AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition 3GB DDR5 - AMD Strikes Back

AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition 3GB DDR5 - AMD Strikes Back

AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition 3GB DDR5 - AMD Strikes Back

Six months ago, AMD released the Radeon HD 7970 GPU. Since then, it's been facing stiff competition from NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 680. In an effort to stay competitive, AMD has just released a new and improved successor to the HD 7970: the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition, which offers an increase in core clock speed from 925MHz to 1050MHz, with memory bumped up from 5500MHz DDR to 6000MHz DDR. But is it enough for AMD to regain an edge?

To put things in perspective, these specs give the GHz Edition one of the highest default clock speeds available today. Higher than all factory-overclocked HD 7970 cards currently available, and also higher than NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 680 which carries a clock speed of 1006MHz.

While AMD's add-in partners already offer Radeon HD 7970 cards that have been overclocked to 1GHz, many of these cards are using a custom PCB, rather than following AMD’s reference specification, and all of them utilize their own custom cooling system. Additionally, despite previous rumors of improved silicon yields, AMD has confirmed to us that the GHz Edition uses the same base model and silicon as the original Radeon HD 7970. So will the HD 7970's single-fan cooler be able to handle the higher thermals of the overclocked GHz edition? 

The Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition is physically identical to the original HD 7970.

Test Setup

As usual, the following are the specs of our trusty graphics card test bed system:

  • Intel Core i7-975 (3.33GHz)
  • Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD4P motherboard
  • 3 x 1GB DDR3-1333 G.Skill memory in triple channel mode
  • Seagate 7200.10 200GB SATA hard drive
  • Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit

The list of benchmarks used:

  • Futuremark 3DMark 11
  • Unigine v2.1 "Heaven"
  • Far Cry 2
  • Battlefield: Bad Company 2
  • Crysis Warhead
  • Crysis 2
  • Batman: Arkham City
  • Dirt 3

 The list of cards tested, with a comparison of core and memory clock speeds:

Card Core Clock Speed Memory Clock Speed Driver Version
AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition 3GB GDDR5 1050MHz 6000MHz DDR AMD Catalyst 12.7 Beta
AMD Radeon HD 7970 3GB GDDR5 925MHz 5500MHz DDR AMD Catalyst 12.2 Beta
ASUS Radeon HD 7970 DirectCU 2 TOP 3GB GDDR5 1000MHz 5600MHz DDR AMD Catalyst 12.3
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 2GB GDDR5 1006MHz 6008MHz DDR ForceWare 300.99
MSI GeForce GTX 680 Twin Frozr 2GB GDDR5 1059MHz 6008MHz DDR ForceWare 301.10


The Good
One of the highest default clock speeds around
Great performance
The Bad
No physical improvements on previous Radeon HD 7970
High temperature
High power consumption
Fan is very loud at high speeds

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