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HD7970 - My Review (BF3 Eyefinity vs HD7970)

Discussion in 'AMD / ATI' started by Xaser04, Jan 10, 2012.

  1. Xaser04

    Xaser04

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    Hi all.

    After receiving my Powercolor HD7970 at 9:30 this morning I decided to work a half day and get some BF3 Eyefinity benchmarks done and write a "brief" review putting across my opinion on the card and how it compares to my "old" HD6970.

    First things first, we all know the architectural changes that have happened between the HD6970 and this card (move from VLIW4 to GCN), therefore I won't bore you with going into the details here. The likes of Anandtech and Bit themselves can do a much better job in this area.

    Anyway, onto the card itself.

    The HD7970 I ended up going for is a Powercolor model which I managed, by a stroke of luck, to get for under £420 from Ebuyer. The same card is still available for £444 if anyone does want one for a decent price. Considering all of the cards are reference design and basically the same, I didn't see the point in spending more for the same card with a difference sticker on it.

    [​IMG]

    The card itself is literally the reference design with a sticker on the fan itself. There isn't much more to say in this area as in the end it looks like every other HD7970 for sale bar the XFX DD model.

    [​IMG]

    Size wise it is basically identical to a HD6950/HD6970 reference card. It measures just under 11" nose to tip.

    [​IMG]

    Connectivity consists of a single DVI port backed up by a single HDMI port and 2 mini DP connections. The mini DP connections can be connected to a hub to provide more connections for Eyefinity if you so wish.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    In the box you get the normal user guide and driver CD (Very useful in my case as the 12.1 drivers I downloaded didn't work... :grr:). You also get the following:

    - Crossfire bridge
    - DVI-VGA adaptor
    - 6 pin to 8 pin PCI-e adaptor
    - HDMI to DVI adaptor
    - Active mini DP to DVI adaptor
    - Mini DP to DP cable

    Basically you have the ability to run Eyefinity right out of the box assuming you run 3 DVI equipped monitors. Considering the active adaptors still cost £15+ this is a pretty good bundle and not doubt goes some way in explaining the relatively high ticket price of the card itself.

    You also get a voucher for a copy of Dirt 3, great if you don't already have the game (like me). Interestingly the voucher has a validity date that runs out at the end of December 2011. I wonder if it will actually work?!

    Overall I think the card itself looks good, connectivity is good especially as the relevant adaptors are included in the box.

    To close out this portion of the "review" I thought I would post a picture of the card in my case. The case is a Fractal Design Define R3.

    [​IMG]

    (Yes I know I am still running the stock Intel cooler. I really need to get an better one but for now it does its job admirably).

    Eyefinity performance

    I should point out that I have only run performance numbers for BF3 & Arcania (Gothic 4) at the moment. I will look at some other games at a later point. I will not be running any synthetic benchmarks as quite frankly I find them a waste of time.

    BF3 Eyefinity Performance

    Benchmark is a 5 minute FRAPS run through ( I actually play the game) taken from The first real level - Operation Sword breaker. I have found performance in this level to be nigh on identical to performance online so it should be a good indication of what you can expect in "real world" scenarios.

    Resolution is: 3560x1920 (technically 3588x1920 but I won't split hairs)
    Settings: All high bar Shadows and Decoration which are on medium. No Deferred AA, Medium Post AA no HBAO/Motion blur (the latter makes feel very queasy).

    System setup: Per Signature

    Drivers: HD6970 - 11.11a / HD7970 - "On disc" - 11.12

    "HD6970 Playable Settings"

    HD6970

    Min - 26.00
    Avg - 35.54

    HD7970

    Min - 34.00
    Avg - 46.63 (+31.2%)

    First up I was genuinely surpised at how well my HD6970 held up at this resolution / settings combo, 36FPS isn't exactly bad all things considered. Look at the HD7970 fly though, 31.2% faster at the same settings running the "on disc" drivers (which appear to be Cat 11.12).

