VTX3D HD7970 PCIE2 vs PCIE3 Review
We've waiting a whole generation to see a Radeon card that is worthy of purchase. The HD6 series, in single GPU trim, never got anywhere close to the nVidia counterparts. Thankfully with the HD7970 all is back to how it should be.
As we've got a few different takes upon the card the VTX3D was reviewed solely at stock speeds, but even with the "out of the box" setup the card rocked our socks pretty comprehensively more often than not.
The reduction down from 40nm to 28nm has certainly helped with the heat and noise problem that plagued the HD6970 and whilst the cooler isn't as quiet as the one on a GTX580, it's a great improvement upon the HD6970 cooler. The card has to get pretty warm before the fan spins up, but when it does it keeps everything around the 75°C mark.
However it's the raw performance that is the most impressive part. Not only does the VTX3D HD7970 keep up with a GTX580, which surely is the single-GPU to aim for, but it surpasses it pretty handily in some tests. Indeed now and again the HD7970 was the fastest card we'd tested, full stop. Easily capable of keeping up with some of the dual-GPU solutions we've seen.
It's not even related to PhysX. Although Batman and Battlefield were fairly average, Crysis 2 was outstanding and the 3D Mark scores didn't suffer.
Finally if you are looking to go for a full new system then, as we saw throughout testing, a X79 based rig will outperform an X58 one quite handily. So although we're waving goodbye to our stalwart i7-950 we're pleased that it got to see AMD return to the fray with a new GPU that truly gives the paying public a choice again before it was pensioned off. Its also nice to know that as long as your motherboard is PCIE3 GPU compatible ie: as long as the GPU will actually work in the board NOT actually have PCIE3 bandwidth) then you will be absolutely fine. As during all our tests the only bonus was the CPU difference and nothing to do with any PCI Express bandwidth. This may answer why AMD does not seem to have any PCIE3 plans for any of its chip sets over the next 12 months.
No longer is the nVidia option the default one for anyone but rabid fanboys, now you can buy a Radeon again and know that you have the single-GPU card of choice. At around £400 it's GTX580 money, but with better than GTX580 performance. Hats off to AMD. Gold worthy.