I have an i7 3770 build for work and some gaming. I'm just wondering what the difference would be between the 7870 xt and 7950 with moderate overclocks. Is it worth the extra 50 bucks? Maxed settings SC2 with good min fps would be about as much juice as I would need. I do some 3D CAD work too.
well, it depends. I like the 7870 XT but for the sole fact that nobody makes one that is particularly attractive. The Powercolor one doesn't match the color scheme that I want, and the Sapphire's PCB matches absolutely nothing. But if the aesthetics don't matter, then the 7870 XT is great bang/buck because its clock rate isn't that far off of the existing 7950 and its performance still doesn't fall far behind.
Grabbed my 7950 for $260 off ebay. Unopened. 7870XT runs about $240/250, if you're looking for a steal look on ebay :D.
The answer to you question is sort of. The XT is just a downgraded/retarded 7950, it's not really $50 worse than the 7950. You don't need the 7950 for your game load though, and they have the same memory interface, and are only seperated by about 200 stream processors (difference between a 7970 and a 7950 is about the same).
Noise will be the DCUII(which is triple slot) with the Windforce 3x just behind it, Thermal will be the DCUII and Windforce x3, Cost will be the Windforce and XFX cards (which can get really noisy and hot)
I have a Windforce x3 7950 and it really quiet and cool at stock, get a little warmer and louder when OC'd but still well within tolerable levels