    Ultra Settings without AA (SBAO not HBAO)

    HD6970

    Min - 16.00
    Avg - 27.83

    HD7970

    Min - 22.00
    Avg - 36.96 (+32.8%)

    Interesting results here. Firstly the performance delta has increased to ~33% which is excellent. The biggest suprise was the fact that I can now play at "Ultra" settings without AA at roughly the same level of performance as my HD6970 managed at High/Medium. Great stuff TBH.

    Ultra Settings with 4x AA - AKA "LOL" Settings

    HD6970

    Min - 8
    Avg - 14.68

    HD7970

    Min - 15
    Avg - 20.21 (+37.7%)

    Well, I have nicknamed this "LOL" for a reason. My HD6970 simply ran out of VRAM and despite posting a average FPS of 14.68 it was completely unplayable (hard to play to even get the result TBH). The HD7970 ends up 37.7% better at this setting but in minimum terms it is 87% faster. Overall though this is academic as neither card can manage this setting. VRAM usage on the HD7970 peaked at 2400MB.

    Overclocked Performance:

    "HD6970 Playable Settings"

    HD6970

    Min - 26.00
    Avg - 35.54

    HD7970

    Min - 34.00
    Avg - 46.63

    HD7970 OC @ 1075/6000

    Min - 38.00
    Avg - 52.98 (+49%)

    HD7970 OC2 @ 1125/6600

    Min - 40.00
    Avg - 56.59 (+59.2%)


    ***Update regarding CPU Overclocking results:***


    "HD6970 Playable Settings"

    HD7970 OC @ 1075/6000

    Min - 38.00
    Avg - 52.98

    HD7970 OC @ 1075/6000 with 2500k at 4GHz

    Min - 38.00
    Avg - 52.97

    Finally we can see the HD7970 start to stretch its little legs. At the this OC level it ends up being ~ 50% faster than the HD6970 at the same settings. More importantly, the minimums are now higher than the average on the HD6970!. It is amazing to see over 50fps at this resolution on a single card and what is basically "high"settings.

    **Update* - I have found during my own testing that the VRM'S become less tolerant to heat the higher the card is clocked (there is more to it than this but this is how I can easily explain it). In essence to clock higher you have to keep the card cooler. By doing exactly this I can now run 1125/6600 at 1.175v. The results are shown above as "HD7970 OC2". The card is now just shy of 60% faster than the HD6970 at the same settings and coming very close to the all important 60fps barrier.

    Overall BF3 Eyefinity performance has left a massive smile on my face which at the end of the day is what really matters. I can finally really enjoy Eyefinity in my favourite game currently which is just fantastic.



    Arcania - Eyefinity Performance

    I have also run some Eyefinity benches on a game that no-one is probably playing but I am. I got this game for under a fiver in the Steam holiday sale along with the rest of the Gothic line-up and was amazed when it literally brought my HD6970 to its knees.

    I thought I would include the results as a point of interest so here they are:

    HD6970

    Min - 19.00
    Avg - 27.30

    HD7970 OC @ 1075/6000

    Min - 30.00
    Avg - 38.76 (+42%)

    Another instance where the minimum on the HD7970 is higher than the Average on the HD6970. You may note a lack of stock HD7970 benches for this game. The reason is simple - it took a number of attempts to get the game to play (thanks to a small change in resolution due to bezel management) and once it finally opened I couldn't see FRAPS :)sigh:).

    Overall the HD7970 (OC) is 42% faster than the HD6970 in this game.


    Now the benches I have run had been put to bed I can move onto the conclusion.

    Based on my own experiences I am very pleased with the performance that the HD7970 has offered in Eyefinity. It has shown itself to be much faster than the HD6970 it replaces whilst pulling similar levels of power and outputting similar levels of heat. My old PSU issues aside it also clocks like it has 100 weight of TNT up its bottom.

    The price is obviously the biggest sticking point for a lot of people. At £500 there is no way I would purchase this card. At £450-£475 (where alot of them are residing) I would be very reluctant to part with my own money but at £450 and under I can see the attraction. Now, I got my card for a relative steal but can still see why it has been priced like it has. Who is to blame for the pricing is still up in the air with alot of fingers pointing to the UK retailers taking a nice chunk. Pricing in the US seems much more reasonable at $479-$500, so it does look like a case of "rip off Britain" once again.

