First thing is first, I legitimately find myself surprised that we've got a card that not only carries with it an out of the box overclock at launch, but also a new cooler. Normally it takes a month or two before we see companies move away from non-reference designed cards, especially when it comes to the higher end models.
XFX have been able to offer us something different from the reference card today, though, and not only do we get a bit of extra performance thanks to the overclock, more importantly we have a cooler that helps our core run cooler while operating at a lower noise level than the reference card. Throw in the fact that this is done on a card that's also running at a higher clock speeds and the XFX HD 7970 Black Edition Double Dissipation ultimately is just full of win.
Moving away from the card for a moment and getting into the package we're seeing something that companies are beginning to do more, the removal of the plethora of included cables. Looking inside we've got some cool little extras like the sweet looking case badge and the little sign to hang off your door knob, what we don't have, though, are mini DP to DP cables that we see from a lot of companies.
The lack of mini DP to DP cables is a bit of a mixed bag. DisplayPort continues to be a connection that isn't used by a lot of people, especially if you're not making use of Eyefinity, the lack of cables also helps bring the price down. The issue is if you're buying the card to setup a new Eyefinity machine, you could quickly find yourself disappointed with the lack of cables. This is something that holds true to a lot of cards these days, so if you want to make use of DisplayPort, and the card itself has a mini DP connector, just double check the included bundle. Worst case you might need to pick up a convertor or two at the same time as buying the card. On a whole, though, the bundle is pretty sweet and the inclusion of those little XFX extras make it stand out.
In the end the XFX HD 7970 Black Edition Double Dissipation is just a really nice version of the card and to be honest, it's here a lot earlier than we thought it would be. The out of the box overclock via the Black Edition naming is nice, but the stand out for the card is the new Double Dissipation cooler that helps our card run not only cooler, but at less noise.
Before we finish off we've been hearing strong word about the overclocking ability of the new HD 7970. Just after the launch of the reference card, though, word was that the samples that came from companies couldn't overclock as well. With the latest version of MSI Afterburner just released, we fired it up and saw what we could do.
We ended up at 1225MHz on the core and 6000MHz QDR on the 3GB of memory which as you can see below resulted in a massive P10006 score under 3DMark 11, this is just a massive score for a single GPU card and give us a real idea of the potential of the new AMD GPU.
Just in case you can't be bothered jumping back to the 3DMark 11 test results, to put it into perspective the stock HD 6970 scored P5929, stock HD 7970 scored P8123, this card out of the box scored P8583 and the HD 6990 scored P10681. We'll be looking at overclocking potential more in the coming days with our reference HD 7970 to give you a better idea of what a reference cooled card can do.