Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition Gets Our Aftermarket Cooling Treatment
We're not going to recommend against buying a card with AMD's reference cooler without trying to come up with alternatives.
Considering that our sample spun up to 84 degrees C in an air-conditioned room in a relatively modest looping test that doesn't apply a constant load, we don't even want to know how it'd sound (or perform) during an extended gaming session.
The following chart shows the temperature curve of our reference card running a far more demanding FurMark workload at four different clock speeds over a period of four minutes.
Regardless of how noisy AMD's solution is, can an aftermarket card ameliorate this thermal situation? We decided to go with a cooler in the $50 range, which still ends up pricey when you add it to the card's $500 cost. Spending anything more just to counter a problem with the reference design, we think, is wasteful.
Is Gelid's Icy Vision-A A Good Compromise Between Performance And Price?
Gelid’s Icy Vision isn’t really a particularly new design, but it's now officially validated for the Radeon HD 7970. How well does it handle almost 250 W of heat dissipation under full load?
After we finished installing the new cooler, we re-ran our tests and compared the results to AMD’s reference design.
Gelid’s Icy Vision-A doesn't deliver the same cooling efficiency as what we've seen from companies like MSI, HIS, or Gigabyte, but the improvement is both quantifiable in the above chart, and in our acoustic testing. In light of its moderate price, we believe this cooler is a reasonable choice that helps complement AMD's hardware. This is the treatment we're hoping to see from board partners.
Of course, the bars on a chart don’t really tell you much about the actual noise a specific cooler produces. That’s where our videos come in, allowing our readers to compare both cooling solutions directly.
First, our Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition with Gelid's Icy Vision-A:
Then, our Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition with AMD's reference cooler:
What a difference. The bottom line is that $50 bucks absolutely gets you a better cooling solution. In our opinion, you're better off saving the $50 AMD is trying to make on its GHz Edition card. Instead, buy the original Radeon HD 7970 and spend the leftover money on a cooler like this. You'll achieve similar performance at a similar price, but get less noise and better thermals. The only sacrifice is a loss of warranty.