    Would I recommend the HD7970 to anyone potentially interested in it? Yes but only if they are running a resolution that actually requires it and only if they don't pay more than £450.

    Anywhoo I have come to the end of my "little" (LOL) review of the HD7970. I hope you have found the content interesting. If you have any queries please feel free to ask in this thread or my PM.

    EDIT - Update including overclocking and BF3 1080p "Ultra" results


    Small update as I have been spending some more time fiddling with the overclocks and playing around with 1080p with my monitors in PLP.

    First up; overclocking

    Based on my testing so far I have managed to achieve the following clocks:

    OC1 - 1075/6000 @ 1.112v & custom fan profile (tops out at 45%).
    OC2 - 1125/6600 @ 1.175v & fan fixed at 60%.

    OC1 is what I consider to be my 24/7 gaming clock as it quite happily churns away at my cards "stock" volts. The fan is not very intrusive either which is quite nice. The card under this profile tops out at around 75 degrees. Further testing has shown the memory to have much more "go" in it so this OC will be updated to 1075/6600 when I remember.

    OC2 is my highest stable OC from my testing so far. BF3, Crysis 2 & Arcania are all rock solid at this clock speed, core voltage is set at 1.175 and the fan manually fixed at 60%. At this fan speed the card is very audible and gaming is only enjoyable with headphones (quite enjoyable actually - I think I will start to game like this a bit more).


    Now for 1080p BF3 gaming benchmarks

    After having some fun with BF3 in Eyefinity I decided to place my monitors in PLP setp so I could try some BF3 @ 1080p. Given that the HD7970 mullers BF3 @ 1080p at my normal settings, I decided to only test at Ultra settings with deffered AA applied (4x). Every setting was maxed in game with no ammendments made in CCC.

    (Test is identical to my Eyefinity runs with the only adjustment being the resolution and this case the visual settings).

    The results were:

    HD7970 @ Stock

    Min - 34
    Avg - 48.8

    HD7970 @ 1075/6000

    Min - 39
    Avg - 54.4

    HD7970 @ 1125/6600

    Min - 40
    Avg - 58.8

    So close to 60fps Avg I can almost taste it.

    I need to do more testing and tweaking on the clocks but I am loving the way this card scales with its clocks at the moment.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2012
    Mr Verro, Horrux, DRDNA and 15 others say thanks.
  2. DrunkenMafia

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    Great review mate, I am considering eyefinity for bf3 with my 5870's. Is it good? I can understand car racing games etc but not sure on FPS.
     
  3. Xaser04

    Xaser04

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    Thanks :)

    I run Portrait Eyefinity and think it is great. I found Landscape Eyefnity to be too wide for my liking.

    Your HD5870's may hold you back a bit if they are 1GB models. VRAM usage on my HD7970 is right around 1800MB even at High settings. (To be fair BF3 does try to make use of as much VRAM as possible so under the same scenario my HD6970 was reading ~ 1500MB).
     
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  4. Lionheart

    Lionheart

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    Nice card & review bro, can't wait till I receive my one:eek:
     
  5. STCNE

    STCNE New Member

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    Nice review, and very nice results.
    I think we've finally reached a point where high end cards are a waste on single monitors(not including the really high res ones). The 6970 is understandable, but the 7970 is really meant for eyefinity IMO.
     
  6. 20mmrain

    20mmrain

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    [​IMG]
     

    Attached Files:

  7. Lionheart

    Lionheart

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  8. Xaser04

    Xaser04

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    Very nice. I look forward to seeing your CF results, especially the overall scaling.

    STCNE - I definitely agree on your monitor point. Even a single HD7970 would be a complete waste (once you factor in the cost) at 1080p but it really comes into its own at 2650x1600 (1440) and beyond.

