Vanilla HD7970 vs R9 280x

I'm torn between getting a cheaper but stock non ghz edition 7970 or getting a Sapphire vapor x edition R9 280x. The sapphire card being more expensive of course.

any suggestions?

Honestly, it's up to you. Likely you could overclock even the most vanilla Radeon HD 7970 to match a GHz edition card, but it isn't guaranteed. But the performance difference between the cards may still not warrant the price difference, if it's significant.