Now that we have had a chance to take a look at a reference design HD 7970 and see how dominating one can be I am excited to take a look at XFX’s new Black Edition Overclocked R7970. Unlike most of the other manufactures their version is both overclocked and equipped with their Double Dissipation cooling solution, a heatsink that has to be one of the sexiest coolers on the market. We know how the stock card performs, but how will it perform with a 1000Mhz clock speed and a badass cooler? Let’s find out!
Product Name: XFX R7970 DD Black Edition Overclocked
Review Sample Provided by: XFX
Review by: Wes
Pictures by: Wes
Processor & Bus
ATI Radeon HD 7970
AMD Eyefinity Technology:
AMD HD3D Technology:
AMD - CrossFire ready:
Max Supported Resolution (ANALOG):
2048 x 1536
Max Supported Resolution (DIGITAL):
2560 x 1600
Output - DL-DVI-I:
Output - HDMI:
Output - mini DP:
Dual link Support:
Display Port ready:
Card Dimension (cm):
27.5 x 11.12 x 3.81
Card Dimension (inch):
10.8 x 4.4 x 1.5
Package Dimensions (cm):
16 x 32.1 x 9.8
Package Dimensions (inch):
12.6 x 6.3 x 3.9
Package Weight (Kg):
Package Weight (lb):
HD7970 MBA Ghost Dual fan fansink
PSU Cross Marketing Insert
Quick Installation Guide:
XFX Serial Number Door Hanger :
XFX BE badge:
Installation CD with Multi-Language User Guide:
Cross Fire Bridge:
Driver CD Installation Guide:
External Power - 6-Pins:
External Power - 8-Pins:
Minimum Power Supply Requirement:
XFX Recommended Power Supply:
XFX 650W PSU
Seeing that most AMD card reviews we do are of Sapphire branded cards. Because of that we have gotten used to the same old thing as far as packaging. It was a nice change to see XFX’s style. Two things stand out right away for us. First the box isn’t much larger than the card itself and much smaller than what we normally see. Second, we know the card is an HD 7970 but XFX has named this the R7970 for some reason. On the back of the box we have a breakdown of each of the cards features, but there isn’t a picture of the kick ass cooler on the card. This is because the box is generic to a point meaning they can use it for a few different models. They put a sticker across the bottom that has the important details on the card.
Inside the box along with the card itself you have a whole collection of software and documentation. Along with a quick installation guide and a card showing off all of the adapters the card will work with you get a nice do not disturb I’m gaming card. This is especially cool because on the back of the door hanger you have the contact information for technical support and a sticker with your cards serial number. That means you won’t have to take your PC apart on the off chance you need to get help, a nice consideration. It also gives you a spot to write down your username and password for the XFX support website from when you register the card.
For accessories the XFX R7970 Black Edition comes with an HDMI to DVI adapter for those who need two DVI ports on the card, a crossfire adapter, and a cool XFX case badge. The only thing I would change is the crossfire cable, I would love to see these come in a full black color. Right now everyone bundles the ugly brown cable with their cards. When you have a side panel window and two video cards the crossfire cable is going to be right in plain view for everyone to see.
The HD 7970 is wrapped up in a static protectant bag, no extra padding though.
After getting the card out there is one major difference between the R7970 vs. the reference design that we took a look at before. XFX has gone with their own cooling solution right at launch, a dual fan design that they are calling Double Dissipation. Our Black Edition card combines both the Double Dissipation Edition’s cooler with an overclock of 1000 MHz. The design starts with a vapor chamber design attached to a large heatsink that runs the length of the card. Those two things when combined will pull the heat away from the GPU and hotspots allowing the dual cooling fans to push air over the heatsink and out the back of the card.
One of the best features of the Double Dissipation cooler is the red name plate along the top. XFX attached this using small screws on each end, perfect for a modder looking to make a few changes. This red nameplate is the only part of the card that you can see when the card is installed in a typical case. Unlike most other manufactures, you can actually see what card you are running because of this. And its damn sexy also!
For power connections, just like the reference design the card requires a 6 pin and an 8 pin connection.
It may be very small but if you look close you can spot the dual BIOS switch next to the crossfire connections.
The black PCB goes great with the all-aluminum cooler. I still wish AMD would have went with a backplate on the HD 7970 like the HD 6970, but this is no different than the reference design.
More proof that this isn’t just a reference design can be found in the PCI slot cover where XFX has carved their name right into the grill. You can also see all of the cards connections, you only have one DVI connection but you do get an HDMI and two mini Display Port connections also.
