Archive Home arrow Reviews: arrow Video Cards arrow PowerColor PCS+ HD6950 Vortex II
PowerColor PCS+ HD6950 Vortex II E-mail
Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards
Written by David Ramsey   
Sunday, 22 May 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
PowerColor PCS+ HD6950 Vortex II
Closer Look: PowerColor PCS HD6950
PCS HD6950 Detailed Features
Features and Specifications
Unlocking Extra Shaders
Video Card Testing Methodology
DX10: 3DMark Vantage
DX10: Crysis Warhead
DX11: 3DMark 11
DX11: Aliens vs. Predator
DX11: Unigine Heaven 2.5
DX11: Battlefield Bad Company 2
PCS HD6950 Temperatures
VGA Power Consumption
Vortex II Edition Overclocking
AMD Radeon HD6950 Final Thoughts
AX6950 2GBD5-PPV Conclusion

Closer Look: PowerColor PCS+ HD6950

The PCS+ HD6950 Vortex II edition comes with a quick installation guide, a CD with drivers and copies of the manual in several languages, a CrossFireX bridge, a DVI-VGA adapter, and a mini-DisplayPort to DisplayPort cable. The reference design Radeon HD6950 is a fairly boring-looking card: a large black rectangle whose only concession to visual interest is a red axial fan. The PowerColor PCS+ Radeon HD6950 Vortex II Edition, on the other hand, looks like a prop from a science fiction movie.

powercolor_radeon_6950_box_contents.jpg

With a bright red PCB, a black and red cooler, and four shiny heat pipes erupting from the top of the card, it certainly stands out visually. It's really too bad that much of this won't be visible even in a windowed case! The cooler uses four 8mm heat pipes to distribute the GPU's thermal load.

powercolor_radeon_6950_rear.jpg

The back of the card offers a clearer view of the four heat pipes. Until recently, cards with 2GB of memory would have memory chips mounted to the back of the board, but with modern high density memory, this isn't necessary.

powercolor_radeon_6950_heatpipes.jpg

The heat pipes branch out into an array of aluminum fins that cover the length of the card. Note the copper heat plate that contacts the GPU die. There is no direct contact with the memory chips, although the ones near the back of the card are directly under a fan. The memory chips at the top of the card are above the copper contact plate and won't receive much air.

powercolor_radeon_6950_heatsink_back2.jpg

From the front of the cooling mechanism we can see the two 92mm fans that provide the cooling air. This is a common design for enhanced video card coolers, and while the dual fans provide a lot of airflow, they also blow a lot of hot air inside your case. You might be wondering what those extended triangular red fins on the fan shrouds are for...we'll get to that later.

powercolor_radeon_6950_heatsink_front.jpg

The video outputs are the standard Radeon HD6950 fare: two DVI ports, a standard HDMI 1.4 connector, and two mini-DisplayPort connectors. The top DVI connector in this image is a single-link connector, something to be aware of should you be plugging this card into a 30" monitor. By using both mini-DisplayPort connectors, the HDMI connector, and one of the DVI connectors, you can run four monitors directly from this card.

powercolor_radeon_6950_ports.jpg

Now let's take a look at some of the components on this card.



 

Comments 

 
# unlockingRealNeil 2011-05-23 08:32
You mentioned in the CONS section that you Couldn't unlock the extra shaders on this card.
Are there still new Radeon HD6950 cards out there that will unlock? I recall reading somewhere that a newer upcoming design would prevent that.
Report Comment
 
 
# RE: PowerColor PCS+ HD6950 Vortex IIDavid Ramsey 2011-05-23 09:07
I'm sure there are, Neil, but I couldn't tell you wish specific ones are known to unlock. Even if a specific model from a specific vendor has unlocked in the past, there's no guarantee current stock will do this.
Report Comment
 
 
# RE: PowerColor PCS+ HD6950 Vortex IIRory 2011-05-24 04:54
Great review thanks, and a small suggestion if I may...
We see a lot of reviews of these aftermarket OC editions on BMR.com (like the powercolor Vortex range and MSi with their Hawk and Lightning variants etc) But they are always pitted against the stock standard cards - or at best older and inferior cards in a crossfire/sli config.
This is useful of course, but the enthusiast in me would love to see a battle royale pitting the best OC variants from Powercolor, MSi, Gigabyte and co. 'Head to Head' to see who makes the best variant of the HD6950 &/or the GTX560ti
Just a thought :)
Report Comment
 
