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ASUS ROG Matrix 7970 Graphics Card

16-phase design, low noise, and great performance.

April 26, 2013



Today we'll review an ASUS Radeon HD 7970 GHz graphics card from company's ROG Matrix series. This is a very interesting product designed primarily for overclockers and gaming enthusiasts.

Specifications

  • Model name: MATRIX-HD7970-P-3GD5
  • GPU: Tahiti XT2
  • Interface: PCIe 3.0 x16
  • GPU clock rate (ROPs/shaders): 1100 MHz (the standard is 1050 MHz)
  • Memory: 3072MB GDDR5
  • Memory clock rate, physical (effective): 1650 (6600) MHz (the standard is 1500 (6000) MHz)
  • Memory bus: 384-bit
  • Stream processors: 2048
  • Texture units: 128 (BLF/TLF/ANIS)
  • ROP units: 32
  • Dimensions: 292x140 mm, 3 slots
  • PCB color: black
  • Peak power consumption (3D/2D/standby): 240/73/3 W
  • Output connectors: Dual-Link DVI-I, Single-Link DVI-D, 4 x DisplayPort 1.2
  • Supplementary power connectors: 2 x 8-pin
  • Multi-GPU mode: CrossFire X (hardware)

Comparison with the reference design, front view

ASUS ROG Matrix 7970 Reference AMD Radeon HD 7970

Comparison with the reference design, rear view

ASUS ROG Matrix 7970 Reference AMD Radeon HD 7970

You can see this is a custom product which differs much from the reference design. In fact, only some of the memory chip layout has remained the same. Most importantly, the power supply unit has been overhauled. The 16-phase (!) design instead of the reference 4-phase one provides colossal overclocking and fine-tuning capabilities. For which, by the way, there's an official utility bundled with the card.

An alternative way to overclock the card is to use buttons in the rear part. Pressing those increases or decreases core voltage. Visually, this is indicated by the 'MATRIX' LED that changes color depending on GPU load.

Maximum resolutions and frequencies:

  • 240 Hz maximum refresh rate
  • 2048 x 1536 @ 85 Hz max. analog (VGA) resolution
  • 2560 x 1600 @ 60 Hz max. digital (DVI) resolution (for Dual Link DVI-D)

Coolers

The cooler looks much like the popular DirectCu series from ASUS. There are two massive heatsinks interconnected with heatpipes. One of the heatsinks' copper base is pressed against the core. The cover is as massive, featuring two high-quality, low-noise fans. Neither memory chips nor power transistors have dedicated cooling installed, although the bundle does include an auxillary heatsink. As a whole, the cooler is very quiet, even when the fan speed is over 2000 rpm.

Temperature monitoring results

We measured temperatures using the EVGA PrecisionX utility.

After 6 hours under maximum load, the top core temperature was below 80°C, even with the GPU fully loaded. This is simply great.

Package contents

A basic package should include a user manual and a software CD.

The card comes bundled with a basic package plus DVI-to-VGA and DVI-to-HDMI adapters, an 8-pin power splitter, and cabling for core/memory voltage/current monitoring.



Box


Performance tests

Testbed:

  • 2 x Intel Core i7-3960X (o/c to 4 GHz) CPU
  • Hydro SeriesT H100i Extreme Performance CPU cooler
  • Intel Thermal Solution RTS2011LC cooler
  • ASUS Sabertooth X79 motherboard on the Intel X79 chipset
  • MSI X79A-GD45(8D) motherboard on the Intel X79 chipset
  • 16GB of 1600MHz Corsair Vengeance CMZ16GX3M4A1600C9 DDR3 SDRAM
  • Seagate Barracuda 7200.14 3TB SATA2 HDD
  • WD Caviar Blue WD10EZEX 1TB SATA2 HDD
  • 2 x Corsair Neutron CSSD-N120GB3-BK SSD
  • 2 x 1200W Corsair CMPSU-1200AXEU PSU
  • Corsair Obsidian 800D Full-Tower case
  • Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit, DirectX 11
  • 30" Dell UltraSharp U3011 display
  • VSync disabled
  • AMD Catalyst 13.3 beta3; NVIDIA Drivers 314.14

