|XFX R7970 Black Edition Radeon Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Monday, 09 January 2012|
Page 18 of 18
XFX R7970 Black Edition Conclusion
IMPORTANT: Although the rating and final score mentioned in this conclusion are made to be as objective as possible, please be advised that every author perceives these factors differently at various points in time. While we each do our best to ensure that all aspects of the product are considered, there are often times unforeseen market conditions and manufacturer changes which occur after publication that could render our rating obsolete. Please do not base any purchase solely on our conclusion, as it represents our product rating specifically for the product tested, which may differ from future versions. Benchmark Reviews begins our conclusion with a short summary for each of the areas that we rate.
The performance of the card was excellent. Out of 16 separate tests, it beat the reigning single-GPU champ, the NVIDIA GTX 580, in 13 of them, losing out only in PhysX-heavy Batman: Arkham City and the 1680x1050 Unigine Heaven 2.5 benchmark. The GTX 580 in reference form has relatively limited overclockability; the extra headroom afforded the Radeon 7970, especially with XFX' cooler and power circuitry, hold the promise of even greater performance in the months to come. Cards this powerful are almost wasted on my mere 1920x1200 monitor; they cry out to run a 3D system or triple-monitor setup.
The appearance of the card was striking and original. XFX even made the effort of using a red, lettered top plate so everyone will know what card you have should you display it in a windowed case. I do think the card would look a little "cleaner" with a back plate to cover the exposed circuitry on the rear of the card.
The construction of the card seems very solid. I didn't remove the cooler as I often do in these tests due to time constraints (and, frankly, I was a little intimidated by the sheer number of screws holding the cooler on), so I can't speak to the quality of the PCB, but the fact that the card was cool and stable under the maximum overclock I could achieve with existing tools indicates that it's built pretty well.
AMD's Tahiti GPUs bring new functionality to the graphics card world: extremely efficient power usage, 4K monitor support, PCI-E 3.0 support, and DirectX 11.1. Admittedly some of these features have no immediate use (it's not as if even dual GPU cards saturate a PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot), but it's nice to know they're there. Topping things off is a 3 gigabyte slug of video RAM, which means the card will easily support multi-monitor systems at high resolutions. The only thing lacking is PhysX support. NVIDIA continues to insist PhysX is an open standard, although nobody else has implemented it yet, and there must be a reason why. Nonetheless, PhysX-enabled games such as Batman: Arkham City bring new levels of realism to the consumer space, and not being able to support this feature well is definitely a drawback.
The only possible criticism I have of this card is the value: it's an expensive card, no two ways about it. It costs $120 more than an NVIDIA GTX 580, and in most of my tests the $/FPS were very close...it's as if AMD's bean counters spent weeks testing the performance and using this to determine the price. Compared to AMD's previous top-end GPU, the Radeon 6970, it's much more expensive, both at the retail level ($280 more) as well as a $-per-FPS level. Very few enthusiasts will spend $600 on a video card, and it's certainly less bang-for-the-buck than a Radeon 6970. Granted, it's only $50 more than a reference card, whereas previous factory-overclocked cards often have a much higher "incremental cost" over a reference card. But it's still a lot of money.
But having the bestest and fastest always costs more, and if that's what you want, this is the card to get. At least now the "bestest and fastest" doesn't mean putting up with a jet-engine imitating space heater in your rig.
+ Incredible performance
- Incredible (high) price
Final Score: 9.08 out of 10.
Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.
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