Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition TOXIC 6GB Video Card Overclocked

We get our first taste of overclocking the new 7970 GHz Edition in retail form with the new 6GB TOXIC monster from Sapphire.

@TweakTown
Published Sat, Jul 14 2012 9:08 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:01 PM CST
Manufacturer: Sapphire

Introduction

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Normally when we get a video card like the Sapphire HD 7970 GHz Edition TOXIC 6GB we'd just go down the path of overclocking it instead of looking at its default clock speeds. Because of the massive out of the box clock speeds it offered combined with the fact that it was our first 6GB card, we really wanted to test it as is to see just what kind of performance this card offered us over other ones including a pre-overclocked GTX 680.

GHz Edition HD 7970s, though, are coming through quite slowly both to us and the retail market. Because of that we're not too sure when the next one will come and we're not sure if it will carry not only 6GB of GDDR5, but a cooler as strong as the one we've got here on the TOXIC version from Sapphire.

Because of that we figured we'd see how overclocking goes on this GHz Edition retail video card. With such a strong cooler and the added memory, we wanted to find out what the retail version of the new GHz Edition card is capable of when we put it to the test.

As always we'd normally check out the package and then move onto the card itself. Because we've already done a review on the Sapphire HD 7970 GHz Edition TOXIC 6GB, though, we don't need to cover that stuff again. Instead we're going to get into the test system setup and look at the cards that will be in our graphs today. Along with that, though, we'll also covering the overclocking side of things which is the main thing we want to highlight as we find out just what this new model is capable of.

Once we find out what kind of overclock we're able to achieve we want to see how it compares to two other cards we've looked at. The first is the reference HD 7970 GHz Edition and the other is the MSI HD 7970 Lightning based on the original core. The Lightning series is best known for its overclocking capabilities and was our best HD 7970 when it came to overclocking. We're wondering if the new GHz Edition model is capable of even more when a company like Sapphire gets a hold of it, so let's find out.

Benchmarks - Test System Setup

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We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASUS and Corsair.

We won't go into any major detail on the testbed side of things as everything is really covered above. Instead we'll just cover the cards that will be in our graphs today before we move onto the overclocking side of things. Outside of the Sapphire HD 7970 GHz Edition TOXIC manually overclocked by us today we'll also have it at the out of the box speeds it offers.

Also from AMD we're going to have the original HD 7970 along with the reference HD 7970 GHz Edition 3GB card we looked at when it launched. As for the NVIDIA side of things we've got three GTX 680s here including the reference clocked model, a 4GB model from Palit that falls under the Jetstream series and the 2GB pre-overclocked model from Gainward that falls under the Phantom series.

With that covered let's get into the overclocking side of things. As always we fire up MSI Afterburner to see what we're able to get out of the Sapphire HD 7970 GHz Edition TOXIC. To give you an idea on some other clocks the original reference HD 7970 carried a core clock of 925MHz while the 3GB of GDDR came in at 5500MHz QDR. The new GHz Edition card carried a core clock of 1050MHz and the 3GB of GDDR5 came in at 6000MHz QDR.

When it came to the overclocking side of things we managed to get the MSI HD 7970 Lightning 3GB to 1225MHz on the core while the memory clocked to 6300MHz QDR. The new GHz Edition reference card managed to pull in a core clock of 1165MHz and the 3GB of GDDR5 came in at 6800MHz QDR.

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Looking above you can see what we managed to get out of the Sapphire HD 7970 GHz Edition TOXIC 6GB. We managed to bring the core up to 1280MHz while the 6GB of GDDR5 managed to pull in an insane 7000MHz QDR clock. These are some really very strong numbers and it will be interesting to see just what kind of performance we're able to get today.

The FPS Numbers Explained

When we benchmark our video cards and look at the graphs, we aim to get to a certain level of FPS which we consider playable. While many may argue that the human eye can't see over 24 FPS or 30 FPS, any true gamer will tell you that as we climb higher in Frames Per Seconds (FPS), the overall gameplay feels smoother. There are three numbers we're looking out for when it comes to our benchmarks.

