AMD Radeon HD 6950 & 6970 CrossFire Video Card ReviewsTue, Dec 14, 2010 - 11:00 PM
A Closer Look At The Radeon HD 6970 & 6950
The Radeon HD 6970 2GB GDDR5 is the first video card in the new
Radeon HD 6900 series that we will be showing you today. The Radeon HD
6800 and 6900 series look very similar with the red/black color scheme with the wave motif, as you can see from the picture above.
Right away we noticed that the Radeon HD 6970 is longer than the Radeon HD 6870. We took the picture above to show you the length difference between these two popular gaming graphics cards. The AMD Radeon HD 6870 is 9.5″ long and the Radeon HD 6970 and 6950 are both 10.5″ in length. This shouldn’t be an issue, but is certainly worth pointing out to our readers.
As you can see, the Radeon HD 6900 series cards are dual-slot designs with a squirrel cage type cooling fan on it.
The back of the Radeon HD 6970 is blocked off by the metal plate shown above, so we can’t see what is going on underneath that plate. Having a plate like this is nice as it usually helps dissipate heat and also protects the components on the backside from the card when you set the card down and install/remove it from the system. As you can see the AMD Radeon HD 6970 uses a PCI Express slot and this is a PCI Express 2.1 slot. We know AMD designed ‘Cayman’ to run on the PCI Express 3.0 interface, but disabled this functionality for power savings and the fact that the boards aren’t on the market yet.
The AMD Radeon HD 6900 series has what they are calling a ‘Dual BIOS Toggle Switch’ and this is a pretty neat feature that we need to talk about. This switch allows you to switch between two totally separate BIOS versions on the Radeon HD 6900 series graphics card. AMD said that these boards have two BIOS chips (EEPROM) that both have separate lanes. If you want to tweak or flash the card to a different BIOS you can always do so on setting number 1, which is unprotected and for user updates. Setting number 2 is protected as the factory default and can’t be flashed by end users.
The AMD Radeon HD 6970 uses both an 8-pin and a 6-pin PCIe power connector located
at the end of the video card on the top corner. AMD didn’t tell us what the power supply requirements are, so we pinged XFX and they were happy to let us know. AMD recommends a 550 Watt or greater power supply with one 75W 6-pin PCIe connector and one 150W 8-pin PCIe connector on the Radeon HD 6970. The AMD Radeon HD 6950 requires a 500W or greater power supply with two 75W 6-pin PCIe connectors.
The AMD Radeon HD 6970 and 6950 have the same display connection interface as seen on the AMD Radeon 6800 series of video cards. This means that the cards have a pair of mini-DisplayPort 1.2 connectors
on it that have doubled the data-rate of DisplayPort 1.1. In addition to
the higher data-rate, DP 1.2 also brings support for higher resolution
support and support for stereoscopic 3D. The new HD 6800/6900 series supports up to six DisplayPort displays by “daisy
chaining” them to two DisplayPort outputs. To the right of the pair of
mini-DisplayPort connectors is a full size HDMI 1.4a output for 3D video
(Blu-ray 3D) support and dual-link DVI-I and single-link DVI-I outputs.
The Radeon HD 6970 only has two CrossFire
interconnects. This means that you’ll be able to run up to four cards
together and that is great news for those that want to run triple or quad CrossFire down the road.
The AMD Radeon HD 6950 is identical to the Radeon HD 6970 in appearance and size, but it differs in the fact that it has just two 6-pin PCIe power connectors.
Since the Radeon HD 6900 series is brand new we had to take it apart and see what it looks like. Removing the back cover of the card we don’t see much as all the memory ICs are on the front of the card.
Looking at the front of the AMD Radeon HD 6970 you can get a better look at the layout and design of the video card. AMD is using their 5th generation Vapor Chamber cooler on the 6900 series as they have been using Vapor Chambers since the ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT was released. You might notice that this design looks familiar. We thought it looked like something we have seen before, so we stripped down an ATI Radeon HD 5870 to compare the two.
As you can see the overall layout and design between the Radeon HD 6970 and the Radeon HD 5870 are close. The AMD Radeon HD 6970 is on top and the Radeon HD 5870 is on bottom.
The heart of the Radeon HD 6970 is the Cayman GPU and here it is! Ours is dated week 42 of 2010, which means that this chip was made the third week of October 2010. As you can see this core is about the same size as a US quarter dollar.
AMD used mostly Samsung GDDR5 memory on the AMD 5800 series, but on the AMD 6800 and 6900 series it looks like Hynix is the memory brand of choice. The part number was H5G02H24MFR-ROC. Now that we know what the card looks like and what the new features are let’s take a look at AMD PowerTune and then the performance!