AMD reclaims performance crown with Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition

The Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition beats Nvidia's GeForce GTX 680, but only by about 2 percent overall.

Chip giant AMD has launched what is -- for now -- the world's fastest graphics processing unit, the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition.

AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition (Gallery)

Image Gallery:

AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition

Image Gallery: Charge
This is the latest installment in the cat and mouse game played between AMD and graphics rivals Nvidia.

When Nvidia released the GeForce GTX 680 back in April it became the world's fastest single GPU solution, beating AMD's Radeon HD 7970 by between 5 and 30 percent in the benchmarks. However, by tweaking the stock Radeon HD 7970 a little, AMD has been able to squeeze more power out of the GPU and retake the crown.

The stock Radeon HD 7970 featured a core clocked at 925MHz and a memory tuned to 1375MHz. The "GHz Edition" model sees the core clock bumped to 1000MHz and the memory frequency increased to 1500MHz. This represents an 8 percent core overclock and 9 percent memory overclock compared to the stock Radeon HD 7970.

But that performance increase comes at a price.

A stock Radeon HD 7970 retails for $449 while AMD has slapped a price tag of $490 on the "GHz Edition" model  -- which translates into an 11 percent premium over the stock version.

Initial independent benchmark results suggest that the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition does indeed trump Nvidia's GeForce GTX 680, but for most games the performance gains are small. Overall, the performance improvements are around 2 percent. In the real world, that's a negligible difference.

"The AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition rounds out our award-winning Graphics Core Next family, providing world-class gameplay thanks to the industry's fastest single GPU," said Matt Skynner, corporate vice president and general manager of AMD's GPU division.

"Gamers have been hungry for our AMD Radeon HD 7000 Series since our launch last December. We have been able to meet that growing demand as we expanded our AMD Radeon HD 7000 offerings and brought the industry's most advanced graphics across a complete family of leading-edge desktop and notebook graphics cards".

If the name "Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition" name sounds familiar to you, it's because rumors have been circulating for a few weeks now that AMD was getting ready to release this update. It made sense given that a number of vendors were already offering stock Radeon HD 7970 that had been factory overclocked to 1GHz or higher. For example, the PowerColor PCS+ AX7970 has a core clocked to 1.1GHz, and currently retails for $490.

Overall, there's no doubt that the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition is a very impressive GPU, but for most gamers the AMD Radeon HD 7950 or Nvidia GeForce GTX 670 will more than suffice, offering excellent performance at a far more reasonable price.

The Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition is available to pre-order today, and cards should start shipping next week.

If you already own a Radeon HD 7970 then you can get "GHz Edition" without having to replace your graphics card. With a little tweaking -- using nothing more than the options available in the official AMD Catalyst Control Center -- it’s possible to push the HD 7970’s core clock to run at 1,125MHz, which is 200 MHz above stock speed. Even at these higher speeds, the card runs cooler and quieter when under load than an HD 6990 running at stock speeds.

If you are willing to go outside of what the Catalyst Control Center has to offer, careful tweaking of the HD 7970 with a tool such as TriXX can take the core clock up to 1.26MHz. Again, the stock cooler has no trouble keeping the GPU within thermal limits, even under heavy load.

Image source: AMD.


Editorial standards