Starting with price, Diamond's Double Black Diamond edition of the Radeon HD 7870 isn't available for purchase yet. Using the price of the Double Black Diamond version of the Radeon HD 7970 as a reference point, it's one of the lowest priced 7970s on the market. While we won't know for sure until it hits shelves, I've been told that the Double Black Diamond version of the 7870 will also follow this trend and fit in as a lower priced offering. Assuming this puts it roughly in the $340US price range, as Bob Barker would say, "The Price is Right."
Looking at the ~$340US price range, this puts it firmly between nVidia's GeForce GTX 570 and 580 based video cards. The green team doesn't have anything from the GTX 600 series in the sub $400US price bracket yet. And AMD's other offering in this price range is the outgoing Radeon HD 6970. Performance wise, the Double Black Diamond 7870 is close to that of the GeForce GTX 580, winning in some games and losing in others. In general, playable settings in most games are similar between the two. Compared against the Radeon HD 6970, there's no contest. The Radeon HD 7870 easily beat the 6970 in all of our tests, and the Double Black Diamond edition increased the spread by a wider margin. And not to mention the 7870 runs with significantly less heat production and power usage compared to all of the mentioned competition.
The out of the box performance of the Double Black Diamond 7870 great for most games with maxed out settings at 1080p, but thanks to the high potential of overclockability of AMD's Pitcairn processors, we were easily able to take performance up a notch. Compared to the clock speeds of AMD's reference board, on the Double Black Diamond we were able to increase the core clock by 19% and the memory clock by 12%. This is pretty damn good, especially considering it's equipped with the reference design cooler.
The only knock we really have against the Double Black Diamond is with the cooler. Don't get me wrong, it's more that adequate at keeping temperatures low, but it did so with high noise levels when there was load on the GPU. Considering temperatures reported by the video card were relatively low, Diamond should set the fan speed to ramp up a bit slower and at higher temperature brackets. Users are able to manually set their own fan profiles using Catalyst Control Center and other similar tools, but changing the settings in the factory would benefit most owners.
Overall, we liked Diamond's Radeon HD 7870 2GB Double Black Diamond video card. Diamond took AMD's Radeon HD 7870 reference card, made it faster from the factory through overclocking, slapped on a generous 5 year warranty and all while keeping the selling price reasonably low. It's a good gaming solution in the low $300 price range, and we strongly recommend it.