AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition

AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition

The high-end GPU war is both exciting and frustrating. In the last six months we have seen AMD take the lead with the Radeon HD 7970 and then watched NVIDIA stomp all over it with the GeForce GTX 680. But now we have the HD 7970 GHz Edition which represents the latest attempt by AMD to regain the performance lead. But has it worked?

The Tahiti XT2 GPU that sits at the heart of the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition is identical to the Tahiti XT GPU in every respect save for the clock speeds. It has the same number of transistors, the same number of Stream Processor and the same number of Texture Mapping Units. As mentioned the clock speeds are the only area where the Tahiti XT2 differs from its predecessor. The core clock speed of the GPU on the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition is 1,000MHz which is 75MHz higher than the HD 7970. The memory clock speed of the GHz Edition card is also higher sitting at 1,500MHz instead of the 1,375MHz of the GDDR5 found on the standard HD 7970. The new drivers include a feature called PowerTune with Boost which ramps up the GPU clock speed if thermal conditions permit however AMD has been a little too cautious with this feature and limited the boost to 50MHz which sees the HD 7970 GHz Edition card running at 1,050GHz most of the time.

In terms of performance the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition officially earns the title of “fastest single GPU graphics card” and if AMD uses two of these GPUs on the HD 7990 then it’s likely that the dual GPU crown will find itself a new home too. The GTX 680 is still a powerful card but its raw computing power only earns it top honours in synthetic benchmarks like Heaven 2.5 and 3DMark 11. While the HD 7970 GHz Edition is the fastest card overall the new drivers also make the normal HD 7970 perform almost on a par with the GTX 680 which makes owning one even more exciting.

Current HD 7970 owners are now faced with the problem of seeing if their cards can be turned into GHz Editions – with a bit of effort. As our review of the HD 7970 in PCFormat March 2012 proved, the standard card can be overclocked to speeds in excess of the GHz Edition’s core and memory clock speeds. So turning your vanilla card into a GHz Edition card is as simple as overclocking but those eager to flash the BIOS of the HD 7970 GHz Edition onto their vanilla HD 7970 should note that early attempts at this have not yielded any successes. The performance benefits of the new Catalyst 12.7 beta drivers cannot be understated and there is little doubt that AMD’s driver team plays a very crucial role in squeezing the best performance out of the silicon.

Local stock of the GHz Edition cards have yet to make to be available so pricing is still unconfirmed but an educated guess would put the pricing of the HD 7970 GHz Edition around the R5,500 to R6,000 mark. At this price point the AMD card will be the same price as the cheapest GTX 680. If you currently have an HD 7970 there is little reason to buy a GHz Edition card and even then the HD 7950 is still one of the best cards to buy in terms of price and performance.

Price R TBA

Manufacturer AMD

Web www.amd.com

Interface PCI-E 3.0

Fabrication process 28nm

Transistor count 4.3 billion

Core clock 1000MHz

Stream Processors 2048

Texture Units 128

ROPs 32

Memory 3GB GDDR5

Memory clock 1500MHz (6000MHz effective)

Memory Interface 384-bit

DirectX 10 performance


DirectX 11 performance


Tesellation performance


Futuremark 3Dmark 11


9.0 Overall Score
Performance: 9/10
Features: 9/10
Value: 8/10

AMD is back on top

But for how long?


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Author: Michael Reed View all posts by
The cynic
  • Eugene

    Basically the 7970 GHZ is AMD’s attempt at beating the GTX680? Well then judging by the benches I’d say they failed because now it just looks on par. Also aren’t most gamers now looking for cards that can do tessellation better/faster because most games are now incorporating that.

    • Jarrod Lane (@Noodleza)

      Well a really big factor is the price variance between the 680 and the 7970. Yeah Tessellation is an important factor, but by the time it really affects a games performance you can run them in crossfire for a reduced factor, or get what ever version of card is out at that stage.

    • While I agree that tessellation performance is important very few games are using it to the point that Heaven benchmark uses it. The load from Heaven is a synthetic benchmark designed to push the limit but in games the levels of tessellation used are much smaller in comparison.

  • Smilo

    Glad To See AMD Radeon Pushing It’s Performance Stakes Via The GHz Edition,But Man Nvidia Has Become Agro With The GTX 600 Range.

  • Savage

    SIGH…If only these cards prices could be a bit lower…One of these would finish my box off nicely:)

  • Smilo

    Savage AMD Prices Are Waaay Better,Try Comparing Them To Nvidia’s Now You In For Genuine Complains.

    #So Much For Being An Extreme Green Team Follower: NVIDIA

  • Wayne

    with great power comes a great price… lol
    but seriously, this is a pretty cool card

  • thomas

    all well and fine creating mindblowing gfx cards but combine this with the downturn in game sales from the GTA V article and it is becoming a smaller & more niche market with such expensive cards. I for one can’t wait to get my hands on Showdown and just pray i can have epic graphics on the geforce 550Ti

  • Bennie

    Until someone at Sony/M$ pulls their fingers from wherever they have been stuck in, buying such a beast is only for show!

    We need REAL DX11 games, no more of this cheap porting from the consoles!

  • Smilo

    Benni Speaking Of Porting,I Was Massively Dissapointed Of Ubisoft’s: Ghost Recon-Future Soldier PC Review Here In G3Ar.

    Having To Think Of It I Was Weeks Away To Buying A Signature Edition Of That Port

  • Chris

    It seems good. I’m really just commenting for more entries into freebie friday 😛

  • Vuyk

    My card is 25 times faster. My gt210 .. Lol! If i hav dis card. I would go crazy

  • Julian

    Nice review, I wonder how much faster is this card over my Radeon 6950?

  • Tshepang Modisane

    Wow ,is this card faster than Bugatti? It seems like it is..*sigh*

  • Smilo

    Julian What An Awesome Card You Have,Already I’m Asking Myself The Same Question You Asked Also.

    If I Knew AMD’s That Well But Im A Boni-fied Nvidia Fan,And Having To Compare AMD’s Stream Processor To Nvidia’s Cuda Core I Get Dizzy Already.

  • Right, so I have an oldish PC, the card will most likely work in it…but…I have to say NVidia fanboy on this side…

  • Smilo

    I Wonder Who Will Win Dirt Showdown’s Steam Keys,I Have Commented Enough Already & Said More Than Enough Unless,

  • Thulane

    Sure it looks hot & has some nice specs +its cheaper, but I’m not compromising! Going for a two-way GTX680 SLI rig! Or one GTX690
    Green all the way.

  • Im still with my 6870 😛 still working great, but when i get a job i will upgrade to something more powerful 😀 ( AMD side )