We reviewed the reference AMD HD7970 flagship card in December last year and we were suitably impressed. A few weeks later XFX sent us their XFX R7970 Double Dissipation graphics card which featured a custom cooling solution. Today we look at the latest version of the card from partner VTX3D – The ‘HD7970 X Edition’ is the first HD7970 we have reviewed which features not only a modified cooler, but overclocked core clock and memory speeds. Is this good enough to get the Kitguru seal of approval?
It would be fair to say that VTX3D are a little known player in the graphics sector, although they are trying hard to raise their profile with the enthusiast gamer. They are a division of Tul Corporation, who also manage the more widely known PowerColor series of hardware.
VTX3D are a subsection of Tul Corporation who focus on achieving the lowest possible price points. For instance, their last generation dual GPU HD6990 was priced at £515 inc vat on Amazon, when others were £599 inc vat.
VTX3D know they have a lot to prove in the enthusiast sector, so are they any good when it comes to batting head to head against the big boys, such as Sapphire and XFX ?
The X Edition card we are reviewing today certainly ticks all the right boxes on paper. It ships with a custom cooler, dual fans and significant out of the box clock speeds.
|Product||VTX3D X Edition AMD HD7970
||AMD HD7950||AMD HD7870||AMD HD7850|
|Core Clock speed||925mhz (1050mhz)||800mhz||1000mhz||860mhz|
|Transistors||4.31 billion||4.31 billion||2.8 billion||2.8 billion|
|Compute Performance||3.79 TFLOPS||2.87 TFLOPS||2.56 TFLOPS||1.76 TFLOPS|
|Texture Fillrate||118.4 GT/s||89.6 GT/s||80 GT/s||55.0 GT/s|
|Pixel Fillrate||29.6 GP/s||25.6 GP/s||32.0 GP/s||27.52 GP/s|
|Memory Type||3GB GDDR5||3GB GDDR5||2GB GDDR5||2GB GDDR5|
|Memory Clock||1,375mhz (1,425mhz)||1,250mhz||1,200mhz||1,200mhz|
|Memory Data Rate||5.5 GBps (5.7Gbps)||5.0 Gbps||4.8 Gbps||4.8 Gbps|
|Memory Bandwidth||264 GB/s||240 GB/s||153.6 GB/s||153.6 GB/s|
Above, we can see how the VTX3D Radeon HD7970 X Edition slots into the marketplace (clock speeds marked in bold). The core clock speed is increased from 925mhz to a whopping 1,050mhz out of the box, and the 3GB of GDDR5 memory receives a tweak from 1,375 mhz (5.5 Gbps) to 1,425 mhz (5.7Gbps).
Did AMD even use Ruby as a mascot after they acquired ATI? VTX3D don’t seem to care and we aren’t complaining, it is nice to see the feisty lass with the bright red hair again.
The VTX3D bundle is very strong, they include several video and power converter cables and a Crossfire bridge cable. There is also a software disc and a quick installation guide. We do recommend you ignore the potentially outdated drivers on the disc however and snag the latest versions direct from the AMD support site.
Ruby would be proud, VTX3D have finished the card in a red and black colour scheme to match her leather jumpsuit. The cooler isn’t leather (?) or metal, but plastic. It isn’t as sleek as the XFX DD cooler, but at least VTX3D are using a dual fan configuration. We will analyse the performance later in the review.
The card is built around a black PCB.
Along the top of the card we have two Crossfire connectors, for 2, 3 and 4 way configurations. Next to this is the dual bios switch. Setting 1 is the unprotected mode allowing the end user to create their own bios configuration. Setting 2 is the factory default. The attractive heatpipe based cooler is clearly seen from a top down viewpoint.
The VTX3D Radeon HD7970 X Edition requires an 8 pin and a 6 pin power connector to operate properly.
The card is a dual slot design with a full sized DVI and HDMI port, and two mini Display Port connectors. It is Eyefinity capable and can power up to 6 displays. The HD7970 is the first GPU that can simultaneously output multiple, independent audio streams from the HDMI and mini Displayport connectors at the rear of the card. This is also the first GPU to support 3GHz HDMI with frame packing support for Stereo 3D.
The cooler is removed with 4 screws from the rear and as the images highlight, it is formed around three thick copper heatpipes which lead into two separate racks of aluminum fins on either side of the core. The two fans have the power header merged into a single cable which connects directly to the PCB.
