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PowerColor PCS+ HD7970 vs Gainward GTX 680 Phantom Review


by Stuart Davidson - 2nd May 2012
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PowerColor PCS+ HD7970 Vortex 2 vs Gainward GTX 680 Phantom Graphics Card Review

PowerColor PCS+ HD7970 (Vortex 2) 3GB Graphics Card


PowerColor PCS+ HD7970 - Box PowerColor PCS+ HD7970 - Bundle

PowerColor package their latest card in a box which very much focuses on the cooler used by the product as well as its benefits. Inside we find a decent bundle which includes product documentation, software CD, CrossFire bridge, power cables and the various display connectors required for multi-monitor setups.

PowerColor PCS+ HD7970 - Top of card PowerColor PCS+ HD7970 - Rear plate

PowerColor PCS+ HD7970 - Heat pipes

The PCS+ version of the 7970 looks significantly different to the reference design and this is predominantly down to the cooler used, though underneath it does use "Platinum Power Kit" design for improved power efficiency, stability, and overclocking ability. It is a dual fan model where the blades sit above 61 aluminium fins and a copper GPU block. PowerColor use perforated blades to reduce pressure from the high speed spinning and this increases airflow/efficiency. Four thick heatpipes pass through the heatsink to enhance cooling and a protective plate sits on the back of our card. As a nice touch PowerColor apply covers to our connectors at the factory, ensuing they remain in pristine condition and don't gather dust over time when the card is installed.

PowerColor PCS+ HD7970 - Adjustable fans PowerColor PCS+ HD7970 - Adjustable fans

One of the key features of the PCS+ is its Vortex 2 cooler which allows us to vary the fan configuration. We can have the fans close to the heatsink, pulled out or angled. Angled has the most benefit as it reduces fan turbulence and maximises cooling performance. To change the angle we simply twist the fans and press/pull to our desired level.

PowerColor PCS+ HD7970 - Card outputs

Turning round to the card outputs we find a dual DVI, HDMI 1.4 and dual mini-DisplayPort connectors. Eyefinity setups are therefore an option for resolutions such as 5760x1080 from one card. Powering the card are two 8-pin connectors which provide it, along with the PCIe slot, with over 250w of power.

The reference specifications for the 7970 are 925MHz core and the 3GB of Hynix GDDR5 memory is set to 1375MHz. PowerColor have significantly exceeded this though by running at 1100/1425MHz. There are 128 Texture units within the 7970 along with 32 ROPS/128 Z-Stencil. For the Stream processors PowerColor have gone for a 2048 "core" design and our memory bus is 384-bit. PCIe 3.0, DirectX 11.1 and DirectCompute are all supported on this card as is acceleration of high definition content and the card can output 7.1 audio over HDMI including DTS Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD.

PowerColor PCS+ HD7970 - GPUz details
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