Before we move into analyzing the CrossFire performance let's first just go over the Sapphire HD 7970 3GB itself. Being a reference card there's not a lot to be surprised about. We've of course got the reference cooler and reference clocks- this isn't a bad thing as we know how strong the performance of the new HD 7970 3GB is when running by itself.
On the bundle front the Sapphire package is probably one of the stronger one thanks to the extra cables included, especially the MiniDP to DP one which as we've mentioned so many times will come in extremely handy if you're using a DisplayPort monitor. On the pricing front the $559.99 US tag isn't a surprise and pretty much lines up with what AMD said the card would come in at during launch time. On the stock front we're seeing supply come in and out quite quickly, you just need to keep an eye out and you shouldn't run into to many problems when it comes getting one.
Moving onto the CrossFire performance of the cards - wow! We heard that the launch driver that came with our HD 7970s wasn't a CrossFire optimized version, but looking at the benchmark results, we'd be more inclined to think that the driver probably isn't the most optimized one when we move to three and four card setups. Looking at the performance of the two card setup here today we can see that it's amazing with gains of 100% not being uncommon at all, especially when we move up to 2560 x 1600.
For anyone on a single monitor, be it a 30" 2560 x 1600 or 24" 1920 x 1080 120Hz, there doesn't seem to be much reason to move past two HD 7970s. The only reason you'd probably want to go higher is if you wanted to move past all the maxed in game detail and push AA right up. If that's going to be worth paying another $559 US for, you'll probably only know that as dropping over $1,500 US on a VGA setup is a large investment. Still, in the coming weeks, we'll see just how performance looks when we move to three and four card setups and see just how the scaling is on that front.
The only thing we'd liked to have seen from Sapphire is a card that moved away from the reference cooler at launch. They tend to be one of the quicker companies when it comes to non-reference coolers, but we haven't really seen much about them. The good news is, I've heard a little bit and hopefully we won't be far away from a Sapphire HD 7970 that not only carries with it a new cooler, but also a nice out of the box overclock. The one thing I hope we really see from Sapphire is the introduction of an ATOMIC model again, which was completely skipped during the whole HD 6000 series. Hopefully we won't see that happen this time around with the HD 7000 series, especially since it's a true next-generation video card.
The Sapphire HD 7970 3GB is another reference card that's going to perform just as you'd expect. The biggest issue with the Sapphire HD 7970 3GB here today is that it will probably make you want to jump down the expensive CrossFire path. This is a great thing for your games, but probably not the best news for your wallet as the setup would come in at just over $1100 US.