AMD Radeon HD 6950 review
A capable performer and a tempting rival to Nvidia’s more expensive high-end cards
Review Date: 15 Dec 2010
Reviewed By: Mike Jennings
Price when reviewed: £187 (£220 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
In the previous generation of AMD graphics cards, the Radeon HD 5870 was top dog for performance, but it was the HD 5850 that offered much better value. AMD seems to be aiming for a similar strategy with its new cards: the top-end HD 6970, costs £250 exc VAT, to the HD 6950’s more palatable £187.
Cutbacks have been made to bring this cheaper card to market. The Radeon HD 6950’s 800MHz core clock is 80MHz slower than its stablemate, and two of its stream processor packages have been disabled. There are 22 included here, each with 64 processors, and 1,408 stream processors in total. The HD 6970, by way of contrast, includes 1,536 stream processors in 24 processor packages. The HD 6950’s GDDR5 RAM is clocked slower than the HD 6970, and runs at 1,250MHz rather than 1,350MHz.
AMD hasn’t changed everything, though. The amount of memory is the same at 2GB, as is the 256-bit memory bus. The die is built on a 40nm manufacturing process, and both the firm’s new chips feature 2.64 billion transistors.
It’s an impressive specification, and performance results are good. In Crysis, the HD 6950’s score of 43fps in the Very High quality test is 5fps behind the HD 6970 and 4fps faster than the HD 6870, indicating that there’s enough power here to handle the gaming world’s most powerful titles at their most intensive settings.
The HD 6950 proved its worth in our more demanding tests, too, scoring 34fps when we activated 8x anti-aliasing. Only when we increased the resolution to 2,560 x 1,600 did it stumble, running through our Very High quality test without any anti-aliasing at a borderline 26fps.
Compared with Nvidia’s latest graphics card, however, the HD 6950 looks less impressive. The GTX 570 motored through the Very High quality benchmark at 48fps and 40fps with 4x anti-aliasing activated, 5fps and 3fps faster than the HD 6950.
This trend was exacerbated in our new Just Cause 2 tests. The Radeon HD 6950 averaged 35fps across its three 1,920 x 1,080 Very High quality tests with 8x anti-aliasing enabled, but the GTX 570 romped through the same tests with an average of 53fps.
The HD 6950 returned mixed results in our environmental tests, too. Although its vapour chamber cooling works well, restricting the GPU to a peak temperature of 84˚, the power draw was on the high side. The HD 6950 installed on our test PC drew a total of 302W, 19W more than with the GTX 570 in place. It’s noisier than Nvidia’s card, too.
Value is the Radeon HD 6950’s trump card, and at £187 exc VAT it undercuts the GTX 570 by a considerable margin and matches AMD’s previous flagship – the 6870 – for price while outperforming it. We still think the Nvidia card represents the best compromise between cost and power, but for those on tighter budgets the HD 6950 makes a very tempting alternative.
Author: Mike Jennings
- Apple bans developers from selling your health data
- Intel unveils eight-core Haswell-E CPU
- Forget robot butlers: meet Fuji Xerox's robot printer
- Wing it: Google's drone delivery revealed
- Facebook testing keyword searching in old posts
- It's on: Apple announces 9 September event for the iPad, iWatch and iPhone 6... maybe
- Was JPMorgan Chase hack for politics or cash?
- Samsung unveils curvy Gear S smartwatch and Circle smart necklace
- Still on Windows XP? There's now an unofficial service pack
- Round-faced LG G Watch R teased ahead of IFA
- 20 years of PC Pro: our best covers
- Why we've closed the PC Pro forums
- How to turn off Google Location Tracking
- 20 years of PC Pro: our greatest review mistakes
- 20 years of PC Pro: our first A-List
- Wikipedia's "right to be forgotten" protest hits the wrong note
- 3D printing hits the high street for plastic selfies
- 20 years of PC Pro: What amazed us in our first issue
- How Google Glass ruined my lunch hour
- Smartphone battery packs: can a USB power pack beat the festival battery blues?
- Best of IFA 2014: what smartphones, tablets, smartwatches are expected to launch at IFA this year?
- How to uninstall a program on Windows: remove unwanted apps from your PC
- How to format a USB drive on a Mac or Windows
- What’s the best 4G network in the UK?
- How to set up a wireless hotspot for your business: give customers free or paid for internet access
- How to download YouTube videos: save YouTube videos to your iPhone, iPad, laptop or Android device
- How to access iCloud on a PC
- Nexus 5 vs Moto G 4G (2014 model)
- Chromecast vs Roku Streaming Stick vs Apple TV: what's the best TV streaming device?
- The 8 best small tablets of 2014: what's the best compact tablet?
- How to sell more ebooks on Amazon
- 10 ways to make your business more secure
- Top five VoIP mistakes
- How to add in-app purchasing to an iPhone, Android or Windows app
- Remote-control ransomware: TeamViewer and software hardball
- Why laptops with serial ports matter to the Internet of Things
- Make your mobile battery last longer
- Small steps into handling Big Data
- Nexus 5: does it really run stock Android?
- How to get broadband to a garden office