Dueling Drivers, A PR Do-Over, & The Test

Coinciding with the launch of the 7970GE, both AMD and NVIDIA have released new drivers this week. For AMD the 7970GE will be launching with the Catalyst 12.7 beta, while NVIDIA has released the 304.48 betas for the entire lineup. For both AMD and NVIDIA these are major performance drivers, with both groups seeing significant performance in a handful of games.

We’ll take a look at the full performance spectrum starting with our regular benchmarks on the next page, but first we wanted to quickly break out the performance impact of the driver changes for both the 7970 and the GTX 680 at 2560x1600.

The biggest gains for AMD and NVIDIA are seen in DiRT 3 and Shogun 2 respectively. For reasons we’re not fully sure of, AMD has managed to significantly improve their performance on DiRT 3 and turn the tables on what was previously a game favoring NVIDIA. At the same time however NVIDIA has finally fixed the Kepler performance bug that was introduced in the March update for Shogun 2, restoring performance to where it was before the update and pushing NVIDIA ahead of AMD once more.

Meanwhile AMD sees lesser gains in Batman, BF3, and Skyrim, while NVIDIA also gains on Batman but that’s about it. Altogether AMD’s latest driver update has pushed their average performance ahead slightly more than NVIDIA’s, which for the 7970 versus the GTX 680 means that the GTX 680 now leads by about 9% instead of 10%. It’s not nearly enough to change any recommendations, but the fact that AMD and NVIDIA have swapped leads in certain games is a reminder of how important drivers can be and how volatile performance leads are.

A PR Do-Over

Because the 7970GE is functionally identical to the 7970 save its higher clocks and PT Boost, we’re opting to use our limited time to focus solely on performance. With that said it was interesting to see that AMD is very much treating the 7970GE launch as a do-over for the 7900 series. In their press presentation they spent a fair bit of time focusing on various aspects of the 7900 series and GCN we’re already familiar with, such as compute performance, their Leo technology demo, and of course GCN.

None of this has any direct relevance to the performance of the 7970GE, but we thought it was worth mentioning since it gives a bit more insight into how AMD is approaching things. This is all we’re going to say on the matter, but we have reproduced a few of the press slides below for any of you that are interested.

The Test

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 (256GB)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws DDR3-1867 4 x 4GB (8-10-9-26)
Case: Thermaltake Spedo Advance
Monitor: Samsung 305T
Asus PA246Q
Video Cards: AMD Radeon HD 5870
AMD Radeon HD 6970
AMD Radeon HD 7870
AMD Radeon HD 7950
AMD Radeon HD 7970
AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
Video Drivers: NVIDIA ForceWare 304.42 Beta
AMD Catalyst 12.7 Beta
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit

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  • silverblue - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    I think that's the way people do every review. However, ordinarily I'd recommend looking back at the 680 review, but as we've seen with the new Catalyst drivers, performance can vary over a relatively short period of time. So, a future article such as "AMD's Radeon 7970 and NVIDIA's GTX 680: How Much Difference Can A Few Months Make?" might be very nice *hint hint*. ;) Reply
  • Temelj - Thursday, July 12, 2012 - link

    For simplicity, the OC data should be put up on this graph for reference purposes and ease of use. Who on earth wants to troll a few reviews and collect this data manually? At the very least include a reference link to the previous article that compares the NVidia 680 and provides the OC scores.

    Also, instead of a conclusion write up why not have a result summary showing all performed tests, the cards there were used as reference and provide a tabular view clearly showing the top runner of each test (or top 3).
    Reply
  • b3nzint - Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - link

    So what about ; DX11 DirectCompute, SmallLuxGPU, Fluid simulation, WinZip 16.5 tests. amd is winning streak. Dont buy nvidia, its an empty thing! Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Saturday, June 30, 2012 - link

    If you're going to use winzip to game, and support evil proprietary corruption in software by amd while using open source, great, hypocrisy and lying to stone cold stupid amd fans for years works well !
    Fluid sim - not a game
    DX11 DC - not a game
    SmallLux - not a game

    Oops ! "Empty" suddenly applies to amd when it wins any "benchmarks that are not real world for end users, ever."

    I guess empty crap no one uses, declared fraudulently, as a "win", sways the dark hollow spaces in the hearts and minds of the little amd fans. It's sad.
    Reply
  • yay123 - Saturday, June 30, 2012 - link

    hi there I'm buying this card but my psu is cm gx550w does it fit well if I oc it? Reply
  • Temelj - Thursday, July 12, 2012 - link

    If you can afford a card like this, why not just upgrade your power supply?
    Review System Requirements here: http://www.amd.com/us/products/desktop/graphics/70...
    Reply
  • Jamahl - Thursday, July 05, 2012 - link

    Comments totally ruined by CeriseCogburn's bullshit on every page.

    Is this maddoctor in disguise, or one of the other Nvidia zealots? Whatever, just IP ban this weirdo and be done with it.
    Reply
  • Mauhi123 - Monday, October 15, 2012 - link

    Dear All.

    Hello,
    I am having 3960x and DX79SI and graphics card asus hd7970-dc2t-3gd5
    i am not able to boot the computer. when i am bootiing the computer on mother board 2 digit led shows "00" duble zero and on led screen shows "0_" and stops, but i can reboot the computer useing ctl+atl+del. i can able to oparate bios. that means the computer is not in hanging mode.

    Please Help me ASAP......
    Reply
  • seansplayin - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    I have the Xfx 7970 Ghz edition and I really am not sure what is the big deal with the noise. My Card is not that loud. Honestly Power control settings @ +20%, Gpu core 1175 and memory @ 1600 completely stable. The games I play are at 1080P MAx everything and my GPU rarely gets above 70C, which is only around 40% fan speed. @ 40% fan speed I literally cannot hear the GPU fan unless I have the speakers completely turned off and even still I have to listen carefully to actually discern that the noise I hear is coming from the Video Card. My experience in gaming the GPU fan noise is absolutely NOT an issue. when I'm running synthetic GPU benchmarking apps like geekbench's Furmark then the card will ramp up around 70% fan speed and you can hear it, but even then it is really not an Issue. I am using the latest catylist beta Driver 12.11 which as added 15% increase in BF3 FPS and 10% increase in Dirt 3, basically taking Nvidia's crown in virtually every game.
    I do lot's of Video transcoding and the openCL domination this card produces is amazing.
    Yesterday I trancoded a 1080P 5.3GB .mkv file to .mp4 with nero 11 when using AMD's app acceleration codec the transcode took 20 minutes as compared to 60 minutes when I used Nero's .mp4 codec at the same output settings. Durring the Transcoding the GPU stays at I believe 300 mhz with the GPU at 20% load average. when doing transcoding the gpu hoovers around 111F with the Fan at like 5%.
    I love this card.
    My Computer has three states, Idle 60% of the time, gaming and transcoding 40% of the time. At Idle with AMD's zero core this video card is using 10 watts less than Nvidia's 680, In gaming it's beating the 680 in almost every game now, and when it comes to encoding open cl and open gl it's basically a blowout averaging 75% more than the 680. If your an Nvidia fan (I formally was) and open CL is important to you, go with the Fermi cards because on most GPGPU processing they outperform with Kepler cards.

    IF you question anything I've said do some google homework. Catalyst 12.11 actually does what they say, I can attest to it at least when it comes to Encoding, playing BF3 and Dirt 3
    Reply

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