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Written by Olin Coles   
Wednesday, 15 December 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
PowerColor Radeon HD 6970 Video Card
PowerColor Radeon 6970 Closer Look
Features and Specifications
Video Card Testing Methodology
DX10: 3DMark Vantage
DX10: Crysis Warhead
DX11: Aliens vs Predator
DX11: Battlefield Bad Company 2
DX11: BattleForge
DX11: Lost Planet 2
DX9 SSAO: Mafia II
DX11: Metro 2033
DX11: Unigine Heaven 2.1
Radeon HD 6970 Temperatures
VGA Power Consumption
PowerColor Radeon HD 6970 Conclusion

PowerColor Radeon 6970 Closer Look

Aside from a few decals, the PowerColor Radeon HD 6970 video card is identical to the reference design by AMD. While some consumers may want more flash for their cash, the conservative appearance helps maintain an affordable sales price. PowerColor packages their Radeon HD 6970 as model number PowerColor AX6970 2GBD5-M2DH.

PowerColor-Radeon-HD-6970-Video-Card-Corner.jpg

AMD's Radeon HD 6900-series video cards already look very similar to the previous generation of 6800 and 5800-series products. In fact, of the few discernable differences only the connection header panel, which can add an additional DisplayPort monitor output (if the vendor implements this feature), and the closed rear section. PowerColor implements dual mini-DisplayPort 1.2 outputs on their 6970, unlike the Sapphire version we recently tested which used a single DP connection.

While there are still two digital DVI ports available on the PowerColor Radeon HD 6970, only one of them is dual-link to support AMD HD3D while the other is reduced to single-link. AMD's HD3D technology currently supports only one 3D display, with plans for multi-monitor 3D available in the future.

PowerColor-Radeon-HD-6970-Video-Card-Top.jpg

Identical to AMD's reference design, the PowerColor Radeon HD 6970 measures 10.5" inches long, by 1.25" tall and 3.75" wide. This video card measures slightly shorter than the 11" long Radeon HD 5870, but longer than the 9.75" Radeon HD 6870. Ironically, it measures exactly the same dimensions as its closest competitor: NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 570.

PowerColor-Radeon-HD-6970-Video-Card-Bottom.jpg

One particular item I've been hoping for is a focused blower fan orientation. This design angles the blower fan slightly downward to improve the forward force of air and creates a small separation between adjacent video cards. CrossFire configurations could benefit by such a design, as the competition has done to tame their much warmer products for several generations now.

PowerColor-Radeon-HD-6970-Video-Card-Side.jpg

The PowerColor Radeon HD 6970 requires an 8-pin and 6-pin PCI-Express power connection for normal operation. AMD suggests the TDP power demands are 190 watts normal use or 250W using PowerTune for the Cayman GPU, although we confirm this with our own power testing discussed later near the end of this article.

PowerColor-Radeon-HD-6970-Video-Card-Rear.jpg

With the Radeon HD 6970 cool air is drawn from directly above the blower fan, while exhaust is expelled through the bracket vent and a small side outlet (shown above, far right) that allows a portion of the heated air back inside the computer case. AMD's Radeon HD 6870 lacks any cool air intake vents at the tail end of the video card, behind the blower fan. As a result, gamers with CrossFireX sets must ensure proper cooling inside their computer case for these video cards to receive fresh air.



 

Comments 

 
# RE: PowerColor Radeon HD 6970 Video CardHarry 2010-12-14 21:16
Where is the 3D Mark 11 benchmark?
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# RE: RE: PowerColor Radeon HD 6970 Video CardOlin Coles 2010-12-14 21:23
Many sites aren't using 3DMark11 until after it receives approval from both NVIDIA and AMD. We're not using it until we re-test every single DX11 video card to determine what settings would be best. Just so you know, a GeForce GTX 580 barely produces 30 FPS using the medium test quality at 720p.
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# 3DMark 11 SLIServando Silva 2010-12-14 23:17
Additionally, 3DMark 11 has no support for SLI setups, so I'll wait for it to evolve with a newer patch.
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# RE: PowerColor Radeon HD 6970 Video CardRobert17 2010-12-15 02:38
Good work. Seems like the GPU wars continue to the consumers advantage. Thanks for baring the numbers and eliminating the wait.

I guess AMD will launch all new products when 32nm becomes available. Any insider clue on when that may occur?
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# PoV's client sideresere 2010-12-15 05:33
i'm not working, drinking, family friend for none involved: nV, AMD, BmR.
sometimes i'm pissed of by Coles style: involved, passionate, stubborn.
BUT: the alternative are all kind of high priests, gurus (no, it's not an arrow to g3D) who made definitive verdicts, and then, never come down in the crowd, or patronise everyone.
so, i've made my choise.
I respect Olin Coles and bmr, with goods, bads and uglies. I admit there is room for better, but i agree with the path.