30 FPS - It's the minimum number we aim for when it comes to games. If you're not dropping below 30 FPS during games, you're going to have a nice and smooth gaming experience. The ideal situation is that even in a heavy fire fight, the minimum stays above 30 FPS making sure that you can continue to aim easily or turn the corner with no dramas.

60 FPS - It's the average we look for when we don't have a minimum coming at us. If we're getting an average of 60 FPS, we should have a minimum of 30 FPS or better and as mentioned above, it means we've got some smooth game play happening.

120 FPS - The new number that we've been hunting down over recent months. If you're the owner of a 120 Hz monitor, to get the most out of it you want to get around the 120 FPS mark. Moving from 60 FPS / 60 Hz to 120 FPS / 120 Hz brings with it a certain fluidity that can't really be explained, but instead has to be experienced. Of course, if you're buying a 120 Hz monitor to take advantage of 3D, an average of 120 FPS in our benchmark means that in 3D you will have an average of 60 FPS, which again means you should expect some smooth gameplay.

Benchmarks - 3DMark 11

3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1

Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com

Product Homepage: http://www.3dmark.com/3dmark11/

Buy It Here

3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world's most popular benchmark. Designed to measure your PC's gaming performance 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

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Starting off with 3DMark 11 we can see straight away there's a strong boost in performance and you can see we're ahead of all our other video cards here including the pre-overclocked GTX 680 Phantom.

This is a good start for the Sapphire HD 7970 GHz Edition TOXIC.

Benchmarks - Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.5

Developer Homepage: http://www.unigine.com

Product Homepage: http://unigine.com/press-releases/091022-heaven_benchmark//

New benchmark grants the power to unleash the DirectX 11 potential in the gift wrapping of impressively towering graphics capabilities. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. With the interactive mode emerging experience of exploring the intricate world is ensured within reach. Through its advanced renderer, Unigine is one of the first to set precedence in showcasing the art assets with tessellation, bringing compelling visual finesse, utilizing the technology to the full extend and exhibiting the possibilities of enriching 3D gaming.

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Moving into Heaven we can see that the overclock isn't enough for the overclocked TOXIC to come out ahead at 1680 x 1050. We can see that the overclock is enough for it to just sneak out ahead of our other cards at 1920 x 1200. This doesn't come as too much of a surprise considering the strong overclock and the fact that we see HD 7000 based cards perform better at the higher resolution when compared to their NVIDIA competitors.

Benchmarks - Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.2

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo

Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test

Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/UK/default.aspx

Product Homepage: http://www.hawxgame.com/

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2 is an arcade-style flight action game developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft. The game is the sequel to Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X., released in 2009.

The game begins with Colonel David Crenshaw participating in a routine patrol mission in the Middle East. After halting an insurgent attack, a volley of missiles is fired at the Air Force base that Crenshaw was stationed at, with one of the missiles disabling Crenshaw's aircraft, resulting Crenshaw being in enemy captivity. A joint strike force composed of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and a Ghost Recon squad executes an operation to rescue Crenshaw. In Scotland, Royal Navy Pilot Colin Munro encounters an unidentified passenger aircraft that explodes from an on-board bomb when undergoing training exercise. In Russia, an air force squadron led by Colonel Denisov and Captain Dmitri Sokov engages separatist aircraft but is ordered to retreat from the region after numerous Russian military installations have been attacked.

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At all resolutions you can see we've got a nice bump in performance here, but we're still a little behind the GTX 680s. If it wasn't for the fact that we're seeing such strong FPS, we might be a bit worried. Across the board, though, you can see that you'd get silky smooth FPS even on a 120Hz monitor.

Benchmarks - Mafia II

Mafia II

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.2kczech.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.mafia2game.com/

Buy It Here

Mafia II is a third-person action-adventure video game, the sequel to Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven. It is developed by 2K Czech, previously known as Illusion Softworks, and is published by 2K Games. The game is set from 1943 to 1951 in Empire Bay (the name is a reference to New York's state nickname "The Empire State"), a fictional city based on San Francisco and New York City, with influences from Chicago and Detroit. The game features a completely open-ended game map of 10 square miles. No restrictions are included from the start of the game. There are around 50 vehicles in the game, as well as licensed music from the era.

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We've got a nice performance boost again and the Sapphire video card manages to extend its lead over the other cards we've got here including all the GTX 680s that are in our line up.

