AMD Radeon HD 7970 3GB Review

Author: SKYMTL
Date: December 21, 2011
Product Name: Radeon HD 7970 3GB
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Overclocking Results

When it comes to higher end cards, AMD’s focus has gradually shifted towards an overclocker-friendly mentality. The inclusion of a dual BIOS switch along with a fair amount of claimed overhead should allow enthusiasts to customize these cards’ clock speeds to their hearts’ content.

Much like the HD 6900-series, we were told the default clock speeds on the HD 7970 were set at conservative levels. Supposedly, 1Ghz and higher clock speeds would be easily achievable and few ASICs could even make it to the 1.2GHz mark. The memory modules have also been chosen for their overhead since their default speed is 6Gbps rather than the 5.5Gbps they actually run at.

AMD does give users a number of basic tools for HD 7970 overclocking but sets limits on how far you can actually push clock speeds. The core speeds can go up to 1125MHz while the memory tops out at 1575MHz (6300MHz in QDR mode) but we highly doubt may will be able to get much further without voltage adjustments. If you’re in the mood to push things even further, a supporting version of MSI’s AfterBurner software is only a few weeks away from release.

In our experience, overclocking our HD 7970 was relatively easy but our theory about having received a low leakage core seems to have held true since we couldn’t push the card past the 1.078Ghz mark while maintaining long term stability. In order to ensure we weren’t held back by PowerTune, its level was increased +20% and we decided to keep the default –yet aggressive- fan speed profile. For the record, temperatures never went above the 80 degree mark throughout gaming while the core was overclocked.

Memory clocking with GDDR5 is an interesting experience since its advanced error correction means artifacts will rarely pop up. Rather, increasing its speeds past a certain point will just result in flatlined performance numbers. We got up to the 6.21Gbps mark before framerates hit a plateau. Naturally, the performance was mind blowing.

Final Clock Speeds:

Core: 1078MHz
Memory: 6214MHz (QDR)


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