ASUS HD 6970 Direct CUII Review - Where to Buy

By on April 14, 2011

Mean looking card with a mild demeanor.

ASUS HD 6970 Direct CUII Review

The AMD HD 6970 has been on the market for quite a while now, so nowadays I’m usually looking forward to high-end cooling solutions on this card. I recently reviewed the MSI R6970 Lightning edition card which provided supreme performance out of the box, but surprisingly not much headroom for overclocking. Given ASUS’s reputation for pushing hardware beyond limits, I was quite looking forward to the overclocking ability of the EAH6970DCII.

Having not reviewed any of their previous cards with a Direct CUII cooling solution, I was surprised to see a 3-slot solution on this HD 6970 from ASUS. The DCUII heatsink sitting on top of the HD 6970 looks huge and, quite frankly, badass, given its matt black metal finish and red strips running the length of the card.

The architecture seems very impressive on the EAH6970DCII as you can clearly see the aluminum heatsink sitting atop the GPU and memory modules, with heat being distributed via the copper heat pipes and ultimately blown away by the two fans at the top.

Rolling off the production lines, ASUS ships the EAH6970DCII with clock speeds of 890MHz on Core and 5500MHz on Memory compared to reference AMD speeds of 880/5500MHz. So, hardly any overclock from the factory, especially considering the recently reviewed MSI R6970 Lightning ships with 940MHz Core speeds. However, the EAH6970DCII more than makes up for this in actual overclocking as I’ll get to later on in the review. Powering the whole thing requires a 600W PSU and two 8-pin power cables.

For testing the ASUS HD 6970 Direct CUII, I have used the regular Tbreak testbed, consisting of an Intel Core i7-2600K, Kingston HyperX T1 4GB DDR3-2200MHz memory, Gigabyte P67A-UD7 motherboard, WD VelociRaptor 300GB HDD with Windows 7 Ultimate running on it; all of which is powered by a Cooler Master 1200W Silent Pro Gold PSU. For comparisons I have added the regular AMD HD 6970, the MSI R6970 Lightning and the Zotac GTX 570. Except for 3DMark, all other benchmarks are run at a resolution of 1920x1200.

Obviously the 50MHz extra clock speeds on the MSI R6970 Lightning help it push ahead of the EAH6970DCII, but the latter is still up there in most of the benchmarks.

Overclocking the ASUS EAH6970DCII was pure joy, as the card kept on going beyond my expectations. While I successfully managed overclock the core clock speeds to 1001MHz and run 3DMark 11 with a score of 6089 points, it crashed while running 3DMark Vantage. And so, I had to bring it down a notch, to 987MHz which is still 97MHz more than factory setting and 107MHz more than reference AMD speeds. And all of this was done without any voltage tweaking. Once again, except for 3DMark, all other benchmarks are run at a resolution of 1920x1200.

As you can see, the overclocked HD 6970 Direct CUII destroys everything in its path. And the best part is that it does all of this while remaining absolutely whisper quite throughout the testing! Yes, the Direct CUII cooler on the HD 6970 is one of those rare cooling solutions that remains incredibly quiet no matter what level of load it’s under. Temperatures hovered around 32°C while idling and didn’t go beyond 61°C under load. At overclocked speeds, the temperature stayed at 63°C!

The ASUS EAH6970DCII is at a bit of disadvantage given its overall heatsink size, making it a bit tricky for CrossFire setups, depending on your motherboard. However, it provides for an incredibly potent card where overclocking is concerned. And while it’s ripping frames apart every second at ridiculous speeds, all you’ll hear of this effort is a mild hum in the background.
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