Sunday, January 1st 2012

HD 7970 Overclocked to 1.26 GHz: 28 nm Tech Really Stretches Its Legs

Welcome to the first TechPowerUp news post of 2012! Read on for a couple of impressive overclocking feats with the HD 7970 graphics card.

It looks like the new AMD Radeon HD 7970 could be a bit of a dark horse and a lot more potent than its stock specifications would suggest – excellent for creating a competitive graphics card market. The reviews at stock speeds show the flagship HD 7970 to be around 10-15% faster than NVIDIA's flagship GTX 580, which doesn't seem all that impressive since the GTX 580 has been on the market for over a year now. However, what the reviews haven't really shown, is what kind of an overclocking monster the HD 7970 is. It definitely looks like AMD could have easily beaten the GTX 580 by a much bigger margin than they did, had they wanted to and it makes one wonder why they didn't.

VR-Zone have spent the New Year weekend overclocking this beast, having reached a whopping 1.26 GHz core clock speed with their HD 7970 - and decent benchmark improvements to go with it. Also, with the fan at 100%, the card never got above a very comfortable 68 degrees centigrade while running Furmark, which is amazing considering how this test is specifically designed to heat a graphics card to the max - but please see the update at the bottom of the article. The stock cooler may be noisy, but it's certainly very effective: an excellent result which will prolong the working life of the card.

VR-Zone has tested the card with the latest Sandy Bridge-E Core i7 3960X 6 core CPU. This has a stock clock of 3300 MHz, but they overclocked it to a huge 4680 MHz (42%) to wring the best performance from the card possible. Now, there's an achievement right there. Note that they didn't reveal what CPU cooler was used to achieve this overclock.

The GPU-Z screenshot shows the core clock speed of 1267 MHz. This was achieved "with core voltage bumped from 1.15v to 1.25v using publicly available software and a special bios (9th Jan reveal), we got the core clock speed up to 1267MHz." The standard card is BIOS-locked to a maximum clock ceiling of 1125 MHz on the core and 1500 MHz on the memory, which it can handle with ease.

3DMark 11 Performance Preset (stock is P8227)

3DMark 11 Extreme Preset (stock is X2764)

ComputeMark (stock is 5920 marks)

Unigine Heaven 2.5 (stock is 69.6fps)

With results like these, AMD have set a high bar which NVIDIA will have its work cut out to beat and it'll be really interesting to see what Kepler brings to the table in the next few months. Also, overclocking legend Shamino has managed to push one of these cards to an astounding 1.7 GHz+ on LN2! Read about it here.

So, as of January 1st 2012, the HD 7970 extends its lead as the undisputed single GPU enthusiast card of choice for straight-line framerate performance and smooth gameplay in demanding games. A great way for AMD to start the year.

UPDATE: Notice how the Furmark screenshot shows the card achieving a mere 40fps at 1280x720? A card in this performance bracket can obviously do way better than this. This poor framerate will be down to the power throttling circuitry protecting the card under such conditions by slowing down the performance severely. If the throttle was disengaged the card would perform spectacularly for a short while and then likely cook itself to death, especially with this overclock. Thanks to one of our eagle-eyed forum members for spotting this.
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56 Comments on HD 7970 Overclocked to 1.26 GHz: 28 nm Tech Really Stretches Its Legs

#1
AphexDreamer
You got Unigine and computemark mixed up. Just an FYI.

That is crazy, 28nm working its magic.
Posted on Reply
#2
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
by: AphexDreamer
You got Unigine and computemark mixed up. Just an FYI.

That is crazy, 28nm working its magic.
Fixed - thanks very much. :toast:

Yes, I bet the 7970 is gonna fly off the shelves with results like this.
Posted on Reply
#3
iLLz
You know, at first I thought the original review for this card showed its performance to be kinda meh. I mean, it is a decent performer, but with all the hype surrounding it, I thought it would perform much, much, better.

