|PowerColor PCS+ HD6950 Vortex II|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Monday, 23 May 2011|
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PowerColor PCS+ Radeon HD6950 Vortex II
Manufacturer: PowerColor (TUL Corporation)
Full Disclosure: The product sample used in this article has been provided by PowerColor.
It's a predictable progression: NVIDIA or AMD release a new GPU, along with a "reference design" video card built around it. All of the marketing partners introduce new video cards that are the reference design card with a vendor label or graphic affixed to it. And while some vendors leave it at that, others aim for the enthusiast market by designing their own video cards around the new GPUs, adding their own features and capabilities. PowerColor is one of the latter, and they have several variants of the AMD Radeon HD6950 video card ranging from plain reference designs to, well, this one: the PowerColor PCS+ Radeon HD6950 Vortex II Edition. It's a mouthful of a product name, to be sure, and Benchmark Reviews puts it to the test in this review.
PowerColor offers seven variations on the Radeon HD6950 theme, ranging from a reference design card with the standard 2GB of memory to a "value" card with only 1GB of memory to the fancier "PCS+" and "PCS++" versions. Aside from the reference card, all versions have two fans, although the heat sink and printed circuit board under the fans varies.
What can a vendor add to a reference design? The enhancement most commonly seen is a better cooler, although these days the reference coolers on higher-end cards like the 6950 are pretty good. Next would be higher-quality power supply designs to improve stability and overclocking. Last on the list would be major feature changes like extra video outputs or wireless transmission. With the Vortex II Edition, PowerColor's taken the first two options: an enhanced cooler combined with a completely new PCB design and beefed-up power supply. Along with the hardware enhancements, the card is delivered with a mild overclock, with the GPU running at 850MHz (as opposed to 800MHz for the reference 6950) and the memory at 1300Mhz instead of the standard 1250MHz.
With prices starting at under $250, the Radeon 6950 is a strong player in the mid-range video card market. Its competitors on the other side of the aisle are NVIDIA's GTX560Ti and GT570, and Benchmark Reviews will be testing this card against those and others to see how it competes.