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About to pull the trigger on a 7970, any final thoughts?

BlackZero

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#1
I have tried to hold out until the new cards arrive but with nothing expected for up to six months I think I'm going to order a 7970 for now and then see how the new cards do, whenever they are released. The card I'm looking at is the MSI 7970 OC, it comes overclocked to 1010Mhz, so should have a slightly better chance of being a good overclocker.

The Pros

Reference PCB
Will allow for better compatibility with water cooling blocks, also can be flashed with GHz bios.

Voltage Unlocked
Unlike an increasing number of other 7970 models, the MSI 7970 cards can be voltage tweaked, and of course we have afterburner designed primarily for MSI cards.

3 year warranty/ Better components
An extra year compared to most other brands, this will be handled by the retailer, but MSI are not that far away in Netherlands. It also apparently has higher quality components according to MSI, make what you want of that.

Price
This specific model is currently on sale at a popular retailer, it will end up costing me under £300. The retailer in question is also one I regularly use, so it also gives me a little extra peace of mind.

Free games
The card will come with sleeping dogs, hitman: absolution, and far cry 3. The games are worth a good £50 at the best prices I have seen so far, so that's clearly a big plus. I have had my eye on hitman for a while but was waiting to see how far cry 3 did before ordering. I think I'll keep hitman and sell far cry 3, that will chop another big chunk off the price in terms of cash I would have spent anyway. Sleeping dogs is of course a bonus.

The Cons

Reference like fan/ Heatsink
From what I have gathered the fan will probably not be that bad but can get a little noisy. I'm either going to add a custom water block or sell it on when newer cards are released so it shouldn't be a major issue.


I can't really think of any other cons at the moment, if anyone can think of something I have missed or knows of a better deal here in the UK, please feel free to contribute.
 
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qubit

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#2
Don't do it. I think nvidia are better overall so you should get one of the upper end GTX 680s with all the enthusiast features that you're looking for. Also, check the forum post in my sig for a significant benefit of going nvidia (ok, it's a bit pricey, granted, but it's awesome).

This is a completely biased opinion from a long time happy nvidia user. :D
 
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#3
last I checked the PCB on that card is the standard HD 7970 PCB
I personally like Sapphire cards especially for their coolers the Dual-x OC is really cool (is a bit hard to fit because cooler is like 2.1 slots not 2) not sure about quite but you can tweak the fan profile fits any standard HD7970 water block and sapphire doesn't lock voltage
has Trixx for OCing though Afterburner also works. Also Sapphire has been making AMD/ATi cards for ages
 

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#4
Whatever you choose, just my opinion but don't get a single dual-gpu SLI or CF card.. from either brand.
 

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#5
Don't do it. I think nvidia are better overall so you should get one of the upper end GTX 680s with all the enthusiast features that you're looking for. Also, check the forum post in my sig for a significant benefit of going nvidia (ok, it's a bit pricey, granted, but it's awesome).

This is a completely biased opinion from a long time happy nvidia user. :D
haha, thanks for the disclaimer at the end.

But yeah, I'm aware of the pros and cons have in fact used more Nvidia cards over the years, but this time around, based on my needs, the AMD card seems to be the better choice. :nutkick:


last I checked the PCB on that card is the standard HD 7970 PCB
I personally like Sapphire cards especially for their coolers the Dual-x OC is really cool (is a bit hard to fit because cooler is like 2.1 slots not 2) not sure about quite but you can tweak the fan profile fits any standard HD7970 water block and sapphire doesn't lock voltage
has Trixx for OCing though Afterburner also works. Also Sapphire has been making AMD/ATi cards for ages
Yes that was a typo regarding the PCB, have fixed it. Also, have had an eye on sapphire cards too, but based on price and availability here in the UK the MSI card seems to be a slightly better buy as it is on sale and will cost me £30 less than the sapphire 7970 non-oc but with a dual-x fan. I would have liked the custom fan but for a lower price, longer warranty, and guaranteed higher OC the MSI has the advantage. Especially as I can water cool the card.

Whatever you choose, just my opinion but don't get a single dual-gpu SLI or CF card.. from either brand.
No worries there, had a GTX 295 before my current card so will be staying single GPU per PCB for the foreseeable future.
 
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qubit

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#6
Whatever you choose, just my opinion but don't get a single dual-gpu SLI or CF card.. from either brand.
Yup, performance scaling issues and possible microstuttering problems.

haha, thanks for the disclaimer at the end.

But yeah, I'm aware of the pros and cons have in fact used more Nvidia cards over the years, but this time around, based on my needs, the AMD card seems to be the better choice. :nutkick:
I don't like you any more. :cry: qubit goes off to sulk in his quantum corner, lol.
 

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#7
Yup, performance scaling issues and possible microstuttering problems.



I don't like you any more. :cry: qubit goes off to sulk in his quantum corner, lol.
:laugh:
 
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#8
If you watercool it then I see no reason why not buy the card. The price is very good and you also have those three games.
 
