Six weeks have passed since AMD launched its Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition graphics card. The new flagship offers higher default clock speeds than the standard 7970, plus a tweaked PowerTune implementation that's better at maintaining those speeds and capable of pushing them even higher when thermal headroom permits. At the product's introduction, AMD told us the 7970 GHz Edition would start selling at the end of June and be widely available in early July. However, we're into August now, and the card is virtually absent from online stocks.
We've scoured a number of big-name online retailers, and we could find only a few listings for the new card. The lone GHz Edition at Newegg is this Sapphire Toxic model, which is currently out of stock. The Toxic card has even higher clock speeds than the GHz Edition's defaults, which might explain its $700 asking price. That's $200 more than AMD's suggested retail price for the GHz Edition.
Sapphire also has a Vapor-X flavor of the GHz Edition listed at Amazon. This stock-clocked variant is available from one Amazon partner, The Price Pros, which claims to have just a single unit. It's selling the card for $545, or a little more than Amazon's own $500 listing for the same model. Amazon doesn't expect to start shipping the Vapor-X for 2-4 weeks, though.
Of course, we should point out there are numerous hot-clocked Radeon HD 7970s in stock at both Amazon and Newegg. Many of them are clocked at 1GHz or higher, but they're not the GHz Edition models AMD said would be available by now. Unlike with the GeForce 680, which was difficult to obtain after its spring release, we don't see a bunch of out-of-stock listings for 7970 GHz Edition cards. The three listings above are the only ones we've been able to find anywhere. The fact that they all refer to Sapphire cards is even more curious.
We when asked AMD about this situation, a company rep told us the basic issue is that AMD's add-in-board partners need more time to integrate the GHz Edition chips into their top-of-the-line board designs. We're hoping for a more definitive statement from AMD on this matter soon.
Update: In response to our inquiries, an AMD rep just sent us a link to a search at Newegg for the term "7970 GHz" that now yields three results, including cards from VisionTek and XFX that show up as "in stock" at prices below the 7970 GHz Edition's $499.99 suggested e-tail price, along with the out-of-stock Sapphire Toxic card we noted before. We may be witnessing a minor miracle, since multiple TR editors did this same search on this same term only hours ago and were presented with just a single result, the out-of-stock Sapphire.
The XFX and Visiontek cards appear to be very new additions. The folks at the amazing Newegg tracker Camelegg have a listing for the Sapphire, but the XFX card's item number shows as "not yet in our database." The Visiontek card's item number is also not yet listed.
Somehow, the market has moved in the hour-plus since our initial report. You're welcome. Feel free to click "buy," I guess.
I should mention that we have noticed a distinct lack of $300 Ferrari 599 GTBs at online vendors, too, and we would like to see that issue rectified as quickly as possible. Notification via private email is preferred.