The Tahiti core is protected under a partial cover. The memory onboard is high specification Hynix GDDR5. AMD are using a Chil controller, which is a dual loop 6+2 multiphase PWM design. This offers dynamic voltage control and features input voltage management, allowing up to three input voltages to be monitored to ensure adequate power is delivered to suit the load.
The HD7970 is built from 4.3 billion 28nm transistors.
This is the first HD7970 we have reviewed which is supplied at overclocked speeds, out of the box. The Tahiti core has been overclocked from 925 mhz to 1050mhz and the 3GB of GDDR5 memory has been pushed to 1,425mhz (5.7Gbps effective) from 1,375 mhz (5.5 Gbps effective). This is connected via a wide 384 bit memory interface.
The card features 2,048 stream processors, is fully PCI E Gen3 compliant (up to 32 gb/s of data bandwidth) and incorporates new AMD Powertune and ZeroCore power technology. There are dual geometry engines, eight render back ends, 32 color ROPs per clock and 128 Z/stencil ROPs per clock.
On this page we present some super high resolution images of the product taken with the 24.5MP Nikon D3X camera and 24-70mm ED lens. These will take much longer to open due to the dimensions, especially on slower connections. If you use these pictures on another site or publication, please credit Kitguru.net as the owner/source. You can right click and ‘save as’ to your computer to view later.
To test today we are using our long standing Core i7 970 system, which is overclocked. We have a variety of hardware benchmarked on this system within the last couple of months which will make for an interesting market comparison.
Main Test System:
Processor: Core i7 970 @ 4.6ghz
Graphics: VTX3D Radeon HD7970 X Edition
Cooling: Coolit Vantage
Motherboard: MSI X58A-GD65
Chassis: Thermaltake Level 10 GT
Power Supply: Corsair AX1200
Memory: 6GB ADATA @ 2133mhz 9-10-9-32
Storage: Kingston SSDNow V+ 512GB Gen 2 SSD (Storage) / Crucial RealSSD C300 256GB (OS boot)
HD6990 (880 core)
Sapphire HD7770 1GHZ OC Edition
XFX HD7770 Black Edition S CFx
Sapphire HD7750 Ultimate Edition
Monitors: Dell U3011
Windows 7 Enterprise 64 bit
Unigine Heaven Benchmark
Alien V Predator
Tom Clancy HAWX 2
Resident Evil 5
Far Cry 2
Total War: Shogun 2
All the latest BIOS updates and drivers are used during testing. We perform generally under real world conditions, meaning KitGuru tests games across five closely matched runs and then average out the results to get an accurate median figure. If we use scripted benchmarks, they are mentioned on the relevant page.
Some game descriptions are edited from Wikipedia.
Unigine provides an interesting way to test hardware. It can be easily adapted to various projects due to its elaborated software design and flexible toolset. A lot of their customers claim that they have never seen such extremely-effective code, which is so easy to understand.
Heaven Benchmark is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on advanced Unigine engine from Unigine Corp. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. Interactive mode provides emerging experience of exploring the intricate world of steampunk.
Efficient and well-architected framework makes Unigine highly scalable:
- Multiple API (DirectX 9 / DirectX 10 / DirectX 11 / OpenGL) render
- Cross-platform: MS Windows (XP, Vista, Windows 7) / Linux
- Full support of 32bit and 64bit systems
- Multicore CPU support
- Little / big endian support (ready for game consoles)
- Powerful C++ API
- Comprehensive performance profiling system
- Flexible XML-based data structures
We use the following settings: 1920×1080 resolution. Anti Aliasing off. Anisotrophy 4, Tessellation normal. Shaders High. Stereo 3D disabled. API: Direct X 11.
The hefty overclocked speeds help push the VTX3D HD7970 X Edition way ahead of the reference clocked card, averaging 8 frames per second more. This is actually only a few frames per second behind the GTX590!
Futuremark released 3DMark Vantage, on April 28, 2008. It is a benchmark based upon DirectX 10, and therefore will only run under Windows Vista (Service Pack 1 is stated as a requirement) and Windows 7. This is the first edition where the feature-restricted, free of charge version could not be used any number of times. 1280×1024 resolution was used with performance settings.
The VTX3D Radeon HD7970 X scores just under 34,000 points in this test, around 1,500 points behind the previous dual GPU HD6990 flagship solution.
