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AMD Radeon HD 7970: Promising Performance, Paper-Launched

Synthetic And Tessellation Benchmarks

If 3DMark is any indication, the Radeon HD 7970 has a great deal of potential. It lands right between the GeForce GTX 580 and dual-chip solutions like Radeon HD 6990 and GeForce GTX 590. Being natural cynics, we can’t say we put a lot of faith in the correlation between these scores and what our real-world tests will demonstrate, but it’s good to see in this one ubiquitous title for which graphics vendors religiously optimize, the possibility exists for this single-GPU board to at least approach the last generation of hot, power-hungry dual-GPU cards.

Let’s continue with another synthetic, Unigine’s Heaven Benchmark. Since we’re taking the benchmark twice (once with tessellation off and once with it set to Normal), these results give us a point of comparison to gauge any of Tahiti’s tessellation improvements. Bear in mind that we disabled AMD’s tessellation optimizations in the CCC driver for all tests, making this a fairer metric.

We again see what the Radeon HD 7970 can do. However, the results wind up coming across confusing because the frame rate penalty incurred when enabling tessellation is more pronounced than it is on other cards.

The tessellation setting in Batman: Arkham City only allows you to choose between normal and high tessellation without turning other DirectX 11 features off entirely. So, we benchmarked both settings to isolate tessellation as a variable. The frame rates are so close here that it’s hard to declare a winner.

H.A.W.X. 2 lets us turn tessellation on or off, so it should make an ideal comparison. As we might have guessed given its standing as a TWIMTBP title, the game is clearly optimized for GeForce graphics cards, making a more general assessment difficult.

However, the vendor-specific optimizations can be minimized by comparing tessellated performance relative to non-tessellated results:

Here we see that the Radeon HD 7970 is better able to cope with a tessellation load compared to the Radeon HD 6970. It performs on par with the GeForce GTX 580 and Radeon HD 6990.

  • thepieguy
    If Santa is real, there will be one of these under my Christmas tree in a few more days.
    Reply
  • a4mula
    From a gaming standpoint I fail to see where this card finds a home. For 1920x1080 pretty much any card will work, meanwhile at Eyefinity resolutions it's obvious that a single gpu still isn't viable. Perhaps this will be something that people would consider over 2x 6950, but that isn't exactly an ideal setup either. While much of the article was over my head from a technical standpoint, I hope the 7 series addresses microstuttering in crossfire. If so than perhaps 2x 7950 (Assuming a 449$) becomes a viable alternative to 3x 6950 2GB. I was really hoping we'd see the 7970 in at 449, with the 7950 in at 349. Right now I'm failing to see the value in this card.
    Reply
  • mi1ez
    Damn, that's a good looking GPU!
    Reply
  • cangelini
    a4mulaFrom a gaming standpoint I fail to see where this card finds a home. For 1920x1080 pretty much any card will work, meanwhile at Eyefinity resolutions it's obvious that a single gpu still isn't viable. Perhaps this will be something that people would consider over 2x 6950, but that isn't exactly an ideal setup either. While much of the article was over my head from a technical standpoint, I hope the 7 series addresses microstuttering in crossfire. If so than perhaps 2x 7950 (Assuming a 449$) becomes a viable alternative to 3x 6950 2GB. I was really hoping we'd see the 7970 in at 449, with the 7950 in at 349. Right now I'm failing to see the value in this card.
    I'll be trolling Newegg for the next couple weeks on the off-chance they pop up before the 9th. A couple in CrossFire could be pretty phenomenal, but it remains to be seen if they maintain the 6900-series scalability.
    Reply
  • cangelini
    thepieguyIf Santa is real, there will be one of these under my Christmas tree in a few more days.
    Hate to break it to you, but there won't be, unless you celebrate Christmas in mid-January.

    Start treating your SO super-nice and ask for one for Valentine's Day!
    Reply
  • Darkerson
    Well I know what I want at tax time :D
    Reply
  • danraies
    cangeliniStart treating your SO super-nice and ask for one for Valentine's Day!
    If I ever find someone that will buy me a $500 graphics card for Valentine's Day I'll be proposing on the spot.
    Reply
  • a4mula
    cangeliniI'll be trolling Newegg for the next couple weeks on the off-chance they pop up before the 9th. A couple in CrossFire could be pretty phenomenal, but it remains to be seen if they maintain the 6900-series scalability.
    While I have little doubt that 2x of these cards would be very impressive, so would the $1100+ pricetag. I guess coming from the 580 SLI standpoint it might not seem like much, but if you've been considering the $750 ($900 for mobo+psu difference) 3x 6950 route like myself it seems like a major jump.

    Of course this is all just initial reaction towards the earliest of benchmarks. Given awhile to really dig around the new 7xxx, while allowing it to mature from a driver standpoint might make the 3x6950 seem foolhardy.
    Reply
  • Zombeeslayer143
    WOW!!! I love the conslusion; all of it, which basically is interpretted as "I'm biased towards Nvidia," and trys to say don't buy this card! Has the nerve to mention Kepler as an alternative; right, Kepler, as in 1 year away. The GTX580 just got "Radeon-ed" in it's rear. I'm not biased towards either manufacturer, just love to see and give credit to a team of people with passion, vision, and hardwork come together and put their company back on the map, as is shown here today with AMD's launch of the 7970. It's AMD's version of "Tebow Time!!"
    Reply
  • Zombeeslayer143
    No hard feelings to the author...thanks for the review nonethless..
    Reply