PowerColor LCS HD7970 3GB Reviewccokeman - March 11, 2012
Category: Video Cards
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Liquid cooling a video card is a sure fire way to reduce both the heat and noise concerns with the current crop of high end video cards. Even with new fan designs and fan controller remapping for improved performance, cooling is still a concern when the fan noise is addressed. Slow down the fan and more heat is retained. For those users playing it safe and just installing the video card to start enjoying the new purchase, the noise to heat ratio is just fine. In that case, they won't need a card of the PowerColor LCS variety. For those of us who want more graphics firepower without paying for a higher performing video card, we tend to overclock the snot out of the video cards we have. At this point, that fan profile remapping goes out the window as the clock speeds increase along with the noise penalty for pushing the fan speeds to 100%. In comes PowerColor with the LCS series of cards. This time the company has brought forth the PowerColor LCS HD7970. In the past, I have looked at the HD 6990 LCS, HD 6970 LCS, and the HD 5970 LCS, Each card, when equipped with an EK waterblock, proved to deliver a higher level of performance and a more pleasant gaming experience due to the ability to run cooler and quieter (though that depends on the fans used in your liquid cooling system). That being said, you cannot just slap this card into an existing system without first investing in a full-on liquid cooling system. Priced at $799, the PowerColor LCS HD 7970 does come with an added price premium due to the installation of the EK waterblock and large factory overclock. Let's see if PowerColor's latest LCS rendition is up to the task of outperforming a factory-overclocked, air-cooled 7970. Welcome to the PowerColor LCS HD 7970 3GB video card.
The packaging for the PowerColor LCS 7970 is a departure from the small box, minimalist graphics approach to its usual packaging. This gives the card some real shelf appeal. On the front panel, the "ice cold" theme is meant to portray the fact that the card will run significantly cooler than an air-cooled card without the noise penalties associated with cooling a high end GPU. The key points are a 10% boost in overclocking on the Tahiti core, a cooler running card that should run lower than 50 ºC with zero noise, four monitors supported in a single large surface display configuration, and the inclusion of the EK manufactured waterblock. The back panel talks about the "Gold Power Kit", which includes a digital PWM with higher than 90% efficiency, DirectFet Low RDSon mosfet design for a lower thermal load, and ferrite core chokes for a 33% increase in power handling capacity. Dual BIOS functionality is used along with an EK waterblock; acetal/nickel plated copper full cover block with a backplate. A 10% boost in gaming performance is shown as an expectation.
Inside the colorful outer sleeve is a black cardboard container that holds the LCS HD 7970. Inside is a foam block that is used to transport the HD7970 LCS. The accessory bundle is hidden in a compartment that folds out to reveal the substantial accessories included with this card.
The bundle can make or break a video card, as it adds value to the purchase. PowerColor does not disappoint with this card. Much like previous LCS cards, PowerColor has stepped up and delivered a full size bundle to match the card. Included with the LCS HD 7970 are the manuals and driver diskette, a CrossFire bridge connection, Mini DisplayPort to SL-DVI adapter, HDMI to SL-DVI adapter, Mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort adapter, DVI to VGA adapter, 3/8" and 1/2" barbed adapters, barbed fitting spacers and o-rings, a hex wrench, and clamps for both supported tubing sizes.
So far PowerColor has put together a pretty impressive package with its flagship HD 7970. Let's take a look at what PowerColor has to offer.