The Radeon HD 7970 is AMD’s flagship desktop graphics card and has been around since December 2011. When the card was originally released it the reference design had an MSRP of $549.99. You can now find a third party Radeon HD 7970 3GB video card for $379.99 shipped after rebate! Prices have certainly dropped over the past year and you can get a top of the line Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 Vapor-X graphics card for $449.99 shipped after rebate. We just happen to have the Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 Vapor-X 3GB GDDR5 video card to review today!
The AMD Radeon HD 7970 (Tahiti XT) reference card features a core clock speed of 925MHz with 2048 stream processors and 128 texture units. The reference card has 3GB of GDDR5 memory on a 384-bit bus that runs at 1325MHz (5300 MHZ effective). The Sapphire HD 7970 Vapor-X video card is factory overclocked up to 1050MHz on the core and 1500MHz (6000MHz effective on the memory) and features a custom PCB and GPU cooler! For gamers that want a DirectX 11 graphics card with cutting edge 28nm GPU built using the new Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture this is as good as it gets for AMD.
As you can see from the image above this card takes up two slots and looks very nice. The top of the black fan shroud has a Sapphire logo on it that lights up with white LED’s when the card is running, so it would look sharp in a case with a window. The Sapphire Vapor-X editions for the Radeon HD 7970 and Radeon HD 7950 are identical both visually and physically.
As you can see from the image above, Sapphire went with a blue PCB on this card. The PCB of the card measures ~10.5″ in length and if you factor in the length of the fan shroud the entire length of the card is 11.0″. The card PCB is stands at ~4.4″ in height, but with the fan shroud it jumps up to 5.25″. We used a pair of dial calipers and found the mounting holes around the GPU use a 55x55mm mounting hole pattern in case you are curious about mounting a water block or a third party GPU cooler.
The Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 Vapor-X has Dual-link DVI-I, DVI-D, HDMI and DisplayPort connections available for monitors. You should be able to easily hook up a High Definition Stereoscopic 3D display or an AMD Eyefinity 2.0 setup with three or more displays (To support 3 displays, one of the monitors has to support DisplayPort).
The Sapphire HD 7970 Vapor-X has two CrossFire interconnects, so you can link up to four of these cards together for improved performance if you have the right motherboard and the money to do so. Just to the left of the CrossFireX interconnects you’ll see a button for BIOS switching. Both profiles are identical, but it is nice having two in the rare event that one gets corrupt down the road. A GPU-Z screenshot is shown below of the cards settings.
Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 Vapor-X GPU-Z Settings:
The Sapphire HD 7970 3GB OC with Boost Vapor-X Edition has 3GB of GDDR5 memory clocked at 6000MHz (effective) and the core clock speed on the card is 1050 MHz. Sapphire uses the same BIOS version on each switch setting.
The Sapphire HD 7970 Vapor-X has two power connectors along the top edge of the card that need to be connected to the systems power supply. One is an 8-pin PCIe power connector and the other is a 6-pin PCIe power connector. To ensure proper operation, Sapphire suggests at least a 750W or greater power supply with one 75W 6-pin PCIe connector and one 150W 8-pin PCIe connector for proper operation.
The Sapphire HD 7970 Vapor-X uses Vapor Chamber Technology to keep everything nice and cool. The Vapor-X cooler utilizes four heatpipes (two 8mm & two 6mm) to help transfer the heat from the GPU to the aluminum cooling fins. Above the cooling fins are a pair of 90mm fans that have aerofoil blades and dust repelling bearings. The Vapor-X cooler should easily handle the heat generated from the AMD Radeon HD 7970 GPU even under extreme load conditions.
This card features an 8-phase power design and uses a CHiL CHL8228G controller to keep the voltages in order. The 3GB of GDDR5 memory is made up of Hynix memory chips. Let’s take a look at the retail box & bundle next and then move on to testing!