ASUS HD 6950 Reviewtacohunter52 - June 1, 2011
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Before I even start to talk about the card, I'd first like to say that I was very impressed with how much care ASUS puts into packaging its video card. The antistatic bag that the card was wrapped in tightly covered the card and was taped twice in the back. While this may not sound all that interesting, it really made the packaging look extra nice. Anyway, on to the card. The ASUS HD6950 uses a very appealing black and red design, featuring the ASUS logo in the bottom left hand corner. The entire card is covered in plastic so that when you receive it, everything will be nice and shiny. The top and back of the card follow the design of the reference cooler. Flipping the card over reveals a nice, shiny, black, backplate. All in all, this first look at the ASUS HD6950 left me feeling rather impressed.
When looking at the ASUS HD6950's connectivity options, it appears as though the company stuck with the reference design. Here you'll be able to use two dual link DVI ports, an HDMI 1.4a port, and a pair of mini DisplayPort 1.2 ports. Using the mini DisplayPort 1.2 ports, you'll be able to run a total of six monitors off of the one HD6950. Because of the multitude of display ports, the exhaust vent is slightly smaller than I would have liked to see. It is no more than about half of the card's width, and takes up only one expansion slot. Flipping the card over doesn't reveal any extra exhaust areas. The way things look so far, I'm guessing this card is going to get hot!
If you're into running multiple videocards in one system, then you'll be happy with the HD6950 — if you've got the dough, you'll be able to pair this bad boy up with up to four other cards. Just as with the other 69XX cards, you'll notice the same BIOS switch next to the CrossFire connectors. This will allow you to switch between the factory BIOS and the configurable BIOS. This may be what is needed to get a few of the more nervous users to try something new and flash their cards. Powering this card will be a lot easier than powering some of the other highend cards — all you'll need are two 6-pin connectors and a recommended power supply of at least 550W.
Removing the cooler from the card was fairly easy to do, something I always like to see. Once the cover is off, you'll be greeted with a nice bit of eye candy. I'm of course referring to the Cayman Pro core and the 2GB of GDDR5 memory surrounding it. Doing so also gives us our first glimpse of the card's beautifully laid out PCB. The ASUS HD6950's cooler uses the same vapor chamber cooler as the reference design. Just as with the reference design, the card's cooler was held together by multiple tabs. Unfortunately, pulling these tabs apart was harder than it looked. It got to the point where I was afraid of breaking something, so I left the cooler alone.
With the ASUS HD6950's cooler removed, we can get a nice close look at the Cayman Pro core. This powerful core is built on a 40nm process and stuffed full of 2.64 billion transistors. It utilizes 22 SIMD engines, 1408 stream processors, 88 texture units, and 32 ROPS. To top it all off, ASUS gave us an extra 10MHz on top of the reference clock, making this baby stock clocked at 810MHz. The memory surrounding the Cayman core is 2GB of GDDR5 memory from Hynix. ASUS left these modules running at the same speed as the reference design, 1250MHz.
Now let's see what kind of performance we can get from this card.