Analysis and Conclusions
Let’s you and I be completely honest with each other, we can almost predict exactly what performance benefits you can get from a higher clocked GPU on games where the GPU is indeed the bottleneck. For the XFX Radeon HD 7970 Black Edition Double Dissipation and its 1000 MHz clock speed, performance falls in line with those expectations. Our benchmarks show that in all cases, including 1680×1050 resolution tests, the move from the 925 MHz reference clock to the settings XFX ships with results in 4-7% improvements. There are a couple of exceptions like Skyrim, where the nature of the title lends itself more towards software / architectural changes but in general this is the case.
While that isn’t incredibly impressive, it is something and there are going to be users that want to get the most performance for their dollar if it isn’t prohibitive.
One thing I was kind of let down with on this card was the non-reference cooler. While XFX stated in the press materials that it would run quieter and cooler than the one that AMD sent with the initial wave of samples, in my testing that wasn’t the case. The dual-fan cooler wasn’t quieter when running a full load of Battlefield 3 at 2560×1600 and in fact the temperatures ran noticeably higher. This might not be a real problem with XFX’s cooler selection but rather the traits of the Tahiti GPU and might indicate the reason for AMD somewhat reserved reference clock speeds.
Our overclocking results turned out to be pretty solid with this cooler though as we were able to max out the AMD driver-based overclocking capability to 1125 MHz with ease!
We have to comment on our CrossFire issues in this article and of course point out that these are NOT XFX’s fault. Instead, we seem to have found a fault with the AMD drivers and its QA program. The problem of not seeing any scaling at 2560×1600 in Battlefield 3 (and ONLY 2560×1600) while seeing no scaling in Batman: Arkham City, crashes at 2560×1600 in Skyrim and the large dips in frame rate in Deus Ex: Human Revolution are pretty dramatic and damning for the brand new architecture.
Please keep in mind that we tried more than our fair share of fixes to try and get these errors corrected even to the point of using a completely different motherboard and system. It was all consistent, and it was all repeatable. When we asked AMD about the issues they basically told that since not many people had a pair of these cards to do CrossFire testing yet, these things weren’t out of the ordinary. And while that error might seem reasonable during the pre-release time frame, the cards are available TODAY and as such we expect real gamers spending real money will have their hands on them very soon. What is the response going to be then?
The story isn’t completely hopeless though and I think it can all be corrected in drivers but the question will be WHEN and how consistently AMD will be able to keep up.
Pricing and Availability
We already knew that the Radeon HD 7970 3GB was going to be expensive – $549 for the reference specifications according to AMD. The XFX Radeon HD 7970 3GB Black Edition is set for an MSRP of $599 – $50 more than the reference models.
- XFX Radeon HD 7970 3GB Black Edition – $599
- AMD Radeon HD 7970 3GB – $549
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 1.5GB – $499
- AMD Radeon HD 6970 2GB – $349
I think things are getting out of hand here. We are talking about a $600 single-GPU graphics card for a market that many believe is shrinking and at best is stable. In my view, the GTX 580 started the trend of not lowering the prices of top-end GPUs and AMD is only following suit, but in the end we are on the side of the consumer here. If you want the fastest GPU on the market then the Radeon HD 7970 3GB cards are going to be there but I would maybe wait a bit to see if prices might settle.
Also, you might have noticed we are NOT reviewing the Radeon HD 7950 today as we originally expected. That has been pushed back until next month some time so if you are on a tighter budget you might still want to wait on that.
The XFX Radeon HD 7970 3GB Black Edition Double Dissipation is the fastest single-GPU graphics cards we have ever tested at PC Perspective thanks to the new AMD Tahiti GPU and the overclocked speeds that XFX has enabled out of the box. I think we will find higher clocked cards from other vendors (and possibly XFX as well) if you want to spend that extra wad of cash on them, but I think most of our readers will be comfortable with getting something more reasonable and overclocking it themselves.
While I am not going to give out any awards to XFX for its Black Edition HD 7970 simply because I want to see more retail options in house before committing. For now though, XFX has built a solid graphics card that looks good and performs better.
You know what the crying
You know what the crying shame here is you can get a xbox 360 bundle and a small tv for the price.
I can get up and gaming on that price before I even get a decent gaming pc built around that card.
