AMD's Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition Earns "Tie" With GTX 680
June 22, 2012 11:28 AM
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Radeon series GPU holds a slight edge in multi-monitor gaming
The latest round of the graphics war is over. Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (
) came storming out first [
], but in the end it was NVIDIA Corp (
) who seized the peformance crown with its
GeForce GTX 680
. And that's where the story might have ended, had AMD not said "not so fast."
AMD countered with a specially binned Radeon HD 7970 "Gigahertz Edition" (GE). The new card is essentially the exact same as
Radeon HD 7970
, which shipped at the end of January. But it does bump the core clock from 925 MHz up to 1000 MHz (hence the GHZ part) and the memory clock from 5.5 GHz to 6 GHz.
But the majority of the gains come from a new set of drivers that in some ways mirror NVIDIA's
drivers, by providing a "Boost" mode. Unlike the
drivers, AMD locks the cards into a solid maximum clock -- 1050 GHz -- which is sort of nice, given that you know what you're getting. This contrasts with NVIDIA which guarantees a minimum boost clock, but whose maximum boost clock is somewhat random depending on chip quality -- essentially luck of the draw.
That's all fine and good, but the compelling question is whether the Gigahertz Edition was worth alerting the press and claiming to steal NVIDIA's thunder. Well it turns out it does provide a significant boost over the base model, enough to put it in contention once more for the graphics crown.
The card trades blows with the Geforce GTX 680 in
, with neither card managing a convincing victory. The only a couple of areas where one card clearly wins. One is the multi-monitor tests, where AMD's card is the clear winner. But in power, noise, and heat, NVIDIA's card clearly wins.
The most important issue thus becomes price. Both the GTX 680 and new HD 7970 GE are $500 USD. Thus the graphics races is essentially a dead heat.
Moving down the ladder AMD offers the base HD 7970 for $430 USD. For $30 USD less NVIDIA offers the $400 USD GTX 670 -- which predictably has a bit less performance than HD 7970. Then there's AMD's HD 7950 at $360, which is in turn a bit lower performance than the GTX 670.
In other words, smart pricing from both companies means that the best card for you in this round of the graphics war depends on which price point you're looking at. At the points occupied by AMD, AMD wins, at the points occupied by NVIDIA, NVIDIA wins. But at the top there's now no longer a clear winner.
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RE: Unimpressive due to power/heat
6/25/2012 4:38:48 AM
It's very unlikely that any third party supplier will use the stock AMD cooler for this. That in itself should make for quieter cards, though probably not down to 680 levels.
The cheapest method appears to be getting a stock 7970, adding a replacement cooler and overclocking the thing. You could end up with a cooler and quieter GHz Edition without having to pay the premium for it.
"Game reviewers fought each other to write the most glowing coverage possible for the powerhouse Sony, MS systems. Reviewers flipped coins to see who would review the Nintendo Wii. The losers got stuck with the job." -- Andy Marken
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