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#9
last I checked the PCB on that card is the standard HD 7970 PCB
I personally like Sapphire cards especially for their coolers the Dual-x OC is really cool (is a bit hard to fit because cooler is like 2.1 slots not 2) not sure about quite but you can tweak the fan profile fits any standard HD7970 water block and sapphire doesn't lock voltage
has Trixx for OCing though Afterburner also works. Also Sapphire has been making AMD/ATi cards for ages
Sounds like you have been reading my "Sapphire Banner" ;) Nailed everything I would have said myself. Sapphire has been AMD/ATI's biggest AIB since the beginning. The actual ATI branded cards back in the day were made by Sapphire. Been running almost every gen of AMD/ATI card since my 9800 Pro, always been Sapphire never had an issue with any of them. I'm running the OC edition and it's been nothing but great.

But if I was to pull the trigger I would put out the extra $20 for the Vapor-X Edition. Superior cooler, better components and well Sapphire quality that has never let me down in the decade or so I have been using them.

Edit: I glossed over your possible intent to go Water. Well that may blow my Vapor-X off the page(Can't say 100% it's reference but it should be they just use their "Black Diamond Chokes" a better quality 12 layer PCB and DirectFETs.) Again certainly quality to put under water if you went that route.

It took a little digging but it looks like it's a reference layout.
 
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#10
pull it.
 

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#11
I glossed over your possible intent to go Water. Well that may blow my Vapor-X off the page(Can't say 100% it's reference but it should be they just use their "Black Diamond Chokes" a better quality 12 layer PCB and DirectFETs.) Again certainly quality to put under water if you went that route.

It took a little digging but it looks like it's a reference layout.
I was interested in the vapor-x but even if it is a reference based PCB the extra £60 or so on top don't help.

Price differences aside, this slide taken from OCUK does a good job of explaining the differences between cards in terms of support here in the UK.




Edit:

Also, if I'm not happy I can always return or exchange the card for another model within 14 days due to distance selling regulations here in the UK.
 
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#12
I have Vapor-x and it's non reference it has 8 vrms which I think is one more than the default HD 7970 PCB
 

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#13
I have Vapor-x and it's non reference it has 8 vrms which I think is one more than the default HD 7970 PCB
Good catch, just confirmed that by comparing the image linked with a reference PCB.


Edit:

I have placed the order.

Thanks for all the advice and tips, and please don't be mad at me, qubit. :p
 
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#14
doh!

I have the MSI 7970 OC (with a front and back CSQ EK waterblock with single slot I/O fitted. Looks superb.

BUT... my card only OC'd up to about 1125MHz.

My other 7970 from Powercolor (LCS version) went all the way to 1300MHz.

Luck of the draw. Good call regardless, even if it overclocks only a little, with 12.11 drivers the cards are exceptional.
 
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#15
I have Vapor-x and it's non reference it has 8 vrms which I think is one more than the default HD 7970 PCB
True but not a bad thing having the extra power stage. It certainly wouldn't affect putting on a waterblock. it's not like they have left a "blank spot" on the block for the reference 7 VRMs.
 
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#16
My advice is to not get a reference cooled 7970 if you get one. There are plenty low prices on non ref cooled ones, even OC models, but buying this late you cannot expect a high binned chip that will OC well. Ref cooled ones are always hotter and louder.

I'm not sure I buy that Nvidia is better anymore either. Even after getting a pretty low ASIC 7970 recently that won't take an OC as well as I'd like, it will still OC high enough to match if not slightly beat a GHz model, and I only paid $330 for it.

I also actually had more trouble with the MSI 660 Ti I tried recently regarding display compatibility than I have with this one, and MSI was not very helpful. They'll say it could be defective, then imply your system is messed up to cover their asses on Newegg's comment pages, and they don't even take a ticket number when you call.

I called several times because when I got one person that scratched his head as to what the problem was, I'd hear another opinion from someone else. Last thing you want when you have to troubleshoot with techs is having to reiterate everything each toll call due to their lack of clerical diligence and expertise.

There's no sure bet on GPUs anymore, it's literally a crap shoot, in both bin quality and driver support. Nvidia have had plenty problems on everything from base layer defects to yields to drivers lately. Just look at the EVGA forums and you'll see lots of complaints about their 600 series, and EVGA are the only Nvidia exclusive partner, with supposedly better bin selection.
 
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#17
There's no sure bet on GPUs anymore, it's literally a crap shoot, in both bin quality and driver support. Nvidia have had plenty problems on everything from base layer defects to yields to drivers lately. Just look at the EVGA forums and you'll see lots of complaints about their 600 series, and EVGA are the only Nvidia exclusive partner, with supposedly better bin selection.
I've had no problems with my GTX 670. 100% ASIC Quality. Drivers are fine. Last encounter with an ATI on the otherhand....
 

