Since we reviewed the Radeon HD 7970 late last year a lot has changed. The arrival of the GeForce GTX 680 and GTX 670, and the resulting AMD price cuts were the most relevant moves on this segment until todays release.
When we tested the GeForce GTX 670 we closed down with this... The GTX 670 is today's best value and most efficient high-end graphics card. Our only concern was availability and that proved to be a problem for Nvidia initially. Today though, it's relatively easy to pick one up at ~$400.
AMD's release of the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition does little to change our feelings about the GeForce GTX 670. Perhaps thats a job for a potential HD 7950 GHz Edition.
Although we strongly believe the GeForce GTX 670 should be AMDs main concern, they have instead gone after the GeForce GTX 680. Price-wise the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition and GeForce GTX 680 are a match, so which one should you buy?
Based on the 16 games that we tested with, 10 of which were DX11 titles, the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition was on average 5% faster. However, by far its biggest win came with DiRT 3 Showdown where the Radeon was 52% faster. If we remove that result from the equation, you'd still get a marginal 2% performance advantage over the GTX 680.
Looking at the number of games that performed better with either card, it went down 7 apiece with 2 draws. So when you break it down, it'd be appropriate to say both cards deliver a similar level of performance overall.
Going at it from a different angle, HD 7970 GHz Edition versus the standard HD 7970, the GHz Edition was overall just 6% faster and certain games saw no performance improvement at all. Therefore the cost of matching or at best slightly beating the GeForce GTX 680 has been decreased in value, as the cheaper Radeon HD 7950 and GeForce GTX 670 graphics cards are still the way to go for smart shoppers.
Pros: Same solid graphics quality of the standard Radeon HD 7970. Top notch performance that matches GeForce's flagship GTX 680.
Cons: Not a good value when compared to similar cards or factory overclocked Radeon HD 7970 that were already on offer. Runs hotter, gets louder, and consumes more power than the GTX 680. Most gamers should look for the Radeon HD 7950 or GeForce GTX 670 instead.