XFX Radeon 6970 and 6950
There’s quite a bit of information to process with the launch of the 6900 cards, but there are a few major ones to note. The first is the temperature and power consumption side of the equation. The Radeon 6950’s temperatures are respectable, but the 6970’s are not; we were expecting better cooling performance from the vapor chamber heatsink. It runs hotter than the GTX 570, especially when Nvidia’s limiter is engaged. Whether that’s a fair comparison is debatable but without the limiter the 6970 still runs hotter, so that’s not in question. Power consumption also follows a similar trend, as the 6970 is close to the 570 when things are equalized, but the 570 is much more power frugal with its limiter engaged.
In terms of performance, the Radeon 6950 runs a bit behind the GTX 480 but far cooler and more power frugal. In that sense, the 6950 is the clear winner. The 6970, however, is a bit less fortunate. According to the AMD roadmap, the Radeon 6970 will be its single-GPU flagship card. But as we’ve seen during testing, it competes with the Nvidia GTX 570, not the GTX 580. That means AMD has essentially surrendered the top performance crown to Nvidia for single-GPU cards. That’s not necessarily surprising, as AMD (or ATI at the time) has done this before, with the intent of providing the best gaming value rather than the best gaming framerates. So we certainly can’t complain about that move, as value is always a top criteria when choosing a new graphics card in our opinion.
Lastly, that brings us to value. The XFX Radeon 6950 is set to retail for $310 USD, while the 6970 will cost about $380. And therein lies the real issue: we think AMD has set the pricing bar too high. A GTX 570 can be found for $350, right between these new 6900 cards. The problem is the 570 will beat both of these cards overall, and costs less than the 6970. And that will put AMD in a difficult spot. Hopefully after things settle into the retail channels, and with the holidays just around the corner, we hope the price will drop to make the 6900 cards a more compelling choice.
The XFX Radeon 6950 and 6970 are great cards, of that there is no question. They look great, run fairly quiet, and offer some strong gaming performance out of the box, improving considerably upon the Radeon 6800 series cards. Of the two XFX cards, the 6950 offers better temperatures, power consumption, and gaming value over the 6970, though the latter has more sheer horsepower. However, both cards also appear to be hampered by a difficult pricing scheme. Fingers crossed that changes, because then we’d have a great heavyweight fight on our hands.
XFX Radeon 6950 and 6970