3DMark 11 is designed for testing DirectX 11 hardware running on Windows 7 and Windows Vista the benchmark includes six all new benchmark tests that make extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading.
After running the tests 3DMark gives your system a score with larger numbers indicating better performance. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.
If you want to learn more about this benchmark, or to buy it yourself, head over to this page.
The huge overclock on both core and memory help push the card into the mid 8k performance zone. The card scores 8,550 points, which is only 700 points behind the GTX590.
HQV Benchmark 2.0 is an updated version of the original tool and it consists of various video clips and test patterns which are designed to evalute motion correction, de-interlacing, decoding, noise reduction, detail enhancement and film cadence detection.
There are two versions of the program, standard definition on DVD and high definition on Bluray. As our audience will be concentrating on HD content so will we.
This has a total of 39 video tests which is increased from 23 in the original and the scoring is also up from a total of 130 to 210. As hardware and software gets more complicated, the software has been tuned to make sure we can thoroughly maximise our analysis.
Read our initial analysis over here
|Dial with static pattern||5|
|Horizontal Text Scroll||5|
|Vertical Text Scroll||5|
|Transition to 3:2 Lock||5|
|Transition to 2:2 Lock||0|
2:2:2:4 24 FPS DVCAM Video
2:3:3:2 24 FPS DVCam Video
3:2:3:2:2 24 FOS Vari-Speed
5:5 FPS Animation
6:4 12 FPS Animation
8:7 8 FPS Animation
Interlace Chroma Problem (ICP)
Chroma Upsampling Error (CUE)
Random Noise: Sailboat
Random Noise: Flower
Random Noise: Sunrise
Random Noise: Harbour Night
Text Pattern/ Scrolling Text
Luminance Frequency Bands
Chrominance Frequency Bands
A score of 196 points is class leading right now, the ideal solution for high definition media playback on a big screen.
F1 2011 is the newest Direct X 11 racing game from industry pioneers CodeMasters. The 2011 Formula One season is the 62nd FIA Formula One season. The original calendar consisted of twenty rounds, including the inaugural running of the Indian Grand Prix before the cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix. Pirelli returns to the sport as tyre supplier for all teams, taking over from Bridgestone. Red Bull Racing are the reigning Constructor’s Champions. Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel is the defending Drivers’ Champion, one of five World Champions appearing on the grid.
The VTX3D Radeon HD7970 X shows very impressive performance results, averaging 85 frames per second at these settings.
Homefront’s PC version was developed by Digital Extremes, a Canadian developer responsible for numerous Unreal Tournament games and Bioshock ports. It received mixed reports, although Kitguru really likes the single player aspect of this title. The engine isn’t the most demanding on the market, but it requires decent partnering hardware for solid frame rates at 1080p.
Solid performance from the VTX3D Radeon HD7970 X Edition, generating more frames per second than the reference clocked HD7970 and HD7770 series in CrossfireX.
Aliens V Predator has proved to be a big seller since the release and Sega have taken the franchise into new territory after taking it from Sierra. AVP is a Direct X 11 supported title and delivers not only advanced shadow rendering but high quality tessellation for the cards on test today.
To test the cards we used a 1080p resolution with DX11, Texture Quality Very High, MSAA Samples 1, 16 af, ambient occulsion on, shadow complexity high, motion blur on. We use this with most of our graphics card testing so cards are comparable throughout reviews.
The reference card averages 94 frames per second at these settings, however thanks to the overclocked speeds on both core and memory, the HD7970 X generates an additional 9 frames per second.
Dead Island is a first person horror action-adventure video game developed by Techland and published by Deep Silver for Microsoft Windows. It is centered on the challenge of survival on a zombie-infested open world island with a major emphasis on melee combat. It is rather good fun, for a short while, but it becomes repetitive.
We are beginning to get CPU limited with this engine, although we noticed a small boost in performance over the reference clocked HD7970.
Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. 2 is an arcade-style flight action game developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft. After the events of the first game, the H.A.W.X squadron is sent to Middle East, where a high level of violence is being registered, and the appearance of various insurgents leaders in various hotspots. The team also has to investigate the mysterious disappearance of Russian nuclear weapons. The player will be controlling three groups: one American (Hunter), one British (Munro) and one Russian (Sokov), each with its own pilots and supporting characters. There will also be references to other characters in the Tom Clancy universe.
We are testing in full DX11 mode with all settings to maximum.
