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Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 Tri-CrossFire Graphics Card Review

Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 Tri-CrossFire Graphics Card Review

Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 Tri-CrossFire featuring the Pure Black X79N Motherboard

Power, Temps, Noise and Overclocking

As with the Radeon 6900 series and GTX 500 series the 7900 series performs power management in a different way to older cards so we have changed the way we test power and temperature levels in our reviews. For idle power we list the full system use at the wall after sitting at the desktop with no activity for 5 minutes. Load power is the highest reading we saw for the full system when testing during this review. Temperatures are taken in the same way. Noise levels are taken after a period of prolonged gaming in a scenario which applied maximum load to the GPU.

  Idle
Power
Load
Power
Idle
Temp
Load
Temp
Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 85w 304w 40°C 77°C
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 104w 324w 36°C 82°C
Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 CrossFire 497w 81/72°C
Sapphire Radeon HD 7970
Tri-CrossFire
664w 81/75/73°C
AMD Radeon HD 6990 CrossFire 749w 86/85/85/79°C
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590 SLI 774w 95/89/79/77°C

As noted above the readings shown in the table here are taken during gaming (real world use), not in a synthetic test designed to stress the cards in an un-natural way. Overall the single Sapphire 7970 compares very well to the GTX 580 in each area, offering higher framerates for lower power use and load temperatures. The GTX 580 is slightly lower noise though.

When we move to multi-GPU setups the advantages of the 7970 really start to show with the tri 7970 setup offering lower power use, temperatures and noise than the 590 SLI or Radeon 6990 Crossfired.

Sticking with the power and noise theme for a moment one of the key 7970 features is the advanced power management which has been implemented in Crossfire. In that mode AMD are able to send the second, third, fourth GPU to an ultra-low power state when idle and as shown below this means turning the GPU and memory to 0MHz.

Product image

  Power Temperature
Radeon HD 7970 Idle 85w 40°C
Radeon HD 7970 Tri-CF Idle 96w 40°C / N/A / N/A

As an added bonus to the second (or additional) cards minimal power use the driver also shuts down the fan turning the card into a silent model. This means, as an example, that we could have 4x 7970 in a system and when at the desktop (which could be 5760×1080) only one card is active. Launch a game and the others kick in.


Overclocking on the 7970 is a simple process; we open our driver control panel and head into the Overdrive section. In there we can maximise the Powertune setting and then begin moving the sliders to our desired speed. As an alternative Sapphire also offer a GPU version of TriXX which also allows us to overclock the core and memory as well as play with fan speed, and depending on the model of card, voltage.

Overclocking

Product image

PowerColor Radeon HD 7970
Stock OC Stock 3D Mark OC 3DMark
925/1375 1110/1510 X2736 X3141

As with the other reference design cards our Sapphire Sample topped out at a little over 1100/1500MHz which increased our single card score to over X3100.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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