AMD’s top-end Radeon HD 6970 2GB is one of the best GPU choices on the market right now, and adding to its flavor a bit, Sapphire customized the reference card to produce the Battlefield: Bad Company 2: Vietnam edition. In addition to featuring a copy of the game, it comes complete with many accessories (including an HDMI cable).
Before tackling our overclocking results, let’s first clear up what we consider to be a real overclock and how we go about achieving it. If you read our processor reviews, you might already be aware that we don’t care too much for an unstable overclock. It might look good on paper, but if it’s not stable, then it won’t be used. Very few people purchase a new GPU for the sole purpose of finding the maximum overclock, which is why we focus on finding what’s stable and usable.
To find the max stable overclock on an AMD card, we stick to using the overclocking software included with the card, or at worst, AMD’s OverDrive tool. For NVIDIA, we use EVGA’s Precision, which allows us to reach heights that are in no way sane – a good thing.
Once we find what we believe might be a stable overclock, the card is put through 30 minutes of torture with the help of OCCT 3.0′s GPU stress-test, which we find to push any graphics card harder than any other stress-tester we’ve ever used. If the card passes there, we then further verify by running the card through a 2x run of 3DMark Vantage’s Extreme setting. Finally, games are quickly loaded and tested out to assure we haven’t introduced any side-effects.
If all these tests pass without issue, we consider the overclock to be stable.
The reference clocks for the Radeon HD 6970 are 880MHz on the core and 1350MHz on the memory, and in the case of Sapphire’s BF2: BC edition, there’s no change. To overclock, I used Sapphire’s own TriXX tool, as AMD’s own OverDrive tool proved too limiting.
Because I wasn’t able to increase the voltage (the tool didn’t allow it), the top “stable” overclocked proved to be 970MHz on the core and 1375MHz on the memory. This results in a fairly impressive boost for the core, but a lacklustre one for the memory… it’s just so finicky.
Given that our overall overclock wasn’t majorly impressive, the end results reflect that. Though I admit, some of the gains are a bit higher than I expected. Whether such gains are worth an overclock at all are for you to decide.