MSI R7970 Lightning Review: AMD's HD 7970 Gets the Treatment
Test Setup and Results: 3DMark 2011
I am again going against the grain here by testing this card with an AMD processor. While at ultra-high resolutions this will not make much of a difference, we do see some less than stellar performance at 1680x1050. Above that it all scales pretty much the same as when using a high end Intel processor.
With the GPU Reactor uninstalled we see the usual setup. The card will run perfectly fine without the GPU Reactor in place.
There are pros and cons to this type of testing, but at the very least it will help those who are undecided about what card to purchase when they are not running the world’s fastest processor and playing games at ultra-high resolutions. If they are playing at 1680x1050 with an AMD Phenom X4, and they can get very similar performance with a (newly and relatively cheap) GTX 580 as compared to the HD 7970, then they have their answer.
For comparative testing I used the previous two Lightning parts. The R6970 Lightning and the N580GTX Xtreme Edition Lightning are the products in question. I also threw in one of the last HD 6950 cards to be released, the 1GB HD 6950 Twin Frozr III from MSI as well. The Catalyst 12.2 WHQL drivers were used for the AMD cards, including the HD 7970. The NVIDIA 295.73 WHQL drivers were used for the comparative NVIDIA part.
Three cards and two generations of Lightning products. Top to bottom: R7970, N580GTX, and the R6970.
The Silverstone Raven RV02 case was used in testing. This is a well ventilated case which should provide a real-world cooling experience for the cards used. I believe this gives more accurate results rather than an open air testbed where airflow is decidedly non-standard (and sometimes non-existent).
AMD Phenom II X6 1100T
Asus SABERTOOTH 990FX Motherboard
2 x 4GB GSkill DDR-3 1600 DIMMS
WD Black Edition 1TB 7200 RPM SATA6G Drive
Antec HCP-1200 Power Supply
Windows 7 Ultimate 64 Bit
The previous two cards did not hurt for outputs, but the R7970 puts them to shame. Sort of.
The latest 3D mark features some heavy DX11 content with plenty of tessellation to make most video cards cry. The Performance preset was used.
There are a couple of things to remember here. All of the Lightning cards are overclocked, usually quite significantly from the reference speed. The other thing is that the N580GTX is a 3 GB card, just like the R7970 being reviewed here today. If this card was compared against the stock versions of the other cards, the differences in performance are much more dramatic. As such, the HD 7970 outpaces the competition to a great degree on these tests. Add in the fact that at the LN2 setting were enabled, using the Normal BIOS mode will add a couple % more performance throughout.
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