AMD Radeon HD 7970 3 GB Review 301

AMD Radeon HD 7970 3 GB Review

(301 User Comments) »

Value and Conclusion

  • According to AMD, the HD 7970 will cost $549 (€ 499) and will be available starting January 9.
  • Solid performance increase
  • Low power consumption
  • Excellent overclocking potential
  • Native full-size HDMI & DisplayPort output
  • Dual BIOS
  • 3 GB of memory
  • Adds support for PCI-Express 3.0 and DirectX 11.1
  • Support for multiple independent audio streams
  • Noisy in 3D
  • High price
  • CCC Overdrive limits too low
  • PowerTune and ZeroCore may complicate advanced overclocking
AMD's new Radeon HD 7970 successfully introduces the company's new Graphics Core Next GPU architecture to the market. The move away from the VLIW shaders promises increased flexibility and higher performance, while still retaining compatibility with driver optimizations done for the VLIW architecture. In our testing we see AMD's new flagship cruise past NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 580 with a healthy 15% performance margin averaged over all our benchmarks - at 2560x1600, making it the fastest single GPU graphics card in the world. 2560x1600, at least 1920x1200, should be your gaming resolution, otherwise the card won't be able to play out its full potential. With EyeFinity support for several monitors, the card could also power a triple monitor high-end gaming rig.
Moving to a 28 nanometer GPU process brings a significant reduction in power consumption by itself. AMD has improved on this with several new technologies. Combined, this results in the highest performance per Watt result we have seen from any high-end card so far. With well below 200 W during typical gaming, the card's heat output is reduced as well. Even though AMD claims improvements in their heatsink design, the card is still fairly noisy during 3D gaming, not much quieter than NVIDIA's GTX 590, which is a dual GPU design that sucks twice as much power.
In terms of overclocking we saw spectacular results for a new GPU architecture based on a new production process. We could increase the GPU frequency by over 15% and memory by 25% which results in the highest memory clock we have ever seen on a graphics card. Overclockers will also like the Dual BIOS feature which acts as a safety net in case something goes wrong during a BIOS flash. AMD's suggested pricing for the HD 7970 is $549, which feels a bit expensive, I would consider $499 reasonable and $449 a bargain deal. However, even at its $549 price point, the Radeon HD 7970 is an ok deal when looking at other options in the high-end graphics card market. And so begins another year, another generation of GPUs, and another round of fierce competition between AMD and NVIDIA, once the latter catches up with its GeForce Kepler GPU family. Watch this space.
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