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ASUS Matrix HD 7970 Platinum review: 1.4 kg graphics card

A review of the ASUS Matrix HD 7970 graphics card

When you take ASUS' new Matrix card out of its large box, you see right away that this is not a dime-a-dozen graphics card

Impressive graphics card design, that is something you can trust ASUS with. The latest new member in the Republic of Gamers family is the Matrix HD 7970 Platinum. It's a huge card based on the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition with several unique features for overclockers. Hardware.Info tested the card and overclocked it. See also: Nvidia GeForce GTX 650 Ti review: Gigabyte vs MSI vs Zotac.

When you take ASUS' new Matrix card out of its large box, you see right away that this is not a dime-a-dozen graphics card. It has a cooler that takes up three slots, and weighs no less than 1.4 kg. That the Matrix is not your average card you also see by its price that will be around £400, which is actually reasonable for what you get. The GPU is based on the GHz Edition of the Radeon HD 7970, but the PCB and the cooler look nothing like AMD's reference design. ASUS has tried to add any feature a seasoned overclocker could want.

You'll find extra power phases, onboard overclocking button, preparation for VGA Hotwire and many more features that make the Matrix a special card.

The Matrix card is based on the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition. For more details on that card you can read the Hardware.Info review here.

The GPU on the Platinum version is overclocked to 1050 MHz and a turbo frequency of 1100 MHz. The non-Platinum Matrix 7970 runs at 1000 MHz standard with a turbo of 1050 MHz. The card has 3 GB of GDDR5 video memory, that has been overclocked quite a bit to 1650 MHz. ASUS must have selected specific chips, because officially the fastest GDDR5 memory that is available runs at 1500 MHz.

You get six monitors connectors, consisting of two DVI (one dual-link) ports and six DisplayPort. That means you can use a single card for an Eyefinity 6 setup. Two Crossfire connectors let you combine up to four cards.

The cooler that ASUS used is a big one. Five 8 mm heatpipes rise from the baseplate and connect to two heatsinks that sit beneath two 10 cm fans. The heatpipes are in direct contact with the GPU, something ASUS claims is more effective but in reality is a way to save money because then a baseplate is not required. Either way, the cooler works great, which you will see in our tests.

However, the Matrix is secretly designed with the idea that people will remove the cooler and instead use LN2, and ASUS included a smart solution for this. In the box is another heatsink which you can attach to the back part of the card when you use LN2 cooling, and it will ensure that the VRMs stay cool under those circumstances.

The PCB below the cooler, that's where the magic happens in the Radeon HD 7970 Matrix. The PCB has been completely redesigned with overclockers in mind. First there is the much more extensive power supply for the GPU and the video memory. ASUS has created 20 phases, compared to 16 on MSI's R7970 Lightning and 12 on the standard 7970 card. To supply the card with enough power it is equipped with two 8-pin PEG connectors.

ASUS claims that the 'Japanese-made black metallic capacitors' from Nichcon will last up to five times longer under extreme temperatures than normal solid caps. They're supposed to be able to function between temperatures of -70 to +125 degrees, compared to the normal operating conditions of -55 up to +105 degrees.

To read about the rest of these overclocking features, and to find out how well this card can be overclocked, read the full review on Hardware.Info.

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