Now let’s check out how fast the new graphics card is.
The AMD Radeon HD 7970 is spectacular in our first synthetic benchmark. It is 37% ahead of the Radeon HD 6970 in the Performance mode which seems to be too CPU-dependent and as much as 54% faster in the resource-consuming Extreme mode. The GeForce GTX 580 is outperformed by 13 and 31%, respectively. The overclocked GTX 580 should be given credit for beating the reference Radeon HD 7970. However, if the latter is also overclocked (to 1130/7000 MHz), it gets a 13-22% performance boost and becomes unrivalled in this test.
The AMD Radeon HD 7970 crunches through 3DMark 2011 as easily as through the previous version of the benchmark. It is 37-46% ahead of AMD's ex-flagship and 19-30% ahead of Nvidia's current one. The MSI N580GTX Lightning can't catch up with the leader even when overclocked whereas the HD 7970 enjoys a 19-21% performance boost after being overclocked from 925/5500 to 1130/7000 MHz.
Unigine Heaven Demo
The AMD Radeon HD 7970 is brilliant in Unigine Heaven. At 1280x1024 without full-screen antialiasing it is as much as 72% faster than the Radeon HD 6970! The gap is 32% in the other test mode (1920x1080 with 8x MSAA). Being the fastest single-chip card of the previous generation, the GeForce GTX 580 manages to keep as close as 8-13% to the leader and even beats the latter in the first test mode when overclocked. However, we know that the Radeon HD 7970 overclocks even better and has no opponents then (save for dual-chip GTX 590 and HD 6990 cards).
Now let’s see how good the Radeon HD 7970 is in gaming tests.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat
The AMD Radeon HD 7970 beats the opposition in the first game from our list. It is 32-44% ahead of the Radeon HD 6970 at 1920x1080 and 36-68% ahead at 2560x1600. The HD 7970 is also some 30% faster than the GTX 580 which cannot bridge the gap even when overclocked. As for the overclocked HD 7970, its bottom frame rate can be even higher than the average frame rate of the overclocked GTX 580! The graphics card choice for this game series is obvious.
Left 4 Dead 2
Not a heavy application, Left 4 Dead 2 can highlight the advantages of the AMD Radeon HD 7970 anyway. The new card is 18-36% faster than the Radeon HD 6970 and 12-25% faster than the GeForce GTX 580. Our overclocking adds 14 to 29% to its performance. On the other hand, Left 4 Dead 2 runs smoothly even on modest graphics hardware like Radeon HD 6850 or GeForce GTX 560.
Metro 2033: The Last Refuge
The game produced the same results irrespective of whether we enabled FSAA or not. Therefore we tested the graphics cards in the FSAA-less mode only.
As opposed to the previous game, Metro 2033: The Last Refuge is a highly resource-consuming application. Therefore the bottom and average frame rate of the new card are still rather low despite being 28-38% higher than those of the HD 6970. The GeForce GTX 580 3GB lags behind by 16-22% and can only match the HD 7970 at overclocking. The Radeon HD 7970 also gets a substantial 20% performance boost when overclocked from 920/5500 to 1130/7000 MHz, though.