GeForce GTX 580 Classified in a number of benchmarks. The GeForce GTX 580 has come down in price in recent months and can be had for $449.99 for the 1536MB cards and $529.99 for the 3072MB cards. NVIDIA clearly had to lower prices with the launch of the AMD Radeon HD 7900 series as their flagship cards are finally starting to show signs of age. NVIDIA has Kepler coming out in a few more months, so things will certainly get interesting then.