AMD Radeon HD 7970 Review - Final Thoughts

Submitted by skipclarke on 22 December, 2011 - 07:41

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Improvements in the Radeon HD 7970

When you add up the average frame rates on each game with the HD 7970, it's totals 558.9 frames. Doing the same for the HD 6970 gives you 410.3 frames. Comparing the two shows a weighted performance improvement of 36%. Doing the same calculations for Eyefinity performance totals 257.4 frames on the HD 7970 and 176.6 frames on the HD 6970. Comparing these two shows a 46% improvement.



Final Thoughts

I wish there was a 2GB version of the HD 7970 (or a 3GB version of the HD 6970) to determine whether the performance benefits come from the increased shaders or the increase in VRAM, or are both required. Maybe future custom SKUs will make this comparison possible. Obviously, I wish I had a second card to test in CrossFire, as AMD is claiming a virtual 2x performance increase with CrossFire. Considering the scaling improvements seen from the 5000-series to the 6000-series, this claim might not be hyperbole. Maybe Santa can find one for me...

The Radeon HD 7970 is an obvious improvement over the Radeon HD 6970. The question for the user is, is the 36% improvement in widescreen and 46% improvement in Eyefinity worth the $200 (57%) price increase over the Radeon HD 6970? The question is much easier for original Eyefinity users who are still running on an original HD 5000-series (especially a 1GB card). The HD 7970 bests a 2GB 5870 by 79% in widescreen and 94% in Eyefinity.

At the end of the day, the performance improvements with the Radeon HD 7970 are significant, and even more impressive when you consider the improvements in heat/noise, and the fact that AMD maintained the 250W profile of the Radeon HD 6970. The core clock is relatively low at 925MHz, and AMD's own marketing slides highlight how it can be pushed to 1GHz and beyond. This would improve the ROI for current 6000-series owners, but at $550 the top-end (single-GPU) AMD card no longer enjoys a significant price advantage over NVIDIA.

If you've been saving your pennies for a major system upgrade, your wait is over. The HD 7970 is a killer card, and provides noticeable improvements over both the HD 6000-series (36% widescreen, 46% Eyefinity) and the 5000-series (79% widescreen, 94% Eyefinity). For gaming, it's also a much better upgrade option than a new CPU. So, if you've been waiting to upgrade get your credit card ready for the new year, and dust off your eBay account for your old card.