Three-screen fun - how we test
|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|
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.