XFX HD 7970 3GB Black Edition Double Dissipation Review

Author: SKYMTL
Date: February 6, 2012
Product Name: HD 7970 Black Edition Double Dissipation
Part Number: FX-797A-TDBC
Warranty: Lifetime
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There are plenty of good graphics cards out there but due to the wealth of choice available to end users, it takes something special to stand out from the crowd. Only a few have had this certain “je ne sais quoi” and as a result became wildly popular. AMD’s new HD 7970 seems to have this same envious combination in the form of high efficiency combined with class leading performance and unlike some newly released GPUs, it actually surprised us with decent availability from day one.

As you might expect, board partners were quick to embrace AMD’s strategy and have come up with numerous unique HD 7970 cards which incorporate higher than reference clock speeds, custom heatsink designs and a long list of other features. In many ways, XFX has been leading the pack since along with all of the aforementioned items, they have also incorporated a lifetime warranty into some of their SKUs, something which is a bit of a rarity these days. Naturally, their flagship HD 7970 3GB Black Edition Double Dissipation takes this mantra and runs with it.

Much like the HD 7950 Black Edition, the HD 7970 version boasts overclocks on both the core and memory which is a departure from many other manufacturers that tend to only bump the engine clock. The levels to which each is pushed shouldn’t be ignored either since this is one of the few cards on the market that boasts clock speeds of 1000MHZ / 5.7Gbps. While these values don’t guarantee significant performance increases over a reference card, they will count for some differences in certain games.

XFX has not only overclocked this card but they have also equipped it with their new Double Dissipation heatsink which includes a pair of 80mm fans and an extensive internal fin array. Billed as a solution that will keep the core temperatures substantially cooler than the reference solution while maintaining a smaller acoustical footprint, the “DD” design could be perfect for gamers and enthusiasts alike.

All of these features do unfortunately come at a hefty price and at $599, the HD 7970 Black Edition Double Dissipation is currently one of the most expensive HD 7970 cards around. But that’s not to say it isn’t worth this sky high price…

In our opinion this may be one of the best looking HD 7970s on the market and the amount of engineering put into its heatsink design certainly looks impressive. Aside from the two fans pushing cool air down onto a large internal fin array, the core and memory modules are covered by an extensive copper vapor chamber to ensure the best temperatures possible. The VRM modules however receive minimal treatment as they are actively cooled by the rearmost fan and shouldn’t get all that hot. We can also see that unlike the HD 7950 Black Edition, XFX decided to keep the dual BIOS switch on this particular card.

Other than the custom heatsink, higher clock speeds and the standard 6+8 pin power connectors, there are a few noticeable differences between this and all other run of the mill HD 7970 cards. The most obvious of these is the backplate which may house the usual dual DisplayPorts and HDMI / DVI combination but also uses XFX’s custom high airflow design. XFX has also included a HDMI to DVI converter which doesn’t make this card natively compatible with Eyefinity, it is still a step above some of their competitors.

The Black Edition’s PCB may look like the reference design but supposedly XFX has embedded a 2oz copper layer within to help with heat dissipation. VRM components have supposedly also been upgraded to a slightly higher spec in order to increase their longevity while the core is handpicked for overclocking headroom.

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