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


View All Comments

  • piroroadkill - Monday, January 9, 2012 - link

    The overclocking scales amazingly, and without increasing voltage.

    Soon we'll see some great coolers, and some high clocks.

    NVIDIA has their work cut out...
  • Beenthere - Monday, January 9, 2012 - link

    The kiddies won't be able to get that $600 out of their pockets fast enough. It's like crack for a crackhead. :) Reply
  • imaheadcase - Monday, January 9, 2012 - link

    It would take a fanboy to buy a card that is less than %6 faster than a GTX 580 and $200 more. Reply
  • piroroadkill - Monday, January 9, 2012 - link

    Not really. It overclocks like crazy, uses less power while doing it, and has an updated feature set.

    Not to mention the increased VRAM. I've seen my 6950 use 1.6GB while playing Skyrim with custom texture packs, where there the 580 would be hitting the limits.

    If you're running an assload of screens at once, you really, really could use the extra VRAM.
  • piroroadkill - Monday, January 9, 2012 - link

    Further to this, if you own a GTX580, it means you wanted the fastest single GPU card without caring about the cost to start with - a GTX580 looks like bad value compared to getting a 6950 2GB, unlocking it 6970 and then applying mild overclocks.

    Point is, some people want the best there is. This is without doubt the best single GPU card there is.
  • Revdarian - Monday, January 9, 2012 - link

    Less than 6% faster than a 580? 200$ more?

    Which benchmarks are you seeing? because it is obvious that you aren't looking at the ones on this article.

    Crysis Warhead is 31% faster on average.
    Metro2033 is 36% faster.
    Dirt3 is 32% faster
    Shogun is 34% faster
    Batman is 22%
    Portal 2 is 17% faster with SSAA
    BF3 is 20% faster

    And all that is without the other overclock that adds up to exactly 11% better across the board (multiplicative, so all those other scores, multiply by 1.11 and you get the proper scaling)

    34.41; 39; 35; 37; 24; 19; 22

    And as for 200$ more, please link a retail 3GB 580 for 400$ as plenty of peeps would be interested on it, and since this Black Edition isnt really worth the premium as the standard ones are able to get the same clocks if a bit louder, then try to link a 350$ 3GB 580.
  • imaheadcase - Monday, January 9, 2012 - link

    1.5 gigs GTX 580 are about $400-450 now with rebates.

    Vram is a non-issue for %99 of games so that point is moot.

    People don't care about powering savings or draw in a gaming card, if you do you can't afford it.

    Most people who get a high end card don't overclock it. Maybe THIS card, but majority of people buy reference cards.

    %6 is being to generous..what i meant to say 6 FPS on average.

    Point still stands correct. :P
  • imaheadcase - Monday, January 9, 2012 - link

    Point is, people buy gaming cards not for minor increases, even if you can afford the best even by a small UNNOTICEABLE gain. Reply
  • Revdarian - Monday, January 9, 2012 - link

    Dude the second you said that 6% is being too generous you showed a total lack of Math understanding, as i said from the numbers in this review the lowest increase was around 17% and it usually hovered towards 30% and higher, those are significant numbers if you understood math.

    BTW this card isn't meant for low resolutions/low settings, so hmm yeah, of course that in low resolutions and settings the VRAM won't matter, but then again, you are bringing a cannon to a gun fight, totally overkill, so no, your post does not stand correct at all.
  • piroroadkill - Monday, January 9, 2012 - link

    No, your point doesn't stand. VRAM does matter, especially on multi-monitor setups.

    Also, in some cases, the 7970 is quite a lot faster than the 580.

    I would say you're being a fanboy by saying faster card? Why would you need a faster card.

    A 580 should be enough for anyone!

    It's called progress, and for some, it doesn't matter what the cost is.

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