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Sapphire HD 7970 3GB Review



Testing of the Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 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 equal and greater capabilities to show where they fall on the performance ladder. The games used are some of today's newest and most popular titles to give you 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 Vantage testing, where PhysX will be disabled in the NVIDIA control panel if applicable. I will test the cards at stock speeds, then overclocked in order to see the effects of any increases in clock speed. The cards are placed in order from highest to lowest performing in the graphs to show where the cards fall by comparison. The drivers used are the 11.12 Catalyst drivers for AMD-based cards and the 290.53 for NVIDIA-based cards.


Comparison Video Cards:



  • Sapphire HD 7970 3GB Core 1125Mhz Memory 1575Mhz

After seeing the paper launch reviews and how just about everyone got over the 1000Mhz mark on the core there looked to be some promise for big clock speeds from AMD with this new Southern Islands Tahiti core. 1000Mhz is just the staring point it seems as this card was able to max out the limits in the Catalyst Control center and was looking for even more speed than it had available. Reaching 1125Mhz on the core with just a move of a slider required no extra voltage including the power tune voltage that is available in the CCC. Maxing out the memory clocks was just as uneventful with the CCC limit of 1575Mhz in place. These clock speeds show that there is at least 200Mhz of headroom on both the GPU cores and on the GDDR5 memory. Pretty significant upswings on both counts. Without extra voltage needs the temperatures of the GPU stayed consistent. By manually adjusting the fan speed to 100% the load temperature peaked at only 57C when overclocked. I have to say I am looking forward to either BIOS or software utilities to get rid of the limits in the CCC to see where this card will go. Cranking up the fan speed on AMD cards in the past has helped temperatures at the expense of noise. AMD has improved the noise and cooling this go round with a new fan designs and opening up the mounting bracket by removing the secondary DVI port to allow more airflow through the chassis. More cooling and lower noise help, but the old squirrel cage still has a way to go when really ramped up. 200Mhz 21% on the core and just under 15% worth of memory clock speed all for the taking looks like a bright future for this round of the Video card wars.



Maximum Clock Speeds:

Testing for the maximum clock speed consists of looping Crysis Warhead and Unigine 2.5 for 30 minutes each to see where the clock speeds will fail when pushed. If the clock speed adjustment fails, then the clock speeds and tests are rerun until they pass the full hour of testing.



  • Gaming Tests:
  1. Metro 2033
  2. Batman Arkham City
  3. Battlefield 3
  4. HAWX 2
  5. Unigine Heaven Benchmark 2.5
  6. Dirt 3
  7. Mafia II
  8. 3DMark 11
  • Usage:
  1. Temperature
  2. Power Consumption

  1. Introduction & Closer Look
  2. Closer Look: Continued
  3. Specifications & Features
  4. Testing: Setup & Overclocking
  5. Testing: Metro 2033
  6. Testing: Batman Arkham City
  7. Testing: Battlefield 3
  8. Testing: HAWX 2
  9. Testing: Unigine 2.5
  10. Testing: Dirt 3
  11. Testing: Mafia II
  12. Testing: 3DMark 11
  13. Testing: Eyefinity & Surround
  14. Testing: Temperatures
  15. Testing: Power Consumption
  16. Conclusion
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