Tagged at a price of roughly 500 EUR the ASUS Radeon HD 7970 DirectCU II will be a card hard to beat. It really is an impressive unit. It already starts when you open up the package and simply lift it, the thing weighs roughly a kilogram.
Now admittedly it is hard to go wrong with a 7970 anyway as the default aka reference R7970 is already a product with a very high 'like' factor for sure. It performs well and within all parameters, like heat and noise it's already doing a terrific job. The customization that ASUS applied to this R7970 DirectCU II edition raises the bar once again. Obviously the overall looks are nice, the DirectCU II cooler however does require a three-slot form factor and while it does bring in much better cooling at roughly the same noise levels as the reference design, the sheer size of it might turn away quite a lot of you guys -- it really is huge.
Other than size there's not a lot to nag really, excellent temperatures, even better noise levels (or the lack of it) and a product build out of the best components. For the pro-overclockers out there even a VRM heatsink bridge is delivered with the package for if you need to remove the cooling for say an LN2 session.
Impressive on the entire 7000 series is as always, the power consumption. The board is rated with a 210~215 Watt TDP, that means when you completely stress it, that's the power consumption. Our measurements showed the board TDP is roughly 222 Watt, its very good for this kind of performance especially when you take into account that the product is factory overclocked for you. Just as impressive is the board's IDLE power state, in desktop mode when not in use it can throttle down and disable huge segments of the GPU allowing it to draw 10 Watt only. Once your monitor jumps into energy saving / sleep mode then the power draw of a 7970 drops towards 2.7 Watt.
When you look at the R7970 overall, performance, the new Eyefinity updates, PCIe gen 3 compatibility and all other stuff then we can only conclude that we like the Radeon HD 7970 in the enthusiast graphics card arena. For those that embrace multi-monitor gaming, it's for you guys that AMD decided to go for that massive 3GB framebuffer / graphics memory. They could have opted for the 1.5 GB route but with extreme resolutions graphics memory starts to really matter. So it might seem a little excessive, but we are very happy that in terms of graphics memory no compromises have been made.
Overclocking then, again impressive results. The ASUS Radeon HD 7970 DirectCU II obviously already comes factory overclocked at a good 1000 MHz, that will instantly bring you extra performance right out of the box. But there is room left, if you manually overclock without voltage tweaking 1100 MHz is viable. With voltage tweaking 1200~1250 MHz can be achieved quite well. You do need to wonder though if pushing this card to its limits is worth the risk of damaging a 500~525 EUR product for a tiny bit of extra performance. But obviously that's your call to make.
It is time to wrap this review up, we liked the reference R7970, and we like the ASUS HD 7970 DirectCU II. All variables are right, the overall looks, the cooling, the noise levels, the factory overclock ... yeah it's all good.
So aside from cooling added benefits are the factory overclock, the six-monitor output, a quality build, voltage checkpoints and for the pro-overclockers an LN2 cooling pot ready PCB. It is a top notch product, the dilemma however will be the big three slot form factor. Well, we'll gladly leave the choice in your capable hands. Other than that, two thumbs up.
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