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ASUS HD 7970 DirectCU II Review

ccokeman    -   December 27, 2012
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HD 7970 3GB DirectCU II Testing:

Testing of the ASUS HD 7970 3GB DIrectCU II will consist of running it and comparison cards through the OverclockersClub.com suite of games and synthetic benchmarks. This will test the performance against many popular competitors. Comparisons will be made to cards of a range of capabilities to show where each card falls on the performance ladder. The games used are some of today's newest and most popular titles, which should be able to provide an idea of how the cards perform relative to each other.

The system specifications will remain the same throughout the testing. No adjustment will be made to the respective control panels during the testing, with the exception of the 3DMark 11 testing, where PhysX will be disabled in the NVIDIA Control Panel, if applicable. I will first test the cards at stock speeds, and then overclocked to see the effects of an increase in clock speed. The cards will be placed in order from highest to lowest performance in each graph to show where they fall by comparison. The NVIDIA comparison cards will be using the 306.32 drivers with AMD cards using the Catalyst 12.8 drivers and latest CAP profile.

 

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Video Cards:

 

 

Overclocking:

  • ASUS HD 7970 DirectCU II Core 1134 MHz, Memory 1669 MHz

Boosting the clock speeds on ASUS (and other maker's) video cards is as simple as reaching for their own in-house tuning and monitoring application – in this case, it was GPU Tweak. ASUS's GPU Tweak tool can be used to increase clock speeds of the memory and GPU core, adjust the fan speed, and change the applied core voltage in an effort to improve overclocking margins. GPU Tweak is, however, not a one trick pony. ASUS has included the ability to use the live update feature to check for vBIOS updates, built in a recording feature to save you money on the purchase of FRAPS, and embedded an ASUS ROG-skinned GPU-Z application imbedded under the info tab. To boot, you can get this application for free. Overclocking on ASUS HD 7970 DirectCU II was fruitful, based on the fact that this card came with standard reference clock speeds of 925MHz on the core and 1375MHz on the 3GB of GDDR5 memory. By using ASUS GPU Tweak and other tools, I was able to reach overclocks of over 22% on the core and over 20% on the memory with the final clock speeds of 1134MHz and 1669MHz on the core and memory, respectively. These are pretty significant jumps from the baseline clock speeds and offered up significant bumps in performance. Not 20%+ on average, but significant, none the less.

To get there, i maxed out the fan at 100% to make sure the core and 12-phase VRM circuit stayed as cool as possible. I then bumped up the clock speed in 50MHz increments until the preliminary testing failed, after which I bumped the core voltage and continued upwards until the application of more voltage did not pay off with improved stability. Overclocking the memory followed much the same process to reach the maximum of 1134MHz on the 28nm core and 1669MHz on the memory. The voltage used to reach the max clock speeds was 1.263V, with 1.3V not offering anything more in the way of stability at higher clock speeds. The increase in fan speed really paid dividends with the temperatures delivered by the six heat pipe DirectCU II cooling solution when running overvolted and overclocked. ASUS HD 7970 DirectCU II delivered the lowest thermal results of any HD 7970 card I have tested, with a temperature of 52°C under load using the maximum fan speed. ASUS did their homework on both the cooling solution and the amount of noise delivered. Excellent overclocking, cooling, and low noise in one card is an incredible feat.

 

Maximum Clock Speeds:

Testing for the maximum clock speed consisted of looping Unigine 3.0 for 30 minutes each to see where the clock speeds failed when pushed. If the clock speed adjustment failed, then the clock speeds and tests were rerun until they passed a full hour of testing.

 

 

  • Gaming Tests:
  1. Metro 2033
  2. Batman: Arkham City
  3. Battlefield 3
  4. Unigine Heaven Benchmark 3.0
  5. Sid Meier's Civilization V
  6. DiRT 3
  7. Mafia II
  8. 3DMark 11

 

  • Usage:

  1. Temperatures
  2. Power Consumption



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