Benchmarks - Lost Planet 2

Lost Planet 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark - Test A Scene 1

Developer Homepage: http://www.capcom.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.lostplanet2game.com/

Lost Planet 2 is a third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the sequel to Lost Planet: Extreme Condition which is also made by Capcom, taking place ten years after the events of the first game, on the same fictional planet. The story takes place back on E.D.N. III 10 years after the events of the first game. The snow has melted to reveal jungles and more tropical areas that have taken the place of more frozen regions. The plot begins with Mercenaries fighting against Jungle Pirates. After destroying a mine, the Mercenaries continue on to evacuate the area, in which a Category-G Akrid appears and attacks them. After being rescued, they find out their evacuation point (Where the Category-G appeared) was a set-up and no pick up team awaited them. The last words imply possible DLC additions to the game, "There's nothing to be gained by wiping out snow pirates... unless you had some kind of grudge."

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Moving into Lost Planet 2 we can see a bit of a performance boost at all resolutions, but not quite as major as some of the gains we've seen in our other benchmarks. The most important thing, though, is that we've got strong FPS across the board and a solid 80 FPS at 2560 x 1600 is what we would consider strong.

Benchmarks - Aliens vs. Predator

Aliens vs. Predator

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.rebellion.co.uk/

Product Homepage: http://www.sega.com/games/aliens-vs-predator/

Aliens vs. Predator is a science fiction first-person shooter video game, developed by Rebellion Developments, the team behind the 1999 original PC game, and published by Sega for Microsoft Windows, the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. The game is based on the Alien vs. Predator franchise, a combination of the characters and creatures of the Alien franchise and the Predator franchise. There are three campaigns in the game, one for each race/faction (the Predators, the Aliens and the Colonial Marines), that, while separate in terms of individual plot and gameplay, form one overarching storyline.

Following the storyline of the campaign modes comes the multiplayer aspect of the game. In this Multiplayer section of the game, players face off in various different gametypes in various different ways.

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Aliens vs. Predator gets a nice boost at all resolutions and we can see the Sapphire offering is able to extend its lead against the GTX 680s and continues to give us some more breathing room at that intensive 2560 x 1600 resolution.

Benchmarks - Just Cause 2

Just Cause 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.2

Timedemo or Level Used: Dark Tower

Developer Homepage: http://www.eidos.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.justcause.com/

Just Cause 2 employs the Avalanche Engine 2.0, an updated version of the engine used in Just Cause. The game is set on the other side of the world from the original Just Cause, on the fictional island of Panau in Southeast Asia. Panau has varied terrain, from desert to alpine to rainforest. Rico Rodriguez returns as the protagonist, aiming to overthrow the evil dictator Pandak "Baby" Panay and confront his former mentor, Tom Sheldon.

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We continue to see the strong performance gains with the overclocked Sapphire video card here and across the board we can see that there's no issue with the card competing against the GTX 680 including the pre-overclocked model.

Benchmarks - Metro 2033

Metro 2033

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.4a-games.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.thqnordic.com/

Metro 2033 is an action-oriented video game with a combination of survival horror and first-person shooter elements. The game is based on the novel Metro 2033 by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. It was developed by 4A Games in Ukraine and released in March 2010 for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360.[3] In March 2006, 4A Games announced a partnership with Glukhovsky to collaborate on the game.[4] The game was announced at the 2009 Games Convention in Leipzig;[5] a first trailer came along with the announcement.[6] A sequel was announced, currently titled Metro: Last Light.

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We continue to see the Sapphire video card dominate here and the overclock helps push the lead it has over the GTX 680s even further. The best thing is that we again see we've got a bit more breathing room at the highest resolution for a solid gaming experience.

Benchmarks - Dirt 3

Dirt 3

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.codemasters.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.dirt3game.com/

DiRT 3 boasts more cars, more locations, more routes and more events than any other game in the series, including over 50 rally cars representing the very best from five decades of the sport. With more than double the track content of 2009's hit, DiRT 3 will see players start at the top as a professional driver, with a top-flight career in competitive off-road racing complimented by the opportunity to express themselves in Gymkhana-style showpiece driving events.

