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SAPPHIRE  Radeon HD 7970 OC 3GB 384-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card (11197-01-40G)
  • Verified Owner
  • Owned For: 1 day to 1 week

5 out of 5 eggs My guide to enabling full voltage control overclocking on HD7970. Brown PCB Dual-X vs. Blue PCB Sapphire 7970 OC Boost - what's the difference? 10/19/2012

This review is from: SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 7970 OC 3GB 384-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card (11197-01-40G)

Pros: To overclock, this is what you need to do:

Step 1: Download the latest AMD drivers from the website, not from the CD.

Step 2: Download MSI AfterBurner version 2.2.1 or earlier. Versions 2.2.2 or after are missing 2 important .dll files that you need (atipdl64.dll and atipdlxx.dll). Alternatively, you need to find these 2 files and drop them into C:\Program Files (x86)\MSI Afterburner directory.

Step 3: Go to that MSI Afterburner directory and find a file called "MSIAfterburner.cfg". Right click mouse button, Open With Notepad.

Under the heading [ATIADLHAL] paste these 2 lines:
UnofficialOverclockingMode = 1
UnofficialOverclockingEULA = I confirm that I am aware of unofficial overclocking limitations and fully understand that MSI will not provide me any support on it

If 1 doesn't work, put 2. Now click File --> Save As "MSIAfterburner.cfg" as a Text Document and override existing .cfg file.

Now if you open MSI AB, you should see voltage control slider enabled. Now how to extend the GPU and memory clocks?

Step 4: Close MSI Afterburner. Download Asus GPU Tweak. Open it. Go to Settings, Tuning --> Tuning Setting. Check mark "Overclocking range enhancement". Press Apply. Your screen should flash black. Now you can close Asus GPU tweak and never need to force running it on Windows Boot up. This is a one time adjustment.

Step 5: Open MSI AB and you should be able to move GPU clock to 1710 depending and GPU memory to 2565 (or similar values).

Key note - the value you set in MSI AB is target voltage and actual voltage is in GPU-Z.





My results with ASIC 60.5%
- 1150mhz GPU clock at 1.174V MSI AB (1.086-1.088V in GPU-Z VDDC)
- 1200mhz GPU clock at 1.231V MSI AB (1.119-1.31V actual)

Won't overclock above this no matter how much voltage I apply.

If you want the fastest single-GPU this generation, pick up the Asus Matrix HD7970 as it hits 1275-1300mhz on air cooling which is faster than any GTX680 on air.

Cons: - No backplate
- If you need Dual-Link DVI, get a GTX670/680 card or you need a monitor with native display port connections (each Mini-Display port on this card drives 4096 x 2160 or 1080P @ 120Hz no problem).
- Got low ASIC quality of 60.5%. This would have been perfect for water overclocking but I am overclocking on air. For those of you who get > 80%, you'll do much better than me.

Other Thoughts: Currently Newegg carries this Sapphire Dual-X (11197-01-40G) card with a Brown PCB and a Sapphire 100351SR OC with Boost card with a Blue PCB. I went for this card because:

- This card has a larger vent so that more air gets exhausted out of the case (although most of it still gets dumped into the case). The other version has Dual-DVIs which blocks half the vent.

- This card comes 1 Dual-Link DVI, HDMI and 2 Mini-Display Ports. It ships with an Active-DisplayPort to DVI adapter which means you can drive 3x 1920x1080 screens in Eyefinity using . This adapter usually sells for around $30 but it's included with this card. The other card can also drive 3 monitors since it's a FLEX edition but you don't get the $30 cable. The Blue-PCB version is 1 Dual-Link and 1 Single-Link DVI so I don't see any advantage to having Dual-DVIs in that case.

- When you see an AMD card with letters "AMD" on the PCB near the PCIe connector, it means this Brown PCB version of the card is made on an AMD reference PCB (albeit with upgraded VRM to 5+2 setup, with 2 phases for the memory). Most importantly, reference AMD PCB means 100% full voltage control. The Blue PCB is made by Sapphire and from what I've read it has no voltage control. I've read that it sometimes works with Sapphire Trixx 4.4.0 but sometimes it doesn't.

- This version does not have GPU Boost, the Blue PCB version does (keep in mind the GPU Boost fluctuates from 950mhz to 1000mhz if you don't increase the PowerTune to +20% in CCC or MSI AB), while this version works at 1000mhz all the time with BIOS 2.

- The Blue PCB card is a GPU Boosted cards, just like Ghz Edition cards, often ship with locked voltages and/or high voltage of 1.212-1.256V. This Brown PCB card shipped with 1.174V in MSI AB that shows up as 1.086V in VDDC "Average" reading selected in GPU-Z. Perfect, as I didn't want an overvolted card from the factory for a measly 1 Ghz clocks and I knew the vanilla 7970 cards undervolt.