But these overclocking scores are outrageous. The architecture seems to really scale well with the overclocks. Kudos, AMD, keep up the great work!
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#4
Lionheart
Cant wait to buy one of these beasts, I'm going to go wait for non reference cards so I can get a good overclock while staying cool & quiet ^_^
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#5
Senupe
AMD I <3 U, this kind of graphics cards are just amazing, even counting in the future driver improvements in single and crossfire setups this things are gonna blow everything in a huge ball of pixels :p
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#6
Dj-ElectriC
GTX580 975MHZ gave me 7700 graphics score in 3dm11 P, do yo math
and im sorry i really had to:

Posted on Reply
#7
Steevo
by: iLLz
You know, at first I thought the original review for this card showed its performance to be kinda meh. I mean, it is a decent performer, but with all the hype surrounding it, I thought it would perform much, much, better.

But these overclocking scores are outrageous. The architecture seems to really scale well with the overclocks. Kudos, AMD, keep up the great work!
Typical AMD move, make something that is made to overclock like a mother, and let the results speak for it.



Anyone have a Windows 8 bench of this card yet?
Posted on Reply
#8
Delta6326
I want one of these so badly. Only if the games I play could use this power, but the games I play my 2x 4850 can handle.
Posted on Reply
#9
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
by: Delta6326
I want one of these so badly. Only if the games I play could use this power, but the games I play my 2x 4850 can handle.
tsk, such distorted logic - you're an enthusiast. You don't need a reason to want it and to have it! ;)

Look, my Sandy Bridge upgrade doubled my RAM from 4GB which was plenty, to 8GB, which was way more than enough. However, I had two more slots sitting empty, just looking at me and crying out for more. So, £40 later, I was the proud owner of another 8GB and I've now got a monster 16 gigs in the PC! :rockout: Do I need all of it? Hell no, who cares! :D
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#10
LordJummy
These are wonderful. I will definitely wait till kepler is reviewed before buying, but so far two of these is going to be my next step. They should allow me to push eyefinity to new limits, especially on water. mmmmmm.
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#11
eidairaman1
People always complain about the fan, I think of it this way. Compare a Prius/Insight/Leaf to a Camaro/Mustang/Challenger, More power means gonna be louder...
Posted on Reply
#12
Shihabyooo
Cool numbers ! Now give me a discount.

by: Senupe
AMD I <3 U, this kind of graphics cards are just amazing, even counting in the future driver improvements in single and crossfire setups this things are gonna blow everything in a huge ball of pixels :p
It's still AMD we're talking about here, right ?
Posted on Reply
#13
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
by: qubit
Also, with the fan at 100%, the card never got above a very comfortable 68 degrees centigrade while running Furmark, which is amazing considering how this test is specifically designed to heat a graphics card to the max. The stock cooler may be noisy, but it's certainly very effective: an excellent result which will prolong the working life of the card.
Take a look at the furmark screenshot, notice the 40FPS at only 1280x720? Furmark is no longer a good way to measure power and heat characteristics because both nVidia and AMD throttle their cards immensely with Furmark and other programs like it.
Posted on Reply
#14
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
by: newtekie1
Take a look at the furmark screenshot, notice the 40FPS at only 1280x720? Furmark is no longer a good way to measure power and heat characteristics because both nVidia and AMD throttle their cards immensely with Furmark and other programs like it.
I hate you sometimes. :laugh: Yes, I'd forgotten all about the throttling on modern top-end cards. I'll update the article regarding this.

EDIT: article updated.
Posted on Reply
#15
LordJummy
by: Shihabyooo
It's still AMD we're talking about here, right ?
AMD has been providing decent performance updates via drivers for the past few years. The newer cards usually get significant performance boosts from mature drivers. There is a lot of false information regarding AMD's Catalyst drivers. In my experience they have been up to par over the past two years.
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#16
LAN_deRf_HA
My 580 stays under 58c at 1000 mhz in furmark with the fan running full tilt. Blower fans have been suitable for top clocks for awhile now, just never at acceptable noise levels. If you have like a separate room just for your pcs you're in luck, otherwise you better be deaf.
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#17
blibba
by: eidairaman1
People always complain about the fan, I think of it this way. Compare a Prius/Insight/Leaf to a Camaro/Mustang/Challenger, More power means gonna be louder...
One word: Bentley.
Posted on Reply
#18
blibba
by: eidairaman1
People always complain about the fan, I think of it this way. Compare a Prius/Insight/Leaf to a Camaro/Mustang/Challenger, More power means gonna be louder...
How about a Bentley?

