Crysis, Metro, DiRT 3, Shogun 2, & Batman

CPU: Intel Core i7-3960X @ 4.3GHz
Motherboard: EVGA X79 SLI
Chipset Drivers: Intel 9.​2.​3.​1022
Power Supply: Antec True Power Quattro 1200
Hard Disk: Samsung 470 (256GB)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws DDR3-1867 4 x 4GB (8-10-9-26)
Case: Thermaltake Spedo Advance
Video Cards: AMD Radeon HD 7970
AMD Radeon HD 7950
AMD Radeon HD 7870
AMD Radeon HD 7850
AMD Radeon HD 7770
AMD Radeon HD 6970
AMD Radeon HD 6950
AMD Radeon HD 6870
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 Ti
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 1GB
Video Drivers: NVIDIA ForceWare 295.73
AMD Catalyst Beta 8.95.5
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit

As both the PCS+ HD7870 and the IceQ Turbo 7870 ship with an identical core overclock and similar memory clocks, the performance of the two will be nearly identical. The PCS+ has an edge (however slim) in all situations, but as we’ll see there’s very little separating the two cards when it comes to performance.

Overall the factory overclocks on the PCS+ HD7870 and IceQ Turbo 7870 net about a 5% to 7% increase in game performance compared to the stock 7870. The lack of a significant memory overclock on either card appears to be holding back performance some, keeping game performance gains from reaching parity with the core overclocks.

Interestingly, because of the same frontend & ROP reasons we saw the 7870 do so well relative to the 7950 in our initial review, these factory overclocked cards do one better. Both cards overtake the 7950 at times, such as under DiRT 3 and Total War. More interestingly perhaps is that with the 7870 already nipping at the GTX 580’s heels in these games, the overclocked cards also regularly surpass the GTX 580 in 3 out of the 5 games so far.

HIS 7870 IceQ Turbo & PowerColor PCS+ HD7870 Portal 2, Battlefield 3, Starcraft II, Skyrim, & CivV
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  • Death666Angel - Monday, March 19, 2012 - link

    Then why include the 7970 at all since that isn't an option? Just so people can compare their e-peens against higher end cards which in turn can be overlocked so the comparison is moot anyway?
  • kyuu - Monday, March 19, 2012 - link

    The point is to show that you can achieve equal or better performance to a higher-end stock card with this particular card, that is the one being reviewed, over clocked. You're making up some theoretical audience that is somehow misreading it and arguing that they're being mislead, but I don't think those people actually exist. No one is claiming you can't over clock the more expensive card, nor is it really relevant.
  • kyuu - Monday, March 19, 2012 - link

    Sorry, it was actually the OP who imagines there is some "inept" audience misreading it, not you, so my apologies. However, there's still no need to include OC figures for every single card (making a huge, messy, difficult-to-read graph). This article is about two particular products. They are then compared to other stock cards, with some OC figures presented for good measure. There's nothing to complain about here.
  • Ryan Smith - Monday, March 19, 2012 - link

    Funny enough several people asked why we didn't include the 7970 in our This Just In article.
  • Iketh - Monday, March 19, 2012 - link

    how is comparing an OC card to a higher stock card determining value???? You have to compare to the higher card's overclock... why is this difficult to understand?
  • Ryan Smith - Monday, March 19, 2012 - link

    Hi Peanutsrevenge;

    The primary goal we have with our overclocking comparison isn't to say any given card is more or less superior because of how far it can overclock, but rather we're trying to give the appropriate framing and significance to our overclocking results. An overclocked 7870 will never be better than an overclocked 7950; the fact that an overclocked 7870 can reach the performance of a stock 7950 is what's important. The only question I'm trying to answer here is "what new performance level can you reach with overclocking".

    Ryan Smith
  • bassface2001 - Monday, March 19, 2012 - link

    I agree with the original sentiment that overclocked versus stock is a silly comparison. Since whatever is stock can be overclocked as well. Budget reasons don't add validity to this type of comparison either. If you're limited by budget then it doesn't matter how close or far away an overclocked product is to the next one up when you can't afford the next step up.
    What may be of interest would be percentage overclocks between different levels of product. This then answers the question of "what new performance level can you reach with overclocking" with fair comparisons acrosss the board.
    So if the entry level can be overclocked by 5% the midrange by 25% and the highend by 10%. The mid range may present the best value over the other two or it may not but the reader has a like with like comparison to make an informed decision.
  • Death666Angel - Monday, March 19, 2012 - link

    "The only question I'm trying to answer here is "what new performance level can you reach with overclocking"."
    Fair enough. :-) And you are doing a great job btw.! But that just isn't the type of question I would set regarding OC ability of different cards. :-)
    For that reason, I like the reviews, because they have a database of all overclocked cards and compare new overclocked cards against old overclocked cards. It's still not technically "apples to apples" since overclocks vary by a lot. But it is more useful to me and more what I expect than anandtechs treatment of overclocks. :-)
  • Ryan Smith - Monday, March 19, 2012 - link

    It's fair criticism.

    The reality is that we're sticklers for the scientific method, which means we need as few variables as possible. To keep a DB of overclocked video cards we would need to rebench every overclocked card every time a new driver with a measurable performance impact came out. This isn't practical for purposes of time, nor for that matter do we keep these retail cards on hand. The alternative would be to compare overclocks across different drivers, and we would rather give you fewer accurate numbers than to make such a comparison.

    Ryan Smith
  • Frallan - Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - link

    Thanks for the replys Ryan,

    first its very nice to have the dudes acctually sitting with the hardware and performing the tests communicating with us like you are.

    Scondly regarding the discussion at hand I just want to give you my support since it is very valueble to have the tests as you do them. This is bc I will be looking for the best possible effect out of a given budget framework since I dont have the funds to buy whatever I want whenever I want it.

    Keep up the good work and Anandtech will remain my main tech reference site another 10 years.


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