• What
    is this?
    You've landed on the AMD Portal on AnandTech. This section is sponsored by AMD. It features a collection of all of our independent AMD content, as well as Tweets & News from AMD directly. AMD will also be running a couple of huge giveaways here so check back for those.
    PRESENTED BY

Final Words

Bringing things to a close, before writing up this article I spent some time going through our archives to take a look at past GPU reviews. While AMD has routinely retaken the performance crown for a time by beating NVIDIA in releasing next-generation GPUs first – such was the case with the Radeon HD 5870 and Radeon HD 7970 – the typical pattern is for AMD’s flagship single-GPU card to trail NVIDIA’s flagship once NVIDIA has caught up. In a generational matchup AMD has not been able to beat or tie NVIDIA for the highest performing single-GPU card a very long time. And as it turns out the last time that happened was six years ago, with the Radeon X1950 XTX in 2006.

Six years is a long time to wait, but patience, perseverance, and more than a few snub moves against NVIDIA have paid off for AMD. For the first time in 6 years we can say that AMD is truly competitive for the single-GPU performance crown. The Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition isn’t quite fast enough to outright win, but it is unquestionably fast enough to tie the GeForce GTX 680 as the fastest single-GPU video card in the world today. With that said there’s a lot of data to go through, so let’s dive in.

As far as pure gaming performance goes the 7970GE and the GTX 680 are tied in our benchmarks at the top single monitor resolution of 2560x1600. The 7970GE scores some impressive wins in Crysis and DiRT 3, while NVIDIA manages to hold on to their substantial leads in Battlefield 3 and Portal 2. Elsewhere we see the 7970GE win at some games while the GTX 680 wins at others, and only very rarely do the two cards actually tie. Ultimately this is very much a repeat of what we saw with the GTX 670 versus the 7970, and the 6970 versus the GTX 570, which is to say that the 7970GE and GTX 680 are tied on average but are anything but equal.

Our advice then for prospective buyers is to first look at benchmarks for the games they intend to play. If you’re going to be focused on only a couple of games for the near future then there’s a very good chance one card or the other is going to be the best fit. Otherwise for gamers facing a wide selection of games or looking at future games where their performance is unknown, then the 7970GE and GTX 680 are in fact tied, and from a performance perspective you couldn’t go wrong with either one.

As an addendum to that however, while the 7970GE and GTX 680 are tied at 2560x1600 and other single-monitor resolutions the same cannot be said for multi-monitor configurations. The 7970GE and GTX 680 still trade blows on a game-by-game basis with Eyefinity/NVIDIA Surround, but there’s a clear 6% advantage on average for the 7970GE. Furthermore the 7970GE has 3GB of VRAM versus 2GB for the GTX 680, which makes the 7970GE all the better suited for multi-monitor gaming in the future. AMD may be tied for single-monitor gaming, but they have a clear winner on their hands for multi-monitor gaming.

With that said, AMD has made a great sacrifice to get to this point, and it’s one that’s going to directly impact most users. AMD has had to push the 7970GE harder than ever to catch up to the GTX 680, and as a result the 7970GE’s power consumption and noise levels are significantly higher than the GTX 680’s. It’s unfortunate for AMD that NVIDIA managed to tie AMD’s best gaming performance with a 104-series part, allowing them to reap the benefits of lower power consumption and less noise in the process. Simply put, the 7970GE is unquestionably hotter and uncomfortably louder than the GTX 680 for what amounts to the same performance. If power and noise are not a concern then this is not a problem, but for many buyers they're going to be unhappy with the 7970GE. It’s just too loud.

Of course this isn’t the first time we’ve had a hot and loud card on our hands – historically it happens to NVIDIA a lot, but when NVIDIA gets hot and loud they bring the performance necessary to match it. Such was the case with the GTX 480, a notably loud card that also had a 15% performance advantage on AMD’s flagship. AMD has no such performance advantage here, and that makes the 7970GE’s power consumption and noise much harder to justify even with a “performance at any cost” philosophy.

The end result is that while AMD has tied NVIDIA for the single-GPU performance crown with the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition, the GeForce GTX 680 is still the more desirable gaming card. There are a million exceptions to this statement of course (and it goes both ways), but as we said before, these cards may be tied but they're anything but equal.

Noise issues aside, we’re finally seeing something that we haven’t seen for a very long time: bona fide, cut throat, brutal competition in the high-end video card segment for the fastest single-GPU video card. To call it refreshing is an understatement; it’s nothing short of fantastic. For the first time in six years AMD is truly performance competitive with NVIDIA at the high-end and we couldn't be happier.

Welcome back to the fight AMD; we’ve missed your presence.

OC: Gaming Performance
POST A COMMENT

109 Comments

View All Comments

  • AnnihilatorX - Friday, June 22, 2012 - link

    "All the same AMD has also boosted their memory clocks from 5.5GHz to 6GHz, which will give the card 9% more memory bandwidth with it needs it."
    =>
    "when it needs it"
    Reply
  • raghu78 - Friday, June 22, 2012 - link

    Ryan
    As you mentioned Dirt Showdown will take the place of Dirt 3 in your test suite I would like to make a suggestion that a few more games be changed. Max Payne 3 and Alan Wake are good changes. Maybe Crysis Warhead could be replaced by Alan Wake and Portal 2 by Max Payne 3. Another very demanding game which could find a place is Witcher 2 Enhanced edition. Focusing on games released in the last 12 months in your test suite helps prospective buyers / gamers decide based on performance on recent titles which they will most probably be playing.
    Reply
  • HighTech4US - Friday, June 22, 2012 - link

    You are showing the OCed version of the 7970e in comparison to the stock GTX680.

    For fairness the stock GTX680 should be Overclocked also.
    Reply
  • kyuu - Friday, June 22, 2012 - link

    There's nothing fair or unfair about overclocking. Why do people bring this up every time there's one of these articles... Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    Good to hear it this time, as all the prior moaning has been amd fans wailing that the 680 core is already overclocked out of the box !
    L M H O

    I just want to see the 470, 480, 570, and 580 at the equivalent radeon clocks for those series, and see amd get SPANKED even more in those series.... to be fair, of course....

    Yes, thanks so much for saying "you guys always say it" - no - it's not "you guys" - it's the amd fan boys !

    This time they didn't moan and complain about fairness, because amd got beat anyway, and they wouldn't if it won, which it did not, I must point out, feeling the overwhelming need to state, again, and again.

    This sums it up well: AMD loses, as usual

    Reply
  • seapeople - Friday, June 22, 2012 - link

    They're also comparing the OCed version of the 7970e to the stock 7970e. That seems unfair to me. To be fair, you should only compare the OCed 7970e to itself, the OCed 7970e. Reply
  • Arbie - Friday, June 22, 2012 - link


    It's probably too late now, but there were at least three more places where you could have used "performance crown" in the opening paragraphs.
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    Amd LIED, with their false advertising about this card - their hot loud slow housefire...

    Amd is an evil corporate monster who lies to the little children they sell their products to (and to soccer Mommies who actually pay the card price to keep the lies going - granted they pay less than Abu Dhabi oil sheiks)
    Reply
  • Wreckage - Friday, June 22, 2012 - link

    Another successful paperlaunch

    I'm not sure why they could not wait until they had actual product available.
    Reply
  • behrouz - Friday, June 22, 2012 - link

    AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition = $499
    AMD Radeon HD 7970 = $549 ? or $449 ?
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now