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Published on December 22nd, 2011 | by Brandon


AMD Radeon 7970 soft launches, claims top spot among single-GPU cards

The much-anticipated launch of the Radeon 7000 series has been looming for a couple months, and now it’s finally (almost) here. Though the retail launch isn’t until January 9, AMD has already “soft launched” the Radeon 7970 to multiple technology websites. For incredibly detailed review and analysis, you should check out the full articles from AnandTech and Tom’s Hardware, but read on for a summary of what you can expect from AMD’s new flagship single-GPU card.

First, the official specs for the Radeon 7970:

  • 925MHz core clock
  • 1375MHz memory clock
  • 2048 stream processors
  • 3GB frame buffer
  • 128 texture units
  • 384-bit memory bus width
  • 4.31B transistor count

And here are some of the major takeaways for gamers:

  • The 7970 is the first card to use a 28nm GPU (compared to 40nm for the previous generation) and the first card to support Direct3D 11.1.
  • The 7970 is the first card to implement AMD’s new ZeroCore Power technology, which aims to further reduce idle power compared to previous generations. The 7970 idles at 15W and goes down to under 3W at “long idle” (i.e. when the display goes to sleep and the GPU doesn’t need to render anything). Regarding CrossFire setups, AnandTech notes that ZeroCore also “virtually eliminates the idle power penalty for CrossFire and completely eliminates the idle noise penalty.”
  • Gaming performance obviously varies by game, but the 7970 appears to be anywhere between 5-35% faster than the GTX 580, averaging 15-25% depending on the specific resolution, according to AnandTech.

So is the 7970 everything we had hoped for? Well, yes and no. The 7970 looks to be the undisputed single-GPU king, but unfortunately for us gamers, AMD has also given it a premium price point. At $549 MSRP, AMD is departing from the aggressive pricing strategy we became accustomed to with its 5000 and 6000 series cards. Hopefully, AMD will be pressured to drop prices once Nvidia releases its new generation of cards later in 2012, but for now, the 7970 requires very deep pockets.

Furthermore, the performance increase of the 7970 over the GTX 580 is impressive, but doesn’t really blow our socks off when you take into account that the price tag is $50 higher than a GTX 580.

What’s your take? Are you going to have your credit card at the ready on January 9, or are you going to hold off to see how the rest of the Radeon 7000 series shapes up?


Image courtesy of AnandTech

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13 Responses to AMD Radeon 7970 soft launches, claims top spot among single-GPU cards

  1. kel. says:

    Looks awesome only just got a 6950 toxic though so no real point. But still would go nice with the new Ivy bridge CPU’s if you where building a new rig.

  2. ASoggySandal says:

    Damn it sure does look sexy… But I think I’ll be going toward SLI or waiting for the next batch of Nvidia cards

  3. spdeuce says:

    I’m aiming to build around mid 2012, so I’ll be looking at the newer parts. That said, I doubt I’ll need a 7970. The drivers are too bad from what I hear, does anyone know the release date to the second of NVIDIA 6xx series? Trying to couple that with an Ivy Bridge CPU and, probably, a 660ti. 7970 is still not worth the money to me.

  4. RoryGreen says:

    I think the $50 higher price point is definitely worth it. That said, there is no way that I would upgrade from a 580 or a 6970 to this. You’d be better off throwing in a second card. However, if you had a shit GPU and were looking for an upgrade to the high-end, the 7970 is easily worth the $50 more than the 580.

  5. Aim Assist Warrior says:

    I am an NVIDIA fan myself, but I think it’s great that the 7970 beats the 580. It just means that NVIDIA will have to work to reclaim that single-GPU top spot. I love when these companies have to compete against each other, it just means we will be getting the best product in the end.

  6. Disconsented says:

    Looks like they did something right, I’ll still wait and see the benchmarks (as well as the new Nvid ones) before I make up my mind.

  7. diwas13 says:

    I thought you guys hated Ubisoft, why is there are Far Cry 2(greatest game ever btw) background lol.

  8. Dex says:

    Drivers aside, I look forward to these new series of cards. As long as their mid-range cards are well-priced I will probably pick one up.

  9. iDrinks says:

    They could have the best hardware in the world and I still wouldn’t buy it because the drivers make it useless.

  10. krunch says:

    I wouldnt call the 5000 series “aggressively priced”, the 5970 was an absolute beast of a card back then and if i remember right it launched at $500 and it absolutely DESTROYED a 480. I think the 6000 series was kind of a dip in AMD/ATI’s graphics card history and from everything i’ve seen it looks like 7000 is trying to make a return to those glory days



Brandon started his PC gaming days playing Doom II (IDDQD/IDKFA for life) and has been hooked on online gaming since the original Starsiege: Tribes. The way to his heart is through proper grammar, corn dogs, and cookie cake.

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