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.