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HD7970 is supposed to deliver in the areas of 3D performance, power/thermal efficiency, multi display, video encoding and GPU computing. While we see good results for 3D Performance and excellent power consumption, it does not yet deliver its full potential of the video encoding and GPU computing performance requires updated drivers and software, which will likely not be available until late February if not later.
Fast Processors such as the Intel i7-2700K and Intel i7-3820, 3930K and 3960X deliver fast video encoding performance in the meantime. The i7- 3000 series offers PCI-Express 3.0 support now combined with X79 chipset however only particular X79 motherboards have BIOS support for PCI-Express 3.0
The retail price, MSRP $550 is somewhat high considering users can purchase two older cards and receive competitive performance, such as two overclocked edition GTX560. At current prices two 6950 or 6970 would come out the same or higher than a single HD7970.
The performance of this card and of the Intel i7-3960X is somewhat wasted in a typical 1920x1200 scenario. This combination can shine in 2560x1600 resolutions or higher.
We had no problems with the card or driver stability. The only glitches we experienced where when we were attempting to overclock the card. At times during high overclock the card would lose display synchronisation resulting in interlace lines. Putting the system to sleep and resuming would clear the anomaly.
If you want a fast single GPU/single graphics card which has headroom for overclocking, cranking up antialiasing settings, 3D Stereoscopic gaming , Eyefinity yet runs relatively cool this is the card for you.
Would I buy this card?
Yes. If $550 RRP is a problem, hang on for the 7950, which should be significantly cheaper yet still deliver comparable levels of performance.
Should you upgrade to a single HD7970 if you have two GeForce 460 cards in SLI or higher NVIDIA setups?
Not just yet. We need to see the performance of the rest of AMD's Southern Islands GPU line-up for 2012 as well as NVIDIAs 2012 next gen GPU architecture codenamed 'Kepler'. However, replacing two older cards whether they be NVIDIA or AMD with one AMD HD7950/7970 allows us to upgrade to a second AMD Radeon in the future for Crossfire with 1.8-2.x scaling over one card with the two cards installed, doubling performance.
The CPU we used for this review – the Intel Core i7-3960X retails for $999 RRP. For those on a budget the i7-3930K ($599 RRP ) and i7-3820 (~$300 RRP) provide the same platform and CPU architecture at a much more affordable price.
Motherboards such as the SAPPHIRE Pure Black X79N ship with a PCI-E 3.0 BIOS out of the box.
More than five years ago, high frame rates excess of 30 FPS at 1920x1200 let alone 2560x1600 were challenging yet now this is all a cakewalk. PC Gaming is far from dead. Bring on PC gaming.
NitroWare.net Mainstream Computing Showdown - AMD A6 APU v Intel 2nd Gen Core i3 CPU
NitroWare.net Intel Desktop Board DX79TO Preview | Sandy Bridge-E performance on a budget
eTeknix.com AMD Radeon HD 7970 3GB Graphics Card Review
motherboards.org Sapphire HD Radeon 7970 Video Card Review
motherboards.org XFX R7970 3 Gig Black Edition Double Dissipation Video Card Review
Tweak Town AMD Radeon HD 7970 3GB Reference Video Card Review
Tweak Town XFX HD 7970 Black Edition Double Dissipation 3GB Video Card Review
Intel 2nd Generation Core i7 Extreme review system supplied by Intel Australia
AMD HD7970 Graphics card supplied by AMD Australia
Dell U2412 Monitor supplied by Dell Australia