This engine responds well to the VTX3D Radeon HD7970 X overclocked speeds, pushing past the GTX580 which slightly outperformed the reference clocked HD7970.
Resident Evil 5, known in Japan as Biohazard 5, is a survival horror third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the seventh installment in the Resident Evil survival horror series, and was released on March 5, 2009 in Japan and on March 13, 2009 in North America and Europe for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. A Windows version of the game was released on September 15, 2009 in North America, September 17 in Japan and September 18 in Europe. Resident Evil 5 revolves around Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar as they investigate a terrorist threat in Kijuju, a fictional town in Africa.
Within its first three weeks of release, the game sold over 2 million units worldwide and became the best-selling game of the franchise in the United Kingdom. As of December, 2009, Resident Evil 5 has sold 5.3 million copies worldwide since launch, becoming the best selling Resident Evil game ever made.
The VTX3D Radeon HD7970 X slots in behind the GTX590, averaging around 8 fps less overall. No performance concerns with this Direct X 10 game.
Far Cry 2 (commonly abbreviated as “FC2 or “fc2″) is an open-ended first-person shooter developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It was released on October 21, 2008 in North America and on October 23, 2008 in Europe and Australia. It was made available on Steam on October 22, 2008. Crytek, the developers of the original game, were not involved in the development of Far Cry 2.
Ubisoft has marketed Far Cry 2 as the true sequel to Far Cry, though the sequel has very few noticeable similarities to the original game. Instead, it features completely new characters and setting, as well as a new style of gameplay that allows the player greater freedom to explore different African landscapes such as deserts, jungles, and savannas. The game takes place in a modern-day East African nation in a state of anarchy and civil war. The player takes control of a mercenary on a lengthy journey to locate and assassinate “The Jackal,” a notorious arms dealer.
Far Cry 2 is still a popular game and the open world environment can be taxing on even the latest hardware available today.
Settings: 1920×1200, D3D10, Disable Artificial Intelligence(No), Full Screen, Anti-Aliasing(8x), VSync(No), Overall Quality(Ultra High), Vegetation(Very High), Shading(Ultra High), Terrain(Ultra High), Geometry(Ultra High), Post FX(High), Texture(Ultra High), Shadow(Ultra High), Ambient(High), Hdr(Yes), Bloom(Yes), Fire(Very High), Physics(Very High), RealTrees(Very High).
The overclock on the VTX3D X Edition helps the HD7970 outperform the GTX580 by 4 frames per second at these settings.
Shogun 2 is set in 16th-century feudal Japan, in the aftermath of the Ōnin War. The country is fractured into rival clans led by local warlords, each fighting for control. The player takes on the role of one of these warlords, with the goal of dominating other factions and claiming his rule over Japan. The standard edition of the game will feature a total of eight factions (plus a ninth faction for the tutorial), each with a unique starting position and different political and military strengths.
We are using the built in benchmark which is available via the STEAM client for this game.
Shogun 2 is a demanding Direct X 11 game, however there are no problems at either 720p or 1080p, with the VTX3D Radeon HD7970 X averaging 172 fps and 82 fps respectively. CPU limiting occurs at 720p.
We have changed our method of measuring noise levels. We have built a system inside a Lian Li chassis with no case fans and have used a fanless cooler on our CPU. We are using a heatpipe based passive power supply and an Intel SSD to keep noise levels to a minimum. The motherboard is also passively cooled. This gives us a build with completely passive cooling and it means we can measure noise of just the graphics card inside the system when we run looped 3dMark tests.
Ambient noise in the room is around 20-25dBa. We measure from a distance of around 1 meter from the closed chassis and 4 foot from the ground to mirror a real world situation.
Why do this? Well this means we can eliminate secondary noise pollution in the test room and concentrate on only the video card. It also brings us slightly closer to industry standards, such as DIN 45635.
KitGuru noise guide
10dBA – Normal Breathing/Rustling Leaves
20-25dBA – Whisper
30dBA – High Quality Computer fan
40dBA – A Bubbling Brook, or a Refridgerator
50dBA – Normal Conversation
60dBA – Laughter
70dBA – Vacuum Cleaner or Hairdryer
80dBA – City Traffic or a Garbage Disposal
90dBA – Motorcycle or Lawnmower
100dBA – MP3 player at maximum output
110dBA – Orchestra
120dBA – Front row rock concert/Jet Engine
130dBA – Threshold of Pain
140dBA – Military Jet takeoff/Gunshot (close range)
160dBA – Instant Perforation of eardrum
The VTX3D cooler is very impressive, and is only very slightly louder than the XFX HD7970 Double Dissipation which we reviewed in January. The reference card by comparison is audibly louder when gaming.
