I've been an aficionado of the Radeon HD 7970 series ever since its launch, it just is a great performing card. The dynamic however changed a little when NVIDIA released the GTX 670 and 680. Actually while being as fast and here and there then a GTX 680, the one card that the R7970 is hurting the most could very well be the sub 400 EUR GTX 670, but in the end it will all come down to pricing of course, and the word is just in it's 499 USD which makes it slightly cheaper then a GTX 680.
The results vary a little, here and there. AMD is overall definitely stronger but in some places NVIDIA pulls ahead and that makes the end-result a little difficult as both sides have some extremes some wins and some losses. AMD will always have one trump card available, their 7900 cards all have 3 GB of graphics memory. And that is a key selling point for the product alright, especially if you want to play with silly AA levels or multiple monitor gaming. I mean this is the enthusiast segment of gaming, it's what gamers want. So props to AMD for that.
AMD simply has a a good graphics card in their hands with the R7970 GHz edition. If we step away from the raging battle in-between the two GPU manufacturers and look at the facts then clearly these cards rock with Full HD (1920x1080) and 1920 x1200 monitors. Pretty much any game to date will run absolutely fine with even the best image quality settings enabled.
So allow me to out some numbers, DX11 based Sniper Elite V2 at the excellent image quality settings in 1920x1200 pushes 42 FPS on average, the R7970 GHz edition actually is the fastest single GPU based card with this title. Crysis 2 in DX11 with the HQ texture pack for example at the same resolution pumps out 66 FPS and Anno 2070 does an amazing 90 FPS at that resolution. All with excellent image quality settings and AA levels.
The weird thing remains that the R7970 GHz edition overall is very strong in the new and latest titles, but seems to perform a little less with older titles however. Games like COD and Far Cry 2 is where the card seems a tad slower then the competition, however the older titles are still running 100+ FPS, so if you look at that retrospect... would that really be an issue for you?
Hardware variables then. The cooling is sufficient enough and during gaming temperatures will stay at or below 80 Degrees C. The IDLE noise levels are fine. When stressed massively the card will however be audible at a noticeable yet DECENT enough level. So that's ok, but not perfect.
The power consumption of this product is okay as well. NVIDIA changed the dynamics with the series 600 release, but still our measurements learn us that the board TDP is slightly below 230 Watts during stressed and hefty gaming. Please do remember, that's a peak measurement, not average.
On the topic of power consumption, impressive remains the boards IDLE power state, we measure give or take 10 Watts in idle desktop mode and when not in use (monitor in energy saving mode) it can throttle down and disable huge segments of the GPU allowing it to draw 2.7 Watt only.
When you look at the overall package, performance, the new Eyefinity updates, PCIe gen 3 compatibility and all other stuff then we can only conclude that we happily embrace the Radeon HD 7970 GHz edition in the enthusiast graphics card arena. For those that embrace multi-monitor gaming will love the 3GB framebuffer / graphics memory.
Overclocking - it remains impressive as well. With AfterBurner we increased voltage to 1.3V and that gave us the opportunity to increase the clock frequency to 1200 MHz on the graphics core. Granted it was borderline stable though, I however foresee great things with custom cooled SKUs as that is the one thing haunting extreme overclocks with voltage tweaking really.
The memory was able to be clocked at 1625 MHz, GDDR5 is quad data rate memory, so effectively it's doing 6500 without any issues. So yeah, once more we expect to hear about your overclock and tweak experiences in our forums a lot in the months to come. That again was something impressive to witness and certainly boosted performance even higher.
In closing we can only commend the GHz model of the Radeon HD 7970, and that's rare to hear from us considering it is a respin product. If AMD can push enough volume on the market combined with the right price then purchasing this card is a safe bet. Once pricing drops to 400~439 EUR then these cards are going to make the most sense. Overall as stated there are wins and losses for both GPU teams, the Radeon HD 7970 GHz edition however performs really well and definitely comes recommended by us for the 1920x1200 and higher resolution gamers out there.
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