Sapphire are offering three versions of the 6970 at launch, a standard edition , a gamer edition (free copy of Bad Company 2 with the Vietnam expansion) and a Special Edition which comes in an aluminium case and also includes the free game. Bundled with each of the cards is a very thorough set of extras which includes HDMI cable and mini-DisplayPort to standard DisplayPort convertor. Sapphire also includes information on how we can join their Select Club which gives us access to free software and competitions.
Sapphire use the reference design for their current 6970 and apply branding to the heatsink cover which matches the bundle, in this case showing Battlefield: Bad Company 2 – Vietnam artwork. On the back of the dual slot card is the standard black metal plate which provides stability and protection for the PCB.
Underneath the cover we have the reference design cooling solution which includes a red fan and copper GPU block with aluminium fins. Sapphire also uses AMDs PowerTune technology to maximise the efficiency of their card. PowerTune essentially monitors the GPU use in real time and using algorithms it varies the power and performance of the card to ensure the consumer gets the best of both aspects. In the OverDrive panel within the driver we can increase the power available by 20% or decrease it if we wish.
For their outputs Sapphire use two DVI, HDMI 1.4 and dual mini-DisplayPorts. With this being an AMD based card we can of course power three displays in Eyefinity mode from one card and if we wish, daisy chain further displays through DisplayPort hubs. Sapphire also use the standard power connector configuration of one six pin and one eight pin which supply the card with up to 250w (20w Idle).
Also worth noting is the small switch which sits beside the two CrossFire connectors. There are two BIOS chips present on each 6900 series card and the idea is that enthusiasts can flash one with a custom BIOS if they wish (the other is locked). Should the flash not work or cause issues we can move this switch to the other position and the card will boot with the locked, default BIOS and let us recover the situation.
The core on this model is set to 880MHz and the 2GB of Hynix memory is set to 1375MHz. There are 96 Texture units within the 6970 along with 32 ROPS/128 Z-Stencil. For the Stream processors AMD have gone for a 24SIMD/1536ALU design and our memory bus is 256-bit. PCIe 2.1, DirectX 11 and DirectCompute are all supported on this card as is acceleration of high definition content and the card can output 7.1 audio over HDMI including DTS Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD.