AMD 6800 Series Reviewccokeman , RHKCommander959 - October 21, 2010
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The last card of the pack is from PowerColor and is another HD 6870. The box art looks like Knight Blazer from an old game series called Wild ARMS 2. The armored warrior has a set of long mechanical/armored looking wings that reach across other sides of the box. 'Tis fitting to have a red knight on an AMD graphics card. The front lists the video outputs (1x dual link DVI, 1x single link DVI, HDMI, and 2 mini DisplayPorts), the 1GB GDDR5 memory and that the card is capable of AMD Eyefinity. Flipping over the back side shows the basic specifications and features of the card and several translations for those who don't speak English. Some of the features are: 40nm fabrication technology used on the core; 256-bit memory interface with 1GB of GDDR5; AMD Accelerated Parallel Processing Technology; CrossFire support; Eyefinity multi-display technology; Microsoft DirectX 11 capability and HDMI 1.4 with 7.1 surround sound capabilities to name a few. The bottom has a chart that ranks the card on gaming, office and media proficiencies with the 6870 getting five stars across the board.
The side of the box reads Radeon HD 6870 bold and clear. The box art wing stretches across here to the back of the box. At the bottom half of the side are the power and system requirements for properly installing the graphics card into a system. An open PCI Express x16 slot is required on the motherboard and a 500 Watt or greater power supply with two 75W 6-pin connectors are the bare necessities. The other side is similar although it has less pertinent information except for two bar-code labels.
The top and bottom of the box are identical and both cleanly list the brand and card type. The box is held shut with flaps that are reinforced with tape. Once open, a cardboard box slides out holding the graphics card and accessories in trays. The card is protected by a taped antistatic bag that helps to keep it safe from static electricity, dust and dirt. Underneath the tray is the driver disk and manual, a flap nearby holds onto the accessories. One of each is included: DVI to VGA adapter; Mini DisplayPort to VGA adapter and lastly a CrossFireX cable.
The cooling system is the standard reference design from AMD with a large sticker placed over the cover for artistic effect. The picture has the same warrior from the box art and the PowerColor brand with the card type along the bottom. The sticker conforms well to the beveled air inlet for the impeller, no wrinkles or bubbles to be seen anywhere. Rotating over to the back we find the distinctive back plate that has been used for several generations now. Several Phillips-head screws line the back. These mounting holes are useful for aftermarket cooling solutions as well. Only one CrossFire slot is on the 6800-cards so these are mid-range products and only two can be used together. The back side is void of the large electronics which are installed on the inside of the card.
The sides of the card are reminiscent of the red and black cooling designs used on the 5000-series cards. An exhaust grill sits near the CrossFire slot and pours heat back into the chassis but some is still vented outside. This was due to the video outputs taking up too much space to adequately ventilate through the expansion slots, requiring the secondary grill near the CrossFire slot. The power connectors are located at the end of the card in a similar fashion to the 5870s. The other side is rather empty save for a small sticker with a part number on it and a view of some capacitors.
The 6870 has five outputs available. Two DVIs, one dual link for high resolution and one single link, one HDMI port and two Mini DisplayPorts provide plenty of connectivity opportunities to end users. These are also useful for the Eyefinity multiple-monitor displays where users can have a desktop span multiple monitors. The exhaust grill is only half length and a single slot in width so air restriction would be a problem without auxiliary exhaust vents that were added perpendicular to these, right above the CrossFire slot. The trade off is more connectivity for a higher chassis operating temperature. The back of the card has four red lines sitting in some grooves with not much else going on however.
Two 6-pin PCI Express power connectors are required to power the 6870s although their power consumption is almost low enough to not need the second connector at all. These are located on the side opposite of the PCI Express slot, at the impeller end. A single CrossFire slot is installed on the 6800 cards as these are mid-range products. That slot is in its normal position.
Since the PowerColor 6870 is identical to the other two 6870s, there isn't much point in tearing it apart too. So, time to take a look at the new technologies behind these cards!