PowerColor Radeon HD 6970 LCS Reviewccokeman -
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A factory water cooled card that comes with with a warranty is what you get in a nutshell with the HD 6970 LCS from PowerColor. When you break it down, the costs associated with owning a water cooling system are not what you would call inexpensive. Sure there are self-contained water systems from CooliT, Corsair and Antec for the CPU but that's not what we are talking about here. These coolers can be had for the cost of a high-end air cooling solution. They do not however take care of the video card problem, you still have to cool it somehow by either installing a dedicated loop or adding the card into an existing liquid loop. For me, it was a simple cut, drain and reconnect process that took about 15 minutes.
At first glance the $520 price tag of the HD 6970 LCS seems a bit expensive when compared to the $360 to $380 reference cooled cards. Take away the included water block that will set you back around $110 and the value is clearly evident. Add in the fact that one no longer has to worry about installing the full cover block and voiding a warranty and the value just becomes even clearer. Out of the box, the HD 6970 LCS has better performance than a reference based card due in no small part to its higher clock speeds. Bumping up the speeds brings additional performance as the included water block allowed the GPU core on the HD 6970 LCS to reach over 1GHz with nothing but a voltage tweak to get there. Overclocking is enhanced with the addition of the EK Waterblock's full cover waterblock. This block, when used in a liquid cooled system, will deliver exceptional cooling performance with the card never breaking the 50 Celsius mark at 45C. What has to be the biggest advantage of the card is not what it has but what it does not have. That ungodly loud fan noise when the fan is pushed to the 100% level. No howling beast to make you wonder why you bought the card. The overclocks achieved on this card were 1021MHz on the GPU core and 1520MHz on the GDDR5 memory. Easily better than any HD 6970 I have tested, something I have to attribute to the exceptional cooling delivered by the Ek block.
PowerColor has delivered another winner with this card and it is a great card to bear the LCS nameplate. It delivers top notch overclocking without a noise penalty and comes with a two year warranty. You have access to the entire AMD ecosystem with this card being CrossfireX capable, 3D Stereoscopic Eyefinity technology and more. All for what really is a cost point that makes this an attractive card for the enthusiast ready to jump into or is heavily involved with a water cooling setup.
- Great cooling solution
- Combined cost
- Better than reference performance
- Factory overclocked
- Overall cost