    Clock it amd well :eek:
     
  9. Woody New Member

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    my $0.02

    Hey guys,
    thanks for the review, actually your case is just like mine (actually even your Fractal case :D)
    I bought a Sapphire 7970 myself yesterday also, just to find out that all like 10+ big reviews are not actually true, atleast it's not working for me.


    Started my testing over @friend's, he's got corsair TX850, i5-2500k and GTX570

    PITA installing the card, there was virtually no drivers anywhere to be found on the web, AMD site only latest WHQL-not working on 7970 ofc and basically ALL vendors got only like some ad about new card, ->support, downloads, 0 hits.. sad, card is actually INSIDE my house, fitted inside and they are not able to post a drivers on their web, shame.

    So we managed to find a cd-rom able to read a driver cd supplied (anyone uses these anymore ? :D) to install "some" drivers, I was not expecting to be performing well, but well, it was atleast working.

    OT:
    So, basically, why we need to do serious search to find some "support article" with latest drivers, I mean the 7970 specific one(mention somewhere here on forums also-which I actually found much later :( - also applies on all preview drivers and so on : ) sorry for offtopic)

    We did some tests:

    -3DM11 (both P+X)

    -BF3 run (using FRAPS, 60 seconds, without moving a mouse in a mission "Rock and a Hard Place" starting(F11) on "spawn" in the jeep, ending right after exitting it and a big explosion after)
    (we have agreed it seems more demanding than the jet scene, solid 75% is inside a ship, compared to movement thru forest in the jeep, nevermind)

    -Anno 2070 (again, 60 seconds, 1st mission "fly-by intro", starting after hitting "start" ending up right before getting controls after)

    -Metro 2033 (again, 60 seconds, 1st mission, going thru the start and starting on cutscene, when your mate's car arrives)

    -Unigine (fullHD, maxxed)

    I've got some result here for his GTX570 and my 7970 I won't bore you with :p but actually it was not so good, I could post it, if wanted. Funny thing is :
    IT WAS NOT POSSIBLE TO OC IT!
    not even 5 MHz :) 3dM11 and BF3 was crashing(hard reset curable only), 3DM06 was runnig with artefacts.. then I left because he needed to sleep in the evening, in tears tho :p

    When I found out back@home, that I had "wrong" drivers(CD quality only..) i was eager about OCing, when I finished 2nd set of testing on my rig (*hint* much better results with oficial drivers). I found out that it was not crashing, it was able to give me some some error messages (3DM11 something like out of memory etc.) but still it was not able to run maxxed driver OC, i mean 1125MHz..

    I need more time for testing, maybe even it will run on 1050MHz or something, but I am not interested then :) I will pay a visit to my friend, he's got i5-2500k also, GTX590 and Corsair gaming 800, as opposed to my i7-860, HX650 and 6950@6970 right now so I could rule out any other possibility (2 rigs limiting the card ? (mine and 1st friend.. possible, but not likely) and probably I will gonna return it for refund, wait a month for 7950 (flashable?) any other model, non-reference, better power cascade, anything...

    Sorry for spam, if you are reading this, thanks for attention and I would like to ask you for your opinions what to test, what to do next, your thoughts for future 28nm development etc. :)
    Thanks, cheers
     
  10. Xaser04

    Xaser04

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    Sounds like you have had a bit of a pain.

    To tell the truth my first install method didn't go well. I attempted to install the 12.1a drives only to be met with two screens in landscape duplicate mode and one not working at all (bear in mind I run them physically in portrait and you can begin to see the issue).

    Neck craning I managed to get the 11.12 drivers installed off the driver CD (I do alot of video encoding so a DVD drive is easy to fine) and everything was dandy barring a few hiccups setting up Eyefinity profiles ( I did it the wrong way wrong... Eyefnity first then extend instead of extend and then Eyefinity).

    I would start testing my installing MSI afterburner 2.2.2 Beta 10 (Guru3D) and monitoring your clocks, temps and voltages in there. Unlock the clock limits (google for afterburner clock unlocking) and start your overclocking there. As you have a Sapphire card ensure you don't have Trixx installed which could be overrding afterburner.

