AMD Launches the Radeon HD 8970M

The World’s Fastest Mobile Graphics Card

AMD Radeon Logo 2013The highest end model of the Radeon HD 8000M series, the Radeon HD 8970M is being unveiled today. MSI’s GX70 is the first laptop to bring AMD’s latest and great mobile graphics offering on-board. According to AMD’s press release the HD 8970M exceeded MSI’s expectations, whatever those expectations were. Like the rest of AMD new generation of mobile GPUs, code-named Solar System, the HD 8970M is based on the same Graphics Core Next architecture that we’ve all come to know and love. This means that it supports AMD’s Eyefinity technology and Microsoft’s DirectX 11.1 standard. The specs look like this.

AMD Radeon HD8970M specs

Vital stats for the Radeon 8970M

As far as performance goes, AMD notes that in its own testing the Radeon HD 8970M scored FS4571 in 3DMark’s Fire Strike test and Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 680M scored FS3749. That gives the Radeon a 22 percent advantage over the GeForce in 3DMark. Supposedly the HD 8970M outperforms the GTX 680M in Crysis 3 as well, but AMD’s press release didn’t have any numbers to corroborate that claim that reached us by press time. Still not bad for a 100W part.

The biggest question mark surrounding this launch is AMD’s Enduro technology, which has been considerably behind Nvidia’s competing Optimus technology for the past few years. Enduro and Optimus allow laptops to dynamically switch their discrete graphics cards off in order to conserve power when an APU solution is available to display to the screen and the discrete GPU is idling. This technology gap has given Nvidia a significant advantage and has cost AMD a large chunk of its discrete mobile GPU market share. AMD has been working hard to make improvements to Enduro, but it’s hard to say at this point whether or not that will be enough to resuscitate AMD market share numbers.

As of Nvidia’s quarterly conference call last week, the company expected to continue gaining market share in the discrete mobile GPU sector. It will be interesting to see if AMD’s improved drivers and new GPUs can interrupt those plans.

For now AMD’s Radeon HD 8970M is the fastest graphics card for laptops on the planet. But AMD’s Solar System family of mobile GPUs has a lot of ground to make up against the competition. We’ll know in the fall if having the fastest GPU in the world is enough to get AMD back in the mobile GPU game.S|A

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Thomas Ryan is a freelance technology writer and photographer from Seattle, living in Austin. You can also find his work on SemiAccurate and PCWorld. He has a BA in Geography from the University of Washington with a minor in Urban Design and Planning and specializes in geospatial data science. If you have a hardware performance question or an interesting data set Thomas has you covered.