Still, if I give it a year my beer budget might get a taste of that bottle of wine.
I get this feeling too, but
I get this feeling too, but when I think about it logically the price of PC gaming isnt as bad as it first looks.
1: A current console is undoubtably on its way out within the next year.
2: Although current editions of consoles are stable, my Xbox has long since rrod and I wouldn’t like to sink more money into this aging console even at the price.
3: Steam. All my console playing friends are envious of the steam deals I get for older AAA titles.
4: My computer is used for much much more than gaming.
Just a couple of excuses to favour PC gaming.
consoles are way outdated,
consoles are way outdated, cant be upgraded, lack controls, graphics cant be pumped up. Heck graphics tech in PCs were HD since 2002.
Yeah consoles have there
Yeah consoles have there pro’s, but i wane see any console beet my experience doing for example WoW, F1 or BF3, on 3 screens at 5760×1200 ^_^
I played BF3 on a PS3, man that just sucks in comparison on the PC with mouse and 3 screens!!!
Dose not mean i don’t play with my PS3, Xbox or Wii anymore, its just, games like guitar hero is made for the console and Battlefield is for the PC.
I use raser deathstalker
I use raser deathstalker keyboard and black mumba 2012 edition mouse and for some games it works and others i like to use for PC, my xbox wireless controller. Sorted 😉
I use raser deathstalker
I use raser deathstalker ultimate keyboard and black mumba 2012 edition mouse and for some games it works and others i like to use for PC, my xbox wireless controller. Sorted 😉
A good gaming PC experience
A good gaming PC experience is not more expensive than a lesser console experience — often cheaper.
Sony’s PS3 at launch, which cost $499 to purchase… cost Sony just over $800 to make.
Think about how much you’re getting gouged in license fees to pay all that back plus research, development, and marketing. Xbox is actually worse — not buying Xbox Live for four years will pay for a videocard. In other words, upgrading your PC to a console-like gaming experience (decent internals + a ~$250 videocard every 4 years) can be paid for in Xbox Live fees alone.
And then you add in $10/game license fees, accessories that are deliberately made uncompatible, owning multiple platforms because you’re *paying* Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo to NOT provide you every game on the market by nature of being proprietary and non-binary-compatible with each other… etc. (And believe me, there’s plenty in the et cetra category)
You getting gouged, son.
not sure if anyone replied to
not sure if anyone replied to you but when the PS3 launched it cost 700 dollars.
I’m at 60hrs using a 6850,
I’m at 60hrs using a 6850, 1080p maxed…..and a 3.5yr old e8400, so learn before you make a goose of yourself.
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Sure PC are much more. And
Sure PC are much more. And why would you buy an XBOX when you can buy a board game for $20? Because an XBOX can do more right? XBOX can’t watch and burn blu-rays, store 3TB of data, create HD videos, Photoshop, program mobile apps, work from home, multi-task on the web, share files around your entire house, boot from multiple OSs, double as a recording studio, (Not to mention I can hack and mod an XBOX with my PC).A high end gaming PC will be an awesome gaming device for 2-3 years and good HOME PC for 5 years. An XBOX will only be a mediocre gaming console for 2-3. There’s no comparison. And that’s why I build PCs.
Does AMD need to do firmware
Does AMD need to do firmware to make this card look better?
Dirt seem to do so well?
Is that a surprise or normal to others?
Yes, I do think they will fix
Yes, I do think they will fix this with drivers in the future. The question is HOW QUICKLY.
I believe that you may have
I believe that you may have posted the 2560×1600 Crossfire Bar Chart image instead of the 2560×1600 Non-Crossfire Bar Chart on the Metro 2033 page.
Your temps are higher than it
Your temps are higher than it should be. I think you messed up somewhere.
Is that the Delta, what is the ambient temps?
Every other review shows temp much lower than what you have.
Amateur review. Guru3d,
Amateur review. Guru3d, Hardwareheaven among others had no issues with Crossfire in any of the games you did. sad to see a reviewer who cannot set up his system blame it on drivers. 7970 is amazing and fastest card in the world, improve your review skills for the future
Bitchy comment. If PCPER is
Bitchy comment. If PCPER is getting problems then it stands to reason other people will too. When doing a review all you can do is report what YOU find and not what someone elses finds. Otherwise you might as well copy and paste from AMD’s web site
Anyway, all I can afford to do at the moment is look.
