Gigabyte Radeon HD 7970 Super OverClock Review

By on July 26, 2012, 11:10 PM

Celebrating Tahiti's "half birthday" last month, AMD relaunched its Radeon HD 7970 with a factory-overclocked "GHz Edition" that increased the reference design's core clock speed from 925MHz to 1GHz with the intention of allowing the company to claim it offered the world's fastest GPU. Unfortunately, the festivities were short-lived for several reasons.

Not only was it already possible to buy an HD 7970 running at 1GHz and even well beyond that rate, but AMD wasn't really able to nab the performance crown back from Nvidia as the HD 7970 GHz Edition and the GTX 680 are about equal. Additionally, it was hard to get excited about such a marginal frequency bump when it's associated with a $50 price hike.

Gigabyte has taken matters into its own hands with the new HD 7970 SOC (Super OverClock) card, which seems to be far more interesting than AMD's solution. Armed with five fans, nine heatpipes and a king-sized vapor chamber, one might consider the HD 7970 SOC to be overkill, and to that we say "hell yes!" Our inner enthusiast has a penchant for all things impractical -- even if they're tough to recommend from a value perspective. Let's move on and see what Gigabyte's premium offering brings to the table.

Read the complete review.




User Comments: 21

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ikesmasher said:

I love how impractical it is, if I had a 4 digit price build I would get this.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Sheesh... that thing looks like a miniature nuclear reactor.

JC713 JC713 said:

This should be compared to a windforce card

soulsassassin said:

That's not a win, it was a demolition in benchmarking.

spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

Great review. Very impressive card, but those 40mm fans are a major concern to card lifespan. At least they're mounted vertically because horizontal positioning seems to make them die even faster. I wonder if the fans have a separate warranty than the card. The fans would be less of a concern if they were somehow modular and easily swapped out.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

Nice review as usual Steve. The solution looks a little over complicated for my taste- but it seems to work OK.

One question: What's the wiring setup re the fans? The pics of the PCB seem to show two pairs of fans sharing a header each, and the fifth fan having a seperate header. Is this the case ? Looks like a candidate for scratch making a custom cable/plug-out if/when one of the fans starts playing a funeral dirge (with 5 fans the chances must be good that at least one will fritz out)

EDIT: spydercanopus beat me to the observation.

Puiu Puiu said:

This is a card meant for those who have transparent cases ^_^ it looks so cool!

Also the OC headroom is impressive. Good job Gigabyte.

Guest said:

It's about time for a new design! Gfx cards having a fan upside down (blowing air back to the PSU) or blowing hot air to the rear were the only air cooling solutions I knew; only one can dream with a gfx card with enough holes on it so hot air from the PSU can pass by.

Guest said:

Nice looking card, but I think my GTX 690 is sexier. (yes any chance I get to brag about blowing $1000 on a graphics card - lol)

ohsilly said:

I am positive that there will be a need for a wholly n' separatedly second mobo dedicated to graphics only for gamers!! Or I dont know if I am technically sensible that I think there is no longer any need for RAM memory own slots as you can use graphics memory to serve the CPU or APU as well. Just cram more memory in the graphics !

amstech amstech, TechSpot Enthusiast, said:

Meh. If your going to push a Tahiti that far must as well go aqua.

Stock for stock and clock for clock the GTX 680 is the fastest GPU and it still the reigning 3DMark record holder in Quad SLi.

ohsilly said:

Duke Nukem HD, anyone?

Guess mobo makers will have to give more space around the PCI-e x16 slot in the future or case makers will have to add an air conditioner with room to store soda cans in the cases..

Hackers can tack a 10,000 Btu air conditioner with the case!! Lol!

or connect a dry ice machine to PS to keep supplying ice cubes to the graphics card!

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

Great review TS.

The card has sweet performance... but ugly as ********** ** ** ********* *** * *****!!!

I'm still getting a 670. hehe

Guest said:

Fastest 4x GPU in 3Dmark11 is a Radeon HD 7970

[link]

Blue Falcon said:

@ armstech: "Stock for stock and clock for clock the GTX 680 is the fastest GPU and it still the reigning 3DMark record holder in Quad SLi."

Stock HD7970s are dropping to very reasonable levels. Newegg has the Windforce Gigabyte 3x 1000mhz HD7970 for $420, while the PowerColor Vortex card is overclocked to 1100mhz and is going for $440. Based on the benchmarks in this review, both of those cards would be as fast or faster than a $500 GTX680.

Also, I am not sure what the point is for 3dMark since it's not a game, but more of an e-peen/stability testing exercise.

Tom's Hardware has HD7970 at 1000/1080/1250mhz clocks and it still managed to beat a 1200mhz core (+GPU Boost) GTX680:

[link]

Personally, I think the best HD7970 card will be the upcoming the Sapphire TOXIC 6GB edition. It still remains very quiet at load and has overclocking headroom no worse than this Gigabyte card. I also prefer 2 large fans over 5 small buzzing fans:

[link]

With the Lethal Boost Button, GPU clocks are guaranteed to be 1200mhz GPU / 6400mhz memory. At those clocks, it's easily the fastest single-GPU in the world.

Guest said:

AMD can't cheat in 3dmark, so they lose, even with their latest core overclock.

The reason they gain in games is the same - they can cheat IQ and get away with it, unlike in the authenticated bench.

PC nerd PC nerd said:

That is the dumbest thing I've ever seen.

Lionvibez said:

Amd can't cheat in 3dmark, so they lose, even with their latest core overclock.

The reason they gain in games is the same - they can cheat IQ and get away with it, unlike in the authenticated bench.

lmao!

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

Personally, I think the best HD7970 card will be the upcoming the Sapphire TOXIC 6GB edition. It still remains very quiet at load and has overclocking headroom no worse than this Gigabyte card. I also prefer 2 large fans over 5 small buzzing fans.

It was supposed to be available from the 17th July- it is also limited to 200 units, has a price of $US 680, and most importantly, isn't available for sale.

Since most of your post seems predicated upon performance per dollar, the Toxic (if you could find one) would need to outperform the Gigabyte card you linked to by 50+% to justify the price...or equal Crossfired OC'ed HD 7950 for the same price

Guest said:

@amstech: Nope, wrong. 7970 x4 reigns king.

[link]

Guest said:

Wouldn't it have been better if it was compared to other cards of the same spec (1260Mhz OC on each card) most of those cards it is being compared to are 1100Mhz at the most so its not the most accurate test.

and I know some of the other cards in that list that can reach 1260Mhz core

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