AMD's Radeon HD 7970: More Affordable, More Available
After a handful of price drops on AMD's highest-end graphics cards, the Radeon HD 7970 is now more attractive than it was immediately after the introduction of Nvidia's $500 GeForce GTX 680. Particularly because Nvidia's flagship card is still very difficult to find more than a month after its launch.
With that in mind, added to the fact that AMD's board partners have had ample time to make their own improvements to the company's top-end model, we have a great opportunity to revisit the Radeon HD 7970. Five different vendors sent models for us to consider, resulting in an impressive round-up of Tahiti GPU-based graphics cards.
|Header Cell - Column 0||GigabyteR797OC-3GD||HIS IceQ X2Turbo (Turbo X)||MSI R7970Lightning||Sapphire HD 7970 OC (Alt. BIOS)||VisionTekHD 7970|
|GraphicsClock||1000 MHz||1050 MHz(1120 MHz)||1070 MHz||950 MHz(1000 MHz)||925 MHz|
|MemoryClock||1375 MHz||1400 MHz||1400 MHz||1425 MHz(1450 MHz)||1375 MHz|
|GDDR5Memory||3 GB||3 GB||3 GB||3 GB||3 GB|
|Cooler||Windforce||IceQ X2||Twin Frozr IV||Dual-X||Reference|
|Size(PCB & Cooler)||10.5" x 4.75" x 1.5"||12" x 5.5" x 1.5"||11.75" x 5.5" x 1.5"||11.5" x 5" x 1.75"||12" x 5.5" x 1.5"|
|Weight||1 lb 10.6 oz||2 lb 1.3 oz||2 lb 7.6 oz||1 lb 14.1 oz||2 lb 1.3 oz|
|Connectors||1 x DL-DVI, 1 x HDMI2 x mDP||1 x DL-DVI, 1 x HDMI 2 x mDP||2 x SL-DVI,4x mDP||1 x DL-DVI, 1 x HDMI 2 x mDP||1 x DL-DVI, 1 x HDMI 2 x mDP|
|Form Factor||Dual-slot||Dual-slot||Dual-slot||More thanDual-slot||Dual-slot|
|GPU VoltageAdjustment||MSI Afterburner||HIS iTurbo||MSI Afterburner||Sapphire TriXX||MSIAfterburner|
|Price||$499.99(Newegg)||$499.99 (MSRP)($519.99 MSRP)||$549.99(Newegg)||$499.99 (Newegg)$579.99(Updated)||$479.99(Newegg)|
Note that HIS has two models represented on the chart. We were sent the company's "Turbo X" model for testing, and we believe it has the highest factory core overclock of any Radeon HD 7970 in the world at 1120 MHz. Unfortunately, though, this product is not expected to be available in the U.S. (only in Europe and Asia). Instead, we'll be getting the "Turbo" model, with no X and a 1050 MHz core clock. Thus, we benchmarked the card a second time with HIS' more conservative specification to demonstrate what North America can expect.
In lieu of HIS' Turbo X, MSI's 7970 Lightning sports the highest-clocked core available for sale to our U.S. audience, running at 1070 MHz. Sapphire's HD 7970 OC enjoys the distinction of shipping with the fastest memory compared to all other Radeon HD 7970s. However, its core operates a more modest 1000 MHz.
Operating frequencies aren't the only variables affecting our decision of what Radeon HD 7970 to recommend, though. Software bundles, acoustics, thermals, price tags, support, and overclocking headroom all come into play. Let's break down each model and explore what these five vendors offer.