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.

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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
3DMark 11Version:, Benchmark Only
Crysis 2Adrenaline Crysis 2 Benchmark Tool, Times Square, DirectX 11
Aliens vs. PredatorVersion, 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?
  • 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.
  • 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.

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

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

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

  • cangelini
    Fixed the typos; thanks weatherdude and nekromobo.