In Depth: Gigabyte AMD Radeon HD 7970 OC
Last month, Apple included AMD Radeon 7xxx drivers in the latest build of 10.8.3 Mountain Lion. Because there have been no Apple products released using these devices, they can be more difficult to configure. However, they do compare favorably to NVIDIA's GeForce 6xx offerings in benchmarks. If you're looking for one of the top performing graphics cards on the market, the Gigabyte AMD Radeon HD 7970 OC is definitely worth checking out.
First, let's take a look at the card itself. It's got a DVI-I port, HDMI, and two mini-Displayports. The card's factory overclock is 1000MHz, from stock Core Clock of 925MHz. It can run 4 simultaneous monitors. It's a high powered card, however Gigabyte's "Triangle Cool" fans keep noise to a minimum. As expected the fans do spin up noticeably under heavy load, but during normal use the card maintains a low noise level.
Enabling AMD 7xxx cards fully in OS X is possible, but requires more work, hence why we do not currently recommend them officially in our monthly Buyer's Guide. We've outlined a number of tips and tricks here. The Gigabyte Radeon HD 7970 OC's device ID is recognized natively starting in OS X 10.8.3.
Gigabyte's AMD Radeon HD 7970 OC is a beast of a card for gaming, handling Ultra settings with extremely high frames-per-second. The only other cards that beat this one are the highest end Radeon HD 7990, GTX 690, and TITAN, which are upwards of $1000. For a single card, single GPU solution, that works with OS X, the Radeon HD 7970 and the NVIDIA GTX 680 are the two best for gaming performance. Pricewise it's definitely not a budget card, rather it's a long term investment in top level performance. In addition, for a limited time, AMD is giving away free games: Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon, Crysis 3 & Bioshock with purchase.
If you've tested a 7xxx card, let us know in the comments. Post your benchmarks here.
AMD Radeon HD 7xxx Graphics Support in OS X 10.8.3
AMD Performance Benchmarks - 10.8.3 - Radeon HD 75xx to 79xx Cards
tonymacx86's Album: Gigabyte Radeon HD 7970 Screenshots