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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Under the Heatsink

Removing the DirectCU II heatsink is amazingly easy since it is only held on with a quartet of screws. Once it’s out of the way, we can see the extent to which ASUS has gone to redesign the HD 7970 Matrix. Instead of a standard PCB, a custom, overly wide layout has been used in order to fit all of the upgraded components and expanded PWM area. There is also a large secondary molded aluminum heatsink that covers and distributes the heat from the CPU and memory VRM modules.

The main area of interest for most enthusiasts will be the Matrix’s extensive all-digital Digi+ 20-phase PWM that takes over from the reference card’s 12-phase allotment. Equipped with ASUS’ Super Alloy Power features, this design is supposed to offer increased longevity, cooler operation and additional overclocking headroom. However, there is are a few twists that have been implemented into this card that haven’t been included in past SAP-equipped products. While most of ASUS’ upgraded cards come with capacitors rated for 5,000 hours of continuous operation (an improvement over the reference design’s 2,000 hours), the Matrix uses ultra high end Nichicon GT series units that should run past the 10,000 hour mark. These were previously used on ASUS’ high end RoG-series motherboards and boast an incredible operational temperature range of -70C to +120C.

In addition to the upgraded capacitors, the chokes have received a makeover with sixteen 45A modules in the place of the reference design’s six 60A units. According to ASUS, this change has significantly increased power delivery performance and could help achieve higher overclocks. An expanded power plane has also been instituted which augments power distribution in order to further increase overclocking headroom and lower VDroop when additional voltage is pushed towards the GPU core and memory.

The aluminum heatsink that covers most of the components features several ribbed designs that are intended to increase its surface area and optimize thermal dissipation efficiency. It can be removed but the process is much more involved than one may expect.

With a massive copper base, six independent heatpipes and a towering stack of aluminum fins, the DirectCU II is impressive to say the least. It also weighs a ton. According ASUS, all of this thermal mass is put to good use by providing six times more airflow than the reference design while also remaining up to three times quieter. That’s one heck of an accomplishment but as we’ve already mentioned, it does come with one downside: this is one massive cooler.

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