|PowerColor PCS+ HD6950 Vortex II|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Monday, 23 May 2011|
Page 3 of 17
PCS+ HD6950 Detailed Features
With the cooler removed, the bright red PCB is exposed. This is definitely not a reference design! In this image you can also see the light brown plastic port covers PowerColor provides for the rear ports as well as the CrossFireX connectors at the top of the card. Two 6-pin PCI-E connectors provide the extra power this card needs.
The Cayman-class GPU is used in both the Radeon 6950 and Radeon 6970 video cards. Like many OEMs, PowerColor applies far too much thermal interface material, which slopped over the edges of the GPU die when the heat sink was attached. Although the extra TIM doesn't hurt anything, it can result in less than optimum thermal performance. While the temperatures I report later in this review were measured before I removed the cooler for these pictures, maximum temperatures under load dropped 2-3 degrees after I reinstalled the cooler with a careful application of much less TIM. Benchmark Reviews has an excellent guide on the proper use and application of thermal interface material here.
The Radeon PCS+ 6950 Vortex II Edition comes equipped with 2GB of Hynix H5GQ2H24MFR-T2C GDDR5 video memory. This is the same memory AMD uses on their reference design board and is rated for 1250MHz. However, as delivered, the card runs this memory at 1300MHz.
The power supply section of the card is where it differs most dramatically from AMD's reference design. There are six power phases for the GPU and one for the memory, and as you can see there's space for an unused phase. Adding two-phase power for the memory probably wouldn't help anything, though, but the extra phases for the GPU should help overclocking.
All that power is managed by this CHIL 8228G, which provides the 8-phase power (7 used) for the card as well as standard voltage adjustment and monitoring via the I2C communications protocol. This standard protocol is what enables utilities like MSI Afterburner to tweak and report on the voltage you set on your card.
PowerColor calls this card the "Vortex II Edition", and the term refers to the adjustable fans used on the cooler. The fans protrude more than you'd expect. In fact, this is really a 3-slot card, as you can see from the image below: the fans intrude on the space for the second slot over from the video card. If your motherboard's first two PCI-E x16 slots are separated only by one other slot, you're not going to be able to run a CrossFireX setup with this card.
The fans can be shifted out in their mounts by grasping the triangular protrusions and pulling out; you can even tilt the fans slightly so the airflow is aimed more at either end of the card. PowerColor claims the extra space between the fans and the cooling fins, combined with the more directional airflow, will improve cooling; but I wasn't able to measure any improvement with the fans in either position. A 3-slot cooler might be worth it if the extra space required by the pop-out fan feature resulted in better cooling, but it doesn't. As far as I can tell, the adjustability of these fans is mentioned only on the rear of the box, not in the installation guide or manual.
Let's review the detailed technical specifications of this card in the next section.