After originally missing its initial launch window of late June, and again missing a soft launch target of 2 weeks ago, the first Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition card has finally turned up in our weekly scouring of Newegg. And boy is it a doozy.

As we mentioned in our previous update, AMD’s partners have decided to take a slightly different direction with the 7970GE than AMD originally intended. Instead of shipping straightforward reference and semi-custom 7970GE cards, partners have chosen to integrate the binned Tahiti GPU into their existing high-end product lineups. As a result the 7970GE is effectively a month behind schedule, but this also means the first cards are more powerful than the “mere” reference 7970GE we saw back in June.

Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition Specification Comparison
  Sapphire Toxic 7970GE 6GB "Lethal" Sapphire Toxic 7970GE 6GB "Stock" AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition AMD Radeon HD 7970
Stream Processors 2048 2048 2048 2048
Texture Units 128 128 128 128
ROPs 32 32 32 32
Core Clock 1150MHz 1050MHz 1000MHz 925MHz
Boost Clock 1200MHz 1100MHz 1050MHz N/A
Memory Clock 6.4GHz GDDR5 6GHz GDDR5 6GHz GDDR5 5.5GHz GDDR5
Memory Bus Width 384-bit 384-bit 384-bit 384-bit
FP64 1/4 1/4 1/4 1/4
Transistor Count 4.31B 4.31B 4.31B 4.31B
PowerTune Limit ? 250W+ 250W+ 250W
Manufacturing Process TSMC 28nm TSMC 28nm TSMC 28nm TSMC 28nm
Architecture GCN GCN GCN GCN
Launch Date 07/30/2012 07/30/2012 06/22/2012 01/09/2012
Launch Price $699 $699 $499 $549

The first 7970GE card to ship is a prime example of this strategy: Sapphire’s Toxic HD 7970 GHz Edition 6GB. As many of our long-time readers are aware, Sapphire uses their Toxic sub-brand to house their customized high-end factory overclocked parts, and the 7970GE Toxic is no exception. On top of the custom PCB and custom cooler one would expect to find in a fully-custom card, Sapphire is shipping the card with a base clockspeed of 1050MHz, a further 50MHz beyond the 7970GE’s reference base clock. The boost clock is in turn also raised by 50MHz, giving the card a 1.1GHz boost clock at stock.

However it appears that Sapphire hasn’t stopped there, as 1050MHz is only one of two configurations the 7970GE Toxic supports. The 7970GE Toxic ships with a second, higher clocked performance BIOS which is enabled by the “Lethal Boost Button” on the card, which switches the card over to this second BIOS.  The second BIOS in turn is truly an overclocked BIOS, with Sapphire bumping up the core clock by a further 100Mhz and the memory clock a further 400MHz, to a final clockspeed of 1150MHz base clock, 1200MHz boost clock, and 6.4GHz memory clock. Compared to the reference 7970 that was launched back in January this is a significantly higher clocked card (nearly 25%), which makes for an abnormal mid-cycle performance improvement for the still-young 7970.

Now for the bad news: the first 7970GE is going to set you back $699. Custom cards always carry a premium and the Toxic lives up to that expectation just as well as it does any other. Between the factory overclock, greater amount of RAM, and other custom functionality, Sapphire is charging a $200 premium over what a reference 7970GE would go for. Every indication so far is that the rest of AMD’s partners will be going in the same direction by using the 7970GE for custom cards, so at this point it’s we’re unsure if we’ll see anything with the performance or the price of the reference 7970GE. We’re not sure that’s a good thing here – one of the great things about the 7970GE was that it established an official SKU for AMD’s direct GTX 680 competitor – but for now it is what it is.

Source: Newegg

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  • palladium - Tuesday, July 31, 2012 - link

    I believe the VRAM value for the column "Sapphire Toxic 7970GE 6GB "Stock"" should read 6GB?
  • Ryan Smith - Tuesday, July 31, 2012 - link

    Whoops. Noted and fixed. Thanks.
  • RussianSensation - Tuesday, July 31, 2012 - link

    Ryan, in the last paragraph: "...performance or the prince of the reference 7970GE."

    prince => price

    Also, there is a Sapphire AMD Radeon VAPOR-X HD 7970 GHz Edition 3GB GDDR5 OC that can already be found for < $460 USD.

    It obviously has a more modest 1000mhz core / 1050GPU boost but the same cooler that the TOXIC has.
  • raghu78 - Tuesday, July 31, 2012 - link

    At USD 458 the Sapphire HD 7970 Vapor-X 3GB is a better buy than GTX 680 at USD 500. Also the GTX 680 4GB VRAM models are selling for USD 600. the HD 7970 Vapor-X 3 GB is looking like a well designed HD 7970. Hopefully Ryan might review the Sapphire HD 7970 TOXIC 6 GB including overclocked performance. All the benefits of that card are present in the Vapor-X HD 7970 3GB which will give buyers an idea of what kind of performance and build quality they are getting.
  • RussianSensation - Tuesday, July 31, 2012 - link

    Agreed. The price is now $448 after coupon code BIGBEN ($10 off). At less than $450, the Ghz edition is as fast as most GTX680s and with overclocking it will beat an overclocked 680. The cooler is also extremely quiet. NV charging almost $600 for 4GB GTX680s is laughable.

    I think they should review the Vapor-X 3GB instead. That card is very important imo since to me it obsoletes all GTX680s and enroaches on the $420-430 after market GTX670s.
  • raghu78 - Sunday, August 5, 2012 - link

    correct. newegg also has the Sapphire HD 7970 Vapor X 3GB for USD 450.

    Overclocked this card will beat the GTX 680 overclocked when compared across a wide range of games and has better price perf than the GTX 680 and GTX 670. Nvidia started out with a better product in March in terms of stock performance and price But its increasingly becoming clear that AMD has the better card now.
  • CeriseCogburn - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    A grand total of 2 people have bought that card and commented so far raghu78... ROFLMHO

    The unverified commenter even says amd drivers suck, but he still has a 680 in the closet (gathering dust). Another amd fanboy liar, you decide... LOL

    The one verified got an 1150 core, NOT 1300 bub. he got +100 for 1600 on the mem - pathetic overall.

    It COSTS $470 dollars today end of Aug 2012, not 450...

    It's increasingly becoming clear amd fans have to lie always to attempt their failed argument.

    I won't even get into how the 680 and 670 stomp it.
  • Patflute - Tuesday, July 31, 2012 - link

    Who the hell would get the stock of the toxic for the same price.
  • A5 - Tuesday, July 31, 2012 - link

    They're the same card, just a BIOS switch on the board. Reading the article is usually helpful.
  • RussianSensation - Wednesday, August 1, 2012 - link

    You read the article wrong. The TOXIC has 2 BIOS settings: (1) Stock (2) Lethal Button that elevates GPU clock to 1200mhz and memory to 6400mhz. It's 1 card with 2 of those BIOS settings listed in the chart.

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