Gigabyte HD 7970 Super Overclock Review
Welcome to one of the oddest reviews we’ve done here at Hardware Canucks. The subject in question is Gigabyte’s quietly released HD 7970 Super Overclock and before you go on a pointless trip looking for a press release, specifications, availability, price or any other bits of information, we’ll save you some time: it’s not available in North America. Anyone in the EU, Middle East or Asia on the other hand will be able to find the HD 7970 Super Overclock at their local retailers.
So why are we reviewing the SOC when it isn’t available in our home and native land? We could explain that traffic to HWC from overseas is reaching new levels or that we’re doing this all for posterity and both would be right. However the real method behind our madness is a favor to Gigabyte, a litmus test if you will. This article is supposed to judge what kind of interest this iteration of the storied Super Overclock series generates on the western side of the Atlantic. Considering the HD 7970 continues to generate great sales volume even now, we were certainly game.
Typically, Super Overclock cards are known for their ultra high clock speeds, hand binned components and willingness to overclock but only a few of these points are valid for the HD 7970 version. This time around, the same basic genetics are in place but the initial, out-of-box clock speeds have suffered somewhat. While the core speed remains well above the levels achieved by a reference GHz Edition card, the HD 7970 SOC’s memory speeds remain at a somewhat pedestrian 5.5Gbps. Is this a disappointment? We’d say so considering Super Overclock cards are supposed to represent the cream of the crop and be built without compromises. It seems like memory binning was a bit too complicated…
With memory clocks stuck at reference specs and a core that screams along at 1.08GHz, performance will certainly be within the upper market echelons. However, with an estimated price of $499USD, it may not go down particularly well even if the HD 7970 Super Overclock ever hits our shores. Our hesitation is mostly due to the presence of Gigabyte’s own HD 7970 OC with a Windforce 5X heatsink that goes for less than $450 and boasts not only higher clock speeds but a more recognizable cooling solution as well.
Speaking of the heatsink, this is one you will have to see to believe. Gigabyte is looking to completely rewrite the book on GPU cooling with a new Windforce 5x solution that houses five miniature fans that draw heat away from the card. It will take some getting used to but we hope Gigabyte succeeds in this respect.
What we have here is a unique card that may or may not do well within a saturated market. It will also have to go up against ASUS’ own HD 7970 Matrix which is being released in the next few weeks. So, with the HD 7970 Super Overclock only available in Europe and Asia, is it worth Gigabyte’s time, money and effort to bring it over to our shores? We’re about to find out.
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