Regarding gaming performance, at 1150-1170mhz, HD7970 with latest drivers is as fast as a GTX680 at 1280mhz or so (checked various reviews). AMD is barely behind in BF3 (about 5% now with Cats 12.9 Betas) but has much faster performance than GTX680 in games that use next generation global illumination or are shader intensive such as Sleeping Dogs, Sniper Elite V2, Dirt Showdown, Metro 2033, Crysis games (even Crysis 2 is now faster on HD7970 GE over GTX680).

Overall, if you don't overclock at 1 Ghz from the factory, this card is as fast as a GTX680 on average for less $. If you do overclock, again it's as fast as a 1270-1280mhz GTX680.

Recently NV admitted that voltage above Kepler's stock of 1.175V + minor dynamic adjustment with Kepler GPU boost to 1.21V is the absolute maximum safe voltage without inducing electromigration and possibly damaging the GPU. Tahiti XT on the other hand is warrantied by AMD up to 1.256V and Asus Matrix 7970 allows up to 1.35V in GPU-Tweak. Just watch your VRM tempe

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SAPPHIRE  Radeon HD 7970 OC 3GB 384-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card (11197-01-40G)
  • Owned For: 1 month to 1 year

5 out of 5 eggs Great card for gaming and unbeatable for GPU Compute as a consumer GPU under $500 08/21/2012

This review is from: SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 7970 OC 3GB 384-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card (11197-01-40G)

Pros: - 1x Active MiniDisplay Port to DVI adapter ($30 value) -- this is required to drive 3 screens (1920x1080P) in Eyefinity out of the box
- Using Cats 12.8, HD7000 series gains support for DX11.1, which introduces Target Independent Rasterization (TIR). This is supposed to accelerate 2D graphics desktop speed in Windows 8
- My card had an ASIC of 71%, with a stock voltage of 1.174V
- Overclocks on stock voltage to 1150mhz, VRM temperatures in HWInfo64 never exceed 100*C
- At 1150mhz @ 1.174V, the GPU temperature hovers between 71-76*C with fan speeds varying from 51-63%, respectively. At these levels it is still very quiet for a high-end GPU.
- I am able to overclock the memory to 1800mhz on stock memory voltage of 1.6V (default), 1830 at 1.65V
- OCed 1.15ghz = 680Mhash/sec in Bitcoin Mining (using GUIMiner with flags -w 256 -f1), at current rate ~ 9.4 BTC per month
- No BSOD, coil whine, or driver issues / coming out of sleep problems to report

Cons: - Has been replaced with superior Sapphire Vapor-X that gets vapor chamber cooler and 8 Black Diamond Chokes from the $700 TOXIC. That means this card is not too expensive vs. the Sapphire TOXIC
- The card takes up 2.5 slots as the cooling shroud slightly protrudes beyond 2 slots, not ideal for those going with Cross-Fire
- Length: 270mm for the PCB, ~286mm with the plastic fan shroud (11.26"), may not it in smaller cases
- At 1150mhz @ 1.174V, this card will consume about 40-50W of more power than a GTX680 @ 1280-1290mhz.

Other Thoughts: - Performance in Guild Wars 2 beta is currently lacking
- At 1150/1800 memory, this trades blows with a 1280-1290mhz GPU Boosted GTX680 with MSAA+Max in many games and actually wins in Crysis 1/Warhead, Anno 2070, Bulletstorm, Batman Arkham City w/ 8xMSAA, Serious Sam 3, Witcher 2, Crysis 2, SKYRIM with 8xMSAA+ENB Mods, Dirt 3 with latest Catalyst 12.8 drivers
- NV cards have the new TXAA anti-aliasing feature but I checked it out in the Secret World on a friend's 680 and it blurs the textures too much for my liking.
- To me the GPU Compute advantage is well worth the extra power consumption, especially since this card makes $$$ bitcoin mining when not gaming, but GTX670 OC Kepler is still more efficient for gaming alone, albeit slower overall
- Computerbase has HD7970 @ 1050mhz only 6% slower at 2560x1600 4AA than GTX660Ti SLI setup. That's a big plus for those buying a GPU for high resolution gaming.
- I still think MSI TwinFrozr III 7950 @ 1100-1200mhz is a better value overal

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Faina G.'s Profile

Display Name: Faina G.

Date Joined: 03/30/09

  • Reviews: 2
  • Helpfulness: 2
  • First Review: 08/21/12
  • Last Review: 10/19/12
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