ASUS MATRIX HD 7970 Platinum Video Card Review

ASUS is launching its highest-end ASUS MATRIX HD 7970 Platinum video card today, poised to give you the best experience possible out of a Radeon HD 7970. This highly customized video card is geared directly towards the hardware enthusiast. Come see the highest overclock we've ever achieved on a 7970 GHz Edition based video card.

Introduction

ASUS has come out swinging hard with its latest addition to its Republic of Gamers Radeon HD 7970 lineup. Today, ASUS is launching the ASUS MATRIX HD 7970 and ASUS MATRIX HD 7970 Platinum video cards. These two video cards are the flagships of ASUS' Radeon HD 7970 lineup. You will find these to be the fastest Radeon HD 7970 GPU based video card ASUS has to offer. These completely custom engineered video cards, designed, engineered, and manufactured by ASUS for hardware and game enthusiasts.

The ASUS MATRIX line as always been the cream of the crop for video cards from ASUS. The ASUS MATRIX line consists of the best engineering, the best designs, the best components, all put into a big hardware package geared for gaming performance and overclocking. We've evaluated many MATRIX video cards in the past, such as the previous ASUS MATRIX GTX580 Platinum. The ASUS MATRIX HD 7970 Platinum should in theory provide the highest overclock on a Radeon HD 7970 based video card produced from ASUS.

We are specifically looking at the ASUS MATRIX HD 7970 Platinum here today.

ASUS MATRIX HD 7970 & Platinum Specifications

Let's first take a look at what makes the two versions of the ASUS MATRIX HD 7970 tick. The complete ASUS reviewers’ guide, with detailed information, is posted below.

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As you can see above, there are two models, the ASUS MATRIX HD 7970 and the ASUS MATRIX HD 7970 Platinum. The ASUS MATRIX HD 7970 MSRP has not been released and the ASUS MATRIX HD 7970 Platinum has an MSRP of $480. You will likely not see a lot of the non-Platinum cards for sale, and that will be further cleared up as to why, as we move along.

Both versions are based on the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition GPU. The Platinum utilizes hand-picked GPUs of the highest quality that are binned to overclock well. The Platinum version is further overclocked out of the box. The default frequency on a 7970 GHz Edition it is 1050MHz. The ASUS MATRIX HD 7970 runs at 1050MHz, and the Platinum version runs at 1100MHz. Therefore, there is a 50MHz higher frequency on the Platinum version, but, as we all know, 50MHz doesn't make much impact to the gameplay experience. The real advantage to the Platinum version are the hand-picked GPUs, otherwise, both video cards are exactly the same.

The memory on a Radeon HD 7970 runs at 5.5GHz. The ASUS MATRIX HD 7970 and Platinum version runs at 6.6GHz. This is a significant memory performance boost we often don't see. Many manufacturers opt to overclock the GPU, and leave the memory alone, or only offer small overclocks. ASUS has said that won't do, and has provided for us a rather good memory overclock.

Other than that, both video cards are built with the highest quality PWM including DIGI+VRM 20-phase Super Alloy Power technology. Japanese made black metallic capacitors, Super Alloy Chokes with concrete cores for buzz-free operation, and high quality MOSFETs. In addition, unique ASUS technologies such as VGA Hotwire, TweakIT, ProbeIT, Safe Mode Button, Turbo Fan, MATRIX LED indicator, and the DirectCU II heatsink/fan are all included.


Overclocking the Matrix HD 7970 Platinum

We often don't include the overclocking information on the introduction page, but this time, it was so easy, and so successful, that we want to get straight to the point with this video card. We know that the people buying this video card will likely do so for its overclocking ability. The Matrix HD 7970 Platinum video card is designed to overclock, and if you don't overclock it you are missing the point.

We had but three steps to go through to overclock. First, we pushed the button on the side of the card that ramps the fan speed up to 100% at all times. Then we used the TweakIT buttons by pressing the "plus" voltage button on the edge of the video card to raise the voltage as high as it would go. Then we loaded up GPU Tweak and overclocked the GPU frequency and memory until we found our highest stable overclock. It was easy to setup, but did take some time to nail down the stable frequency.

We actually found two frequencies of interest regarding the GPU overclock. First, we managed to get this video card up to a maximum of 1.33GHz (1330MHz) on the GPU. However, some games were unstable, while others were not. Half of our six games would lock up at this frequency. However, the other half worked just fine. This shows us that some games are more sensitive to clock speed than others. So, in some games, you might be able to play at 1.33GHz, the highest overclock we've ever achieved on a Radeon HD 7970.

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After all of our rigorous testing, we concluded that 1.31GHz (1310MHz) was the highest stable GPU frequency. This is incredible for a Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition video card. Every GHz Edition video card we have overclocked at HardOCP, has turned out lackluster overclocking results. The previous, non-GHz Edition 7970 GPUs overclocked better for us. This ASUS Matrix HD 7970 Platinum was by far the highest 7970 GHz Edition overclock we've ever achieved, and it blows away every other GHz Edition video card we've overclocked, by miles. This was a welcomed and exciting overclock.

Even more, we were able to overclock the memory up to 7GHz, from 6.6GHz. Technically, the memory could go higher, but when we did so it compromised the GPU frequency overclock. We decided to keep the memory overclock lower, in order to keep the GPU frequency as high as possible. So our final overclock for the Platinum was 1.31GHz GPU and 7GHz memory!

Overclocking the Platinum was truly easy. Push the button to set the fan speed higher, increase the voltage with the buttons on the video card, then use GPU Tweak, and overclock the core to 1.3GHz and you are good to go!


ASUS MATRIX HD 7970 Platinum Pictures

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The ASUS MATRIX HD 7970 Platinum measures a long 11.25" in length, and 5.5" in depth. It takes up three slots in your computer, and did hang out past our motherboard on our testing system. The video card requires two 8-pin power connectors. On the display side of things, this video card supports Eyefinity 6. It has four display port outputs, and two DVI connectors. However, when the DisplayPort that is grouped with the DVI Port is used, that DVI port only acts in single-link mode. This is referenced well on the backplane of the card so that there should not be any confusion.

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You can see the Turbo Fan and voltage controls on the edge of the video card. They are quite easy to use, and can be enabled in real-time with the computer on in Windows. We had no trouble ramping up the voltage on the fly and overclocking with GPU Tweak.

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Finally, you can see the video card lit up in all its glory. The top LED indicator will glow blue on light use, and turn all the way to a dark red when the GPU is pushing graphics as hard as it can. It is a simple visual way to look at the GPU utilization.