MSI R6950 Twin Frozr III Power Edition Reviewccokeman - July 21, 2011
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When you look at the results delivered by the MSI R6950 Twin Frozr III Power Edition, they prove that the card is better than a reference design in just about every aspect — from the FPS performance to the temperatures delivered by the large heat pipe-based Twin Frozr III cooling solution to the stock speed testing where it bested a reference card in all the testing save the stock speed power consumption. A pretty impressive performance, as it should be with the clock speeds on this factory-overclocked HD 6950 bumped up 50MHz on the core and memory. This is, of course, the primary reason to buy a factory-overclocked video card or two — you get a guaranteed level of performance without having to worry about an overclock being stable.
Another reason, as if you needed it, is the cooling solution used on theR6950 Twin Frozr III Power Edition. MSI has equipped the card with its Twin Frozr III heat pipe-based cooling solution that uses five large heat pipes attached to an equally large fin array. The fans used are MSI's own Propeller Blade Technology that drives 20% more airflow through the fin array to keep the components under the cover, as well as the GPU core, cool. The Twin Frozr III design accomplishes this impressively with the lowest load temperatures in the overclocked testing. The Propeller Blade fans are not silent when you spool them up to the 100% mark, but they are a significant step in the right direction when compared to the reference design cooling. At the other end of the spectrum, in the stock testing, the R6950 delivered load temperatures of 63 degrees Celsius. Not bad, you say? That's right, because this 63 degrees Celsius result is a full 21 degrees Celsius better than the reference solution, all without the noise letting you know the card is there. The dual fan speed switch will allow you to further drop the noise level, but temperatures will be sacrificed for the lower noise levels. The stock performance setting offers a good balance of noise and temperature and is good enough for just about everyone except the silent PC crowd. With the noise in check, you can easily slap two or more of the R6950 Twin Frozr III Power Edition cards onto your motherboard for excellent CrossFireX performance in a single monitor or Eyefinity setup for that full immersion gaming. CrossFire 6950s are more than enough to fully enjoy Eyefinity.
From all I had read on the R6950, I was looking forward to this card being able to flash the shader count from the 1408 on a 6950 up to the 1536 on the 6970. Unfortunately, through the luck of the draw (or lack thereof), I just could not get it to flash. That would have been a bonus with the factory overclock. Overclocking on the R6950 Twin Frozr III Power Edition was not stellar, but did show decent potential with a bump in clock speed on the core of 100MHz and 126MHz on the memory. To reach these levels, I had to use MSI's own overclocking utility, Afterburner, and enable unofficial overclocking in the configuration file. If this was not done, the limits on the clock speeds were 900MHz on the core and 1325MHz on the memory, both in Afterburner and the Catalyst Control Center.
Much like on the GTX460 Hawk, multiple voltage control is enabled on the R6950 Twin Frozr III Power Edition. The three voltages tweak the GPU core, memory, and VDDCI, offering a way to push the card even further. Tweaking up the voltage is a quick way to push performance, but if the VRM circuit is not robust enough to handle it, then you can end up with the good ol' black screen of death that dignifies something has gone seriously wrong. To combat this, MSI has used its Military Class build strategy, incorporating a 6+2 Phase power circuit, Tantulum core Hi-C caps, Super Ferrite chokes, and solid aluminum capacitors to make sure the juice is stable to the core and memory. You get supported voltage control with a three year warranty. Priced competitively at $279, the MSI R6950 Twin Frozr III Power Edition offers up excellent construction and stock performance, superior cooling, excellent looks, and decent overclocking potential.
- Twin Frozr III Cooling
- Triple Over Voltage
- Dual BIOS
- Dual Fan Switch
- Would Not Flash to 6970