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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

Radeon HD 6970 Temperatures

Benchmark tests are always nice, so long as you care about comparing one product to another. But when you're an overclocker, gamer, or merely a PC hardware enthusiast who likes to tweak things on occasion, there's no substitute for good information. Benchmark Reviews has a very popular guide written on Overclocking Video Cards, which gives detailed instruction on how to tweak a graphics cards for better performance. Of course, not every video card has overclocking head room. Some products run so hot that they can't suffer any higher temperatures than they already do. This is why we measure the operating temperature of the video card products we test.

To begin my testing, I use GPU-Z to measure the temperature at idle as reported by the GPU. Next I use FurMark's "Torture Test" to generate maximum thermal load and record GPU temperatures at high-power 3D mode. FurMark does two things extremely well: drive the thermal output of any graphics processor much higher than any video games realistically could, and it does so with consistency every time. Furmark works great for testing the stability of a GPU as the temperature rises to the highest possible output. During all tests, the ambient room temperature remained at a stable 20°C. The temperatures discussed below are absolute maximum values, and may not be representative of real-world temperatures while gaming:

Video Card Idle Temp Loaded Temp Ambient
ATI Radeon HD 5850 39°C 73°C 20°C
AMD Radeon HD 6850 42°C 77°C 20°C
AMD Radeon HD 6870 39°C 74°C 20°C
ATI Radeon HD 5870 33°C 78°C 20°C
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480 36°C 82°C 20°C
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570 32°C 82°C 20°C
AMD Radeon HD 6970 35°C 81°C 20°C
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 32°C 70°C 20°C

The original plans for AMD's Cayman GPU included a 32nm die process, which was later cancelled and reworked into the familiar 40nm process we've seen for the past several product generations. As a direct result the 40nm AMD Cayman GPU is larger, uses more power, and operates at higher temperatures than the initial design would have delivered. The Cayman GPU measures 389 mm2, which is only slightly larger than the 336 mm2 Cypress GPU (5870), but far larger than the 255 mm2 Barts GPU (6870). The transistor count obviously changes, with 2.15-billion on the Cypress, 1.7-billion on Barts, and 2.64-billion on Cayman.

AMD-Radeon-HD-6970-Video-Card-Exposed.jpg

At idle, the Radeon HD 6970 measured 35°C at 20°C ambient room temperature. This is roughly the same temperature as late-generation GeForce GTX 480's were resting at, but still sits idle a few degrees warmer than the latest GeForce GTX 570 and 580 do. What used to sound like an NVIDIA-specific trait has quickly changed direction, making AMD GPUs out to be the hot-headed product. The new AMD Radeon HD 6970 improves on the recently released 6870 by a few degrees, but the old (and now end-of-life) Radeon HD 5870 measured a few degrees lower at idle.

Under 100% GPU load, the heat output rises to levels not seen from AMD since the Radeon HD 4800-series. Measured at 20°C ambient room temperature, the Radeon HD 6970 reached 81°C after ten minutes stressed under full load. This places the Radeon HD 6970 right on par with its closest competitor, the GeForce GTX 570 (82°C). Unfortunately, the Radeon HD 6870 and 5870 both run a few degrees cooler under full load. Overall the AMD Radeon HD 6970 has a 40nm Cayman GPU to blame for higher temperatures, which would not have been the case if the original 32nm die process had been possible. Let's see how this impacts power consumption...



 

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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