Five Radeon HD 7970 3 GB Cards, Overclocked And Benchmarked

VisionTek Radeon HD 7970

VisionTek was the first company to supply us with a Radeon HD 7970 for this article, and the company’s entry doesn’t deviate from AMD's reference design. Its 2 lb 3 oz weight and 11” x 4.5” x 1.5” dimensions are the same as the sample we received when Radeon HD 7970 launched. Priced at $479.99 on Newegg, this is the most affordable board in our round-up.

Bearing such close resemblance to AMD’s standard, it comes as no surprise that VisionTek’s interpretation of the Radeon HD 7970 employs the same 925 MHz core and 1375 MHz memory clocks, nor that it requires both six- and eight-pin auxiliary power connectors.

A single 70 mm centrifugal fan stands apart from the rest of the products in this review, all of which use two or three axial-flow fans instead. As with the reference model, VisionTek’s GPU cooling block contains a copper vapor chamber with aluminum fins directly attached, and none of the heat pipes we see on the other models.

Display outputs are also standard fare, including one dual-link DVI port, HDMI, and two mini-DisplayPort connectors.

VisionTek’s Radeon HD 7970 comes with a CrossFire bridge, DVI-to-VGA, HDMI-to-DVI, and mini-DisplayPort-to-DVI adapters, a dual four-pin Molex-to-six-pin auxiliary power adapter, a dual four-pin Molex-to-eight-pin power adapter, a software install CD, and a quick-install guide. We’re impressed that this card includes all of the output adapters needed in order to achieve a three-display Eyefinity configuration using DVI connectors.

Overclocking VisionTek's Radeon HD 7970

Though VisionTek doesn't bundle any overclocking software of its own, the Catalyst Control Center’s Overdrive utility can push core and memory clocks up to 1125 and 1575 MHz, respectively. Employing MSI’s Afterburner utility increases those ceilings to 1800 MHz (for the GPU) and 1950 MHz (on the memory) with a voltage limit of 1.3 V.

While this card's core didn't scale quite as high as some others, its memory turned out to have quite a bit of headroom available. We managed a maximum stable core overclock of 1125 MHz, with memory operating at 1900 MHz. That's the highest memory overclock in this story. We went with a 1.2 V setting, too.

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    Top Comments
  • I need a new pair of pants. Definitely graphics card eye candy. Specially the Sapphire one IMO. Do I hear giveaway THG?
  • Other Comments
  • I need a new pair of pants. Definitely graphics card eye candy. Specially the Sapphire one IMO. Do I hear giveaway THG?
  • I need to replace my 5870 HD I bought over 3 years ago. I can still play any game on HIGH at 1080p, but I want ULTRA on BF3 and Max Payne 3.

    Lets hope the 680 GTX becomes available to see what price these AMD cards end up at. I like AMD and how they don't rebrand their cards like nVidia, but $20 cheaper than 680 GTX is not cheap enough to sway me that way.
  • why a reference card(visiontek 7970) with non reference competitors?
    i am impressed with HIS IceQ X2 Turbo X but still MSi lightning is my favorite.they have beefier VRMs,great cooling and are overclocking beasts.
  • Nice write up! Really helps when trying to peg down a card. Will be revisiting alot!
  • The gigabyte card pcb was BLUE, not BLACK :(
  • visiontek for "Particularly at its modest $279 price."

    $379 or $479??
  • nekromobovisiontek for "Particularly at its modest $279 price." $379 or $479??

    $479.99 (USD) is more or less the cheapest price point for any Radeon 7970.
  • Cool review. It'd be nice if SI units were included in the weights and lengths though. Guess I'll have to do a little math. It's very nice to know that the non-reference coolers are much quieter (excluding Gigabyte's) than the original design.

    Let's see some typos:

    In the 'Test System Setup And Benchmarks' page in the Operating System row it is written as Microsoft Windows 7 x6. I assume it's supposed to be x64.

    In the first paragraph of the 'Sapphire HD 7970 OC' page the card is described as "HD 7970 PC".
  • Good review Don.

    I agree with your first and second choices ... well thought out.

  • Fixed the typos; thanks weatherdude and nekromobo.
  • I'm surprised the Asus DirectCUII didn't make it on here. Still, the MSI Lightning seems to be the best of the bunch in terms of performance, wattage, cooling, and noise, but at $50 more than the other cards, it's not very appealing.
  • Nice review.

    I hope you guys do another one like this later on the Radeon 7870 since imo, that is the best 7000 series card in terms of price to performance. It's just a shame that there are no new nvidia cards to push the price of the 7800 series lower. Please include the MSI 7870 hawk and the asus direct cu card as well if you do make the review :)
  • I have to admit the 7970 really has quite a big OC headroom. I mean compared to the GTX 680 it really can catch up. hahahaha
  • I'm wondering why HIS do not sells IceQ X2 Turbo in NA......

    Is the shiping + tax will drove the price to high, or the market is too small and HIS brand not strong enough in NA?
  • The 12.4 Catalysts raise the overdrive OC limits and have been available for over a week now, why weren't they used?
  • The first Gigabyte card certainly doesn't look like it has a black PCB...are my eyes messed up?
  • schnitter I like AMD and how they don't rebrand their cards like nVidia, but $20 cheaper than 680 GTX is not cheap enough to sway me that way.

    is that the only thing you like about AMD? Sad.
  • Nice Article & Thanks!

    From lead-in
    "GeForce GTX 680 cards are nowhere to be found, and the Radeon HD 7970 recently dropped to a much more attractive price."

    It would have been nice to toss-in a some GTX 680 benchmarks for comparison sake. Just reuse some of Chris's benchmarks ->,3161.html or run your own.

    Otherwise this is only a reference vs non-reverence HD 7970 article. You 'should' have been able to OC theses cards all the same and the difference should be within margin of error. No doubt effective cooling & Noise is a critical part, but I'm a little confused here -- I assume both Temps & Noise data is based on Factory (OC if applicable) settings which is fine BUT what about your OC Temps & Noise data?? To me this is critically important, what's the use in OC benchmarks if you need Jet rated earmuffs and temps that (exaggerating) to melt lead? Duh, I misread the data.

    The HIS IceQ X2 Turbo (Turbo X) & MSI R7970 Lightning are the standouts with noise and temps with OC. Since I know how both noise & temps can change in a snap of a finger, both are fine. -- Thanks for that data!
  • Love the review.

    Would have been cool to see one or two charts with all the cards overclocked vs a ref 680 just to see if highly overclocked 7970's can just about even the performance delta.
  • hellfire24why a reference card(visiontek 7970) with non reference competitors?

    Two reasons:

    - It's the sample Visiontek submitted
    - Aside from that, it's great to see the lower-priced reference model represented