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Five Radeon HD 7970 3 GB Cards, Overclocked And Benchmarked

Test System Setup And Benchmarks

In order to compare the performance of these high-end graphics cards, we're employing an X79 Express-based platform and overclocking Core i7-3960X processor.

Of course, isolating relative performance is important, so game and synthetic benchmark results are key. But the power, temperature, and noise tests are just as critical.

Test System
CPUIntel Core i7-3960X (Sandy Bridge-E), 3.3 GHz, Six Cores, LGA 2011, 15 MB Shared L3 Cache, Hyper-Threading enabled. Overclocked to 4.25 GHz
MotherboardASRock X79 Extreme9 (LGA 2011) Chipset: Intel X79 Express
NetworkingOn-Board Gigabit LAN controller
MemoryCorsair Vengeance LP PC3-16000, 4 x 4 GB, 1600 MT/s, CL 8-8-8-24-2T
GraphicsGigabyte GV-R797OC-3GD1000 MHz GPU, 3 GB GDDR5 at 1375 MHzHIS 7970 IceQ X2 Turbo X1120 MHz GPU, 3 GB GDDR5 at 1400 MHzHIS 7970 IceQ X2 Turbo*1050 MHz GPU, 3 GB GDDR5 at 1400 MHz*simulated by underclocking the Turbo XMSI R7970 Lightning1070 MHz GPU, 3 GB GDDR5 at 1400 MHzSapphire HD 7970 OC950 MHz GPU (1000 MHz Alt. BIOS), 3 GB GDDR5 at 1425 MHz (1450 MHz Alt. BIOS)VisionTek Radeon HD 7970925 MHz GPU, 3 GB GDDR5 at 1375 MHz
Hard DriveSamsung 256 GB (SSD)
PowerePower EP-1200E10-T2 1200 W ATX12V, EPS12V
Software and Drivers
Operating SystemMicrosoft Windows 7 x64, Service Pack 1
DirectXDirectX 11
Graphics DriversCatalyst 12.3 WHQL
Benchmarks
3DMark 11Version: 1.0.1.0, Benchmark Only
Crysis 2Adrenaline Crysis 2 Benchmark Tool 1.0.1.13, Times Square, DirectX 11
Aliens vs. PredatorVersion 1.0.0.0, DirectX 11 Benchmark
Metro 2033Full Game, Built-In Benchmark, "Frontline" Scene DX9, High, AAA, 4x AF, No PhysX
  • aznshinobi
    I need a new pair of pants. Definitely graphics card eye candy. Specially the Sapphire one IMO. Do I hear giveaway THG?
    Reply
  • schnitter
    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.
    Reply
  • hellfire24
    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.

    Reply
  • confish21
    Nice write up! Really helps when trying to peg down a card. Will be revisiting alot!
    Reply
  • The gigabyte card pcb was BLUE, not BLACK :(
    Reply
  • nekromobo
    visiontek for "Particularly at its modest $279 price."

    $379 or $479??
    Reply
  • blazorthon
    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.
    Reply
  • weatherdude
    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".
    Reply
  • Reynod
    Good review Don.

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

    :)
    Reply
  • cangelini
    Fixed the typos; thanks weatherdude and nekromobo.
    Reply