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Sapphire Toxic HD 7970 GHz Edition Review: Gaming On 6 GB Of GDDR5

Clock Rates And Lethal Boost Mode

Overclocking with the Push of a Button

Engaging Lethal Boost mode is pretty simple: push the Lethal Boost button while the computer is running and then re-boot. The Toxic HD 7970 GHz Edition loads its settings from a second firmware containing higher clock frequencies and a more aggressive fan profile.

First, we have the original factory settings:

Then we push the Lethal Boost button. In the picture below, the button is to the left of the CrossFire connectors.

Lethal Boost Mode now gives us higher clock rates and a new PowerTune limit that extends to 50 percent (from 20).

When the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition launched, we discovered that if the card gets overclocked (or underclocked) by only 1 MHz, it holds that frequency, behaving like an ordinary Radeon HD 7970. It doesn’t throttle down, though, even when it's idle. The card sucks down 50 W or so, and ZeroCore Power stops working. We use the fixed clock rate to compare Sapphire's Toxic HD 7970 GHz Edition 6 GB to older cards.

Our Benchmark System

Benchmark System (Open Case)
CPUCore i5-2500K (Sandy Bridge), Overclocked to 4.5 GHz
CoolerProlimetech Super Mega + Noiseblocker Multiframe
Memory4 x 4 GB Kingston HyperX DDR3-1600
MotherboardGigabyte Z68X UD7-B3, Z68 Express
Operating System and DriverWindows 7 Ultimate x64 Catalyst 12.6 WHQL
CaseLian Li PC-T60A ATX Test Bench

First Benchmarks At Stock Settings

We started by taking a quick look at how the Sapphire Toxic HD 7970 GHz Edition 6 GB fares at its stock settings. This gives us a reference point for our more in-depth benchmarks.

Our second test, Metro 2033, was also run at 1201 MHz, fixing its clock rate in place.

At a resolution of 2560x1440 pixels, Sapphire's Toxic HD 7970 GHz Edition 6 GB and Gigabyte's Radeon HD 7970 Super Overclock with 3 GB perform about the same. The Gigabyte card does manage to deliver better power consumption results compared to Sapphire's board at this fixed clock rate, interestingly enough.

  • Youngmind
    The 6gb of memory might not have much of an effect with only a single card, but I wonder if it will have a larger impact if you use in configurations with more graphics cards such as tri-crossfire and quad-crossfire? If people are willing to spend so much money on monitors, I think they'd be willing to spend a lot of money on tri/quad graphics card configurations.
    Reply
  • robthatguyx
    i think this would perform much better with a trifire.if one 7970 reference can handle 3 screens than 3 of these could easily eat 6 screen,in my op YoungmindThe 6gb of memory might not have much of an effect with only a single card, but I wonder if it will have a larger impact if you use in configurations with more graphics cards such as tri-crossfire and quad-crossfire? If people are willing to spend so much money on monitors, I think they'd be willing to spend a lot of money on tri/quad graphics card configurations.
    Reply
  • palladin9479
    YoungmindThe 6gb of memory might not have much of an effect with only a single card, but I wonder if it will have a larger impact if you use in configurations with more graphics cards such as tri-crossfire and quad-crossfire? If people are willing to spend so much money on monitors, I think they'd be willing to spend a lot of money on tri/quad graphics card configurations.
    Seeing as in both SLI and CFX memory contents are copied to each card, you would practically need that much for ridiculously large screen playing. One card can not handle multiple screens as this was designed for, you need at least two for a x4 screen and three for a x6 screen. The golden rule seems to be two screens per high end card.
    Reply
  • tpi2007
    YoungmindThe 6gb of memory might not have much of an effect with only a single card, but I wonder if it will have a larger impact if you use in configurations with more graphics cards such as tri-crossfire and quad-crossfire? If people are willing to spend so much money on monitors, I think they'd be willing to spend a lot of money on tri/quad graphics card configurations.
    This.

    BigMack70Would be very interested in seeing this in crossfire at crazy resolutions compared to a pair of 3GB cards in crossfire to see if the vram helps in that case
    And this.

    Tom's Hardware, if you are going to be reviewing a graphics card with 6 GB of VRAM you have to review at least two of them in Crossfire. VRAM is not cumulative, so using two regular HD 7970 3 GB in Crossfire still means that you only have a 3 GB framebuffer, so for high resolutions with multiple monitors, 6 GB might make the difference.

    So, are we going to get an update to this review ? As it is it is useless. Make a review with at least two of those cards with three 30" 1600p monitors. That is the kind of setup someone considering buying one of those cards will have. And that person won't buy just one card. Those cards with 6 GB of VRAM were made to be used at least in pairs. I'm surprised Sapphire didn't tell you guys that in the first place. In any case, you should have figured it out.
    Reply
  • FormatC
    Tom's Hardware, if you are going to be reviewing a graphics card with 6 GB of VRAM you have to review at least two of them in Crossfire.
    Sapphire was unfortunately not able to send two cards. That's annoying, but not our problem. And: two of these are cards are deadly for my ears ;)
    Reply
  • tpi2007This.And this.Tom's Hardware, if you are going to be reviewing a graphics card with 6 GB of VRAM you have to review at least two of them in Crossfire. VRAM is not cumulative, so using two regular HD 7970 3 GB in Crossfire still means that you only have a 3 GB framebuffer, so for high resolutions with multiple monitors, 6 GB might make the difference.So, are we going to get an update to this review ? As it is it is useless. Make a review with at least two of those cards with three 30" 1600p monitors. That is the kind of setup someone considering buying one of those cards will have. And that person won't buy just one card. Those cards with 6 GB of VRAM were made to be used at least in pairs. I'm surprised Sapphire didn't tell you guys that in the first place. In any case, you should have figured it out.Why not go to the uber-extreme and have crossfire X (4gpus) with six 2500X1600 monitors and crank up the AA to 4x super sampling to prove once and for all in stone.
    Reply
  • esrever
    The normal 7970s seem much better than the ghz edition.
    Reply
  • freggo
    FormatCSapphire was unfortunately not able to send two cards. That's annoying, but not our problem. And: two of these are cards are deadly for my ears
    Thanks for the review. The noise demo alone helps in making a purchase decission.
    No sale !

    Anyone know why no card has been designed to be turned OFF ( 0 Watts !) when idle, and the system switching to internal graphics for just desktop stuff or simple tasks?
    Then applications like Photoshop, Premiere or the ever popular Crisis could 'wake up' the card and have the system switch over.

    Or are there cards like that ?


    Reply
  • FormatC
    For noise comparison between oc'ed Radeons HD 7970 take a look at this:
    http://www.tomshardware.de/Tahiti-XT2-HD-7970-X-X-Edition,testberichte-241091-6.html
    Reply
  • dudewitbow
    freggoThanks for the review. The noise demo alone helps in making a purchase decission.No sale !Anyone know why no card has been designed to be turned OFF ( 0 Watts !) when idle, and the system switching to internal graphics for just desktop stuff or simple tasks?Then applications like Photoshop, Premiere or the ever popular Crisis could 'wake up' the card and have the system switch over.Or are there cards like that ?
    I think that has been applied to laptops, but not on the desktop scene. One of the reasons why I would think its not as useful on a desktop scene is even if your build has stuff off, the PSU is the least efficient when on near 0% load, so no matter what, your still going to burn electricity just by having the computer on. All gpus nowandays have downclocking features when its not being on load(my 7850 downclocks to 300mhz on idle) but I wouldnt think cards will go full out 0.
    Reply