Meet Gigabyte's Radeon HD 7970 Super Overclock
Editor's Note: I don't want to spoil the end of today's story, but this card technically isn't available in the U.S. Instead, Gigabyte is selling the few it made in Europe and Asia, which works out well for our international audience. However, the company was kind enough to redirect one board to the States for the purpose of giving to a lucky Tom's Hardware reader. You're going to want to read through to the end of our coverage of the Radeon HD 7970 Super Overclock for your chance to win!
Apparently, there is still such thing as cool-looking and technically-impressive graphics cards. Take Gigabyte’s Radeon HD 7970 Super Overclock with Windforce 5X as an example. The company didn't necessarily reinvent the wheel here, but it did introduce a new idea in cooling. Contrary to what we’re accustomed to seeing from axial-flow fans that pollute the inside of a chassis with heated air or centrifugal fans that push exhaust out of an I/O bracket, this particular product sucks warm air away from PCB, pushing it up and out the side of a case.
Of course, in order for this to work, you need an enclosure with an opening on the side. That's going to be a difficult prerequisite for many enthusiasts to satisfy. But the advantage you get is that warm air doesn't recirculate and impact other components inside of the system.
Gigabyte's approach is interesting. Large-diameter fans naturally won't fit. And air needs to be sucked in across the entire length of the card. So, the Gigabyte Radeon HD 7970 Super Overclock uses a quintet of 40 mm fans.
Today, we want to answer three questions about this new card: How loud is it? How warm does it run? And how does it perform?
At first, we were most afraid that five small fans cooling a large GPU were going to generate a ton of noise. Fortunately, that wasn't the case. But we still needed to make some modifications of our own before we were satisfied with the card's performance.