|PowerColor PCS+ HD6950 Vortex II|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Sunday, 22 May 2011|
Page 17 of 17
AX6950 2GBD5-PPV Conclusion
IMPORTANT: Although the rating and final score mentioned in this conclusion are made to be as objective as possible, please be advised that every author perceives these factors differently at various points in time. While we each do our best to ensure that all aspects of the product are considered, there are often times unforeseen market conditions and manufacturer changes which occur after publication that could render our rating obsolete. Please do not base any purchase solely on our conclusion, as it represents our product rating specifically for the product tested, which may differ from future versions. Benchmark Reviews begins our conclusion with a short summary for each of the areas that we rate.
The performance of this card was excellent, especially with the high overclock I was able to achieve. The combination of excellent stock and overclocked performance combined with a quiet yet very effective cooling solution is a real winner. The one disappointment was that I wasn't able to unlock the additional GPU shaders to turn the card into a virtual 6970.
Red and black seem to be the "performance colors" in favor today, and PowerColor's hardly the only company to use them- look at ASUS' "Republic of Gamers" motherboards, for example. The very flashy fan shroud with its protruding, gleaming heat pipes is a design that would be appreciated by every 13-year-old boy who sketched rocket cars in study hall. But even if installed in a windowed case, the video card's garish fan shroud will be pointing down, leaving the heat pipes as the main visual element.
Construction quality on a video card is hard to assess (at least for me). I look for things like excess solder splashes, poor masking, and uniformity of component place, especially on custom PCBs like this one. Everything looks good, even under high magnification, and little touches like the plastic port plugs that keep dust off unused ports and connectors add to the impression of quality. One could argue that the cooler looks a little flashy and cheap, but a check under the plastic shroud reveals a solid and well-designed cooling solution. I do worry about the temperatures on the memory chips directly above the GPU since they seem to lie in a "dead zone" as far as airflow's concerned. PowerColor uses thermal tape to connect these chips to the heat sink on the PCS++ version of this card, and I'm surprised they didn't bother to do so here...how much does 2" of thermal tape cost?
The Radeon HD6950 brings a lot of functionality and performance to the table. The ability to support four monitors, UVD video playback acceleration, and HD3D, among other things, add to this card's appeal (even if AMD's 3D implementation isn't quite as seamless as NVIDIAs). The lack of a PhysX implementation would seem to be mainly a political issue rather than a functional issue, since NVIDIA claims that PhysX is an "open standard" that anyone can implement, and in fact offered to work with ATI (now AMD) on a Radeon implementation back in 2009. Over the past couple of years, PhysX has grown from a "meh" feature used to generate more elaborate explosive debris to a major feature in many games, and is now probably the biggest argument for going with NVIDIA over AMD.
The one functional problem this card has is related to its cooler: although it provides excellent cooling performance, its size makes this a 3-slot card, even with the fans retracted. That's a real disadvantage, especially if you're considering a CrossFireX setup now or in the future. Extending the fans into the "Vortex" configuration doesn't offer improved cooling performance.
Value is a little harder to asses since I wasn't able to find this exact card for sale, but the version packaged with the Call of Duty game is $315.00 at Newegg. This price, while presumably higher than the price of the card without the game, still compares very well with the roughly-equivalent NVIDIA GTX570. This card represents a very good value.
The PowerColor PCS+ Radeon HD6950 Vortex II Edition is an excellent card that would make any single-monitor gamer happy. Just watch out for that slot spacing.
+ Excellent cooling performance with low noise
- Triple-slot cooler
Final Score: 8.85 out of 10.
Quality Recognition: Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award.
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