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ASUS Radeon HD 7970 Video Card Review
ASUSTeK Computer Inc. is one of the largest and most successful computer hardware manufacturers in the world. A Taiwanbased company, it manufactures a wide variety of computer hardware, including motherboards, video cards, optical drives, notebooks, networking equipment, barebones desktop, and server systems, among many others.
ASUS also has a second website dedicated to the gaming community called the Republic of Gamers. It is the brand name that ASUS has been stamping their quality gaming products over the last year which has been quickly growing in popularity both gamers and hardware enthusiasts alike. The specific video card we are evaluating today is not a ROG specific video card, but does benefit from GPU Tweak with Voltage Modification to GPU core and memory.
AMD announced its new Radeon HD 7970, codenamed Tahiti, on December 22nd, 2011. Minimal product availability was made on January 9th, 2012. Tahiti represents a departure from previous architectures for AMD. It calls the new architecture Graphics Core Next, or GCN. The Radeon HD 6000 series used AMDs VLIW 4 and 5 architectures. GCN features a smaller die at 28nm, compared to the 40nm process used for the previous generation.
Aside from the die shrink, GCN offers a number of features over previous generation GPUs. One particularly noteworthy feature is ZeroCore Power. This feature disables unused GPUs or portions of them during long idle periods to save power and increase efficiency. This can save energy not only in terms of power consumed by the video card, but it can also lead to decreased heat generation, which can save money in terms of cooling costs.
The Radeon HD 7970 GPU itself is comprised of 4.32 billion transistors packed into 2048 stream processors with a clock speed of 925MHz. There are 128 texture units, 128 Z/stencil units, and 32 ROPs. That is a 33% increase in stream processors and texture units compared to the Radeon HD 6970, but the same number of ROP. Even so, optimizations and clock speed increases should result in more efficient rasterization.
The Radeon HD 7970 is designed to be paired with 3GB of GDDR5 memory on a 384bit bus, running at 1375MHz for a 5.5Gbps data rate and a maximum theoretical bandwidth of 264GB per second. In spite of its increased capacity and its performance improvements, the Radeon HD 7970 shares the same 250W maximum board power rating as the HD 6970.
The ASUS Radeon HD 7970 is the first product from ASUS in the HD 7000 series of AMD video cards. This is more or less the basic reference video card that ASUS will be using while it designs a custom version of the video card with unique specifications like the popular DirectCU II cooling system in the future. Since this is not a custom video card, the clock speeds are the standard of 925MHz on the core, and 1375MHz 5500GHz GDDR5 on the memory. You can read more about the ASUS Radeon HD 7970s specifications here and more on the standard Radeon HD 7970s specifications in our article here.
Right now, the ASUS Radeon HD 7970 carries a price tag of $559, which is one of the cheaper versions of the Radeon HD 7970 if you can find it instock.
The only feature listed with this video card is ASUSs overclocking utility GPU Tweak. Included with GPU Tweaks easy to use overclocking interface is a real time diagnostics tab. It also has GPUz built in to it, which makes it a lot easier than opening up three different programs to look at the respective information. One of the nicest features of the improved GPU Tweak utility is that it will automatically check and update to new driver versions and BIOS versions.
This video card has a 3 year limited parts and labor warranty.
The front of the box emphasizes the overclocking utility from ASUS, GPU Tweak, and also has art that we have come to find standard on most ASUS video cards. The back of the box includes a brief description of GPU Tweak, the fact that the ASUS Radeon HD 7970 has 3GB of GDDR5 memory, and an image of the back of the video card with a description of the ports. It also mentions the minimum system requirements necessary to use this video card.
The accessory bundle includes a DVI to HDMI adaptor, a DVI to miniDP adaptor, a dual 6in to 8pin PCIE power connector, and a CrossFireX bridge. The software bundle includes a speed setup guide that explains installing the video card, and a driver disk, which includes a multilanguage manual. The disk also includes the driver released to reviewers on December 20th, 2011 version 8.92.1, and an outdated version of ASUS GPUTweak 2.01. Always check the website for the latest version.