AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition Review: Give Me Back That Crown!

New Drivers Deliver; Radeon HD 7970 Claims A Symbolic Win

AMD’s driver team deserves to take this weekend off. Its beta Catalyst 12.7 build does stellar things to the performance of several games in our benchmark suite. No longer is Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 670 faster than the Radeon HD 7970. And, in fact, these new drivers are largely responsible for the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition card outmaneuvering GeForce GTX 680 in most of the tests we ran.

Suddenly, the vanilla Radeon HD 7970 looks a lot more attractive priced between $460 and $480. So, where does that leave this new GHz Edition card?

Rather than simply replacing the original Radeon HD 7970, AMD sees its 1000+ MHz model coexisting. Prices are going to start at $500, the company says, and we’re assuming that covers the reference-class board. Cards with aftermarket cooling will almost certainly cost more. Expect to start seeing availability next week, with broader supply rolling in the week after.

Again, AMD’s factory cooler is disturbingly loud, so avoid that. But if board partners can tack on more interesting solutions, like the ones we saw in our Radeon HD 7950 round-up, and still manage to keep prices close to $500, the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition will take its place in front of the GeForce GTX 680.

Here's the rub, though. In a world without GeForce GTX 670, Nvidia’s 680 might still be on our radar, and we’d have a proper grudge match on our hands in the high-end space. That’s simply not the case anymore, though. Today, there are other high-end GPUs that offer nearly as much performance at much more attractive prices, dissuading us from either company’s single-GPU flagship.  

We already know that GeForce GTX 670 performs within a few percentage points of 680, and for $100 less. Moreover, once Catalyst 12.7 goes public and puts the older 7970 in the same league as GeForce GTX 680, it’d simply make more sense to save the $50 and do a little overclocking of your own. Shoot, I have two retail 7970s here that both hit the core frequency limiter in Overdrive at 1125 MHz, and have no troubling achieving the same 1500 MHz memory settings as the GHz Edition card.  

There’s no guarantee that 7970s will continue overclocking as well as they have been, particularly now that AMD is saving the top-binned ASICs for this new model. However, we’d rather save some money and come close. For that reason, the original Radeon HD 7970 and GeForce GTX 670 remain our favorite gaming graphics cards.

  • esrever
    50 mhz boosts are kinda low imo
  • Darkerson
    My only complaint with the "new" card is the price. Otherwise it looks like a nice card. Better than the original version, at any rate, not that the original was a bad card to begin with.
  • mayankleoboy1
    Thanks for putting my name in teh review :D

    now if only you could bold it :lol:
  • wasabiman321
    Great I just ordered a gtx 670 ftw... Grrr I hope performance gets better for nvidia drivers too :D
  • mayankleoboy1
    nice show AMD !

    with Winzip that does not use GPU, VCE that slows down video encoding and a card that gives lower min FPS..... EPIC FAIL.
    or before releasing your products, try to ensure S/W compatibility.
  • hellfire24
    not trying to be a fanboy but "Still GTX 670 gives you best BANG FOR DA BUCK!"
  • vmem
    jrharbortTo me, increasing the memory speed was a pointless move. Nvidia realized that all of the bandwidth provided by GDDR5 and a 384bit bus is almost never utilized. The drop back to a 256bit bus on their GTX 680 allowed them to cut cost and power usage without causing a drop in performance. High end AMD cards see the most improvement from an increased core clock. Memory... Not so much.Then again, Nvidia pretty much cheated on this generation as well. Cutting out nearly 80% of the GPGPU logic, something Nvidia had been trying to market for YEARS, allowed then to even further drop production costs and power usage. AMD now has the lead in this market, but at the cost of higher power consumption and production cost.This quick fix by AMD will work for now, but they obviously need to rethink their future designs a bit.
    the issue is them rethinking their future designs scares me... Nvidia has started a HORRIBLE trend in the business that I hope to dear god AMD does not follow suite. True, Nvidia is able to produce more gaming performance for less, but this is pushing anyone who wants GPU compute to get an overpriced professional card. now before you say "well if you're making a living out of it, fork out the cash and go Quadro", let me remind you that a lot of innovators in various fields actually do use GPU compute to ultimately make progress (especially in academic sciences) to ultimately bring us better tech AND new directions in tech development... and I for one know a lot of government funded labs that can't afford to buy a stack of quadro cards
  • andrewcarr
    So happy :)
  • DataGrave
    Nvidia has started a HORRIBLE trend in the business that I hope to dear god AMD does not follow suite.
    100% acknowledge

    And for the gamers: take a look at the new UT4 engine! Without excellent GPGPU performace this will be a disaster for each graphics card. See you, Nvidia.
  • cangelini
    mayankleoboy1Thanks for putting my name in teh review now if only you could bold it;-)
    Excellent tip. Told you I'd look into it!