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Review: Sapphire HD 7970 in three-screen Eyefinity

by Tarinder Sandhu on 9 January 2012, 13:14 4.0

Tags: Sapphire

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qabapb

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Three-screen fun - how we test

GPU comparisons

Graphics card Approx.
pricing
GPU clock
(MHz)
Stream
processors
Shader clock
(MHz)
Memory clock
(MHz)
Memory bus
(bits)
Graphics driver
  Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 (3,072MB) £455 925 2,048 925 5,500 384 Catalyst 11.12
  Sapphire Radeon HD 6970 (2,048MB) £255 880 1,536 880 5,500 256 Catalyst 11.12
  Sapphire Radeon HD 5870 (1,024MB) NA 850 1,600 850 4,800 256 Catalyst 11.12

High-end test bench

Processor Intel Core i5-2500K (3.33GHz, 6MB smart cache, quad-core, LGA1155)
Motherboard Intel Desktop Board DP67BG
Memory 8GB Corsair Vengeance (9-9-9-24 @ 1,600MHz)
Power Supply Corsair AX750W
Monitor ASUS PA236Q x 3 (1,920x,1,080)
Disk drive(s) Crucial RealSSD C300 (256GB)
Chassis Corsair Graphite Series 600T
Operating system Windows 7 Ultimate (64-bit, SP1)

High-end benchmark suite

Aliens vs. Predator DX11, 1,920x1,080 and 5,760x1,080 resolutions, 4xAA, 16xAF, very high quality
Batman: Arkham City DX11, 1,920x1,080 and 5,760x1,080 resolutions, 8xAA, ultra quality
Battlefield 3 DX11, 1,920x1,080 and 5,760x1,080 resolutions, 4xMSAA, 16xAF, ultra quality
Crysis 2 DX11, 1,920x1,080 and 5,760x1,080 resolutions, 4xAA, ultra quality
Just Cause 2 DX10, 1,920x1,080 and 5,760x1,080 resolutions, 4xAA, 16xAF, very high quality
Total War: Shogun 2 DX11, 1,920x1,080 and 5,760x1,080 resolutions, 4xMSAA, 16xAF, high quality

Notes

The best of 2009, 2010 and 2011 on show here. We've deliberately not compared against NVIDIA cards because the single-GPU reference models cannot run three screens in tandem.

We've looked upon the HD 7970 favourably in our reference review, but a closer examination of the performance leaps between architectures will reveal whether such bombast praise is truly deserved.

Our in-game image-quality configurations are the highest that can be set in each title; this test focuses on superb eye candy allied to a huge number of pixels.

In the interests of full disclosure, the HD 7970 and HD 6970 are connected to the three screens by DVI, HDMI and mini-Displayport, with the latter two connections using the bundled adapters to HDMI. However, as the HD 5870 features a full-size DisplayPort connector, we don't use the DVI-to-miniDP connector; a straight DisplayPort-to-DisplayPort cable is used.

Also, we could have used a Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity6 graphics card rather than a standard model - it has 2GB of onboard memory; standard has 1GB - but we really want to compare widely-available GPUs.

AMD says the HD 7970 GPU is made for high-resolution in gaming in mind; let's see how true this statement is.