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
- Nokia Lumia 2520 tablet sales halted over faulty charger
- Microsoft slashes custom XP support price
- Amazon Phone: does anyone want a 3D handset?
- Virgin email fiasco hits thousands of users
- Chrome Remote Desktop now available on Android
- Google posts "average quarter" with slow growth
- What's on this week's PC Pro podcast?
- BBC iPlayer lets Android devices download shows
- Google's Project Ara modular phone arrives in January
- Hackers harvest LaCie card data for a full year
- Windows 8.1 Update: an abject surrender
- The insane economics of Sky Now TV
- No such thing as a free app... so pay up if you want quality
- Time to outlaw crapware-laden installers
- Windows Phone 8.1 video: hands-on
- Office for iPad: key information
- Why every PC buyer owes Richard Durkin a debt of gratitude
- HTC One M8 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: 2014's big-hitters compared
- Windows XP end of life: key information
- Cut out the broadband jargon? What jargon?
- Heartbleed: what you need to know and do
- Data recovery: inside the clean room
- Best tablet PCs to buy in 2014
- How much RAM do you really need?
- News of the weird: the strangest ever tech stories
- Five hyped technologies: disruptive or not?
- Piracy's dying: why we're all going straight
- Office: should you buy it, rent it - or dump it?
- Make the most of your mobile data
- Old-school internet scams: five that just won't die
- 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
- How to write your company's IT security policy
- Raspberry Pi and Wolfram: a must-have for every child
- Could you get by with Office Web Apps?
- The best Android antivirus apps for 2014
- Headings vs headers: how to use both in Word
- Windows Server 2012 R2: how the Datacenter edition could change SMBs