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XFX Radeon 6970 and Radeon 6950 Graphics Card Review

XFX Radeon 6970 and Radeon 6950 Graphics Card Review

XFX Radeon HD 6970 and Radeon HD 6950 Graphics Card Review


Looking first to the build quality and design of the AMD/XFX 6900 series cards we have a set of products which meets the standard we have come to expect from first revision items. The cards feel solid and well-built with no flimsy sections. The heatsink is held on securely and the back plate adds protection to the PCB. In addition to this a good selection of outputs are provided which cater for media enthusiasts, standard gamers and those who require multi-display configurations. Finally, it is good to see that quality components such as Hynix memory are present.

We have to admit to being a little surprised that AMD/XFX have gone for a full size PCB on the 6950 when their previous products have seen the lower specification models build on a more compact PCB. Having said that, despite the use of the larger PCB it was good to see that the power use was lower and that this had a positive impact on the power connectors required.

Where we were a little disappointed was the cooler design. In single card mode the cooler works well, even if the 6970 does get a little hot and runs louder than the GTX 570. Add a second or third card in CrossFire mode on the average board and things dont go so well though. The box shape design of the 6900s means that on motherboards where there is no extra space between PCIe slots (most boards) the two/three cards sit so close that airflow is affected and on the 6900 series this significantly impacts thermal and acoustic performance. A GeForce style slant on the end of the card would have resolved this issue and revised models with alternate cannot come fast enough for us, at least for multi-GPU configurations. Check out the noise videos on the previous page to see what we mean.

In terms of performance in games and applications there is a lot to like about the 6900 series. It provides playable framerates in every game at 1920×1080, often with high levels of anti-aliasing ad of course these being AMD/XFX cards they offer great media features such as 7.1 audio and Blu-Ray acceleration. The option is also there to game on three displays at 5760×1080 using a single card, something NVIDIA cannot offer but there are still two issues with the Radeon family. The first is that AMD do not offer a good alternative to PhysX at this time. The second is that despite a working 3D Blu-Ray experience stereoscopic 3D gaming still doesnt work well on AMD cards. We do not see this changing in the near future.

And so to value which is an important factor for these two cards considering the GTX 570 was more often than not faster than the 6970 and the GTX 580, more so. When we take into account the 580 retails for £429 and 570 for £269 AMDs choice of £277 for the 6970 and £215 for the 6950 seems fair. XFX of course add value to their version of the card with a good warranty and excellent support which includes the option to have a live web chat with technicians who can assist with any issue.

The Radeon 6950 offers a low cost option in the high end market for those who want good framerates without any of the extras such as PhysX or Stereoscopic 3D gaming. Like the 6970 it also provides the ability to game on 3 screens using one card and has market leading media features for this price range. The 6970 bumps up the performance a notch, competing with the GTX 570 in a number of games. Both products are however in need of alternative cooling solutions for those who wish to run CrossFire.

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Product Award
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RRP £215/£260 – OverClockers
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6970 – NewEgg – $379.99
6950 – NewEgg – $309.99

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About Author

Stuart Davidson

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