Take the new Mulsanne, for example. Not only is it more powerful than the Camaro, Mustang and Challenger, under strenuous usage it'll be a lot quieter than a hybrid. And, if they were all the same price, I know which I'd buy :P
Posted on Reply
#19
eidairaman1
im talkin about vehicles that are affordable, heck can you even afford a bentley?
Posted on Reply
#20
imitation
by: LAN_deRf_HA
My 580 stays under 58c at 1000 mhz in furmark with the fan running full tilt. Blower fans have been suitable for top clocks for awhile now, just never at acceptable noise levels. If you have like a separate room just for your pcs you're in luck, otherwise you better be deaf.
I get like 45°C on my 5870@1GHz, i can barely hear it. There must be something wrong with your cooler?!
Just kidding... :D

But seriously, who needs this much horsepower? A 5870 can handle any game out there at pretty decent settings and normal resolutions, so all i can think of are 3x1 or 3x2 Eyefinity setups. I doubt many people have those though...
Posted on Reply
#21
blibba
by: eidairaman1
im talkin about vehicles that are affordable, heck can you even afford a bentley?
Not in a million years.

But I guess my point is this: speed isn't the only factor, and you don't have to sacrifice noise for performance. Given the choice between a Mustang and a comparably priced Audi, for example, I'd pick the Audi. And a lot of the reasoning behind that is to do with the Audi being quieter and using less fuel. If I was in the market for a 7970, and there was a 7950 with a quality PCB and a near-silent aftermarket cooler for the same price or cheaper, I'd take the 7950.

Well, that's a lie - I'd bank the money. But you get the idea :P
Posted on Reply
#22
eidairaman1
by: blibba
Not in a million years.

But I guess my point is this: speed isn't the only factor, and you don't have to sacrifice noise for performance. Given the choice between a Mustang and a comparably priced Audi, for example, I'd pick the Audi. And a lot of the reasoning behind that is that the Audi is quieter and uses less fuel. If I was in the market for a 7970, and there was a 7950 with a quality PCB and a near-silent aftermarket cooler for the same price or cheaper, I'd take the 7950.

Well, that's a lie - I'd bank the money. But you get the idea :P
Ya and Its a connundrum because Ud pick the domestic car anyway...
Posted on Reply
#23
blibba
by: eidairaman1
Ya and Its a connundrum because Ud pick the domestic car anyway...
I'm British, so that'd be the Bentley...

But which was made where isn't really relevant to my point. I'm sure (I hope?) that there are U.S. built cars comparable to an Audi.

If not, I wouldn't be prepared to sacrifice on getting what I want in order to reward some worker over another for the sheer good luck of being born in some particular nation, but that's a different story.
Posted on Reply
#24
imitation
by: eidairaman1
People always complain about the fan, I think of it this way. Compare a Prius/Insight/Leaf to a Camaro/Mustang/Challenger, More power means gonna be louder...
I hate to disagree. You can't compare a regular, civil car, to a muscle car that screams (literally) LOOK AT ME!!! I HAVE THEM HOARSEPOWERZ!!!
It is quite possible to build a powerful, yet silent car - look at the Audi A6 or BMW 5 series, they are both family-compatible, even with the 300+ HP engines. If you want them loud, you buy an aftermarket exhaust.
Now it's a whole different story on silicone - Intel builds CPUs that perform better than AMDs, yet they consume less power = less heat = less noise. It's all about what you want to achieve and how hard you try. If you want them silent, you buy an aftermarket cooler.
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#25
Super XP
Shut Up AMD and take my money.
:toast: on the OC...
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