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Sapphire 7970 OC

Posted April 6, 2012 by Jake in Video Cards







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by Jake
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When AMD launched the 7000 series graphics cards not long ago with the release of the 7970, they made changes were designed to move forward, with a new architecture and new expectations. And the 7970 was an advancement in many respects, not the least of which was that it became the fastest single-GPU graphics card on the planet.

But Nvidia has since responded with the GTX 680, and while it’s certainly an impressive card, it also is scarce, and we know many gamers don’t want to sit on their hands waiting for supply to show up. That puts AMD in an interesting position, with a flagship 7970 that is fully available right now, and we’re seeing custom versions of the card hitting shelves as well, looking to entice consumers with lower heat temperatures and faster clock speeds.

And that brings us to today’s graphics card: the Sapphire HD 7970 OC. It does indeed come with a custom cooler, and sports a factory overclock out of the box. As we’ve come to expect from Sapphire, excellent cooling is a hallmark of their designs, and today may be no different with this new card.


Pioneers in a new era of how data is displayed and games are played, Sapphire shepherds the performance oriented with ground-breaking solutions to an environment that remains in a constant state of flux and ultimate evolution. For over ten years Sapphire has held true to its unwavering commitment, the commitment to deliver the most feature rich and soundly engineered products.




    Your specifications page for this card shows 1792 Stream Processors, but the GPU-Z screenshot shows 2048 Stream processors. The specifications page uses specs from the 7950 card.

    Very impressive overclock on air to 1255mhz. What kind of GPU Voltage did you use to achieve those clock speeds? It would also be great if you guys included:

    1) Benchmarks with overclocked settings for future videocards;
    2) Power consumption numbers for out of the box and overclocked;
    3) Noise levels at idle and load.

    Many times a card has low temperatures but the cooler needs to be running at 100% fan speed, resulting in a very loud videocard. I know this is not the case for the Sapphire Dual-X, but it would still be helpful to know how loud any GPU is at load out of the box and overclocked.



    Thanks for the comments and suggestions, sorry for the oversight on the specs, will get that fixed.

    Keep in mind, overclocking results may vary, so expect some differences between what you may read and what may be achieved. That said, for all overclocking sessions, we maximize the voltages allowed by the card.

    On the other points:

    1) We may try to benchmark overclocked settings. Sometimes there simply isn’t enough time, we often get cards right before launch date, so we forego those result for the sake of getting the regular results and review done.

    2) We used to do power consumption. However, Nvidia’s Kepler cards made those tests somewhat irrelevant, and nearly impossible to be consistent, because of the dynamic load adjustments on the cards. AMD’s cards do not have this, but then we’d be comparing the Radeons to……nothing. The TDP for each card is identified in the reviews so that’s the target maximum for the card and should be sufficient (and close enough). Those two factors combined leave power consumption a bit of a waste at minimum, or entirely incomparable at most.

    3) Proper noise level testing requires extremely expensive and specialized equipment, and essentially regulated lab settings in order to meet industry standards. That’s not possible in this context, and arguably for pretty much every consumer out there. Ambient noise from a living room, bedroom, LAN party would likely drown out most noises inside a case, including a graphics card (at least the custom heatsink ones), not to mention variables that cannot be controlled or accounted for. At the end of the day, even if we could give an utterly unbiased and consistent result, would anyone understand the different between 21dBA or 23dBA fans? What does that actually mean to someone? How loud is 23 vs 27 dBA, etc? The extreme majority of the populace doesn’t know what those numbers mean, nor could relate to them, so they’re rather pointless in our opinion. Instead, we comment anecdotally that X cooler is quieter than Y cooler. Or that X cooler is very quiet and won’t be heard inside a case. Anecdotally, all Sapphire coolers are very quiet. Most custom coolers are.

    Lastly, all overclocking is done with the fan(s) set to Auto for our testing. Auto will eventually ramp up to 100% if needed, so there’s no point in manually running a fan at 100%, for example, if only 63% is needed on Auto. If a card can’t handle an overclock, then it’s not stable, including the fan, so we leave all fans to Auto for testing.

    Hope that helps, thanks again for the feedback!


    Dear Jake,

    I enjoy your site its very well built and informative. Thanks for that, really!

    I would also like to see a benchmark especially BF3 with your overclocked settings.
    And one thing I want to know, if you had any coil noise coming from the card… many gamers facing to this annoying issue out there.

    King regards,


      Will look at that for future testing.

      Coil noise actually isn’t very common, it’s usually only on less than a handful of cards we’ve tested, and it’s usually only the very top end cards. That said, will make a note of it for future testing as well.

      Thanks for the input and feedback.

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