Product on Review: XFX Black Edition R7970
Manufacturer and Sponsor: XFX
Street Price: £455.99
Product on Review: ZOTAC GTX580 3GB AMP2! Edition
Manufacturer and Sponsor: ZOTAC
Street Price: £450
We've reviewed a few HD7970's now yet some people are not convinced it is worth the outlay over NVIDIA's finest - the GTX580. Some even say that there is simply no need for the HD7970 in that there are few games that require the awesome power AMD's latest graphics card bestows upon us. This may well be the case as the GTX580 is still a very fast graphics card and up until the HD7970's release, the fastest single core GPU available. Released on November 10th 2010, the GTX580 was the successor to the GTX480, itself a very powerful graphics card. The GTX480 however was a power hungry beast with much of that power being released as heat. The GTX580 was an evolution of the GTX480, solving both the power and heat issues that prevented the GTX480 from becomming a 'classic' amongst graphics card folklore. The GTX580 also 'unlocked' the 16th streaming multiprocessor thereby improving performance significantly over the GTX480. This allowed the GTX580 to claim the performance crown yet again from AMD. For 12 months, the GTX580 revelled in it's success and became the graphics card the GTX480 should have been from the very beginning.
AMD's HD6970 simply did not have the power to compete with the GTX580, despite having more on board memory (2GB vs 1.5GB). To make matters worse, NVIDIA released 3GB models of the GTX580, one of which we will be using in today's review, to enable the GTX580 to concrete it's position as the single fastest graphics card available. Only the dual cored HD6990 and GTX590 managed to better the GTX580's performance. Couple this with the success of the GTX570 and 560 models, Bulldozers failure to ignite the imagination of the processor world and 2011 was perhaps a grim year for AMD. This of course isn't to say their own GPU solutions were poor, far from it but they had to be very aggressively priced to steal sales from NVIDIA who had the upper hand in performance.
Fast-forward a year and we see the introduction of the HD7000 series, particularly the Tahiti core HD7970. With a 28nm manufacturing process, GCN architecture, and 3GB of GDDR5 along with an improved memory buffer, the HD7970 is a card to be reckoned with. Because the HD7970 has 3GB of GDDR5 yand the reference GTX580 makes do with only half that amount we decided to even up the playing field by using a ZOTAC GTX580 3GB AMP2! Edition card, one the most powerful GTX580's available and will compare the results of this card against both reference and overclocked versions of the HD7970. Cost does't really come into it as prices are evenly matched, give or take £10, with both cards costing around the £450 mark. So all things being equal as far as possible, we will see which GPU is fastest at both common and maximum resolutions in today's most popular gaming titles and benchmarks and hopefully answer the question: Is the upgrade worth it?
Lets see how each card measures up against one another...