    Not all cards will be able to do 1125Mhz on stock volts so remember this when pushing your clocks.
     
  11. Woody New Member

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    thanks for the reply :)
    Not all cards will be able to hit that ? :) Damn :D I read quite the opposite :)

    Actually i forgot to mention, that i do own eyefinity setup too (3x 24", 5760x1080 - that is the right reason to buy this one, right ? : ) but i didn't even start to unpack the adaptors, as probably i will end up refunding this anyway :/

    Not really happy, but i will prolly wait till 7950 comes out, i am really curious about flashing, non reference cards, coolers etc. Card is not all that quiet frankly, but it is not much worse than my current one, just get some BF3 action and you are fine :)
    Anyone thinks i should keep it and try to test it some more ? Or even buy ASUS version, so there is a bigger chance of better gpu ? I am lost )
     
  12. Xaser04

    Xaser04

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    Quick BF3 Eyefinity update regarding CPU Overclocking results:


    "HD6970 Playable Settings"

    HD7970 OC @ 1075/6000

    Min - 38.00
    Avg - 52.98

    HD7970 OC @ 1075/6000 with 2500k at 4GHz

    Min - 38.00
    Avg - 52.97

    As thought no difference in BF3.
     
  13. radrok

    radrok

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    Good, a couple of them should serve me well on triple U3011, thanks for the update :)
     
  14. Xaser04

    Xaser04

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    No probs.

    Get a couple clocked to 1050/6000 or more and you will be laughing.
     
  15. kenkickr

    kenkickr

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    Thank you for the time you put into doing this and now I can't wait to get mine.
     
    Crunching for Team TPU
  16. GSG-9

    GSG-9

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    Thanks for taking the time to write the review it was a fun read! Now go play some games!
     
  17. Xaser04

    Xaser04

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    No problem. I actually enjoy doing this sort of thing.

    Been enjoying plenty of BF3 (as I was actually playing it to get the results :))

    Just had a round on Operation Metro 64 player server (Full). Dropped in at the point we (Russians) pushed the US team back from B and benchmarked from that point. Plenty of heavy action and LOTS of explosions (FUN :D)

    At my "HD6970 Playable Settings" Eyefinity setting, my HD7970 Overclocked to 1075/6000 achieved 48FPS min and 71.96FPS Avg.

    Roughly speaking that is around 60% faster than my HD6970 achieved (mid 40's average).

    Loving this card right now.
     
  18. ThaSpacePope New Member

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    I'm just curious as to why you didn't do a comparison of 6970 overclocked to 7970 overcloclocked. I'd imagine the margin would remain @ about +30%?
     
  19. Xaser04

    Xaser04

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    The HD6970 at 940 core basically returned the same framerate as the card at "stock" (~37fps average with not change in minimums). It refused to be pushed any further without stupid increases in core voltage.

    After the first run I couldn't be bothered to run it through any other test overclocked as there was little point.

    The Clock scaling on GCN is vastly superior to VLIW4 (and VLIW5 for that matter).
     
  20. ATMccs New Member

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    HD7970 Brand OC results and Crossfire

    Hey guys, just joined this forum to join the Convo. Being a very early adopter of the new cards and jumping from my GTX 580 1.5GB 3-way SLI, i have a couple of things to say.

    First, check your IDLE stock temperature, if you are running higher than 45 *C on well vented case, you have issues. Should be seeing 38-42 degrees on idle on stock settings and stock fan profile. If you are at the 55+-60 range your card has an issue. I know because i purchased 4 cards and had 2 with the issue.


    My results from my preliminary review are:

    Asus reference HD7970 - Defective heaksink (application) barely stable on stock speeds, idled at 60.
    HIS reference HD 7970 - best card out of 4 - with AFTERBURNER 2.2.0 Beta 10 and voltage could clock up to 1230/1750 with about 50-70 % fan speed. Best clocker, did CCC max no problem as all review websites.
    Sapphire reference HD7970 (card 1) fine temperatures, could max CCC clocks but could barely do any better with voltage increase. Highest i got was 1150 / 1650.
    Sapphire reference HD 7970 (card 2) - same as ASUS. Barely could touch it and high stock temp.