Ah well. We still have NVIDIA stuff to wait for.
We are all waiting till May aren’t we?????
Other review sites may have
Other review sites may have had access to prerelease drivers, different system configurations along with many other variables. The card doesn’t always just pop in and work 100% of the time.
It is a brand new CPU, brand new mobo, brand new GPU, and you expect it to be flawless? Heh, you must be new at this.
If you honestly have such a high opinion of Guru3D and Hardwareheaven then by all means go chill out over there and praise them. It isn’t worth the brainwaves to come over here and put someone down.
You could have, however, said “hey ryan, these guys didn’t have issues, maybe you would want to contact them?”
I guess I was an amateur when
I guess I was an amateur when I found this problem when no other reviewer did?
And then NVIDIA reproduced and is fixing it?
Please, I realize we aren’t perfect, but I have been doing this for 12 years and know a little something about troubleshooting. If I tried all the things I could to fix it here and I COULD NOT DO IT, then consumers are going to be fucked.
Ryan don’t listen to the
Ryan don’t listen to the trolls. I respect and believe your reviews above just about anyone else. You, Anand, and the Twit crew are who I trust.
This guy is just being a troll and looking for some attention.
Score one for Ryan, zip for
Score one for Ryan, zip for the dorkentroll. 😀
Looks real nice. Thanks for
Looks real nice. Thanks for the review.
Nice job Ryan. I’m glad you
Nice job Ryan. I’m glad you held off on “awarding” anything for this card. While the motif and metal work is nice, it is by no means a monster overclock and something I am sure all reference cards will be able to achieve with nothing more then the AMD driver and a good set of fans in the case.
I think the main issue with the cooler is just plain inefficiency. The air is pressed into a metal box and the heat isn’t taken away from the core nearly fast enough. I think a large copper plate on the back as well as some heatpipes from say a FROZR III cooler will do the trick nicely. Don’t know if the tiny vent on the top of the slot is enough to allow the air to vent, but I know with the GB and MSI non reference designs the intake has a slot on the HDD side to allow for the HDD fans to pass air over them as well. Would have liked to have seen that from XFX.
In terms of my quest to get a 7970 and pricing issues and what not, I think the important thing to consider here is AMD/ATI took a major whooping with the 58xx/69xx cards. The 460 and 560 as well as others had nearly flawless SLI performance scaling and the prices to match. Let’s all not be fooled here, the prices are this high because they can be, people want new cards and they don’t care the price. It is tax season, and Nvidia can only sit and watch until they more then likely spank the hell out of AMD/ATI.
I am a fan of ATI/AMDs stuff and I am saying that, keep in mind. I don’t think we will see the full potential of this architecture until next time around, and I am more then willing to bet that by this time next year or the year after (whenever it happens) AMD will be in a much nicer spot then waiting for Nvidia to make a move to pass them up.
In any regards, The issue
In any regards, The issue shown with the Skyrim low frame rates seems to be a non issue as many review sites are indeed getting well over the frame rates reported here.
For amd cards, to have vsync
For amd cards, to have vsync off u need to put iPresentInterval=0 in documents/mygames/skyrim skyrim.ini under display. Not in skyrimpref.ini like nvidia.
Blame Bethesda and their crap codes. Skyboost mod gives 10% +
boost cause they didn’t optimize their codes.
I will try out that Skrim
I will try out that Skrim refresh tweak but my understand was that you still couldn’t go above the 60 Hz limit.
I got an amd card and getting
I got an amd card and getting above 70 fps inside buildings.
Don’t know why amd’s line had to be in skyrim.ini but was happy when got it running.
wow, this review is
wow, this review is depressing compared to all the others, i also think it was your setup than the drivers…
ps you review seems to be the odd one out (me against the world baby) or me one or two others lol
Good job Ryan, you find
Good job Ryan, you find another one early weakness of HD 7970. Most of other review is more focused on racing performance rather than the real condition of HD 7970. It must be realized that the review is part of improvements that AMD needed to succeed. The reader should understand that good and bad experiences of the author will be experienced by all users of the HD 7970.
Ryan – any plan for crossfire
Ryan – any plan for crossfire + eyefinity test w/ SLI’d 580’s in surround for a comparison?
