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The Test, Power, Temp, & Noise

CPU: Intel Core i7-3960X @ 4.3GHz
Motherboard: EVGA X79 SLI
Chipset Drivers: Intel 9.​2.​3.​1022
Power Supply: Antec True Power Quattro 1200
Hard Disk: Samsung 470 (240GB)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws DDR3-1867 4 x 4GB (8-10-9-26)
Video Cards: XFX Radeon HD 7970 Black Edition Double Diss.
AMD Radeon HD 7970
AMD Radeon HD 6990
AMD Radeon HD 6970
AMD Radeon HD 6950
AMD Radeon HD 5870
AMD Radeon HD 5850
AMD Radeon HD 4870
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 285
Video Drivers: NVIDIA ForceWare 290.36 Beta
AMD Catalyst Beta 8.921.2-111215a
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit

We’ll start things in reverse today by first looking at the power, temperature, & noise characteristics of the 7970 BEDD. The custom cooler is the single biggest differentiating factor for the BEDD, followed by its factory overclock.

Radeon HD 7900 Series Voltages
Ref 7970 Load Ref 7970 Idle XFX 7970 Black Edition DD
1.17v 0.85v 1.17v

As we noted in our introduction, the BEDD ships at the same voltage as the reference 7970: 1.17v. Since XFX is using the AMD PCB too, the power characteristics are virtually identical, save for the overclock and the power draw of the two fans.

Even with two fans the idle power consumption of the BEDD is identical to the reference 7970. Meanwhile under load we see that the power consumption for the BEDD creeps up slightly compared to the reference 7970. With Metro 2033 we see system power consumption peak at 398W, 7W over the reference card, meanwhile under OCCT system power consumption peaks at 365W, 8W over the reference card.

It’s worth noting that as XFX has not touched the PowerTune limits for the BEDD, it’s capped at the same 250W limit as the reference 7970 by default. So far we haven’t seen any proof that the BEDD is being throttled at this level under any of our games or compute benchmarks, however we can’t completely rule this out as we still don’t have any tools that can read the real clockspeed of the 7970 when PowerTune throttling is active. Whenever an overclock is involved there’s always a risk of hitting that PowerTune limit before a card can fully stretch its legs, hence the need to be concerned about PowerTune if it hasn’t already been adjusted. As for our power tests, the difference seems to largely boil down to the higher power consumption of XFX’s fans when they’re operating above idle.

One of the key advantages of open air designs is that they do a better job of dissipating heat from the GPU, which is what we’re seeing here with the BEDD under idle. At 30C the BEDD is 4C cooler than the reference 7970, with all of that being a product of the Double Dissipation cooler.

However it’s interesting to note that temperatures under load end up being identical to the reference 7970. The BEDD is no cooler than the reference 7970 even with its radically different cooling apparatus. This is ultimately a result of the fact that the BEDD is a semi-custom card; not only is XFX using AMD’s PCB, but they’re using AMD’s aggressive fan profile. At any given temperature the BEDD’s fans ramp up to the same speed (as a percentage) as AMD’s fans, meaning that the BEDD’s fans won’t ramp up until the card hits the same temperatures that trigger a ramp-up on the reference design. As a result the BEDD is no cooler than the reference 7970, though with AMD’s aggressive cooling policy the reference 7970 would be tough to beat.

Finally taking a look at noise we can see the full impact of XFX’s replacement cooler. For XFX this is both good and bad. On the bad side, their Double Dissipation cooler can’t match the 7970 reference cooler when idling; 43.5dB isn’t particularly awful but it’s noticeable, particularly when compared to the reference 7970. Consequently the BEDD is definitely not a good candidate for a PC that needs to be near-silent at idle.

On the flip side under load we finally see XFX’s cooler choice pay off. AMD’s aggressive fan profile made the reference 7970 one of the loudest single-GPU cards in our lineup, but XFX’s Double Dissipation cooler fares significantly better here. At 48.1dB under Metro it’s not only quieter than the reference 7970 by a rather large 7dB, but it’s also quieter than every other modern high-end card in our lineup, effectively tying with the reference 6950. Even under our pathological OCCT test it only reaches 52dB, 5dB quieter than the reference 7970.

Ultimately where the BEDD was a poor candidate for noise under idle, it’s an excellent candidate for a quiet computer under load thanks to the open air nature of XFX’s Double Dissipation cooler, and certainly the launch card to get if you want a load-quiet 7970. Just don’t throw it directly up against another card in CrossFire, as these open air cards typically fare poorly without an open slot to work with.

XFX’s Radeon HD 7970 Black Edition Double Dissipation Game Performance: Crysis, Metro, DiRT, Shogun, & Batman
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  • piroroadkill - Monday, January 09, 2012 - link

    I'm not one of those people. I'm not buying a 7970.

    But just because you don't think it offers a large enough increase is an absolutely meaningless statement.

    Fact is, people bought stuff like 8800 Ultra, 7800GTX SLI, Vapochill, and so on.

    Cost is not a factor.
    Reply
  • Morg. - Monday, January 09, 2012 - link

    you're a head case.

    VRAM is a non-issue for 2011 games in low resolution.
    Reply
  • SlyNine - Monday, January 09, 2012 - link

    But people do care about heat. Thats the biggest reason to keep power usage down when its not in use.

    If your like me and your gaming PC is also your server you don't want much more then 100watts idle.

    Which is why I love my 2600k @4.4ghz w/ 5870. At idle its only pulling around 120 watts.
    Reply
  • Sabresiberian - Monday, January 09, 2012 - link

    The cheapest GTX 580 on newegg is $480 AFTER rebate (479.99). Even TigerDirect doesn't quite match that price. I did a search and came up with one seller that is pricing the GTX 580 near $400, some company named Starworth Computers. Maybe it's legit, but I'm wondering why they have it listed $100 or more below everyone else.

    The only thing accurate about your post is your self-appointed name.
    Reply
  • WileCoyote - Monday, January 09, 2012 - link

    I accept your challenge:

    http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results....

    3GB 580, picked one up last week. $429.99 - $300MIR = $399.99

    Boo-yeah!

    If the 580 hadn't fallen in price I would have purchased the 7970.
    Reply
  • Duraz0rz - Monday, January 09, 2012 - link

    The card you linked is a 1.5GB card. Reply
  • iamezza - Tuesday, January 10, 2012 - link

    lol, fail Reply
  • Morg. - Monday, January 09, 2012 - link

    It would take a fanboy to think that card is less than 6% faster than a gtx580 ;)

    Just bring that 7970 to GTX580 TDP ... and you'll start understanding ;)

    The only advantage the GTX580 ever had over any card was that it had the bigger TDP . nothing else.
    Reply
  • ET - Monday, January 09, 2012 - link

    It would take a fanboy to buy a card that's less than 6% faster a Radeon 6970 and costs $200 more. Namely the GTX 580. Reply
  • deaner - Monday, January 09, 2012 - link

    It would take a fanboy to quote such % to $ value, against a GTX 580. Maybe, just maybe there are people who are AMD fans!!?? That is an intersting thought.... Curious to your stats as well. Reply

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