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

Test Setup And Benchmarks

Test Hardware
ProcessorsIntel Core i7-3960X (Sandy Bridge-E) 3.3 GHz at 4.2 GHz (42 * 100 MHz), LGA 2011, 15 MB Shared L3, Hyper-Threading enabled, Power-savings enabled
MotherboardGigabyte X79-UD5 (LGA 2011) X79 Express Chipset, BIOS F10
MemoryG.Skill 16 GB (4 x 4 GB) DDR3-1600, F3-12800CL9Q2-32GBZL @ 9-9-9-24 and 1.5 V
Hard DriveIntel SSDSC2MH250A2 250 GB SATA 6Gb/s
GraphicsAMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition 3 GB (@ 1000/1500 MHz)
AMD Radeon HD 7970 3 GB (@ 925/1375 MHz)
AMD Radeon HD 7950 3 GB
Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 2 GB
Nvidia GeForce GTX 670 2 GB
Nvidia GeForce GTX 690 4 GB
Power SupplyCooler Master UCP-1000 W
System Software And Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
DirectXDirectX 11
Graphics DriverAMD Catalyst 12.7 (Beta) For HD 7970 GHz Edition, 7970, and 7950
Nvidia GeForce Release 304.48 (Beta) For GTX 680 and 670
Nvidia GeForce Release 301.33 For GTX 690

You'll notice we're missing some comparison hardware that was included in our most recent GeForce GTX 670 review. That's by design. AMD's Catalyst 12.7 driver release purportedly includes a number of important improvements. Thus, we felt it necessary to retest the Radeon HD 7970 and 7950, omitting any 6900-series board due to time constraints. Similarly, Nvidia just this week made public its 304.48 driver, which was supposed to improve performance in a number of games as well. Unfortunately, it didn't really affect any of the titles we tested, so we wasted some cycles there. But at least we have the GTX 680 and 670 benchmarked anew using the latest from Nvidia, too.

Battlefield 3Ultra Quality Settings, No AA / 16x AF, 4x MSAA / 16x AF, v-sync off, 1680x1050 / 1920x1080 / 2560x1600, DirectX 11, Going Hunting, 90-second playback, Fraps
Crysis 2DirectX 9 / DirectX 11, Ultra System Spec, v-sync off, 1680x1050 / 1920x1080 / 2560x1600, No AA / No AF, Central Park, High-Resolution Textures: On
Metro 2033High Quality Settings, AAA / 4x AF, 4x MSAA / 16x AF, 1680x1050 / 1920x1080 / 2560x1600, Built-in Benchmark, Depth of Field filter Disabled, Steam version
DiRT 3Ultra High Settings, No AA / No AF, 8x AA / No AF, 1680x1050 / 1920x1080 / 2560x1600, Steam version, Built-In Benchmark Sequence, DX 11
The Elder Scrolls V: SkyrimHigh Quality (8x AA / 8x AF) / Ultra Quality (8x AA, 16x AF) Settings, FXAA enabled, v-sync off, 1680x1050 / 1920x1080 / 2560x1600, 25-second playback, Fraps
3DMark 11Version 1.03, Extreme Preset
HAWX 2Highest Quality Settings, 8x AA, 1920x1200, Retail Version, Built-in Benchmark, Tessellation on/off
World of Warcraft: CataclysmUltra Quality Settings, No AA / 16x AF, 8x AA / 16x AF, From Crushblow to The Krazzworks, 1680x1050 / 1920x1080 / 2560x1600, Fraps, DirectX 11 Rendering, x64 Client
SiSoftware Sandra 2012Sandra Tech Support (Engineer) 2012.SP4, GP Processing and GP Bandwidth Modules
Arsoft MediaConverter 7.5449 MB MPEG-2 1080i Video Sample to Apple iPad 2 Profile (1024x768), 148 MB H.264 1080i Video Sample to Apple iPad 2 Profile (1024x768)
LuxMark 2.064-bit Binary, Version 1.0, Classroom Scene

If you're one of the folks who likes to see our tessellation scaling results in HAWX 2, you'll find them below. In essence, though, the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition scales exactly like the 7970 that came before it.