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Sapphire HD 7970 6GB Vapor-X GHz Edition Review

ccokeman    -   September 27, 2012
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Testing:

Testing of the Sapphire HD 7970 6GB Vapor-X GHz Edition 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:

  • Sapphire HD 7970 6GB Vapor-X GHz Edition  Core 1175MHz, Memory 1661MHz

Going into the testing I was looking forward to overclocking this card to the levels of the HD 7970 6GB Toxic Edition achieved with a core clock speed of 1235MHz and 1735MHz on the GDDR5 memory. This is where we find the difference in how well the Vapor-X edition and the Toxic edition vary and that is in the binning of the GPU cores. The first order of business was cranking the fan speed up to 100% for the best possible outcome. Cranking up the voltage seems to help in most cases but the last two cards I have worked with have shown no benefit to performance at an applied voltage any higher than 1185mv. This card was no exception and to keep the thermals in an even better spot I left the voltage at this level to find the highest stable clock speeds. 1205MHz on the core was stable in some of the games, but it would not pass in three of the seven tested so the maximum clock speed was reduced 5MHz at a time until it would pass all of the tests. 1175MHz on the core is where every test would pass repeatedly and Heaven 3.0 would run as long as it was open.

I started the memory testing after finding the core maximum and started at 1600MHz. I reached the maximum memory clock at 1661MHz fairly quickly. Again the memory could be run higher depending on the benchmark but passing all of the tests is the requirement for a successful overclock. The final clock speeds of 1175MHz on the core and 1661MHz on the memory are not world beaters but will add a nice boost to the level of performance you get when looking for that last FPS.

A feature of the HD 7970 6GB Vapor-X is the EZ OC button that allows the user to enable a quick and easy 50MHz boost above the level of the standard boost clock speed of 1050MHz to 1100MHz. Using this feature is a simple as shutting down the system, pushing the EZ OC button, then starting up the system and enjoying the fruits of your er...ah...labor! Using this button gave the card a solid 300+ point boost in the 3DMark 11 performance test.

Running a card overclocked and overvolted usually means a rise in temperatures. Running the fan at 100% when overclocked, the HD 7970 6GB Vapor-X delivered load temperatures of only 57 °C. At stock speeds with the card controlling the fan speed 66 °C was the result at an almost zero noise level. Putting that in perspective as each and every room is going to offer different acoustics, my zero noise level is if I can or cannot hear the fan running in the chassis. In this respect the auto settings on the fan controls deliver a card that runs quiet enough to hear the rest of the components in my chassis while delivering temperatures much better than a reference design cooler. 

 

 

Maximum Clock Speeds:

Testing for the maximum clock speed consists of looping Unigine 3.0 for 30 minutes each to see where the clock speeds fail when pushed. If the clock speed adjustment fails, then the clock speeds and tests are rerun until they pass 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



  1. Introduction & Closer Look
  2. Closer Look: Sapphire HD 7970 Vapor-X 6GB
  3. Specifications & Features
  4. Testing: Setup & Overclocking
  5. Testing: Metro 2033
  6. Testing: Batman: Arkham City
  7. Testing: Battlefield 3
  8. Testing: Unigine Heaven Benchmark 3.0
  9. Testing: Sid Meier's Civilization V
  10. Testing: DiRT 3
  11. Testing: Mafia II
  12. Testing: 3DMark 11
  13. Testing: Temperatures
  14. Testing: Power Consumption
  15. Conclusion
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