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AMD Radeon HD 6950 & HD 6970 2GB
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by Rob Williams on December 20, 2010 in AMD-Based GPU

Not wanting to end 2010 without the last word, AMD unveiled its Radeon HD 6900 cards last week. These cards bring a couple of interesting features, including a revamped architecture, improved power handling, dual BIOS support, EQAA anti-aliasing and more. With NVIDIA’s GTX 570 just launched, let’s see where AMD stands with its new cards.

Power & Temperatures

To test our graphics cards for both temperatures and power consumption, we utilize OCCT for the stress-testing, GPU-Z for the temperature monitoring, and a Kill-a-Watt for power monitoring. The Kill-a-Watt is plugged into its own socket, with only the PC connect to it.

As per our guidelines when benchmarking with Windows, when the room temperature is stable (and reasonable), the test machine is boot up and left to sit at the desktop until things are completely idle. Because we are running such a highly optimized PC, this normally takes one or two minutes. Once things are good to go, the idle wattage is noted, GPU-Z is started up to begin monitoring card temperatures, and OCCT is set up to begin stress-testing.

To push the cards we test to their absolute limit, we use OCCT in full-screen 2560×1600 mode, and allow it to run for 15 minutes, which includes a one minute lull at the start, and a four minute lull at the end. After about 5 minutes, we begin to monitor our Kill-a-Watt to record the max wattage.

Note:Due to power-related changes AMD has made to its HD 6900 series, and NVIDIA to its GTX 500 series, we cannot run OCCT for the sake of stress-testing. As a result, we have opted to use 3DMark Vantage’s Test 2 (space flight) to get some metrics until we’re able to re-test the entire suite with the updated method.

There isn’t much point in discussing the power chart until we’re able to re-benchmark all of our cards going the non-OCCT route, but for thermals, AMD’s latest cards performed quite well. The HD 6950, despite featuring an identical cooler as the HD 6970, topped out at 71°C. Not bad at all!