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Maximum PC Staff

Apr 08, 2011

XFX Radeon HD 6950 1GB XXX Edition

At A Glance

OLYMPUS

Solid performance with a good warranty and lots of output connectors.

HADES

Pricier than the competition; draws more power.

XFX doubles the fan and juices the clock speed of the HD 6950

The original Radeon HD 6950 cards shipped with a 2GB frame buffer, and you can still get those if you want. But some manufacturers have begun shipping the HD 6950 with 1GB of video memory, which is a fine fit for the current generation of 1080p displays.

XFX has taken the 1GB 6950 a step further, juicing up both the GPU and memory clocks and adding a custom cooler that XFX says will keep the card cooler and run more quietly than the default AMD-designed cooler. The new cooler uses a pair of propeller-bladed fans that turn more slowly than the paddle wheel fan in the reference cooling system.

The XXX Edition’s core clock speed is 830MHz, almost 4 percent over the 800MHz reference clock; the 1,300MHz memory is clocked about 8 percent over the reference 1,200MHz memory frequency. The XXX Edition has the usual set of outputs, including a pair of DVI connectors (one of which is only single-link), one HDMI 1.4a port, and a pair of Mini DisplayPort connections. The logical competition for this card (given its price point and features) is a card like MSI’s N560GTX-Ti, built around Nvidia’s GTX 560 Ti GPU.

The dual fans on XFX’s Radeon HD 6950 push more air and make less noise than the single fan on the reference model.

The Radeon has the edge over the GeForce card in texture units (88 to the GTX 560 Ti’s 64) and memory clocks (1,300MHz versus 1,050MHz), but the MSI GTX 560 Ti card costs less—by around $40. What we care about most, though, is how the card performs—not how it looks on paper. We popped the XFX card into our standard graphics test system and hammered on it with our benchmark suite.

As you can see, the XFX card fared a bit better than the MSI card on average, though the MSI N560GTX-Ti card scored a few wins of its own. The XFX card uses a touch more power at idle, but a little less when running flat out. The XXX Edition seems a little quieter than the reference HD 6950, but you can still hear the dual fans spin up under load. The frequency of that noise isn’t as annoying as the stock fan’s noise, though.

Is the XFX card worth $40 more? Part of that price difference is due to the XFX limited lifetime warranty, which is transferable if you resell the card. Ultimately, it depends on what you want in a graphics card. If you’re just playing PC games on a single 1080p display, the 560 Ti is a great choice. If you want more than two displays and a little more juice in your gaming, then go for the HD 6950 XXX Edition.

$290, www.xfxforce.com

SPECS

XFX Radeon HD 6950 XXX 1GB
MSI N560 GTX-Ti
Reference Radeon HD 6950 1GB
Shader Units*
1,408384
1,408
Texture Units
88
64
88
ROPs
32
32
32
Power Connectors
2 x 6-pin
2 x 6-pin
2 x 6-pin
Core Clock Frequency
830MHz
880MHz
800MHz
Memory Clock Frequency
1,300MHz 1,050MHz
1,250MHz
Frame Buffer Size
1GB
1GB
1GB
Memory Interface
256-bit 256-bit
256-bit
Price$290$250$250 - $290

*AMD and Nvidia computer cores are not directly comparable.

Benchmarks

XFX Radeon HD 6950 XXX 1GB
MSI N560 GTX-Ti
3DMark 2011
5,005
4,519
3DMark Vantage Perf
19,344
19,482
Unigine Heaven 2.1 (fps) 25
26
Crysis (fps) 33 29
BattleForge DX11 (fps) 59
54
Far Cry 2 / Long (fps) 88 102
HAWX 2 DX11 (fps) 76
127
STALKER: CoP DX11 (fps) 46 44
Just Cause 2 (fps)3942
Aliens vs. Predator (fps) 37
32
F1 2010 (fps)
62
52
Metro 2033 (fps)1617
Power @ idle (W)
141
130
Power @ full throttle (W)290305

Our test bed is a 3.33GHz Core i7-975 Extreme Edition in an Asus P6X58D Premium motherboard with 6GB of DDR3/1333 and an 850TX Corsair PSU. The OS is 64-bit Windows Ultimate. All games are run at 1920x1200 with 4x AA.

THE VERDICT

XFX Radeon HD 6950 1GB XXX Edition

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