PCB Design and Functionality
The ASUS ROG Matrix 7970 can impress anyone with its looks. The matte black casing of its cooler with red inserts and two large fans makes it very stylish.
The reverse side of the PCB is covered with a perforated metallic plate on which you can read the name of the model. The word “Matrix” on the top edge of the card is highlighted:
The device is 285x140x59 mm large, so it is going to take three PCIe slots on your mainboard. It is also recommended to leave a fourth slot free for the card’s cooler to work efficiently.
The card’s mounting bracket is an epic view with two DVI connectors and as many as four DisplayPorts. You can connect up to six monitors to it concurrently but there are certain nuances. You can use only one DVI in dual-link mode together with one DisplayPort or you can use two DVI ports in single-link mode and enable all four DisplayPorts.
The operation mode of the video ports is specified by means of a small BIOS switch you can find near the CrossFireX MIO connectors. Three small buttons can be spotted at the other side of the PCB – we’ll explain their purpose shortly. There is also a switch that makes fans work at their maximum speed.
Instead of one 6-pin and one 8-pin power connector, the ASUS ROG Matrix 7970 is equipped with two 8-pin connectors:
It might be expected since the ASUS ROG Matrix 7970 is specified to consume up to 300 watts, which is 50 watts more than specified for the reference AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition. A 650-watt PSU is recommended for a computer with one ROG Matrix 7970 inside.
Two MIO connectors for building CrossFireX configurations can be found in their conventional place. The switch you use to select the operation mode of the card’s video outputs can be seen in the photo, too:
Considering the triple-slot form-factor, the ASUS ROG Matrix 7970 can hardly be used in CrossFireX configurations with more than one additional card.
Having removed the cooler, we found the PCB to be mostly covered by a metallic heatsink plate with some finning.
It is responsible for cooling power system components and some memory chips. There’s an additional heat-spreading plate among the accessories which is used if the card is cooled by liquid nitrogen or freon-based coolers.
The ASUS ROG Matrix 7970 features a custom PCB with high-quality and durable components (ASUS Super Alloy Power technology). The GPU voltage regulator has as many as 16 phases and is managed by a digital controller DIGI+ ASP1211. There are four phases for the memory chips and other circuitry, so the total number of power phases is 20. The iROG chip installed in the top part of the PCB seems to be responsible for communication between the graphics card and ROG series mainboards from ASUS via the VGA Hotwire interface.
It offers you hardware control over all of the graphics card parameters via the UEFI BIOS or ASUS AI Suite software.
There are three buttons next to the turbo switch for the cooler’s fans.
The "+" and "-" buttons can be pressed for step-by-step voltage adjustment even when the graphics card is up and running – the process is accompanied with colorful indication. Pressing the Safe Mode button makes the graphics card reset and restart with its default settings.
Hardcore overclockers may appreciate the contacts and connectors they can use to measure and increase voltages and enable LN2 mode.
Overall, the ASUS ROG Matrix 7970 is not just a very fast graphics card, but a perfect tool for anyone who is into extreme overclocking.
Its Tahiti TX chip is quite ordinary:
It has standard specifications save for clock rate. The latter is increased from 1050 to 1100 MHz. The specifications suggest that this is the boost clock rate, but the card actually works at 1100 MHz all the time in 3D applications, not only at high loads. So, we can assume that 1100 MHz is indeed the default GPU clock rate of the ASUS ROG Matrix 7970’s GPU in 3D applications.
The card is equipped with 3 gigabytes of GDDR5 memory in Hynix Semiconductor H5GQ2H24AFR R0C chips.
The memory chips are rated for 6000 MHz, but ASUS pre-overclocked it by 10%, up to 6600 MHz. Thus, the ASUS ROG Matrix 7970 is indeed the fastest serially manufactured Radeon HD 7970.
Here is a summary of the graphics card’s specifications: