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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

Unigine Heaven 2.1 Benchmark Results

The Unigine "Heaven 2.1" benchmark is a free, publicly available, tool that grants the power to unleash the graphics capabilities in DirectX 11 for Windows 7 or updated Vista Operating Systems. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. With the interactive mode, emerging experience of exploring the intricate world is within reach. Through its advanced renderer, Unigine is one of the first to set precedence in showcasing the art assets with tessellation, bringing compelling visual finesse, utilizing the technology to the full extend and exhibiting the possibilities of enriching 3D gaming.

The distinguishing feature in the Unigine Heaven benchmark is a hardware tessellation that is a scalable technology aimed for automatic subdivision of polygons into smaller and finer pieces, so that developers can gain a more detailed look of their games almost free of charge in terms of performance. Thanks to this procedure, the elaboration of the rendered image finally approaches the boundary of veridical visual perception. The "Heaven" benchmark excels at the following key features:

  • Native support of OpenGL, DirectX 9, DirectX-10 and DirectX-11
  • Comprehensive use of tessellation technology
  • Advanced SSAO (screen-space ambient occlusion)
  • Volumetric cumulonimbus clouds generated by a physically accurate algorithm
  • Dynamic simulation of changing environment with high physical fidelity
  • Interactive experience with fly/walk-through modes
  • ATI Eyefinity support


Starting off with a lighter load of 4x MSAA, we see the Gigabyte GTX 480 SOC taking the single GPU crown by a large margin. Even in the "normal" tessellation mode, this is a graphics test that really shows off the full impact of this DirectX 11 technology. The Fermi architecture has so much more computing power designated and available for tessellation, that it's no small surprise to see the card doing so well here. The same goes for the GTX 460 SLI combo, which ekes out a first place finish in this test. The HD 6870, with its revamped tessellation engine, gets within striking distance of the HD 5870 in single-GPU mode and nips past it by less than one FPS when they're both in CrossFireX mode. I'm amazed that it does this with only the same number of shaders as the Radeon HD 5830. There is no jerkiness to the display with any of the multi-GPU pairs at this resolution; now that I've seen the landscape go by for a couple hundred times, I can spot the small stutters pretty easily. This test was run with 4x anti-aliasing; let's see how the cards stack up when we increase MSAA to the maximum level of 8x.


Increasing the anti-aliasing just improved the already convincing performance of the MSI N460GTX Cyclone, relative to all of the other cards. There's no denying that the Fermi chip, in its best interpretation yet: the GF104, is a killer when called upon for tessellation duty. The GTX 480 SOC also gains some in this test; it advances to second place in these rankings, compared to fourth place when we had MSAA cranked down to 4x. Besides the most obvious trend of the GTX 460 SLI grabbing first place more often than not, the other thing I've noticed is a consistent improvement in performance by the GTX 480 when the going gets tough.

In our next section, we investigate the thermal performance of the PowerColor PCS+ HD6870 1GB GDDR5 video card, and see how well this non-reference cooler works on this new class of GPU that sits between the old Cypress and Juniper form factors.

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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