If money is truly no object, experts say the XFX R7970 Double Dissipation Black Edition -- based off the flagship AMD Radeon HD 7970 GPU -- is the single fastest video card in the world, capable of handling any title thrown at it with ease. The card shatters benchmark records at several publications thanks to a 100 MHz factory overclock from XFX, and the company's custom Double Dissipation open-air cooling solution keeps the card cooler and quieter than stock 7970s. The one major downside cited is the price. If you want high-end performance for a little less cash, experts say the card's little brother -- the XFX R7950 Double Dissipation Black Edition (*Est. $500) -- delivers excellent frame rates in virtually all titles for $100 less.
Like all video card manufacturers, XFX doesn't rate highly in the customer service department, but it does shine in one significant area: If you register the card within 30 days of purchase, the warranty covers it for life.
Many top sources cover the XFX R7970 Double Dissipation Black Edition because it was one of the first custom Radeon 7970 video cards available. However, some look at the slightly cheaper XFX R7970 Double Dissipation graphics card (*Est. $600), which is virtually identical but lacks factory overclocking, although you can still overclock it yourself. Review sources including XBitLabs.com, AnandTech.com, Hexus.net, HardwareHeaven.com, HardOCP.com and Maximum PC all evaluate the card thoroughly.
XBitLabs.com looks at the non-factory-overclocked XFX R7970 Double Dissipation. Performance in 17 different games and graphical benchmarks is examined, as are the card's thermal, noise and power levels. Sergey Lepilov comes away highly impressed, but doesn't give it an Editors' Choice award. "The XFX R7970 Double Dissipation Edition graphics card seems to have but one downside," he writes. "Its accessories are too scanty for a top-end $550 product."
Review: XFX R7970 Double Dissipation Edition and Radeon HD 7970 CrossFireX Performance Review, Sergey Lepilov, Feb. 8, 2012
Hexus.net also covers the XFX R7970 Double Dissipation rather than the full-blown Black Edition, but it still earns a Performance award despite its stock core speeds. The Double D cooling system is praised, but the real star is the graphics performance. "Excellent underlying design and gobs of performance make it the best choice for the enthusiast who's not encumbered with budget constraints," says Tarinder Sandhu.
Review: Review: XFX Radeon HD 7970 Double Dissipation Edition, Tarinder Sandhu, Jan. 9, 2012
Here the overclocked XFX R7970 Double Dissipation Black Edition is compared to the top previous-generation Nvidia and AMD Radeon video cards, and Stuart Davidson says it improves upon its predecessors in virtually every aspect. He gives the card a Performance Award, calling it the fastest he has tested yet, but he shaves off a couple of value points in his ratings.
Review: XFX R7970 Black Edition vs. GTX 580 Overclocked vs. Radeon 6970 Overclocked, Stuart Davidson, Jan. 9, 2011
Ryan Smith says the XFX R7970 Double Dissipation Black Edition doesn't do anything new or exciting -- it consists of a simple factory overclock and a custom-designed cooler -- but the changes make the card very powerful and cooler than standard 7970 video cards. Smith expects to see other manufacturers offer similar 7970 video cards and laments the XFX model's high sticker price.
Review: XFX's Radeon HD 7970 Black Edition Double Dissipation: The First Semi-Custom 7970, Ryan Smith, Jan. 9, 2012
HardOCP.com compares the performance of the XFX R7970 Double Dissipation Black Edition to other graphics cards in a series of demanding games, and says it outperforms all comers. Mark Warner appreciates the XFX card's high-end graphics capabilities, but questions whether the factory overclock and custom cooler are worth the extra $50 over stock 7970 cards.
Review: XFX R7970 Black Edition Video Card Review, Mark Warner, Jan. 24, 2012
The XFX R7970 Double Dissipation Black Edition shatters records in several of Maximum PC's benchmark tests. Loyd Case finds little to nitpick about, and gives the card a 9-out-of-10 rating and a Kick Ass! award. "If you crave the fastest single-GPU card in the world, it's here -- and it includes the twin bonuses of easy multimonitor support and high efficiency," he writes.
Review: XFX Radeon HD 7970 Black Edition Review, Loyd Case, Jan. 18, 2012