Asus Matrix HD 7970 Platinum Reviewairman -
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The triple slot cooler is probably what stands out the most about the ASUS MATRIX HD 7970 Platinum edition. The two huge fans let you see inside to the big aluminum cooler held together by copper heatpipes. On the card's back you will see its rear cover, and the ASUS MATRIX logo on the outward-looking face. The inset portion of this face spelling the word MATRIX lights up and changes colors depending on the card's loading condition.
The triple-slot bracket is two-thirds filled up with the output connectors and the other third is an exhaust vent. Watch out! This card only has 2X DVI ports and 4X full-size Displayports. If you were expecting to use your cheap HDMI to DVI adapter to run your three DVI monitors, you'll need to get a DP > DVI adapter. Luckily I had one already! The opposite side of the card gives you a look at the heatsink, the shroud, the PCB, power connectors, and a 100% fan button adjacent to three other buttons. The 100% fan button does exactly what it suggests - it forces the card's fans to run at 100% as long as it is activated. As usual, you get two Crossfire connectors, which are next to a tiny switch. I don't know what this switch is for; it is not stated in ASUS's materials that I could find. I would think it's a BIOS switch, but there's already a button for that (more on that soon). Perhaps it is a Dual BIOS, and the Safe Mode button simply resets the clocks/voltages and not switching to an entirely different BIOS.
To highlight some of the card's special features, let's first check out the card's load display. The MATRIX logo is made from clear plastic, and the LED lighting changes its color from green, to blue, to purple, and to red between the card's idle and heavy loadings. Next is the VGA Hotwire headers. VGA Hotwire connects the card to the motherboard and can allow the user to overvolt the the GPU, VRAM, and PLL at the hardware level. Another part of the board has voltage probing points that can be checked with a multimeter or soldered to a display or datalogging device. Another VGA hotwire header appears here for three total (GPU, VRAM, PLL). Finally, underneath the cooler next to the 100% fan button are the other buttons I showed earlier. These buttons allow for the GPU's voltages to be adjusted up and down by simply pressing a button. I wouldn't particularly reach into my case and fiddle with those buttons, but someone on a tech bench station might enjoy them. The safe mode button provides a worry-free overclocking experience. Pushing this button takes you back to stable video BIOS settings.
Opening the card will separate it into three main parts: protective back cover, PCB with the "high endurance frame" (the metal black part atop the PCB), and the cooler. I didn't take apart the cooler entirely; out of the tiniest screw bits I have, not one could remove the last, hidden screw that holds the shroud to the cooler. Nevertheless, we move on. Looking at this side, you can see the copper construction of the base and the five 8mm heatpipes leading out to the aluminum fins. The other side of the cooler shows the construction of this side. Supporting this large cooler and shroud is a very robust aluminum casting — this adds a very strong feel to the card as a whole.
Taking a close look at the bare PCB, you get a glimpse of where the size increase took place — extending outward from the top. There are twelve Hynix memory chips surrounding the core; none are present on the other side. On the GPU-side you get a close look at the capacitors, Super Alloy caps, chokes, and MOSFETs. This card really uses only the best components! The surface of the core is bare and contains no printing. Nevertheless, it's still a Tahiti core.
That was sure a lot of writing! It's worth it though, I'm ready to get to testing this card. The next page contains the card's features and specifications, after which the testing and overclocking will begin.