 
# RE: RE: PowerColor PCS+ HD6950 Vortex IIOlin Coles 2011-05-24 08:29
Those stock-clocked products serve as a baseline, since there are numerous overclock models that add 1-10% more speed. It would be very difficult to compare all of the models, which is why we include our own overclock results to show how much of an impact overclocking has on FPS performance.
Report Comment
 
 
# Voltage setting for this OC.Rock_n_Rolla 2011-05-25 02:15
Just want to ask, since this Powercolor 6950 Vortex II has a very nice cooling system capable of cooling the card set on high settings like you did, can we know how many millivolts you added based from its stock voltage? And, How long you tested this clock setting based on the applications you used in order for you to get the percentage???
Also, as you perform your tests, have you experience any hangs or crash?

A friend of mine is serious about buying this PC6850 2gig Vortex 2 card
although he's not into researching much about it on the internet for its real potential, perhaps this might be a good time to ask you so
i could tell him about the settings you used so he could used it on his
when he bought the card. And, if possible if you have tested the card
set to a much higher settings than the one you posted (930mhz and 1370mhz on memory) could you post it here including the voltage settings
and the performance it gained in percentage based from the stock. Thanks and God bless!
Report Comment
 
 
# RE: Voltage setting for this OC.David Ramsey 2011-05-25 09:09
Actually, I didn't have to bump the voltage at all, although (as noted in the review) I did use AMD Overdrive to increase the maximum permitted current draw on the card.

I did not have any hangs or crashes with the overclocked settings I used as long as I kept the fans running full blast. If I left the fans on "Auto", the card would not complete most of the benchmarks when overclocked.

The overclock I achieved was exceptionally high for a 6950. I would not expect most examples to be able to overclock this well. Luck of the draw and all that.

The performance improvement using the overclocked settings is not only noted in each benchmark test, but summarized in a table at the end of the benchmarking section.
Report Comment
 
 
# Screwlaxo 2011-12-13 00:00
hi, do you happen to know what kind/type of screw (the 4 screws that connects the heat sink fan/cooler to the pcb) that this card has? my other one is loose, and may have loose its thread for some reason. the card itself is fine, dont want to RMA just because of one screw acting up, any inputs from anyone will be highly appreciated. thanks in advance.
Report Comment
 
 
# RE: ScrewDavid Ramsey 2011-12-13 07:57
No, sorry. I'd suggest removing one screw and taking it to a hardware or hobby store to see if they have something similar.
Report Comment
 
 
# RE: RE: Screwlaxo 2011-12-13 16:29
Hi David, thanks for the prompt response, will do just that but I bet I'll have a hard time looking for those types. anyways I tried removing one of the screws and guess what, the 2nd one chipped on me, the screw head broke in to two. I know how gentle you need to be on this tiny screws but the build quality is just annoying. you might want to put that in your review, to be careful with the screws, Thanks again.
Report Comment
 
 
# RE: RE: RE: ScrewDavid Ramsey 2011-12-13 16:45
That's annoying as hell...but I was able to remove and replace the cooler on my card without any problems...
Report Comment
 
 
# RE: RE: RE: RE: Screwlaxo 2011-12-13 17:05
As much as I would like to think that these screws are a bad batch, its just insane. anyways I tried to squeeze the chipped screw head with my thumb and my pointer finger and guess what it broke again, now I have a quarter of the screw head, for some reason, I don't know why this happened, the only problem that I had with this card is I had my temp idle on 60C and load at 98C on BF3 ultra settings. so I tried to investigate and got to the loose screw, and no replies from power color if I can have a set of screws, my temps are normal right now. I just need the screws.
Report Comment
 
 
# RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: ScrewDavid Ramsey 2011-12-13 17:13
I guarantee you those are not custom screws made for that specific card. Again, try a hobby shop or hardware store. Worse case you could get an entire new third party cooler...
Report Comment
 
 
# RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: Screwlaxo 2011-12-13 17:28
will do just that, thanks again!
Report Comment
 

Comments have been disabled by the administrator.

Search Benchmark Reviews
QNAP Network Storage Servers

Follow Benchmark Reviews on FacebookReceive Tweets from Benchmark Reviews on Twitter