Don't bother answer, just think about. and this is not a sugestion for calm and harmony. i like creative flames. but assumed by everyone.
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# oh, andresere 2010-12-15 05:40
still hate BmR for not including GTX 460 SLI in results. but i'll live with.
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# RE: PowerColor Radeon HD 6970 Video CardChris 2010-12-15 06:25
Olin, do you think that drivers on this GPU are optimized?

It seems that in some games, this GPU outperforms the GTX 470 and in other games, well, this card has really bad performance. I appreciate the work that you've done, but I suspect that a second review may be needed once the public release version comes out.

Otherwise, it seems that little has changed. Nvidia has the very expensive, very high performance single card GPU, and ATI/AMD has a slower card that is less expensive and comparable to Nvidia's second most potent card - kind of like the GTX 275 vs the 4890 situation, where Nvidia had the 285 that was untouchable for any single-card solution.
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# Decisions,....RealNeil 2010-12-15 07:42
I've been waiting for this release to decide on my purchase of two video cards to run in CrossFire or SLI. The HD-6970 doesn't seem to be anything earth shattering when I read the review here. I had already all but decided on a pair of EVGA Superclocked GTX570's for my new build, but was waiting for this much talked about release, just in case ATI/AMD had a 'Rabbit In Their Hat', so to speak.
Although the HD6970 is a truly capable card, the GTX570 is too, and it also has a few capabilities that the ATI/AMD card does not. (CUDA & Phys-X)
So now I can just go ahead and buy my parts.
Thanks for the comprehensive review.
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# I AgreeBunzing 2010-12-16 07:32
RealNeil, I feel totaly the same. The benchmarks for the 570 were verry positive and when you look at the extra features of CUDA and Phys-X this card doesn't hold up one bit. I'm going for nVidia for the first time in years.
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# RE: PowerColor Radeon HD 6970 Video CardBunzing 2010-12-16 07:34
Wow, I just found a Sapphire 5970 for ?400,- (live in the Netherlands). What would you guys do? I'm going for a single-card setup.
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# RE: RE: PowerColor Radeon HD 6970 Video CardOlin Coles 2010-12-16 08:13
What does a GTX 570 cost in the Netherlands?
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# RE: RE: RE: PowerColor Radeon HD 6970 Video CardBunzing 2010-12-24 23:35
The GTX 570 costs 330,- at the moment.
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# RE: PowerColor Radeon HD 6970 Video CardBunzing 2010-12-16 07:52
I mean euro's. The euro symbol doesn't appear as it should.
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# RE: PowerColor Radeon HD 6970 Video CardSteven Iglesias-Hearst 2010-12-16 09:41
novatech have a Radeon 5970 for £414.99 and a GTX 570 for £309.99 and a GTX 580 for £399.95 (all including VAT) I know what I would do...
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# RE: PowerColor Radeon HD 6970 Video Card3DVagabond 2010-12-24 17:41
I love when people look at a review of an AMD card then start spouting PhysX and CUDA. CUDA can be very useful, but give me a break. If you need CUDA you aren't going to waste your time looking at AMD cards. You are just tossing it around like nVidia wants. Say it enough times and people will decide they have to have it. PhsyX? Well, nobody needs PhysX. It's less than useless. It just kills frame rates for little to no benefit.

If you need CUDA, use apps. that take advantage of it, then get an nVidia card and stop thread crapping in AMD reviews.

If you want to play games and you are a fan of the tech then AMD might be your choice. Smaller more efficient designs that take advantage of newer faster RAM and aim to push performance/$, multi-monitor gaming, etc.
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# RE: RE: PowerColor Radeon HD 6970 Video CardOlin Coles 2010-12-24 19:28
I disagree with your rather unsupported claims against PhysX. It sure looks like it adds more the enough to warrant its use here:
benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=582&Itemid=64&limit=1&limitstart=4

As for your last statement, I've got to wonder where you've been. Smaller and more efficient - what product are you talking about here? Newer and faster RAM - both vendors have been using the same GDDR5 for almost a year.
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# Crossfire MasterHenkenator68NL 2011-01-27 18:28
I have checked all results, it would have been nice if the 6970 would have been compared against 2 x 6870 in crossfire.
Ik have this setup and al benchmark results of the 6870 in crosfire are better than the 6970 results. So my advice: buy 2 6870 and put them in crossfire mode!!
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