Because of the amount of dust your average GPU collects XFX went with IP-5X dust proof fans. They can’t prevent you from packing your GPU full of dust, but at least they can help keep it out of the fan bearings. This should prevent the card from getting noisy in the future from bearings going out.
Even though this is an aftermarket cooler, it’s nice to see that XFX didn’t go with a standard design that is open on the end that pushes hot air back into the case. This cooler is only of only a few that still vents out the rear of the case, meaning no more hot air buildup inside your case.
Our Test Rig
http://www.highspeedpc.com/ Test Bench
Kingston 1600Mhz DDR3 Quad Channel Ram
Kingston Hyper X 120 SSD’s in Raid 0
Our Testing Procedures
All of our in game performance testing is run at 1920x1080; you can see the exact settings below.
Battlefield Bad Company 2 (1920x1080 – high settings, first scene starting after the cut scene, recorded using fraps)
Dirt 2 (1920x1080 – 4x MSAA – high settings, in-game benchmark)
Dirt 3 (192x1080 - 4xMSAA - high settings, in-game benchmark)
Metro 2033 DX11 (built-in benchmark, 1920 x 1080; DirectX: DirectX 11; Quality: Very High; Antialiasing: MSAA 4X; Texture filtering: AF 4X; Advanced PhysX: Enabled; Tessellation: Enabled; DOF: Disabled)
Metro 2033 DX10 (built-in benchmark, 1920 x 1080; DirectX: DirectX 10; Quality: Very High; Antialiasing: MSAA 4X; Texture filtering: AF 4X; Advanced PhysX: Enabled; Tessellation: Enabled; DOF: Disabled)
Total War: Shogun 2 Direct X11 Benchmark High setting
Synthetic Benchmarks For video cards our synthetic benchmarks are limited to 3DMark Vantage and 3DMark Vantage 2011. 3DMark Vantage is run with PPU turned off with results from both the performance and high settings. In 3DMark Vantage 2011 we run both performance and extreme benchmarks
FurMark We use Furmark to push the video card to the limit and test its cooling performance. Keep in mind that FurMark pushes cards well beyond what they would ever do in game. Our tests are done using the built in 1080p benchmark.
Cooling and Noise
Our Furmark benchmarks are an extreme way of looking at things. As you can see below, pushing the overclocked Black Edition to the max did warm things up, more than the reference card did. Just to compare I redid the benchmark with this card set to stock speeds and again with the Reference card set at 1000MHz. When they are both set at the stock speed the XFX card would cap out at 65 degrees, four degree’s lower than stock. When testing the reference card at 1000MHz I quickly realized that the stock cooler wasn’t enough and shut it down once it reached 90 degrees.
Outside of the actual cooling performance in Furmark how was the in game performance? Surprisingly well actually, its cooling performance while doing our benchmarking the card stayed nice and cool. The noise output was a surprise considering what I experienced with the reference card. See the reference card was very quiet until you put it under load, the XFX card was nearly the opposite. Idle noise levels were more than what we experienced with the stock design, but under load the noise levels didn’t ramp up like stock.
We know how the HD 7970 stacks up against the competition but how does the XFX DD Black Edition Overclocked perform against the much easier to say Sapphire HD 7970? Well in our 3DMark benchmarks in both Vantage and 3DMark 11 the XFX card out performed its stock brother by a considerable amount. In the 3DMark Vantage Performance setting benchmark we actually saw better performance out of the one XFX card than our two GTX 580’s in SLI!
In Game Performance
Both of our Dirt three benchmarks show a major improvement over the stock cards already impressive performance. Our metro benchmarks didn’t show much of an increase, that was surprising but the numbers we did see are still very impressive for a single card. Even in BattleField: Bad Company 2 we saw performance numbers approaching what we have seen in crossfire and SLI configurations. There is no doubt that this card is a monster!
We knew what to expect from the HD 7970 when coming into this review but I had no idea what kind of performance jump we would see with the XFX DD Black Edition Overclocked. With its core speed bumped up to an impressive 1000MHz we saw big jumps in performance in all of our benchmarks putting this single card up with or above the performance of two GTX 580’s in SLI in some benchmarks! Add that amazing performance to the fact this is one of the sexiest cards we have ever seen and its no wonder why this card is already hard time find while most of the reference cards are still in stock. The only downside to the card is its idle to mid power noise levels when compared to the stock cooler, but when you put it under load you don’t hear a loud ramp up in speed like the reference cooler. All in all we highly recommend this card if you are on the market for an HD 7970, its going to run you around $50 more than the stock card but you get your money’s worth in the all-aluminum cooler alone. The extra performance is just a bonus.