|PowerColor PCS+ HD6950 Vortex II|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Sunday, 22 May 2011|
Page 16 of 17
AMD Radeon HD6950 Final Thoughts
AMD's card naming scheme has confused the marketplace: the Barts-GPU 68xx cards actually provided slightly less performance than the older 58xx series cards, although at a similar or better price-performance ration. The Cayman GPUs used in the 69xx series, though, are AMD's best performing GPUs, populating various iterations of the Radeon HD6950 and HD6970 cards, as well as the monster dual-GPU HD6990.
The said, the performance increment of the new GPUs is still a little disappointing. The two-year-old Radeon HD5870 provides pretty much the same performance as the HD6950, which wins only in a few benchmarks where its 2GB frame buffer can be put to use. However, where it's still available, the HD5870 costs anywhere from $50 to $150 more than the HD6950, so the win here is on price-performance rather than sheer graphics muscle.
The HD6950's obvious competitors are NVIDIA's GTX560Ti and GTX570. The HD6950 equals or exceeds the performance of the GTX560Ti in all of the benchmarks, but beats the GTX570 in only 5 out of 10. Newegg's prices on the GTX560Ti vary from $250 to $280, and their prices on the GTX570 range from $350 to $380. Radeon HD6950 2GB prices start at $260.00, and while I wasn't able to find the "bare" PowerColor PCS+ Radeon HD6950 Vortex II Edition card, the "Call of Duty" version (which includes the game with the card) is available for $315.00. Even this price competes very well with the NVIDIA cards, though.
AMD and NVIDIA's main differences these days come down to how they handle multi-GPU setups, and NVIDIA's PhysX feature, which is used in an increasing number of games. AMD's CrossFireX setup offers the user more options than NVIDIA's SLI: while you must have identical NVIDIA cards to use SLI, you can mix and match cards from the same "family" (for example, a HD6590 and an HD6790). Also, if you were running a recent AMD system, SLI was not an option since NVIDIA had not licensed the technology for AMD chipsets (this problem also occurs with P67-based motherboards; if you plan to run SLI, make sure and check your motherboard's compatibility first). However, NVIDIA has licensed SLI for AMD's upcoming 900 series chipsets, thus AMD users now have a new option.
I like graphics cards in this price/performance range because they offer enough performance for most applications, and you can easily add another card in CrossFireX or NVIDIA SLI if you need more performance. Right now the Radeon HD6950 offers a price/performance ratio that NVIDIA doesn't have a good match for.
My one real complaint is that PowerColor has too many versions of this card. Admittedly, this is a common problem among vendors, who like to slice the market into $10-$15 segments. With 7 different video cards SKUs based on the Radeon HD6950 chipset, picking the right one isn't always an obvious choice. However, based on my experience with this card, I can safely say it would be hard to go wrong with it.