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Dirt 3 was already a strong game for AMD and you can see that out of the box the Sapphire offering was already doing very well against everything else here. Of course overclocked we can see those gains are extended even further.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01

Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long

Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.farcry2.com/

Buy It Here

The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.

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Far Cry 2 across the board sees gains at all resolutions, but of course they're not really gains we need with a minimum FPS of 111 at 2560 x 1600. Let's see how we go in the AA side of things.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF

High Quality AA and AF

While we test all our games with maximum in-game settings, turning on Anti-Aliasing (AA) and Antistrophic Filtering (AF) helps take the intensity of our testing to another level.

Here we see video cards go from playable FPS to an unplayable FPS and the real power houses continue to help break that 60 FPS mark we always aim for to provide a smooth gaming experience.

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Looking here we see a nice boost again in performance and at 2560 x 1600 the extra 5 FPS pushing us to a 67 FPS average is really nice as we get some more breathing room out of the setup to make sure our gaming experience remains ultra-smooth.

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Even when overclocked we see that the Sapphire unfortunately stills falls shy at 2560 x 1600. While we manage to get into the 50s, you can see we continue to fall shy of that 60 FPS number we always aim to hit.

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Far Cry 2 just as you'd expect also manages to see a nice little boost across the board, but we can see performance was already very strong with the Sapphire HD 7970 GHz Edition TOXIC before we overclocked it.

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Metro sees a nice boost in performance that equates to 10%, but we can see that at the highest resolution we fall just 3 FPS shy of that 60 FPS number that we want to hit. We get close, but not quite close enough.

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Finally we finish with Just Cause 2 and you can see at the highest resolution we manage to hit a solid 66 FPS which gives us a bit more breathing room from the 61 FPS we got from the video card at stock clocked speeds.

Temperature Test

The temperature of the core is pulled from MSI Afterburner with the max reading used after a completed run off 3DMark Vantage and the Performance preset.

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Even overclocked this high we can see that the Sapphire HD 7970 GHz Edition TOXIC cooler manages to perform extremely well.

Sound Test

Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.

After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).

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Noise levels are very similar at idle. We do see that the noise levels are a little higher at load, though, when compared to the video card at stock clocked speeds.

Power Consumption Test

Using our PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01 or "Power Thingy" as it has become quickly known as to our readers, we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated graphics cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).

There are a few important notes to remember though; while our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10% more. We test at the exact same stage every time; therefore tests should be very consistent and accurate.

The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a SSD hard drive is used with a single CD ROM and minimal cooling fans.

So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.

[img]42[/img]

Power also jumps up slightly, but it's nothing too major. If you're buying a video card like this you should have a power supply that is more than capable of powering it.

Final Thoughts

As you'd expect the performance is really strong, but I think what is more interesting is the clocks that we got out of the video card today - they were awesome. Looking at the core clock of 1280MHz this is higher than we've seen out of any other HD 7970 which makes us feel that we were right about what these GHz Edition GPUs where capable of doing.

Outside of that, the 7000MHz or 7GHz QDR memory clock is truly amazing. What makes it even more impressive, though, is that it's on 6GB of GDDR5 instead of the standard 3GB that we're used to seeing on the HD 7970.

The Sapphire HD 7970 GHz TOXIC 6GB is truly going to be a video card enthusiasts want for the combination with the out of the box clocks, the clocks you're able to achieve and just the general performance. If you're after a single GPU solution, this is going to be a very enticing one.

What's going to be interesting is what we see other companies do now. Last year we saw MSI release an "Extreme" version of the GTX 580 which doubled the amount of GDDR5 that was present to 5GB. I really wonder if we'll see MSI do something similar with the HD 7970 GHz Edition. We'd say that an updated Lightning video card is even more justified this time as companies have these new cores to play with.

Of course MSI is just one company that we can think of. We've also got companies like HIS and ASUS to name just a couple of others. The big question regarding the model, though, isn't just the price, it's also the quantity we're going to see. This is probably going to be the biggest issue when it comes to the new GHz Edition.

Nonetheless, if you've got the money that the model will carry then this is probably no doubt going to be a video card that gets your attention. If you want to have some fun overclocking as well then the 6GB TOXIC monster will no doubt suit your tastes as you can attain fantastic performance.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

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