The tests were performed in a controlled air conditioned room with temperatures maintained at a constant 25c – a comfortable environment for the majority of people reading this.
Idle temperatures were measured after sitting at the desktop for 30 minutes. Load measurements were acquired by playing Crysis Warhead for 30 minutes and measuring the peak temperature. We also have included Furmark results, recording maximum temperatures throughout a 30 minute stress test. All fan settings were left on automatic.
Well this was a shock. If you look at this page you can see that the VTX3D Radeon HD7970 X actually outperforms the XFX R7970 Double Dissipation graphics card. The differences are noticeable too, around 6c better under load conditions. This would also go some way to explain the slightly higher noise emissions on the previous page.
To test power consumption today we are using a Keithley Integra unit and we measure power consumption from the VGA card inputs, not the system wide drain. We measure results while gaming in Crysis Warhead and record the results.
In such an energy aware climate, AMD are making a big deal out of their new ‘ZeroCore Power’ technology. Many solutions today use power gating, clock gating and memory compression to reduce idle power requirements, but ZeroCore power technology can completely power down the core GPU while the rest of the system remains active.
The VTX3D Radeon HD7970 X Edition manages slightly lower power consumption than our reference card, by around 3-5 watts generally.
For overclocking today we relied on Catalyst Control Center.
Considering the card is supplied in such a high clock state out of the box, the final overclock speeds are healthy. We managed to push the core to 1,160mhz and the memory to 1,500mhz (6Gbps effective).
The final score of 9,295 points is not to be underestimated. At these clock speeds, the card actually matches the GTX590 at reference clocks.
VTX3D have struggled in recent months to target the companies who we would consider to be the ‘big AMD partners’. Those being Sapphire and XFX.
The VTX3D Radeon HD7970 X Edition certainly redresses a few concerns we have had in the past and this is actually a surprisingly capable card which can play at the top level.
First impressions of the card are positive. It certainly isn’t as exquisitely designed as the XFX R7970 Double Dissipation which features a beautifully crafted metal cooler with subdued colour scheme. VTX3D have opted for a plastic ‘in your face’ bright red cooler. We wouldn’t say it was ugly, but they aren’t going to be winning awards for presentation. Appearances would indicate that Fisher Price might have had a hand in the cooler design.
Looking at the cooler from the inside presents a much stronger situation for VTX3D. They are using a substantial copper three heatpipe design which covers the full width of the PCB. Our testing actually shows that this cooler does a better job than the XFX R7970 Double Dissipation, which surprised us so much we had to retest it multiple times. In fairness, the XFX card is slightly quieter so the balance of noise v cooling performance is tweaked differently between the cards.
The VTX3D HD7970 X Edition is supplied in a highly overclocked stated with the core speed cranked from 925 mhz to 1,050mhz. This 14% overclock has a rather dramatic impact on the frame rate performance, allowing the VTX3D card to push past the reference GTX580 by a significant margin. Not only that, but when overclocked manually to 1,160mhz it matches the performance of the GTX590 in 3DMark 11.
VTX3D know that they need to compete on price to attract sales, and we made a quick scan around etail stores before publication. A reference clocked Asus HD7970 retails for £499.99. A Gigabyte HD7970 retails for £479.99. A Powercolor HD7970 retails for £439.99. These are all reference cooled cards, supplied at the default clock speeds.
An overclocked, custom cooled version of the HD7970 would normally retail in excess of any of these prices, but VTX3D are aiming to target the performance enthusiast by offering the card via DABS for around £439.99 inc vat.
Should you buy this card? Well we have highlighted the excellent cooler, high level of overclock performance and additional headroom you could expect with manual overclocking. The only problem is that ‘VTX3D’ are not yet considered as one of the premium grade AMD partners and some people may still opt for a more recognisable brand name such as Sapphire.
We have no problem recommending this card as one of the fastest graphics cards you can currently buy, and it is certainly priced to sell.
- Very competitively priced.
- Good cooling system.
- high level of overclock out of the box.
- cooler isn’t going to win any style awards.
Kitguru says: VTX3D are still an unknown name to many people but this is a really good card design.