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
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  • FaaR - Monday, January 9, 2012 - link

    It's a lot more than 6% faster, don't be such a ridiculous fanboy.

    It also draws a lot less power than a 580, saving back (some) of the price difference in the long run as a lower electricity bill.
    Reply
  • wonderpookie - Monday, January 9, 2012 - link

    What's a "pre-binned" card?

    Thanks! :)
    Reply
  • Rick83 - Monday, January 9, 2012 - link

    A card which has been tested to have tighter tolerances (in this case) than others and has been selected with this in mind.

    Technically "pre-binned" is not a very sensible word creation, as the "pre" refers to the fact that it is done by the manufacturer and not the end-user-over-clocker -- but these days more people by manufacturer over-clocked cards than there are people that actually buy a dozen cards, test them all for the highest achievable OC, and then resell/send back the less stable cards.
    Reply
  • Morg. - Monday, January 9, 2012 - link

    binning : the process of separating *PU's according to their maximum operating frequency.

    Called like that because you would test all your GPU's and put all those between 1200-1300 mhz stable @ xyz volts in bin 1, all those between 1100-1200 in bin 2, etc. in order to present differentiated offerings.

    In the past, many CPU part numbers were just different binnings of the same part (like C2D 2.33 or 2.4 ghz etc.), same goes for GPU's, and AMD even introduced a different kind of binning with their x2,x3,x4 variants based on how many cores were stable at the target speed, and locking those that weren't (x2s were quickly made from x2 parts, and then x1 (sempron) selected from failed x2s).

    So in this case, it would mean XFX tested the cards and selected the better performers to sell as DDBE, leaving the others for non-overclocked cards.

    This works that way because no CPU or GPU is perfect and all dies are more or less failed prints of the actual design.

    The most flawed cannot be used at all and go to the trash.
    The slightly flawed get some parts of the die disconnected (faulty cache, broken core, ...).
    The slightly less flawed just get overvolted / underclocked in order to run.

    The best parts come closer to the intended result and will thus operate at lower voltages or higher frequencies in comparison.

    Usually, binning isn't perfect and some better dies can fall in lower bins, hence the unlockable cores on older phenom/sempron x2,x3, etc. -

    It is also not as fine-grained as some pro OCers would like it to be, and because of that, they tend to buy a bunch of CPU's and bin them themselves in order to break WR's (look at kingpincooling.com).
    Reply
  • Iketh - Monday, January 9, 2012 - link

    "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."

    You do realize overclocking increases temps, right? Even if voltages aren't touched.
    Reply
  • NJoy - Monday, January 9, 2012 - link

    have you tried to understand what is written in the bit you copypasted? Reply
  • Iketh - Tuesday, January 10, 2012 - link

    Sorry, but it's you that isn't understanding. My point is that I believe the cooler to be 2-4C cooler than the reference considering it's holding the same temps with an overclock. That's all. Reply
  • Morg. - Monday, January 9, 2012 - link

    Very true ...

    But this is Anandtech ;)

    -- mainstream tech news for the masses

    It's like their new config advice .. every config they advise is at least 10% pure waste of cash .. but it's still better than no advice for those who don't know better.

    And furthermore, the temperature points are simply a result of what XFX wanted for this card. nothing else.

    AMD's fan profile is part of that but you can rewrite it in the BIOS iirc so they just didn't bother / their fans don't run reliably below voltage xyz.

    I could mod that card to make it silent, so could XFX, they just didn't want to go into such detail when they could simply slap their cooler on it, change clocks and ship it - all there is to it.
    Reply
  • B3an - Monday, January 9, 2012 - link

    WTF are you on about you stupid little kid. Many of Anand's articles on here are unrivalled for technical details and insight. Reply
  • Morg. - Tuesday, January 10, 2012 - link

    lol .

    And you would know ... with a fake 1337speak nick ... if you think they're so good it only goes to show your ignorance makes anandtech a perfect fit for you, a fact I was pointing to in the post you replied to.

    At your level of understanding, Anandtech is a perfect fit.

    Good for Anand and for you tbh . enjoy it.
    Reply

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