With both AMD and Nvidia not having released their next generation DX11 cards yet, it was only fair that we start seeing some seriously beefed up custom solution from partner firms, and ASUSis always one to come up with some pretty cool stuff. For today’s review I have their recently launched HD 7970 Matrix Platinum card from their ROG line of products.
The HD 7970 Matrix Platinum is designed with one purpose in mind: push the AMD Tahiti core to its limits. While AMD has launched the GHz edition HD 7970 to combat the significant performance lead the Nvidia GTX 680 has had over it, the ASUS HD 7970 Matrix Platinum takes it one step further, just take a look at the clock speeds below.
For starters there’s a small SteelSeries Diablo 3 branded mousepad, a crossfire bridge, manuals and drivers disc, Y power cable, 2 wires for connecting the card to an ASUS ROG compatible motherboard for overclocking voltage, and a slim-profile heatsink to use with LN2 cooling kits. Also a Republic of Gamers metal sticker.
Now the ASUS HD 7970 Matrix Platinum is a triple-slot solution, so if you’re planning to do a 3-way or 4-way CrossFire setup, choose your motherboard carefully.
So we have a perforated metal plate on the back, with small heatsinks attached directly onto the flash memory as well as the keeping the VRM and FC cool. The HD 7970 core itself is directly connected to a copper base from which 5 heatpipes flow out into the aluminum fins of the heatsink. This is then topped off by two 10cm fans with a plastic cover to make things look awesome.
Now it’s possible to have a complete 6 monitor Eyefinity setup with the ASUS HD 7970 Matrix Platinum, but you have to switch (on the card) from dual-link to a single-link DVI connection.
The ASUS Matrix logo on top runs a cool blue to cyan when idling and under little load, going to purple and then red when under full load. ASUS recommends 650W PSU for the HD 7970 Matrix Platinum, taking two 8-pin power connectors to get the juice it needs.
Here you will see a big fan switch that puts the fan to 100% usage when depressed, overriding the automatic control. This pushes the car to well over 3000RPM, resulting in a considerable amount of noise. The positive and negative buttons change the core voltage manually, while the Safe Mode is basically a BIOS reset which turns all settings to factory defaults.
Notice on the edge where you have wire connectors, including soldering points on the top where the HD 7970 Matrix Platinum can be literally hotwired to ASUS’ ROG motherboards for direct overclocking. Great for LN2 cooling enthusiasts, or world record breakers.
Overclocking the ASUS HD 7970 Matrix Platinum was a lot of fun. Given the already high clock speeds I didn’t expect much headroom; I mean the Tahiti core can only go so high. Still, I managed to get a successful overclock of 1248MHz on the Core clock and 7036MHz on the Memory clock speeds with voltages set at 1.35mV and 1.622mV respectively.
Anything higher and I started getting severe artifacts regardless of voltage increase. I’m sure with LN2 cooling you can easily surpass this limitation as voltage controls can go quiet high on the HD 7970 Matrix Platinum.
The below testbed was used:
For benchmark the below settings were used:
Note: While AMD’s latest beta Catalyst 12.11 was used for testing the ASUS HD 7970 Matrix Platinum, all the other cards are running older version of GeForce and Catalyst drivers.
Noise & Temperature
One of the advantages of having such a large heatsink is that you can expect little no noise, and indeed this is the case with the ASUS HD 7970 Matrix Platinum. At idle you cannot hear the card at all, with full load giving a slight whisper of a noise. Of course, once I overclocked the fan noise was noticeable, but not annoying by any stretch.
Temperatures were also impressively low at default fan speeds, even when overclocked.
The ASUS HD 7970 Matrix Platinum truly is a beastly card, giving very high frame rates (thanks in part to AMD’s driver improvements) and making it one of fastest single-GPU graphics card tested to date. Sure the card is massive, but with this type of incredible performance, that’s to be expected. If you’re not a fan of Nvidia, the ASUS HD 7970 Matrix Platinum should be almost the top spot on your shopping list if you want the fastest single-GPU setup for your gaming rig!