Benchmarks:

  • Hard Reset — DirectX 11.0, built-in benchmark, maximum quality settings.
  • 3DMark (2013) (FutureMark) — DirectX 11.0, FireStrike, Performance settings.
  • Aliens vs. Predator (Rebellion/SEGA) — DirectX 11.0, Very High settings, run from in game.
  • Nexuiz (2012) (IllFonic/THQ) — DirectX 11.0, built-in benchmark, maximum quality settings.
  • Crysis 2 Maximum Edition (Crytek/EA) — DirectX 11.0, Very High settings, Central Park level, launched with the Adrenaline Crysis 2 Benchmark Tool.
  • DiRT: Showdown (Codemasters) — DirectX 11.0, Ultra High settings, launched as follows: dirt showdown.exe -benchmark example_benchmark.xml.
  • Heaven Benchmark 2.0 (Unigine) — DirectX 11.0, High settings.
  • Valley Benchmark (Unigine) — DirectX 11.0, Maximum settings
  • Metro 2033 (4A Games/THQ) — DirectX 11.0, Super High settings, PhysX disabled, run from in game.
  • Total War: Shogun 2 (Creative Assembly/SEGA) — DirectX 11.0, maximum quality settings.
  • Sleeping Dogs (United Front Games/Square Enix) — DirectX 11.0, built-in benchmark, maximum quality settings.

Total War: Shogun 2

Hard Reset

Unigine Heaven Benchmark DirectX 11

Aliens vs. Predator DirectX 11

Nexiuz (2012)

Unigine Valley Benchmark DirectX 11

3DMark FireStrike (2013)

DiRT: Showdown

Metro 2033

Sleeping Dogs

Crysis 2

Final thoughts

The capability rating compares each graphics card with GeForce GT 630, which is considered a baseline, or 100%. The rating is based on both synthetic and gaming results and shows, as the name implies, what a product is capable of.

The usability rating is obtained by dividing each card's capability rating by its price. It basically shows whether a given product is over or underpriced, considering what it can do, and thus how reasonable it is to buy it.

The complete ratings can be found in our i3Dspeed. Below are just the parts relevant to today's review.

Sorted by capability (high to low)

# Card Capability rating Usability rating Approx. price, USD
07 ASUS ROG MATRIX 7970, 1100/6600 860 175 491
08 GTX 680 4096MB, 1071-1200/6000 850 140 609
09 HD 7970 GHz 3072MB, 1050/1050/6000 810 169 480
10 GTX 680 2048MB, 1000-1100/6000 790 147 538
12 HD 7970 3072MB, 925/925/5500 730 158 463

Sorted by usability (high to low)

# Card Usability rating Capability rating Approx. price, USD
24 ASUS ROG MATRIX 7970, 1100/6600 175 860 491
25 HD 7970 GHz 3072MB, 1050/1050/6000 169 810 480
26 HD 7970 3072MB, 925/925/5500 158 730 463
29 GTX 680 2048MB, 1000-1100/6000 147 790 538
30 GTX 680 4096MB, 1071-1200/6000 140 850 609

Solutions from ASUS are usually overpriced which prevents them from leading in their price range. But what do you know! This one is the leader in its price range both in terms of performance and usability. It seems like card's performance is so great that it actually compensates for it being overpriced.

ASUS ROG MATRIX 7970 is an excellent variant of Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition. It's designed for overclockers, which shows in card's great tweaking options. We, for example, managed to achieve stable operation at 1250/6900 MHz, which is close to GeForce GTX Titan. Last but not least, the card works quietly thanks to the impressive albeit massive cooling system.


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