Yup, once CES is done and
Yup, once CES is done and settled we have a lot more things to try out, including Eyefinity.
I think making such a big
I think making such a big deal about the Crossfire issues is wrong and smells a bit like trying to desperately to find a issue to complain about.
AMD(ATI) has shown more than once that issues discovered are fixed and usually pretty quick plus they are right about how only a few will actually see this issue – even those that will go for crossfire will have to wait till the cards are delivered.
Also I find it funny to on the one hand see a complaint about that the crossfire issue will hit users and then on the other hand complain about prices and how it will mean few buyers. So which is it – huge amount of people going 7970 crossfire or only a few buying just a single card?
I think it would have been more interesting if the review had looked more into why the XFX card is not so silent. I suspect that it releasing the hot air inside the case let to more noise from case cooling. Also interesting would be to see more comparison of overclocking between the XFX and the reference design – it seems to me one does not really get much for the extra $50.
I think noting and pointing
I think noting and pointing out these errors is important for people that might want to invest a LOT of money in the product and it also sends the message to the vendor that reviewers and media are actually PAYING ATTENTION and holding them to certain standards.
I think we showed you the advantages of the overclocked model pretty reasonably and you can decide if you think the $50 cost is really a value or not.
Ryan- having same problem as
Ryan- having same problem as you, awful crossfire scaling on a LGA1155 idk if it’s cpu bound or not as i have an i5 2500k. Hopefully a driver will fix this for me ^_^
Time favors us PC gamers,
Time favors us PC gamers, since this new Big Bad Rad 7970 just got out, AMD is waiting for nVidia’s “Kepler” 600 series video cards and when they get it out, AMD will hit nVidia where it hurts the most, by lowering the 7900 series video card prices to the point where nVidia could not keep up with the sales PLUS, the upcoming 7990 dual GPU video and
the 7950 model.
Since nVidia’s hypocrisy and bad publicity towards AMD, by lowering the 7900 series Rad price its AMD’s way of saying to nVidia “What now?.. you cried two times already first in our our 5900 series release, then on our 6900 series release, now with our 7900 series are you gonna cry even more and complain ITS UNFAIR like you always do using your sponsored bloggers and tech sites to promote your video card products”.
This is a great card. I was a
This is a great card. I was a little hesitant to fire sale my 2 MSI 6970 Lightnings (which are amazing) and buying a single 7970, but it was unwarranted. The performance, once easily overclocked (by ATI/AMD’s stock overdrive), is on par with my previous setup on games that supported crossfire. The games that didn’t support it, well this card just blows my previous setup out of the water in that scenario.
Another point that ALMOST made me sit on my hands for a while and wait was going from top of the line custom cards (msi lightnings)to launch day OEM cards. I’ve only purchased cards with after market coolers for the past 3 generations but I just couldn’t wait to try out the 7970. I’m happy to say that while gaming, I don’t notice a difference in fan noise. If anything, it runs cooler than my previous setup (obviously crossfire had a lot to do with it) and it may be actually quieter. While the Lightnings had an excellent HSF along with all sorts of other custom parts, the 7970’s 28nm process just really nullifies the need for a monster HSF setup.
Plenty of great reviews out there on the interwebz, go read those. Just wanted to 5 star this because of the fool with the 3 star review spreading FUD.
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I see the ‘mini display
I see the ‘mini display ports’ on the back of the card. Does this mean that the HD 7970’s will be able to or have out of the box support for a Mac Pro running Lion? If not, any word as to when (or if ) Macs will be supported ? And if supported, any idea as to what price will be?
The hd7970 is the fastest
The hd7970 is the fastest single gpu solution out there. It performs like a champ and is much more quiet runs much cooler than the hd6990 while offering close to beating the hd6990.Buy this card you will not be disappointed. Plus XFX offers this card at $100 less than most if not all its competitors. Don’t let the 1 star and 2 star reviews here discourage you. Just read them and see the b.s they contain.
Truth be told you only need
Truth be told you only need one of those 7970 cards up to one 30 inch monitor. its a waste to use 2 unless you got 3 24 or 30 inch monitors. i love the fact that the 7970 has got 3GB of RAm which will be great for huge texures in furute games and giant game worlds like GTA V