Review Index:

XFX Radeon HD 7970 3GB Black Edition and CrossFire Results

Manufacturer: XFX

Retail-ready HD 7970

We first showed off the power of the new AMD Radeon HD 7970 3GB graphics card in our reference review posted on December 22nd.  If you haven't read all about the new Southern Islands architecture and the Tahiti chip that powers the HD 7970 then you should already be clicking the link above to my review to get up to speed. Once you have done so, please return here to continue.


Welcome back, oh wise one.  Now we are ready to proceed.  By now you already know that the Radeon HD 7970 is the fastest GPU on the planet, besting the NVIDIA GTX 580 by a solid 20-30% in most cases.  For our first retail card review we are going to be looking at the XFX Black Edition Double Dissipation that overclocks the GPU and memory clocks slightly and offers a new cooler that promises to be more efficient and quieter.  

Let's put XFX to the test!

The XFX Radeon HD 7970 3GB Black Edition Double Dissipation

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Because of the use of a completely custom cooler, the XFX HD 7970 Black Edition Double Dissipation looks completely different than the reference model we tested last month though the feature set remains identical.  The silver and black motif works well here.

Continue reading our review of the XFX Radeon HD 7970 3GB Black Edition Double Dissipation!!

Reference clock speeds on the HD 7970 were set at 925 MHz on the GPU and 1375 MHz on the memory.  For comparison, the XFX Black Edition ramps that up to 1000 MHz on the GPU and 1425 MHz on the GDDR5 memory.  While these aren't out of this world results that we might have been hoping for, the 8% boost or so in clock rate will surely be seen.  

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The back of the remains pretty much unchanged. 

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The top of the card has a pretty nice looking brushed metal finish that clearly indicates the card model and cooler implemented and adds a nice touch to the design.  I actually prefer this over the reference card's glossy complexion.  The XFX and "Ghost" logo are actually etched in, not just printed.

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The card still requires an 8-pin and a 6-pin power connector to operate; this has become the norm for high-end cards.

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CrossFireX with up to 4 cards is supported and we put these connectors to the test later in our review for a dual-GPU HD 7970 CrossFire action!

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The cooler on the XFX Black Edition supposedly got an upgrade to something they are calling "Ghost Technology" though in my testing the different in temperatures and noise between the reference design and this retail card are pretty minimal. 

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The display connections on card are also identical to the reference design with a single dual-link DVI, full size HDMI connection and a pair of mini-DisplayPort connections.  The XFX logo is branded into the fan exhaust which adds a nice little touch though not many people will be seeing it.

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In the box you get a single CrossFire cable, an HDMI to single-link DVI converter and a pretty bad-ass XFX case badge.

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Finally, the instructions in the box with the XFX card are actually more impressive than I would have hoped.  The diagram that shows you how to connect multiple monitors and what kinds of adapters you'll need to convert to DP connections to what ever else you might need will be handy for first time Eyefinity users.  And that door hanger?  Don't tell me you don't want one for your room!

January 12, 2012 | 03:43 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Yup, once CES is done and settled we have a lot more things to try out, including Eyefinity.

January 9, 2012 | 07:52 PM - Posted by BlindZenDriver (not verified)

I think making such a big deal about the Crossfire issues is wrong and smells a bit like trying to desperately to find a issue to complain about.

AMD(ATI) has shown more than once that issues discovered are fixed and usually pretty quick plus they are right about how only a few will actually see this issue - even those that will go for crossfire will have to wait till the cards are delivered.

Also I find it funny to on the one hand see a complaint about that the crossfire issue will hit users and then on the other hand complain about prices and how it will mean few buyers. So which is it - huge amount of people going 7970 crossfire or only a few buying just a single card?

I think it would have been more interesting if the review had looked more into why the XFX card is not so silent. I suspect that it releasing the hot air inside the case let to more noise from case cooling. Also interesting would be to see more comparison of overclocking between the XFX and the reference design - it seems to me one does not really get much for the extra $50.

January 12, 2012 | 03:45 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

I think noting and pointing out these errors is important for people that might want to invest a LOT of money in the product and it also sends the message to the vendor that reviewers and media are actually PAYING ATTENTION and holding them to certain standards.

I think we showed you the advantages of the overclocked model pretty reasonably and you can decide if you think the $50 cost is really a value or not.

January 10, 2012 | 11:53 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Ryan- having same problem as you, awful crossfire scaling on a LGA1155 idk if it's cpu bound or not as i have an i5 2500k. Hopefully a driver will fix this for me ^_^

January 11, 2012 | 02:47 PM - Posted by Swoosh (not verified)

Time favors us PC gamers, since this new Big Bad Rad 7970 just got out, AMD is waiting for nVidia's "Kepler" 600 series video cards and when they get it out, AMD will hit nVidia where it hurts the most, by lowering the 7900 series video card prices to the point where nVidia could not keep up with the sales PLUS, the upcoming 7990 dual GPU video and
the 7950 model.

Since nVidia's hypocrisy and bad publicity towards AMD, by lowering the 7900 series Rad price its AMD's way of saying to nVidia "What now?.. you cried two times already first in our our 5900 series release, then on our 6900 series release, now with our 7900 series are you gonna cry even more and complain ITS UNFAIR like you always do using your sponsored bloggers and tech sites to promote your video card products".

January 12, 2012 | 12:20 PM - Posted by Amy Thompson (not verified)

This is a great card. I was a little hesitant to fire sale my 2 MSI 6970 Lightnings (which are amazing) and buying a single 7970, but it was unwarranted. The performance, once easily overclocked (by ATI/AMD's stock overdrive), is on par with my previous setup on games that supported crossfire. The games that didn't support it, well this card just blows my previous setup out of the water in that scenario.

Another point that ALMOST made me sit on my hands for a while and wait was going from top of the line custom cards (msi lightnings)to launch day OEM cards. I've only purchased cards with after market coolers for the past 3 generations but I just couldn't wait to try out the 7970. I'm happy to say that while gaming, I don't notice a difference in fan noise. If anything, it runs cooler than my previous setup (obviously crossfire had a lot to do with it) and it may be actually quieter. While the Lightnings had an excellent HSF along with all sorts of other custom parts, the 7970's 28nm process just really nullifies the need for a monster HSF setup.

Plenty of great reviews out there on the interwebz, go read those. Just wanted to 5 star this because of the fool with the 3 star review spreading FUD.

January 15, 2012 | 02:09 PM - Posted by anthony.watters

I see the 'mini display ports' on the back of the card. Does this mean that the HD 7970's will be able to or have out of the box support for a Mac Pro running Lion? If not, any word as to when (or if ) Macs will be supported ? And if supported, any idea as to what price will be?

January 16, 2012 | 06:43 PM - Posted by amythompson172

The hd7970 is the fastest single gpu solution out there. It performs like a champ and is much more quiet runs much cooler than the hd6990 while offering close to beating the hd6990.Buy this card you will not be disappointed. Plus XFX offers this card at $100 less than most if not all its competitors. Don't let the 1 star and 2 star reviews here discourage you. Just read them and see the b.s they contain.

January 19, 2012 | 01:09 AM - Posted by Adam (not verified)

Truth be told you only need one of those 7970 cards up to one 30 inch monitor. its a waste to use 2 unless you got 3 24 or 30 inch monitors. i love the fact that the 7970 has got 3GB of RAm which will be great for huge texures in furute games and giant game worlds like GTA V

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