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Sapphire HD 7970 Vapor-X GHZ Edition Review



Testing of the Sapphire HD 7970 3GB GHz Vapor-X 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 301.42 drivers with AMD cards using the Catalyst 12.4 drivers and latest CAP profile.


Testing Setup:


Comparison Video Cards:




  • Sapphire HD 7970 3GB GHz Vapor-X Edition Core 1193MHz, Memory 1605MHz

Overclocking the HD 7970 3GB Vapor-X Edition can be accomplished in several different ways. First is the EZ OC button that allows the user to get an instant 50MHz boost in GPU core clock speed. Pushing the button is really as simple as it can get and is a safe bet for those reluctant to push any harder on the card. On the other hand you can manually tweak the card using one of a few utilities, but Sapphire's TriXX utility is the choice for this card. TriXX has all the tools to maximize the overclock on the HD 7970 3GB Vapor-X and proved to be the most stable of the tools I tried.

The base voltage for this card was 1200mv on the core, higher than I normally see but then again this card has the cooling to pull it off without an issue. After posing an overclock of 1235MHz on the core and 1735MHz on the memory when I tested the Toxic Edition, I had high hopes this card would fall into that range with the same cooling solution but a less robust power circuit. In all I was not terribly disappointed with the core clock as it still reached 1193MHz or 193MHz over the baseline 1000MHz core clock for an almost 20% boost in clock speed. The memory on this card was a bit stubborn with an increase of 105MHz to 1605MHz. Still higher than most of the HD 79XX cards I have tested.

To reach these clock speeds I increased the clock speed to 100% to allow the best possible cooling of the VRM circuits, core, and memory. Adjusting the voltage any higher than 1212mv would cause a driver crash or hard lock during testing and is where I left the voltage while tweaking to find the highest core and memory speeds. At 1193/1605MHz I have the third best core clock speed of any HD 79XX card I have tested with only the water cooled Powercolor HD 7970 LCS and HD 7970 6GB Toxic pulling off a bigger clock speed. Temperature testing on this card with the voltage increase and higher fan speed showed a 5 °C drop over the baseline result at 60 °C showing that the Vapor-X cooler is easily able to deliver excellent cooling to go along with the gaming performance.


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
  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. Testng: Mafia II
  12. Testing: 3DMark 11
  13. Testing: Temperatures
  14. Testing: Power Consumption
  15. Conclusion
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