    What i have noticed is that these cards can go hot, BUT DO NOT LIKE IT! Crank up the fan and improve artifacting quite a bit.

    Rig:
    i7 970 @ 4.4GHz 24/7 load stable on custom water
    MSI x58 Big Bang xPower
    Corsair 2GHz DDR3 6Gb kit @ 1600 ( 8- 8-8-20)
    Vertex 3 120GB Main
    Seagate 7200.10 500GB storage
    Silverstone 1200W Strider GOLD PSU

    I have the HIS and Sapphire cards and refunded the other two cards. I got the very first ones available where i live through connections with the local shop and got them to be available on release day. I am currently fighting with Crossfire, which is proving to be quite a hassle when it comes to taking OC. BF3 just crashes with no warning after a couple min of game time even only at CCC OC limit, which both cards could do. Unigine Heaven 2.5 had no issues on same settings for 2+ hours at all maxx 1080p x3 landscape Eyefinity.

    Can submit pictures upon request
     
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  21. Woody New Member

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    Thanks for the reply, just what i wanted to hear :) I am then requesting the pictures, please :D Sorry about your troubles with cards, it actually helped me, that i hear others got not good pieces too, going for refund tommorow.
     
  22. ATMccs New Member

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    Just discovered that the power settings slider in CCC might actually not set the proper power for the second card as PowerPlay completely deactivated that card in idle. If I do not crank that up to + 20% the OC will not be stable and result in game crashing.

    Just another thing to keep an eye out for I guess.. Pics I will try and grab later, but I am exhausted at the moment, but just started SWToR and have to say it work beautifully with Eyefinity in landscape.

    My BF3 experience so far @ 6048x1080 with everything from ULTRA and then remove AA to non, I got about 55 FPS and with almost no dips lower than 50 online. felt smooth as butter. AA for some reason made it unplayable to my standards even though game reported 25-38 FPS it was extremely un-reponsive to mouse movement and just lagged. BTW, this is all at 1100 / 1550.
     
  23. ATMccs New Member

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    Ok looks like i am not able to upload pictures due to size restrictions and limitations of using a Android tablet for all this. PM and i can email them directly if you want.
     
  24. Xaser04

    Xaser04

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    My card idles at mid 50's due to the fact I run triple monitors. The card doesn't clock down fully and thus temps will automatically be higher. My HD6970 was exactly the same again due to the clock speeds not dropping fully.

    Running a single monitor the idle drops to low 30's at the same fan speed profile.

    Full load in BF3 I have seen a max of 77 degrees with a custom fan profile.
     
  25. Xaser04

    Xaser04

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    I have done some big updates to my first post which include overclocking and 1080p gaming results in BF3.

    I have also done some other upgrades to my PC in the shape of a new PSU; Thermaltake Toughpower XT 675, and a Antec Kuhler 620. The Kuhler is doing an excellent job of keeping my CPU cool - 44 degrees under load after a lengthy encoding session - and should allow a nice bit of overclocking. It is located as a Push exhaust on the back of the R3.

    The PSU upgrade has allieviated my fears of pushing my PSU to it's 12v limit (420w). The new one can supply all of its 675w on the 12v rail at 50 degrees (or in other words can supply alot more than that at a lower intake temperature).

    These upgrades have allowed me reloacte the rear R3 fan onto the side panel to blow cool air over the HD7970. This coupled with a 80mm Fan blowing air over the VRM's has reduced my Eyefinity idle temperatures to mid 40's and load to mid 60's.

    I can now finally push 1125/6600 at 3560x1920! The end result is a overall average of 56.59FPS or ~60% faster than a HD6970 at the same settings.

    I have tested 1150/6600 and it appears stable after a quick run through but I want to do more work before decalring it rock stable. Hopefully this shoudl push me closer to the 60FPS average mark (or 70% faster than a HD6970).

    I still have more testing to do and more tweaks I want to try out but I must say this HD7970 just keeps impressing me.
     

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