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OC: Power, Temperature, & Noise

Our final task is our look at the 7970GE’s overclocking capabilities. As the 7970GE is based on the existing 7970 we aren’t expecting any significant changes, however it’s reasonable to expect that general manufacturing process improvements over the last 6 months will have pushed yields and tolerances a little higher, giving us just a bit more headroom.

At the same time the presence of the boost clock and its associated voltage is going to change overclocking as well. The higher voltage should lend itself to higher overclocks, meanwhile validating overclocks is also going to be a bit harder as now we need to make sure neither the overclocked base clock/voltage combination or the overclocked boost clock/voltage combination is unstable, similar to the extra effort needed to overclock the GTX 680 series.

Radeon HD 7970 Series Overclocking
  Ref 7970GE Ref 7970 XFX 7970 BEDD
Shipping Core Clock 1000MHz 925MHz 1000MHz
Shipping Max Boost Clock 1050MHz N/A N/A
Shipping Memory Clock 6GHz 5.5GHz 5.7GHz
Shipping Max Voltage 1.218v 1.175v 1.175v
       
Overclock Core Clock 1150MHz 1100MHz 1125MHz
Overclock Max Boost Clock 1200MHz N/A N/A
Overclock Memory Clock 6.4GHz 6.3GHz 6.3GHz
Overclock Max Boost Voltage 1.218v 1.175v 1.175v

After going through the full validation process we were able to hit an overclock of +150MHz, which pushed our base clock from 1000MHz to 1150MHz, and our boost clock from 1050MHz to 1200MHz. Depending on how you want to count this overclock amidst the presence of the boost clock this is either 25MHz better than our best 7970 card, or 75MHz better. In either case our 7970GE definitely overclocks better than our earlier 7970 cards but not significantly so, which is in-line with our expectations.

As with any overclocking effort based on a single sample our overclocking results are not going to be representative of what every card can do, but they are reasonable. With AMD now binning chips for the 7970GE we’d expect to see some stratification among the 7970 family such that high overclocking chips that would previously show up in 7970 cards will now show up in 7970GE cards instead. For penny-pinching overclockers this is not good news, but for more hardcore overclockers this is nothing new as AMD’s partners have been doing something similar with their factory overclocked cards for some time now.

Meanwhile our memory overclock isn’t significantly different from what we could pull off with the reference 7970. The limitation is the memory bus or Tahiti’s memory controller, neither of which has changed. After around 6.4GHz errors start catching up and performance gains become performance losses.

Moving on to our performance charts, we’re going to once again start with power, temperature, and noise, before moving on to gaming performance. We’ll be testing our 7970 cards with the PowerTune limit set to +20% in order to avoid any real possibility of being performance limited by PowerTune.

With the 7970GE’s already high load power, overclocking and raising the PowerTune limits isn’t doing it any favors when it comes to overclocking. On the contrary to being a free overclock power consumption now exceeds even the GTX 690 in all situations and power consumption is almost certainly in excess of 300W at the card level. As we’ll see in our gaming performance section we’re definitely getting more performance out of the 7970GE, but we’re paying for it with power.

With a rise in power consumption comes a rise in temperatures to a varying degree. At 83C under Metro the 7970GE has gotten warmer, but not significantly so. The same cannot be said for OCCT. At 89C we’re approaching the reasonable limits for this card and cooler.

The 7970GE was already loud at stock and overclocking it doesn’t help. Under Metro noise is now at 63.8dBA, and under OCCT it’s tied with the 6990 for noise at 66dBA. Even if you’re forgiving of noise, this is reaching the point where it’s going to be difficult to ignore. Serious 7970GE overclockers will want to seek other cards and/or aftermarket coolers.

Power, Temperature, & Noise OC: Gaming Performance
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  • CeriseCogburn - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    They can justify it, the are the amd fanboy. Ever DOLLAR counts when it comes to card pricing, five or ten bucks makes amd the WINNER !!!!!!!! and greatest card value ever for enthusiasts !!!!!!!!!!!

    But then, moments later, the nearly unavailable and much more expensive montior is all theirs, at their bosom (moments before they harped amd wins in high rez triple screen no matter the data) - now suddenly they have a 1920x1200 IPS or whatever...

    Here's why...

    1920x1080: " GeForce GTX680 is on average 17.61% more efficient than the Radeon 7970.
    Here, the performance difference in favor of the GTX680 are even greater "

    1920x1200: " GeForce GTX680 is on average 10.14% more efficient than the Radeon 7970.
    At slightly higher resolution appears to have slightly worse performance of the new card (compared to 1920x1080). "

    That's an over 7% performance difference overall... nVidia still kicks amd's lousy second placer, but it's not SO embarrassing at 17%+....

    See, now they all love 1920x1200 and will DEMAND as hyper-harpies that anand keep the monitor rez as is...

    In the end it will just be anand "listening" to it's fan base.... R O F L

    Dude, they COULD just run their 1920x1200 in 1920x1080 for the benches - it's not hard at all - but you know... amd doesn't look better than crappy as heck then..
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    link (since the descending swarm won't see it above)

    http://translate.google.pl/translate?hl=pl&sl=...
    Reply
  • silverblue - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    I couldn't care less which it is as long as the image is good. I do think you're downplaying the framerate advantage of 1080p over 1200p though as we're talking an extra 11% screen area going from one to the other.

    1200p used to be far more common and Apple are one of the manufacturers keeping it alive (along with 4:3 ratios).
    Reply
  • Ananke - Friday, June 22, 2012 - link

    Real good dudes use 1920*1200 Reply
  • silverblue - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    Nah. With a card like these, I'd rather use 2560xwhatever. :P Reply
  • Zok - Friday, June 22, 2012 - link

    Maybe I missed it in the article, but does the lack of hardware changes mean that existing 7970s can be "upgraded" by being flashed with a 7970GE BIOS (so long as they can hit the clock speeds)? Reply
  • haukionkannel - Friday, June 22, 2012 - link

    No it can not be upgraded... So what else has been changed?

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-hd-7970...
    Reply
  • Zok - Friday, June 22, 2012 - link

    Well that's disappointing. Wonder if there are hardware changes or a workaround is possible. Reply
  • haukionkannel - Friday, June 22, 2012 - link

    You said that you may use some extra setting for Scyrim... How about using some popular extra large texturemap upgrade? It would be more punishing to use those larger texturemaps, and In Scyrim, like Oblivion before, those texturemaps are guitep popular among users of more poverfull graphic cards! Reply
  • milkod2001 - Friday, June 22, 2012 - link

    7950/70 games+computing /trade off :noise+power less efficient
    670/80 games/trade off:weak in computing

    the only card I find as a good choice would be 670 but it needs to get to 300-350 price level
    Reply

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