Powercolor HD6970 Crossfire Review

Introduction

Powercolor HD6970 Crossfire Review

Introduction

On Wednesday we looked at the latest in the AMD line-up of graphics cards and there seems to have been a little confusion about how we felt they performed. Certainly they didn't perform as well as we expected, but that doesn't mean that they performed badly at all.

It's the down-side of Radeon cards being so good in recent years that expectations have been raised to such levels that a card giving 23000 P-Score in 3D Mark Vantage can be considered disappointing. A large part of our disappointment came from the excellent GTX570 performance and the reality that we can't review things as if they exist in a vacuum. Undoubtedly the HD6970 is a great card, but when you look at the marketplace as a whole it is, as we said a couple of days ago, perfectly fine.

One thing all cards have shown in recent times though is that when paired up the performance is quite incredible. Improvements in motherboard bandwidth and driver optimisations have led to the old 50 percent performance being somewhat old-fashioned and the scaling has improved vastly.

With that in mind we just had to pair a couple of these latest AMD cards together to see how they perform and thanks to our friends at PowerColor we were able to do so a lot sooner than we thought we might be able to.

The real thing we are looking forward to is that these should form the basis of the upcoming HD6990 twin-GPU card so it enables us to not only get a glimpse of the now, but a small taster of the future.

Technical Specifications

As this is a reference design card the technical specifications are identical to those we saw previously. 880MHz core speed and 2GB of GDDR5 ensure that the card has plenty of grunt to handle anything you can throw at it.

Graphics Engine RADEON HD6970
Video Memory 2GB GDDR5
Engine Clock 880MHz
Memory Clock 1375MHz (5.5Gbps)
Memory Interface 256bit
DirectX® Support 11
Bus Standard PCIE 2.1
Standard Display Connectors DL-DVI-I/SL-DVI-D/HDMI/2* mini DisplayPort
OpenGL Support
CrossFireX™ Technology Support
ATI Stream Technology Support
ATI Eyefinity Technology Support
VGA Output Via Adapter
DVI Output DL-DVI-I/ SL-DVI-D
DisplayPort On Board
HDMI On Board

 

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Most Recent Comments

16-12-2010, 20:18:46

tinytomlogan
Following the recent review of the new HD69 cards from AMD, it's time to see how a pair of them from Powercolor fair.

Continue Reading

16-12-2010, 21:59:35

killablade
Well.. I imagine this is a bit of a kick in the nuts for nvidia xD

17-12-2010, 02:34:55

Taurus
Great if you have a 30 inch monitor and the money to buy them!

17-12-2010, 05:14:45

PCTwin
I'm currently benching 2 x HD4890's in x-fire. this review shows just how much I need to upgrade my system.

These scores humble my poor old system.

Excellent effort as always.

17-12-2010, 06:27:36

F-alienware
Quote:
Originally Posted by killablade View Post

Well.. I imagine this is a bit of a kick in the nuts for nvidia xD
I'm not so sure tbh. I mean yes, it's an incredibly fast setup. And yes, when compared to Nvidia's SLI offering it seems to come out on top for a lot less money.

However, there is still the issue of Crossfire and scaling not happening all the time

And it doesn't and that's the problem. I confirmed this last night by running a rather excellent game called Split Second Velocity. Now when I ran this on Xfire 5770 my cards should have easily gotten it to the 30FPS cap it has (blame Disney !). However when running it on my 470 last night and seeing how butter smooth it is I realised then that Crossfire simply was not working. I guess with Crossfired 6970 it would be less, how do you say it? 'apparent' because one card has a lot more muscle than the lower end cards. But, when you absolutely rely on Crossfire (like you do with Crossfired budget cards to give you bleeding edge performance and the ability to run things on max?) you often end up dissapointed.

See, Crossfire will always make an attempt at scaling no matter what. You can enable a logo to come up in the top right corner of the screen to tell you it's working. However, there are a good few scaling methods for Crossfire and the wrong one will hurt performance a lot. I often found that installing the newer profiles didn't work and continually had to remove my drivers and profiles using DS and start all over again.

I'm not bashing on AMD. Far from it. Those numbers at that price point is absolutely immaculate. But, I do feel that again the only value in the AMD cards is in Crossfire, and I still don't think Crossfire can be relied on completely (having used it myself).

I'd still rather have a single 580 tbh. Tom raised a point (and a very good one !) about once you hit a certain level of performance anything more is just a bit of a waste. Dead right, gimme a 580

Again, wonderful review guys. And again, thanks for getting it to us in a true, honest and timely fashion

I doff my cap

17-12-2010, 06:39:58

Rastalovich
Like plenty of the reviewers admit, they don't get to spend weeks playing with these multi gpu setups.

Benching - you can't overlook the fact that if games ran like benching utils, we'd all be drooling all over the place, trying to cram as many cards in a pc case as possible.

Simple thing is, both the camps drivers have hang ups. AMD has the lower quality setting as standard, microstuttering (that I've never seen myself), nVidia has the "return to desktop" feature - which is admirable except when it happens whilst you're playing, and other things others could list. And aslong as the pairings from both of them don't touch single-card single-gpu performance and relative stability for the long run - I'd not touch any of them myself or advise anyone who asks.

Great figures, that, to be fair will get better (AMD & nVidia) each time a driver revision comes out that's been tuned for the game you play. (often without the driver's recognition of the game, your setup will be crap for it)

Meh, dual card/dual gpus don't mean nothing to me outside of benching, but the figures and the graphs always look nice.

17-12-2010, 07:13:59

F-alienware
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rastalovich View Post

nVidia has the "return to desktop" feature - which is admirable except when it happens whilst you're playing
Heh that made me LOL.
Reply
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