NVIDIA's GEFORCE GTX 680 really beat AMD at its own game. That game? The war on price! Typically you expect the highest end NVIDIA video card to not only come in a bit faster than the AMD offering, but you also expect it to cost more. The issue for AMD was that the GTX 680 was not only faster, but it was also cheaper.
The aggressive pricing of the GTX 680 really messed with AMD, it was clearly not something AMD expected and it forced them to reshuffle the pricing of their video cards. The issue wasn't just a matter of dropping the price on the HD 7970. A price drop on just that model would throw the value of all the models below it out of whack. Because of that they had to adjust the price of the HD 7850 through to HD 7970.
The aggressive price drop on the HD 7970 which now brings the card in at a minimum of around $40 less is a good thing for AMD. The problem is, though, they want something faster and this is where the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition comes in. The "GHz Edition" naming scheme is something that we've been seeing from AMD for a while. Today we find out if it's what the HD 7970 needs.
Being a reference based card means that there's not going to be a whole lot to talk about before we get into the performance side of things. We'll quickly look over the card before we move into the specification side of things to see just what the HD 7970 GHz Edition offer us. Once we've done that we'll cover our testbed and the cards we'll be using in out graphs today before we finally get into the performance of the new model.
Having a look at the card you don't see anything that you haven't seen before. The model looks like just another reference HD 7970. You can see we don't even have the "GHz Edition" labeling on this sample. I think probably one of the coolest things, though, that we're seeing here is the fact that AMD has been able to increase the clock speeds on the card and still been able to keep with the reference cooler. We'll have to see if this has come at the cost of extra noise on the card or possibly extra heat. We'll find out this and more soon.
Moving around the card we follow the same trend as we've seen from the non-GHz Edition of the HD 7970. We've got two power connectors in the form of a single 8-pin PCIe power connector and single 6-pin PCIe power connector. Closer to the front we've got two CrossFire connectors that give us the ability to run up to four of these cards and next to that you can see we've got our BIOS switch, which is something we see partners make more use of.
Finally we finish off with the I/O side of things and you can see we've got a Dual-Link DVI connector on the far right followed by a HDMI port. Next to that you can see we've also got two Mini-DisplayPort connectors to round off the connectivity side of things. The top half of the card is taken up with a vent that lets the fan push the hot air straight out the back of your case verse having it be pushed inside and around your case.
The main thing we want to look at today is the clocks and how they compares against the original non-GHz Edition of the HD 7970 which carried a core clock of 925MHz while the 3GB of GDDR5 carried a clock speed of 1375MHz or 5500MHz QDR. Looking at our GPUz screenshot below you can see what the GHz Edition comes in at.
I think the biggest surprise is that the card doesn't actually carry a core clock of 1000MHz, instead it's boosted 125MHz over the previous HD 7970 to come in at a strong 1050MHz. Not only that, though, we've seen AMD give a strong boost to the 3GB of GDDR5 that comes in at 1500MHz or a massive 6000MHz QDR.