ASUS HD 7970 3GB Matrix Platinum Edition Review

Author: SKYMTL
Date: November 14, 2012
Product Name: HD 7970 Matrix Platinum
Part Number: MATRIX-HD7970-P-3GD5
Warranty: 3 Years
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ASUS never ceases to amaze us with their high end graphics cards. They started off on a high note this year with several DirectCU II TOP products that impressed us in nearly every respect but enthusiasts still found themselves holding out for the inevitable launch of Matrix branded GPUs. That’s finally happened with the HD 7970 Matrix Platinum and even though it is being released nearly a year after the initial HD 7970 launch, this is arguably the crowning achievement in ASUS' lineup and a standout within AMD’s Radeon family.

In a high end market that’s cluttered with the likes of MSI’s Lightning, Gigbayte’s Super Overclock and Sapphire’s Toxic, standing out from the competition becomes a tall order but ASUS has succeeded in a big way. In order to give the Matrix Platinum enough points of differentiation, every conceivable aspect of its design was fine tuned and the whole thing feels like it purrs along on a different plane of reality. The end result is a card that’s substantially quieter than the reference desing and faster than a Lightning while maintaining a price that squeaks under the $500 mark. Could his be one of the first ultra high end GPUs that can be considered a phenomenal value? We think so. When the Platinum’s overclocking prowess is factored into this equation, recommending any of its direct competitors becomes nearly impossible.

While the Matrix Platinum may be at the forefront technological achievement, AMD’s latest driver and game promotions have given ASUS a helping hand. With the performance increases brought about by the 12.11 driver stack, this HD 7970 easily blows by similarly priced GTX 680 cards and more importantly for overclockers, it isn't be held back by NVIDIA’s draconian voltage restrictions. Granted, real-world performance isn’t noticeably better than a reference HD 7970 GHz Edition but every little bit helps and the Matrix has a huge amount of clock speed overhead just waiting to be unleashed.

Speaking of overclocking, to fully appreciate what the ASUS HD 7970 Matrix Platinum has to offer, you’ll need extreme –and expensive- forms of cooling. While the DirectCU II heatsink may be one of the most efficient air coolers around, when tweaked to a significant degree, this card has the potential to greatly benefit from more exotic forms of thermal management and plenty of soldered on modifications. The Matrix was built from the ground up to be an overclocking powerhouse and judging from our own results, it can deliver in spades when someone takes time to explore within the excellent GPU Tweak software.

We don’t have any scathing criticism for this card but its massive size does bring some extra baggage into the equation. Simply put, the Matrix’s DirectCU II cooler will have an issue fitting into smaller environments and the backplate design will lead to spatial conflicts on some motherboards. Luckily these situations will be few and far between but we nonetheless recommend that serious effort be made to ensure your system is compatible.

The ASUS HD 7970 Matrix Platinum represents a seamless combination of bleeding edge performance, excellent acoustics solid software and sky-high overclocking potential. It truly is a poster child that represents just how far graphics card technology has progressed over the last few years. It may just be the best card currently available and it wins all three of our awards, becoming only the fourth product in the history of Hardware Canucks to do so.


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