SAPPHIRE HD 7970 OC 3GB Dual-X Review
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The Radeon HD 7970 is AMD’s flagship graphics card, but this doesn’t mean there is no room for improvement. To see an example of this, one needs look no further than the Sapphire HD 7970 OC Dual-X graphics card, which is based on the Tahiti XT GPU, but instead of using the reference specs it comes with a massive Dual Extractor thermal solution, more robust power circuitry and higher clock frequencies to push the performance to the next level.
When examining the overclocked frequencies we found Sapphire included not one, but two different settings via the dual BIOS toggle switch. By default the BIOS switch comes set in the first position, which raises the core clock speed of 950MHz, and 1425MHz for the memory. The second position allows users to select the higher performance settings of 1GHz core and 1450MHz memory. This setting is of course going to give gamers a free boost in performance by simply changing the toggle switch position. However, the real performance will come when we unleash the full power of the Tahiti XT core by overclocking the GPU beyond a gig, and with improved power circuitry we expect to see impressive overclocking headroom.
The reason Sapphire is able to push this model to 1GHz is in large part due to the outstanding Dual-X thermal solution. In total this heatsink uses two large fans that sit atop a massive fin stack that has five 8mm heatpipes extending throughout the array. A solid copper base finishes things off, ensuring Dual-X thermal solution will have no problems taming the Tahiti XT core, which can at times run hot despite being built on a 28nm process.
Over the last few months the prices of both AMD’s Southern Islands, and Nvidia’s Kepler graphics cards have fluctuated, but with Nvidia rounding out their stack with the GTX 660 and GTX 650 the prices should stay consistent from now until the next generation graphics cards are released. Since this is the case the Sapphire HD 7970 OC Dual-X has a street price of $399, which is quite good considering the performance of both the GPU and thermal solution.