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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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  • raghu78 - Friday, June 22, 2012 - link

    Correct. for gaming at the highest settings on ultra high resolution single monitor and multi monitor configurations there is only one leader in the market. Its the Radeon HD 7970 Ghz edition.

    http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/hardware-canu...

    Look at the 2560x 1600 extreme and 5760 x 1080 perf average. The HD 7970 Ghz edition is faster .

    From the review

    "In our opinion and with all other things being equal, the HD 7970 GHz Edition is the card to have for ultra high resolution gaming"
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    From the review: " What we have here is a statistical tie so the consumer’s performance-oriented choice will ultimately come down to brand preference."

    Yes, of course.... cherry picking again... so take a hot loud, housefire electrical sucking earth destroying sack of driver crap... it's the best card, of course...

    That's great... all the penny pinchers here are right on it, I'm sure...
    Reply
  • silverblue - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    Fermi?

    Low blow, I admit.
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    The FERMI's performance blew the amd card to shreds.

    In this case, the house fire amd card sucks the low end of everything, an epic fail on every single metric, and amd has crap for compute software support so they lose there as well, just like any card loses when their driver software sucks in games.
    Worse yet, amd often takes years to fix anything, if ever...then drops support.

    Fermi WON when it "insulted you".

    Housefire amd loses everything - total freakin LOSER.
    Reply
  • raghu78 - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    FYI there are reviews showing much bigger wins

    http://www.hardware.fr/articles/869-18/recapitulat...

    10 - 12% perf lead . So its not as simple as you think. The fact of the matter is Nvidia GTX 680 is losing the majority of games - Deus Ex, Alan Wake, Anno 2070, Crysis 2, Witcher 2, Witcher 2 EE, Dirt 3, Skyrim, Dirt Showdown, Crysis Warhead, Metro 2033. Also the margins in some of the games is very big - Dirt Showdown (50%), Crysis Warhead (15 - 25% depending on resolution) , Metro 2033 (20%), Witcher 2 (20%) , Anno (15%). Nvidia's wins in Shogun 2 clearly. BF3 is not a consistent win when you compare many reviews. Even Batman AC which runs better on GTX 680 with FXAA , runs faster on HD 7970 Ghz edition with 8X MSAA. So its clearly a case of you being in denial mode. so go on keep ridiculing others if that makes you happy.
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    Hey fanboy, your summary page shows the 680 at their weighted average special importance to each game 127 frames, and 7970, 127 frames.

    LOL - Amazing how you got 20% and 50% from EQUAL.

    I tell you, the lies and spinning exceed political debate norms.
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    From your link, Dirt Showdown, where you have just claimed a 50% lead for 7970...

    " If the GeForce GTX 680 Radeon HD 7970 equals 1080p without advanced lighting, when it activated its dive performance, Nvidia does not have access to this patch soon enough that in order to propose specific optimizations. It will probably take one to two weeks for this to be corrected."

    Let's see 0% or a tie = amd ahead by 50% !!!! according to raghu

    LOL - I guess it's all in your heads - not even the reviewers own words can rallte the fantasies of amd out of control fanboys.

    http://translate.google.pl/translate?hl=pl&sl=...

    I'd say you're trolling but i think the fanboy and lack of intellect has you "doing what you believed was correct".
    I could be wrong here, for the 1st time ever, though.
    Reply
  • meloz - Friday, June 22, 2012 - link

    Excellent review, Ryan!

    Performance is great, but the noise is a big issue. I hope in future manufacturers pay more attention to this aspect.
    Reply
  • kyuu - Friday, June 22, 2012 - link

    The 7970GE isn't a card to buy with a reference cooling solution, obviously. With custom cooling solutions, the noise/temp won't be an issue. It's doubtful you'll see many, if any, manufacturers even release this card with the reference cooler. Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    So amd sucks, but it's all good.

    Maybe that should be their new pr slogan.
    Reply

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