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#18
True but not a bad thing having the extra power stage. It certainly wouldn't affect putting on a waterblock. it's not like they have left a "blank spot" on the block for the reference 7 VRMs.
It can increase the possibility of edges etc. interfering as in certain places even the reference designed water blocks will show some variance. The 7970 vapour-x also uses 55mm x 55mm for the mounting holes vs the 53.4mm x 53.4mm on the reference 7970.


My advice is to not get a reference cooled 7970 if you get one. There are plenty low prices on non ref cooled ones, even OC models, but buying this late you cannot expect a high binned chip that will OC well. Ref cooled ones are always hotter and louder.

I'm not sure I buy that Nvidia is better anymore either. Even after getting a pretty low ASIC 7970 recently that won't take an OC as well as I'd like, it will still OC high enough to match if not slightly beat a GHz model, and I only paid $330 for it.

I also actually had more trouble with the MSI 660 Ti I tried recently regarding display compatibility than I have with this one, and MSI was not very helpful. They'll say it could be defective, then imply your system is messed up to cover their asses on Newegg's comment pages, and they don't even take a ticket number when you call.

I called several times because when I got one person that scratched his head as to what the problem was, I'd hear another opinion from someone else. Last thing you want when you have to troubleshoot with techs is having to reiterate everything each toll call due to their lack of clerical diligence and expertise.

There's no sure bet on GPUs anymore, it's literally a crap shoot, in both bin quality and driver support. Nvidia have had plenty problems on everything from base layer defects to yields to drivers lately. Just look at the EVGA forums and you'll see lots of complaints about their 600 series, and EVGA are the only Nvidia exclusive partner, with supposedly better bin selection.
My reasons for buying a reference designed card are in the first post, also as stated, a custom fan would have been nice but in this case the card I chose seems to have the overall advantage in light of my needs. Thanks for the input. :)


ps.

I would consider oc ability being purely down to luck of draw as unless AMD have started binning other chips and diverted resources that way I wouldn't think the quality of chips in production should be effected. Even two chips from the same wafer can be very different. The ASIC quality might be a better reference, but even then it would be down to the type of cooling in use for the most past.

I've had no problems with my GTX 670. 100% ASIC Quality. Drivers are fine. Last encounter with an ATI on the otherhand....
Everyone will have their opinions based on personal experiences and preference, but lets not turn this into unnecessary bashing, please.
 
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#19
Everyone will have their opinions based on personal experiences and preference, but lets not turn this into unnecessary bashing, please.
Yes, nicely said, I sensed a degree of bias slipping in from Naito ;)

You might have a little electrical noise from the 7970 ("coil whine") but the only reason i notice mine is because the fans on my radiator spin at 800-900 rpm and the case is less than 2 foot from my ears on my desktop.

If i had a stock cooler, I'd not hear the whine over the gpu fans for sure.
 

BlackZero

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#20
Yes, nicely said, I sensed a degree of bias slipping in from Naito ;)

You might have a little electrical noise from the 7970 ("coil whine") but the only reason i notice mine is because the fans on my radiator spin at 800-900 rpm and the case is less than 2 foot from my ears on my desktop.

If i had a stock cooler, I'd not hear the whine over the gpu fans for sure.
I run my radiator fans at around 600-800 rpm with only the rx360 using push/pull, so fan noise is pretty low; this is also something I do care about, a lot. Hopefully, if there is any coil whine I will be able to detect it early and get it replaced as eventually a water block is going to likely go on it.
 
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#21
Yes, biased, but more of a tongue in cheek with the last sentence.

I do honestly believe AMDs latest cards, especially the GHz editions with 12.11 drivers, offer very great value. Almost go as far as outright recommending them, almost :p
 

BlackZero

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#22
I just received my MSI 7970 OC and it has an ASIC quality of 75%. That should in theory mean good overclocking results with a balance between good air cooling and water cooling, haven't tried to see how far it overclocks yet.

I did notice that there's noticeable coil whine. I also read somewhere that it may go away after a few days? In any case, some benchmarks at the graphics card's stock clocks. :D


Unigine Heaven 3.0
3dmark 11 - Default settings
3dmark 11 - HWBot (Modified tessellation)
3dmark Vantage
3dmark 06
3dmark 05
3dmark 03
 
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#23
A whining solid coil? How is it that so many people claim this issue? :confused:

I said it before and I'll say it again; For over a decade I have not seen/heard a whining/squealing coil in ANY electronic component. :eek:

Congratz and enjoy your card!
 

BlackZero

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#24
A whining solid coil? How is it that so many people claim this issue? :confused:

I said it before and I'll say it again; For over a decade I have not seen/heard a whining/squealing coil in ANY electronic component. :eek:

Congratz and enjoy your card!
yeah, I have only ever had noticeable coil whine once in the past and that was with an 8800 GTX, so more than a few years ago. It seems to be quite common with these 7970 cards so no point in making a fuss I guess. Hopefully it will go away. :eek:
 
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#25
What was your GPU score in Vantage? i cant see it as im not at home and on a crappy connection =/