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Written by Bruce Normann   
Tuesday, 11 January 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
PowerColor Radeon HD 6870 PCS+ Video Card
Closer Look: PowerColor PCS HD 6870
PowerColor PCS HD 6870 Detailed Features
Features and Specifications
Video Card Testing Methodology
DX10: 3DMark Vantage
DX10: Crysis
DX10: Just Cause 2
DX9 SSAO: Mafia II
DX11: Aliens vs. Predator
DX11: Battlefield: Bad Company 2
DX11: DiRT-2 Demo
DX11: H.A.W.X. 2
DX11: Lost Planet 2
DX11: METRO 2033
DX11: Unigine Heaven 2.1
PowerColor PCS HD 6870 Temperatures
VGA Power Consumption
AMD Radeon HD 6870 Final Thoughts
PowerColor PCS HD 6870 Conclusion

H.A.W.X. 2 DX11 Benchmark Results

H.A.W.X. 2 has been optimized for DX11 enabled GPUs and has a number of enhancements to not only improve performance with DX11 enabled GPUs but also greatly improve the visual experience while taking to the skies.

  • Level maps are 128 Km per dimension creating a level area of 16384 Km².
    All of the terrain in this area is rendered using a powerful tessellation implementation.
  • The game uses a hardware terrain tessellation method that allows a high number of detailed triangles to be rendered entirely on the GPU when near the terrain in question. This allows for a very low memory footprint and relies on the GPU power alone to expand the low res data to highly realistic detail.
  • Quad patches with multiple displacement maps aim to render 6-pixel-wide triangles typically creating 1.5 Million triangles per frame not including planes, trees, and buildings!
  • The game uses bi-cubic height filtering and fractal noise to give realistic detail at this grand scale. The wavelength and amplitude of the fractal noise is carefully tuned for maximum realism on each level working with the complex tessellation shaders to ensure highest level detail without cracks in the terrain surface.
  • These factors make H.A.W.X. 2 the perfect title for benchmarking the current and future generation of DX11 enabled GPUs.


The H.A.W.X.2 benchmark test is not quite the tessellation monster that Unigine Heaven is. It is supposed to represent an actual game, after all. However, the developers have taken full advantage of the DirectX 11 technology to pump up the realism in this new title. The scenery on the ground in particular is very detailed and vividly portrayed, and there's a lot of it that goes by the window of the F-22 Raptor that is your point of view. The blue sky, not so much....

The enhanced ability of the newest GPU designs to handle tessellation is quite evident here. Both the Fermi and Barts GPU win the battle against other comparable cards. The big surprise is the relative failure of the GTX 460 SLI pair to scale properly. I didn't have other SLI combinations to try and see if this was strictly a GTX 460 issue, or whether all SLI configurations would be affected. This benchmark was launched by NVIDIA and AMD had limited access during game development, so they were pretty far behind with regard to drivers. This test was run with the latest v10.12 Hotfix A drivers and each of the Radeon cards got about a 10 FPS boost compared to last month's performance. The GTX 480 ends up on the top of the pile in this test, because it doesn't do anything wrong. My guess is that once the GTX460 SLI gets its act together, it will out climb the GTX 480, though.

Let's take a look at another DX11 benchmark, a fast-paced scenario on a Lost Planet called E.D.N. III. The dense vegetation in "Test A" is almost as challenging as it was in Crysis, and now we have tessellation and soft shadows thrown into the mix via DirectX 11.

Graphics Card


Core Clock

Shader Clock

Memory Clock



MSI GeForce GTX 460 (N460GTX Cyclone 1GD5/OC)





1.0 GB GDDR5


PowerColor PCS+ HD 6870 (AX6870 1GBD5-PP2DH)





1.0 GB GDDR5


PowerColor Radeon HD 5870 (PCS+ AX5870 1GBD5-PPDHG2)





1.0 GB GDDR5


Gigabyte GeForce GTX 480 (GV-N480SO-15I Super Over Clock)





1536 MB GDDR5



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