HIS HD7970 Crossfire & Eyefinity Review
If you're running two of these bad boys then you definitely need to be running triple screens to get the most out of them. On more than one occasion the extra card made no difference at all to the final frame-rates we saw in games, but it nearly always helped when running at the extreme 5760x1080 resolution of Eyefinity.
That isn't to say that there aren't any issues. Indeed this is one of the more tricky dual card runs we've done. By no fault of HIS Digital we hasten to add. Rather it seems that the drivers are once again the Achilles Heel of the Radeon set up. One day AMD will sit down and realise that it doesn't matter how amazing your hardware gurus are at designing a graphics card when your software guys appear terminally incapable of coding drivers that just work. Sure the poor quality of Catalyst drivers when compared to their ForceWare opponents is so well known it's almost a standing joke, but it's been that way since we can remember and with such an epic product as the HD7970 it's frankly not good enough. Hopefully in the weeks and months to come the game developers and the AMD driver team will lock them selves in a room with a tanker full of Starbucks and not emerge until all the creases are ironed out. We live in hope.
Battlefield 3 wouldn't run at all, The Witcher 2, Resident Evil 5, Dirt 3 and Batman Arkham City all showed better performance with a single card than the Crossfire set up. These aren't games based upon the same engine, nor from similar developers or even in the same genre. If you are buying a pair of these for your favourite game it's definitely worth checking that Crossfire works properly.
However, getting off of our soapbox and looking at those scenarios in which the Crossfire did work properly the results were incredible. It was comprehensively better than a GTX580 SLI setup, which is the same price and has ruled the performance roost since they were released. AMD have made a major leap forwards, producing a setup that, for £800 can give you some of the most eye-poppingly smooth gameplay you could ever hope to see.
So if you are in the market for incredible performance, but don't mind the fact that once again you're stuck with the pretty risible Catalyst drivers then this set up is definitely worth a look. When it works it's unbeatable. It's just not as 'plug and play' as we've come to expect from modern hardware.
For this reason we're awarding it our OC3D Performance Award. As a single card the HIS Digital is as good, and Gold worthy, as any other reference HD7970. In Crossfire though it's a bit pricey and a bit temperamental till the drivers are ironed out.