XFX Radeon HD 7970 Black Edition Review

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headhuntersix

Kiaghi7,

You can't seriously compare a flogged-to-the-point-of-collapse 580 with mature drivers to a card with immature drivers and a less-than-maximum overclock and pretend that it's a level playing field. Max out the OC on a 7970 and install next fall's drivers, and you'll maybe get the eye opener you expected.

Furthermore, much depends on how big your display is. For an extreme example, one test had a pair of each (reference) card head to head filling 7600x1600 pixels in BF3 at ultra with no AA. The 7970 destroyed the 580 by a score of 39 frames to 11!

Truth be told, if you're powering a single reasonably sized screen (like my 1920x1080), you don't need a 580 or a 7970, they're both overkill. A 560 or a 6970 is more than plenty!

/edit/

Hmmm...okay, so I got one of these and installed it last night, immediately playing a few rounds of 64-player conquest BF3... I'm coming from a 4890, so 90% of the wow factor is probably DX11 related, but WOW. I had fully playable framerates with the old card, even at a 90 degree FOV (medium across the board, no post AA), now everything's maxed, and the difference is ridiculous. It didn't take long for my overton window to shift, of course, but I did have time to note that this new card is a huge boon to my gameplay. When viewing distant objects, especially, it's like a man with 20/60 vision putting on glasses for the first time. It doesn't help my reaction speed, my tactics, of the mechanics of aiming, but I can actually see... enemies who were a blur of movement before because they were wearing the appropriate camoflage for the background (crazy, yeah, the unintended consequence of an older card is that players choosing the correct -assuming they've unlocked it!- uniform for a given map's terrain, instead of going for a fashion statement, actually matters!) are fully visible. Before, if a sniper was prone on a hillside 300+ meters away, I'd see the glint of his scope and see the bullet coming at me, but couldn't see the man himself...no more!

Anyway, like I said, most of this is the result of using ANY newer card, not necessarily this particular one...but combine the quality of the image with a high framerate, and I think that may say something about this card versus other DX11 cards, no?

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imagonex

I wish AMD would make their cards no longer than 10.5 inches. That is one reason why I purchased Nvidia for my mATX build instead of AMD. I think their 11 and 12 inch design is pure marketing decision, nothing else. If Nvidia can engineer a card that's 10.5 inches long as powerful as any AMD card, I'm sure AMD can. Yes, I know, some will argue there are mATX cases out there that can accomodate these cards. But, most of these mATX cases are borderline as big as mid tower cases.

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THE_REAL_MAVERICK

I want one so bad, especially XFX. I only buy from them because of their double lifetime warranty.

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ocnier

The biggest hindrance with the 7970 is the entry level price point $500+. AMD is charging dual gpu pricing for a single gpu card. I don't think the market will bear it. I know newegg is sold out, but I question just how many cards AMD released to begin with.

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Turbo Charge

Oh yea,love the way they look and perform, they took a sophisticated look and style not kiddie or cheap looking, That is what really makes me drool, plus man would that look great in a cooler master cosmos 2 case!

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h e x e n

Come on tax return!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Magnasport

Way to go XFX!!!, I've been a huge fan of ATI cards since windows 98 and the "Rage" chip. Back in the day I had a bad card and ATI replaced it with a better one, no questions, no problems. It seemed to me then, that every company in the PC parts business would give a run around or just say "well you're S*** Out of Luck" and leave me out of pocket, but ATI stepped up and won my loyalty not only for that reason but also because their video cards do what they say they will. I worried when AMD bought ATI that their products would drop off into the oh-hum realm, but they and their vender lines still lead the pack.

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The Corrupted One

I love overclock dual fan cards.

Me wishes I had a twin for my dual fan overclocked 6850, so I could push EVERY setting to the max in Crysis

But what do people do with this much power? 2 of these could run Crysis at 9000000001x90000001

Has any card ever pushed the Metro benchmark into the 20's?

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CloudRider

I like it. One question though, it didn't earn a perfect 10? Was it because of the price/availability?

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kiaghi7

While I'm not bashing the card, I must admit I'm less than impressed...

It's a stellar card, please don't misread me, but considering it is AMD/ATi's opening salvo card to finally "take it to Nvidia" after more than a year of getting their asses handed to them, I was really hoping for an absolute spine-breaker of a card.

I guess I was expecting too much, something like what the Radeon 9700 did to the Geforce 3 "back in the day" by utterly eclipsing it in every possible way and making Nvidia practically crap themselves that an upstart like ATi could completely blow them out of the water.

