Reference vs non-reference 7970

The name of the thread says it all. I'll probably be going with the P8Z68-v Pro Gen3.. It came to my attention that non reference HD 7970 cards are better, I was just wondering what everyone thought the nonreference card I was lookin into was:
Asus Radeon HD 7970 overclocked version

Oh and as a note, I will only be running one monitor but until I get a top of the line monitor I'm the future I'll just use my tv as the monitor for now
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More about reference reference 7970
  1. Hi there, welcome to the forums.
    Well, that's a broad question! Let me break it down as best I can.

    Referrence design
    +Often cheaper
    +Often use centrifugal fans to exhaust heat out of the case
    +More readily available
    +More vendors to choose from
    +More compact
    -Can be noisy
    -They tend to run hotter than non-reference cards
    -Don't overclock as high (usually)
    -Don't look as cool (:p)

    Flip the two and you have the pros and cons for non-reference.
    Sorry for abbreviated post, but it breaks it down pretty well.
  2. I have an MSI reference 7970 and I can OC it to 1125 core and 1575 memory with no voltage increase. And it runs stable. Of course it is loud by running the fans at 60% but the next purchase I make is an aftermarket cooler for it and itll be silent.
  3. I Kind of look at this a little different with the 7970 series cards then older gen cards.

    Pros of Reference design cards: (True Reference)
    1) Unlocked Voltage ! (some non reference do have unlocked voltage also but very hard to find)
    2) Water block availability (If into overclocking a waterblock makes a huge difference)
    3) More consistency in overclocks per card regardless of brand.

    Cons: of reference design
    1) If using them for air they are loud no doubt !
    2) Not a pretty heat sink if using on air. But look sweet once blocks are one.

    Cons of non reference:
    1) from brand to brand consistency can can range allot as some companies will use cheaper parts.
    2) No voltage control on most. (a few hard to find ones do still have it though) that makes the difference between running 1250 to 1300mhz unlocked to 1100 to 1150 mhz locked.

    So for me when looking for a card i try to go for reference design as my cards get water cooled anyway so sound isn't an issue. Also i only but unlocked voltage because pump the voltage up to 1.2 volts a 7970 is great pump it up to 1.25 it really starts to shine but pump that card upto 1.3v your pushing 1275 to over 1300+ Mhz .

    I actually own allot of 7970's and 6970's for bitcoin mining . My latest addition was a PowerColor Vortex II 7970 which i plan on running on air only on a separate board . Voltage is unlocked for a non reference but i did my research first as most were locked. But still do to air i am pretty limited as i run it full load 24/7 non stop 1150mhz at 1.2 volts is where i am stuck to keep the card safe for 24/7 use.

    Now looking for another non reference this week with unlocked voltage that will except a block and its allot harder then i thought it would be. Besides 1 Asus card and 1 MSI card they really only make cards for reference design 7970.

    Hope that helps some as i been dealing with this pretty much adding another 7970every 2 weeks to keep up with the difficulty rising in mining.

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