Performance Comes in Red and Black
The Radeon HD 7970 graphics card is AMD’s current flagship single GPU offering. Thanks to Asus, we had the opportunity to play with their HD7970-3GD5.
The HD7970 is a big card. It takes up two PCI slots because of the cooling system for the graphics card. At the back panel, the first slot contains a Dual-Link DVI port, a HDMI port, and two Display ports while the second slot is a vent to blow the hot air from the GPU.
AMD recommends at least a 500W power supply that has a 150W 8-pin and a 75W 6-pin PCI-Express power connectors. If you have two HD7970-3GD5, space inside your PC case, and a power supply to handle all that power, you can connect both cards and run them in CrossFire mode for even more performance.
The Asus HD7970-3GD5 is basically a stock HD 7970 with stock specs. The Asus graphics card uses PCI Express 3.0 not only to future-proof the card but also allows more bandwidth. The GPU itself runs at 925MHz while the 3GB VRAM runs at 5500MHz (1375MHz GDDR5). The HD7970-3GD5 also has a 384-bit memory interface and is DirectX 11 and OpenGL 4.2 compatible.
One major feature of the HD7970 is AMD’s Eyefinity which allows users to use a multiple monitor setup for gaming. The graphics card also has HD3D technology that, when combined with a 3D-capable monitor, allows for 3D gaming with supported games.
As with most enthusiast components from Asus, the HD7970-3GD5 comes with GPU Tweak which lets you play with the settings of the card. Essentially, you can overclock the HD7970-3GD5 within the Windows environment and in real-time.
The default engine clock of the HD7970 is 925MHz with the memory is clocked at 5500MHz (1375MHz GDDR5). GPU Tweak has a preset for gaming which ramps up the engine clock to 945MHz and the memory clock to 5580MHz. Upon testing the gaming tweak, these settings were pretty much stable. However, we wanted to push the card further. When we overclocked the HD7970, we only increased the engine and memory speeds with no additional cooling to the card.
We tested the HD7970 on a number of games as well as the usual synthetic benchmarks. While we recorded benchmarks with the overclocked settings on our benchmarks, we had trouble getting stable results with one on Dirt 2 which crashed in the middle of testing.
With our synthetic benchmark, we used Uningine’s Heaven benchmark to test the HD7970. We set Heaven with DX11 on and extreme tessellation, high shaders, 16x Anisotropy, 8x Anti-aliasing at 1680×1050 resolution. At the stock clocks, we got 45.7FPS and a score of 1152. At gaming clock speeds, we got a slight increase of 46.4FPS and a score of 1170. At overclocked speeds, we got 50.2FPS and a score of 1265. With clocks set to gaming, we got a 1.5% increase while at overclocked speeds, we got a 9.8% increase performance.
In our gaming benchmarks, we used the built-in benchmarks in Batman: Arkham Asylum as well as Dirt 2. With Batman: Arkham Asylum, we set everything to maximum at 1680×1050 resolution. At the default speeds, we got an average of 194FPS with 61 minimum FPS and 300 maximum FPS. At gaming speeds, we got the same average FPS at 194 but with a slightly increased minimum and maximum FPS at 63 and 307 FPS respectively. When we overclocked the HD7970, we got a slight bump overall at 197, 66, and 338 FPS for the average, minimum, and maximum FPS. While the gaming setting is the same as with the stock speeds, the overclocked speeds only yielded a slight 1.5% increase in performance.
With Dirt 2, at stock speeds, we got an average FPS of 87.8. When set to gaming speeds, we got an average of 89.1 FPS. Surprisingly, we got the same increase in performance at gaming speeds at 1.5% as the overclocked speed in Batman: AA.
One thing that we noticed while testing the HD7970-3GD5 is that the cooling fan of the card can get noticeably loud when the card is being taxed. This is especially true when we overclocked it to prevent overheating the GPU.
The Asus HD7970-3GD5 uses AMD’s top-of-the-line single GPU graphics card. It provides excellent gaming performance for the latest games as well as the capability for multi-monitor gaming. Unfortunately, we would have wanted to see better overclocking performance. If you decide to get a HD7970-3GD5 or two, we’ve seen the Asus HD7970-3GD5 being sold for around PhP26,900.
Plus: Excellent performance, Eyefinity, 3D gaming capability
Minus: Loud fan; Limited overclocking
Bottomline: The Asus HD7970-3GD5 is an excellent graphics card and is capable of multi-monitor gaming with Eyefinity.