VisionTek Radeon HD 7970 3GB Video Cards in 4-Way CrossFireX

We strap our fourth AMD Radeon HD 7970 into our testbed and check out some four way CrossFireX action via VisionTek.

@TweakTown
Published Tue, Mar 6 2012 10:09 PM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:01 PM CST
Rating: 95%Manufacturer: VisionTek

Introduction and Package

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For a while I've wanted to install a forth AMD Radeon HD 7970 video card into our testbed and see how four way CrossFireX performance went as we had already looked at the performance of two and three cards setups.

Installing a fourth was just a natural progression and while it would've been nice to have our old Eyefinity setup up and running over here in my test area in Taiwan, it's currently in retirement. Still, we've got our faithful 30" Dell monitor that has been serving us well for years and we'll be able to see how single monitor 2560 x 1600 performance looks with this setup.

Today we've got a video card from a company we haven't heard heaps from. VisionTek has been around for ages and while we've looked at a nice kit of RAM from them, we haven't seen anything in the VGA side of things yet. Since this is a HD 7970 we haven't looked at yet the first thing we've got to do is check out the bundle that's going on.

Once we've done that we'll take a closer look at the card itself, check out the specifications and make sure that four way CrossFireX is working as it should. We'll then move into our testbed and from there it's all about the performance of the setup and seeing how it goes up against our other CrossFire setups we've looked at since the launch of the new HD 7970.

Package

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Looking at the bundle there's a manual, driver CD, dual Molex to 8-pin PCIe power convertor, Molex to 6-pin PCIe power convertor, HDMI to DVI and active mini DP to DVI convertors along with the typical DVI to VGA connector.

The Card and Specifications

The Card

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Like just about every other HD 7970 we've looked at we've got the reference design going on here which means there are no real big surprises. Taking a quick spin around the card finds an 8-pin PCIe and 6-pin PCIe power connector while closer to the front we've got the BIOS switch and two CrossFire connectors, which we'll be making use of today.

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Moving over to the I/O side of things quickly we've again got nothing out of the ordinary with a Dual Link DVI connector, HDMI port and two Mini DP ports on the far left. The top half of the card is vented to help let the hot air escape, something we'll no doubt need the cards to do today as they heat up.

Specifications

Sitting in a neat row we have our four reference clocked cards which means on the core side of things we've got a 925MHz clock while the 3GB of GDDR5 memory carries with it a 5500MHz QDR clock. No surprise at all and exactly what we want to see as we look at the scaling performance today.

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Before we move onto the testbed the last thing we want to check is that all our GPUs are enabled. Looking at the bottom in the ATI CrossFire tab you can indeed see that CrossFire is enabled and done so via four GPUs.

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.

As always when you're testing such a VGA heavy setup it's important to make sure you don't find yourself bottlenecked via a CPU. It's times like this our overclocked X79 testbed really shines and you can see all the main information above.

While we've got a GTX 580 and HD 6990 in our graphs today, the main information we'll be looking at is the scaling performance as we move from a single HD 7970 all the way up to the four way setup which we're testing today.

Let's get started!

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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Looking at 3DMark 11 it comes as no surprise that we see some good scaling here, especially when it comes to the more intensive X preset. We can see a nice boost in the P preset as well, but not quite as strong as the higher resolution X benchmark.

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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Heaven also sees some really nice scaling. Looking at the numbers where we start with a single HD 7970 and where we end up with a fourth installed is quite amazing. Just some utterly massive performance can be seen.

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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Getting into some games you can see we start to hit a wall here under H.A.W.X. 2 at 1920 x 1200 and 1680 x 1050. At the highest 2560 x 1600 resolution, though, we see an increase of around 10% on top of the three card setup which pushes us that that 330ish FPS wall.

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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Under Mafia II we can see that performance shifts a little backwards bouncing off 120 FPS across the board. While a slight drop, we're not too worried since we've still got very playable numbers. This continues to be one of the issues, though, as we move to these four way setups.

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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Getting into something really intensive you can see we're not seeing much again with the fourth card at 1680 x 1050 and 1920 x 1200. Moving to 2560 x 1600, though, we again see a nice little boost in performance. Not quite the same gains we've seen out of the other setups, though, when adding another card into the mix.

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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Whoa! This is kind of crazy! Under the super intensive Aliens vs. Predator we can see some awesome scaling across the board.

Compared to a single HD 7970, you can see we've literally got four times the performance, which is amazing.

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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Unfortunately leaving AvP and going to Just Cause 2, we don't see the same kind of impressive gains as performance shuffles backwards again. Still very strong numbers none the less, of course you'd be disappointed if you compared the numbers when comparing it to a three way setup.

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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Looking at Metro 2033 we can see that moving from the three card setup to the four card one brings with it no extra performance with scores between with both being extremely similar here.

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 doesn't look great at the lower resolutions, but we can again see when we move to 2560 x 1600, we get that nice little boost. Again it's not quite the same gains as we've seen out of the other CrossFire setups.

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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No surprise that we're hitting a wall under FarCry 2; unfortunately that wall seems to come a little sooner on the four way setup.

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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Mafia II goes backwards slightly, while FarCry 2 sees no real change. Aliens vs. Predator on the other hand shocks our system as we see awesome scaling again.

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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The hottest GPU is getting up there when it comes to temperature. This shouldn't be much of a surprise considering how squashed together the four cards are.

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 at idle were good and sat extremely low. Under load they as usual shot up, but came in at a similar level to the three way setup.

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.

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It comes as no surprise that power draw jumps up to the top of the pack as the setup breaks over 1000 watts. Of course our Corsair AX1200 had absolutely no issue dealing with this kind of wattage.

What's crazy, though, is the very reasonable idle power draw that sits just over 200 watts!

Final Thoughts

Four way CrossFireX AMD Radeon HD 7970 performance is quite interesting. It's nice to see that gone are the days of these massive swings in performance where you either lose half your FPS or see great gains. It doesn't come as a surprise that you find yourself hitting a bit of a wall at below 2560 x 1600 and surely no one is really looking at a four way setup for a 1920 x 1200 gaming setup anyway.

The setup, as always, is going to stand out at the highest resolutions. That means 2560 x 1600 for single monitor setups and anything beyond that for multi monitor Eyefinity setups. Like the HD 6900 series, though, it seems we're going to hit this sweet spot with three GPUs.

Four way GPU setups are going to look a bit more attractive when we find ourselves with a pair of HD 7990s as we'll have a setup with loads of GPU while still having breathing room thanks to the two card setup. Four way setups have a place if you're going down the path of three 30" 2560 x 1600 monitors. Outside of that, though, we continue to see the furthest place we'd recommend to people is a three way setup.

Stepping away from the performance of the four way setup, though, and looking closer at the VisionTek offering, we've got nothing out of the ordinary. This isn't a bad thing and considering we've seen few companies move away from the reference setup, it doesn't come as too much of a surprise.

Priced at $549.99 the VisionTek offering comes in exactly where you'd expect and in the end we get another HD 7970 that we wouldn't have any issue recommending. The model on a whole is just really good and in single card form performance is really strong. Of course, if you want to throw a second or third into the mix, we wouldn't stop you. It just might end up being your wallet that does.

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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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