|PowerColor Radeon HD 6970 Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Wednesday, 15 December 2010|
Page 14 of 16
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:
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.
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...