PowerColor Radeon HD 6970 LCS Reviewccokeman - March 3, 2011
Category: Video Cards
Price: $ 519
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Of all the cooling solutions on the market one of the most appealing and yet most feared is water cooling. Who in their right mind would put water in with electronics and hope that the inevitable does not happen (sheepishly raising my hand)? Water cooling is one of the cooling solutions that offer tremendous upsides when done correctly and that most feared of things when done incorrectly. The last factory released water cooled card I looked at was made by PowerColor, the HD 5970 LCS. What I found was that by liquid cooling the trouble spots with a full cover water block, the core clock speeds were increased by another 120Mhz over a non-water cooled card. Peformance was increased significantly as well with that card so the expectation is that the HD 6970 LCS from PowerColor will offer up some nice gains in performance with the enhanced cooling. PowerColor have again gone with EK Waterblocks as their supplier of choice to equip this card. The Acetal and Nickel plated copper is an enticing look that is all the rage right now.
So what do you get with a card of this caliber when you shell out a cool 5 bills for it? You get a card equipped with a high-end cooling solution that is already installed (saving you the trouble and potential heartaches), comes with a warranty and gets a generous increase in the base clock speeds to 925MHz on the Cayman XT core and 1425MHz on the 2GB of GDDR5 memory. Seeing as how just about every one of the HD 6970 cards I have tested have delivered a clock speed of just over 1000MHz I have to wonder if the cooling will allow for some significant increases above that number or will the main benefit be just reduced operating temperatures? Let's see what the HD 6970 LCS from PowerColor has to offer and see if it can live up to the hype.
The packaging used for the HD 6970 LCS is traditional PowerColor and is on the smallish side. The front panel of the shell shows the card with the model numbers and series listed under the card. To the bottom right is a picture of four monitors in an Eyefinity setup. The total amount of the GDDR5 frame buffer is listed at the top right and is 2GB in size. Just under this listing are the type of outputs this card is capable of using. The back side of the box talks about AMD specific technologies that are employed by the HD 6900 series including Accelerated Parallel Processing, AMD HD3D, HDMI 1.4, CrossfireX and DirectX 11. Also discussed on the right hand rear panel are the benefits of water cooling as PowerColor sees them. Chief among those reasons are the immense cooling potential of a liquid cooled solution.
Inside the shell is the box that holds the HD 6970 LCS. Inside are the driver disk and a generic installation manual. Digging further you find the video card and hidden in a compartment up at the front side of the box is the large selection of accessories.
The bundle of accessories that come with this card include just about everything you need to get the HD 6970 LCS installed in your system save the liquid loop. That you need to supply on your own! The balance of the bundle includes 3/8 and 1/2 inch barbed fittings, a pair of extensions in case your fittings are to long to fit the EK block, clamps for both sizes of tubing, a Crossfire bridge connection, Mini HDMI to HDMI adapter and the 6 Pin PCIe power to 8 pin adapter.
You can see from the packaging and contents that PowerColor has something special here. It will be interesting to find out just how special it is for the premium price.