Powercolor HD6970 Crossfire Review

Test Setup and Overclocking

Powercolor HD6970 Crossfire Review

Test Setup

PowerColor HD6970 CrossfireX
ASUS Rampage III Extreme
Intel i7 950 @ 4GHz
6GB Mushkin Redline RAM
Corsair AX1200 PSU
Noctua NH-D14
Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit

Thanks to the extra day between the two reviews we're able to run our tests using the official Catalyst 10.12 drivers so hopefully this will show if the genuine drivers provide any performance improvement over the betas.

For our testing we're going down a slightly different path than normal. Usually we do our best to match cards that we expect will have similar performance, along with ones that would be at a similar price.

The HD6970, as I said on Wednesday, is priced to compete with the nVidia GTX570 so it would make sense to compare to a SLI GTX570 setup. The problem is that so many cards have been released recently, and so many manufacturers are keen to move them around as swiftly as possible, that we've never had two at the same time to test and certainly haven't got one to hand now.

So what does it mean? Well for our synthetic testing we'll be including the HD6870 Crossfire setup, but we can tell you now that it really doesn't cut the mustard and so wasn't included in our gaming benchmarks for time reasons. The main bulk of our tests will be against the GTX480 in SLI, which just about matches up on price. The GTX580 in a single card to see how well a cheaper solution performs, and then the GTX580 in SLI to see how our PowerColor HD6970s perform against the fastest setup on the planet.

Despite all that the real key to the testing is to get a feel for the performance we might see from the potentially forthcoming HD6990 which is going to be a twin-GPU card based upon these new HD69 GPUs. Considering the HD5970 still holds its head up high then its sequel should be good for a long while and today's testing should give us a clue of future events.


In keeping with the reference nature of the cards we achieved an identical 70 MHz overclock. A lot of the overclocking capabilities of the HD6970s seem to be limited by the new TDP method of clocking with the Catalyst Control Centre. It will be interesting to see if any Partner companies come up with an alternative solution to enable higher speeds to be obtained.

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Most Recent Comments

17-12-2010, 02:59:35

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

17-12-2010, 07:34:55

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

17-12-2010, 10:14:45

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. Quote

17-12-2010, 11:27:36

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 Quote

17-12-2010, 11:39:58

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.Quote

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