But for a "next gen" card (that's factory overclocked mind you) to barely edge out a "last gen" card (580 Classified) by single frames per second across the board is disappointing. In the one area it got a double digit advantage, it was 10fps more in Stalker COP, but in most of the real-world tests it's between 4 and 6 fps typically, nearly indistinguishable to the human eye.

Maybe with future drivers they can spread that margin some more, but let's say they double it, that's still not exactly "next gen" it's more of a mild overclock on current gen, and to be honest AMD/ATi's drivers are notorious even since the days of the 9700, so my hopes for great strides there are tempered with past experiences.

I want more from AMD/ATi, competition and one–upmanship is what drives the market to ever greater performance, and hopefully lower prices as more power is available more commonly for less as they are competing not only for the best and most powerful, but of course the most customers and profit.

I'll withhold final judgement against the entire line for future developments and products in the line, plus of course whatever comes of the Nvidia 600 series, but this wasn't exactly a deafening explosion onto the field, it seems more like a mumble and a shamble to the side-lines.

AMD/ATi need to step up to the plate and swing for the fences here, repeatedly going for what amounts to a grounder to first isn't going to do much for them other than give Nvidia another easy inning. It won't be the end of the game for AMD/ATi to have another mediocre card season, they are heavily geared toward the entry level and mainstream anyway, but if they want to compete for the enthusiast level market they have to aggressively position themselves and their products for that market.

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loyd

1. Note that the eVGA GTX 580 Classified is a 3GB, superoverclocked version of the GTX 580 that requires three PCIe power connectors (two of them 8-pin.) That's about as far as the GTX 580 will go. And it actually trailed the 7970 in multiple benchmarks by more than single digit differences.

2.  Some of these titles -- even at 2560x1600, 4xAA -- are close to CPU bound with a card like the HD 7970. That will minimize differences as well.

3. As for the rating -- pricing and availability cost it a star in the rating, but that's about the only downside. 

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kiaghi7

1) No, it only got double digit superiority in a single test, Stalker COP... Not bashing the card, simply stating what occurred. The 580 Classified is indeed overclocked, but so is the 7970 as specifically noted in the article, so the comparison of the two is perfectly apt, but suggesting that because the 580 is overclocked it's somehow not "fair" is simply not so. This 7970 also has 3GB of memory, so that is a complete wash.

If anything the 7970 being not only a newer generation, but overclocked on top of that, should be that much more of an absolute night-and-day comparison... What we end up with is a breakfast and brunch comparison...

2) And? That's not exactly making the matter "better" when it's not faring much better under the same circumstances regardless of the CPU or GPU propensity. More over, "some of the titles" doesn't mean all of the titles, and across ALL of them it gave a basically irrelevant disparity in performance that in most of the cases the human eye couldn't even perceive as a difference.

It performs fabulously, just like the 580, that's not the problem... What's disheartening is that for a next generation card, it's performing very much like a last generation card.

3) I'm not questioning the rating, in fact I noted that it is still a VERY good card, and not saying anything in that regard. What is surprising is how it is not showing particularly significant gains.

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Supall

Although I agree that the FPS difference between this card and the 580 is pretty small, the fact that this 7970 can get more from less is perhaps its greatest advantage. The power draw is noticeably smaller and if the card is quieter and cooler than a 580, but still output better performance, then that's a win and "one-upmanship", imo.

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kiaghi7

Indeed, I do see an argument for efficiency and economy of force in the card.

However, with abundant options in power supplies being more than capable of handling modern gen cards, the power supply is quite often very low on my list of concerns when contemplating an enthusiast level graphics card.

I do agree that it is a definite benefit that it needs less power, as that tells me it needs less cooling of that wasted power that inevitably turns into excess heat inside the case, so I heartily encourage developers to make the darn things less like an easy-bake-oven for my CPU.

Beyond that though, again we go back to the matter of "who's going to be the buyer", and that's an enthusiast, who is also going to have a sufficient measure of thermal mitigation... And if not they will drastically shorten the life of the overheated components...

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JohnP

Yeah, unfortunately, I agree. With all the boosts the regular 7970 has (20% clock boost, 50% more memory, 50% increase in bus width, 28nm build, next gen architecture) it should have had at least this much oomph in its stock card. It also shows that this is it, the absolute max speed that this card will support (I highly doubt there is much headroom left here, drivers be damned).
That said, it is STILL a kick-ass card!
Hopefully, AMD will now be able to compete with NVidia on the massive parallel GPU computing centers with this chip as that is where Fermi has been making great strides (and money).
I expect that NVidia will be bringing out their latest gen card sooner than expected.

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CloudRider

There's only so much further we can push current integrated circuit technology. That they were able to raise the bar this high in as short a time they did is impressive enough for me.

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Number Six

I'd have it already if Newegg had one to send me :(