Sapphire HD 6970 FleX Battlefield 3 Edition Reviewairman -
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Even though there are only minute differences in performance between the recently released cards from Sapphire versus earlier cards of the same model, there are advantages to grabbing one of the newer, though redundant cards. Yes, the clock-for-clock performance of this HD 6970 is going to be pretty much identical to that of the nearly one-year old models, but there are some perks to buying new. First, even though there has hardly been any milestone introductions to the video card market since the HD 69x0 series, you can now find them for $50-$100 cheaper than they were previously. Second, many new cards are no longer using the original, reference-style cooler. Almost all of Sapphire's cards (and other manufacturers) have moved away from a blower and a block of copper toward heatpipes, vapor chambers, and quieter propeller-style fans. We can clearly see the major decrease in idle and load temperatures in both stock and overclocked scenarios with these new coolers — and at the same or lower noise level. Not only do you get an improved cooler, but you'll also get more stability and reliability out of the new cards with the now common dual-BIOS switch, newer firmwares, and additional monitor support with the FleX edition cards from Sapphire.
To speak more specifically about the Sapphire HD 6970 FleX Battlefield 3 Edition, I will say that none of the results are surprising or mind-blowing because we already knew what to expect. The Cayman architecture is no different than it was before, and the only thing we get with it are slightly higher out-of-the-box speeds and a superior cooler. No raw performance gains were expected and none were seen. In fact, in every framerate test that was run, both this Sapphire HD 6970 and the comparison HD 6970 stayed within a few frames per second, or about 5% ahead or behind. The advantage lies in the higher "stock" clock speed, in which case this Sapphire HD 6970 generally had a slight edge.
There is no doubt that Battlefield 3 is a showstopper and "career-changer" for many active FPS players, especially those who very eagerly awaited its release and wasted no time in getting a copy. I can speak for myself and plenty of others that I know of who abandoned their staple FPS games they play regularly to put those hours into BF3 instead. As far as the price-point of this card goes, the copy of Battlefield 3 is certainly not "free". Currently through many retailers, this edition is about $50 more than Sapphire's regular FleX edition and also those from completely separate manufacturers. That being said, if Battlefield 3 and an HD 6970 are in your shopping cart or wishlist as separate items, save $10 by getting this card instead.
- Save about $10 on buying BF3 versus separate purchase of comparable card and the game
- 50MHz core clock speed increase out of the box
- Excellent cooling with Sapphire's VaporX technology
- FleX version allows five monitors from one card by allowing separate use of HDMI and DVI ports
- Includes HDMI to DVI and mini DisplayPort to full-size DisplayPort adapters