AMD Radeon HD 7970 Graphics Card Review

Interesting round-up of the benchmarks used here at HWBOT. Heaven performance is through the roof; other benchmarks are strong as well. I sense a bunch of records to be updated soon!

This review really surprised me. I expected it to be better than the HD 6970 but not to the level of the HD 6990. I had hoped it would beat the GTX 580, but didn’t have a clue by how much it would do so.

Instead, we see a GPU that is tantamount to parity with the dual-GPU beast HD 6990 and one that, for the most part, leaves the GTX 580 squarely in its dust. When it comes to strong computing power required for MSAA and Tessellation, it separates itself even farther (look at the Stalker and Battlefield 3 results!).

It seems to falter slightly with excessively high FPS games (such as Dirt 2 and HAWX 2…do you really need over 100 FPS? …over 200?) and, apparently, DirectX 9 as we see via 3DMark06. How many people currently play DirectX 9 games again? I’ll go with slim to none. Those that do will just have to make due with 150FPS instead of 200 FPS. Think you can handle that?

Back to heavy-duty graphics computations, go look at those Eyefinity results again. If the HD 7970 isn’t beating the HD 6990 at stock, it’s getting pretty darn close when overclocked. That was the one thing that surprised me the most. I figured at 1080p we’d see a close battle between the two, but when you put three monitors on the HD 7970 it would have to show some weakness. I figured wrong.

Of course a main concern will be how much this GPU costs. Unless I’m mistaken it is the first publicly available PCI-e 3.0 GPU, so there’s one thing to make it more expensive. Then you have the fact that it beats out the GTX 580, making it the most powerful single GPU on the planet. Any guesses where this will end up?

Ok, enough suspense. AMD is putting this card at an MSRP of $549, with expected availability on January 9, 2012. That’s about $50 higher than your average GTX 580 with 1.5 GB of RAM. What’s really interesting is that, if you narrow down Newegg results to show only 3 GB models of GTX 580, not one of them is cheaper than $549. Zotac comes close, with an out of stock model for $555, but the others are EVGA and start at $590, going up from there.

Retailers will surely tack on an early-adopter premium, but if they somehow miraculously release at their MSRP, the GTX 580 is going to need a price drop before long. Of course, NVIDIA is supposed to release its new Kepler architecture in 2012. AMD has beat them to the punch, and upped the ante. In some areas, even an overclocked GTX 580 can’t match the new HD 7970 beast at stock. 2012 just got very interesting for GPUs.

AMD has taken back the hill. It’s your move NVIDIA.

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