AMD HD 6970 Review

By on December 15, 2010
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Enough to dethrone the GTX 570?

Good: Very quiet under load, Fast in DX11 and high resolutions, Cool
Bad: PowerTune changes don't have much affect when applied, Low overclocking
Price: AED 1,400
* The price is the Suggested Retail Price at the time of review. Please call a retailer to confirm the latest price for this product.

AMD’s newest DX11 flagship card is finally released, and I’m just as eager as all of you to find out how it fares against Nvidia’s recently released GTX 580 and GTX 570 cards. While benchmarks will be discussed later on, first let’s look at some of the features of the HD 6970.

One of the new improvements in the Cayman architecture is the improved Anti-Aliasing technology. EQAA (enhanced quality anti-aliasing) now provides up to 16 coverage samples running in 8xEQAA mode compares to regular 8xMSAA. And then there’s the new Morphological Anti-Aliasing (MLAA) which uses post-processing effects in conjunction with DirectCompute to deliver full-scene anti-aliasing where-in the anti-aliasing effect is applied to all edges and surfaces. Morphological anti-aliasing can only be manually applied in the Catalyst Control Centre.

Next up is the new PowerTune technology which is AMD’s new way to manage power efficiently. The idea is that the card will dynamically adjust the power levels of the card to provide the same level of performance regardless of whether full power is used or less. On the flipside lower power will have a lesser effect on performance while higher power will have provide for more performance. These power levels are adjustable by users in the ATI Overdrive utility in Catalyst Control Centre as well.

Visually the card looks the same as the HD 6870, only bigger. The main difference here is the rear metal plating that further helps dissipate heat. The rest of the heatsink and cooling mechanism seems the same as the HD 6870, with hot air blowing out from the rear vents outside of the system. Unlike the HD 6870 however, you will notice two 8+6 pin power plugs.  That and there’s a BIOS switch on the card which allows you to switch between factory default settings and a custom BIOS of your own. This isn’t something I can test now, but it has a huge potential of flashing the card for higher performance in the future.

Apart from architectural improvements on the same die size, AMD has also managed to provide better power management, squeezing out even more performance. So let’s find out whether all of these improvements actually make any difference.

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From auditing to editing, I now test and analyze the latest gadgets and games instead of the latest financial statements. Both jobs are equally intense and rewarding. When I'm not burning up hardware in the name of science, you'll find me nuking in DOTA 2 or engineering in TF2.

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