AMD HD 6970 and HD 6950 Reviewccokeman -
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Temperature testing will be accomplished by loading the video card to 100% using MSI Kombuster, which is paired with MSI's Afterburner overclocking utility for temperature monitoring. I will be using the stability test set to a resolution of 1920 x 1200 using 8xAA. I will use a 15 minute time frame to run the test, ensuring that the maximum thermal threshold is reached. The fan speed will be left in the control of the driver package and video card's BIOS for the stock load test, with the fan moved to 100% to see the best possible cooling scenario for the overclocked load test. The idle test will be a 20 minute cool down with the fan speeds left on automatic in the stock speed testing and bumped up to 100% when running the overclocked idle and load testing. For load testing the GTX 580 and GTX 570, I will use Crysis Warhead run at 2560 x 1600 using the Gamer setting with 8xAA looping the Avalanche benchmark scenario, as I have found this to put a load close to that of Kombuster on a video card. This is needed as a way around the current limiting ability of the GTX 500 series when it detects programs that put an unrealistic load on the GPU, which Kombuster does.
- Monitoring with MSI Afterburner
- GPU Stability test in MSI Kombuster
- 15 minute load duration
- 20 minute idle duration
- Temperature measured in degrees Celsius
Lower = Better
The temperatures delivered by the large Vapor Chamber equipped HD 6970 when the fan speed is controlled by the driver and video cards BIOS resulted in temperatures of 89 degrees Celsius under load. That's a temperature of six Celsius lower than the GTX 480 and is a surprising number considering the improvements of the new core. The HD 6950 on the other hand is equipped similarly with the same 5th generation Vapor Chamber heat sink so by default there is less internal hardware producing heat giving you better temperatures than the HD 6970. When overclocked and the fan speed set to 100%, the HD 6970 delivers more respectable numbers at 64 Celsius under load. While respectable, the logical competition target for the HD 6970 is the GTX 570 which comes in cooler and quieter at 56 degrees Celsius. The HD 6950 with less hardware to cool comes in at 49 degrees Celsius. Now, the real problem is that the GTX 570 runs cooler and quieter than the HD 6970 with the fan speed manually set to 100% or even the 85% limited fan speed on the GTX 570 by NVIDIA. I thought the HD 6870 was loud and there could be just about nothing worse in terms of noise again with the fan speed maxed out. The fan was so loud I had members of the family asking what the noise was two rooms down. The fan speed has to be adjusted to less than about 60% for it to become a livable experience. At this point, it's time for AMD to get the blower fan noise issues fixed. Could it be that the exhaust outlet in the shroud is so small that there is more back pressure on the fan causing this increase in noise? If so, it needs "fixin". Now the shoe is on the other foot with regards to the HD 6970 on both the temperature and fan noise when compared to the GTX 480/GTX 570.