Sapphire Radeon HD 6870 DiRT 3 Special Edition ReviewGeekspeak411 -
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With the packaging out of the way and the bubble wrap, antistatic bag removed, I am able to take my first close look at this card. Fittingly, the heatsink dominates the outward appearance of the card with its dual fans setting an imposing figure. Judging from the visible heatpipes, the dual fans, and Sapphire's reputation for aftermarket cooling solutions such as its Vapor-X technology, I have no doubts that this heatsink will perform admirably. On the back of the card, the PCB lies uncovered, allowing heat to diffuse from the card unobstructed. With the core clock shipping at 920MHz, there will be a lot of heat radiating from the GPU, which will need to be tamed to remain stable. Heatpipes have become much more prevalent in cooling solutions in recent releases, which is a trend I am quite fond of. On the Sapphire HD 6870 DiRT 3 Special Edition cooling solution, the heatpipes look to be of pretty high quality, especially next to the pretty cheap plastic shroud. But I'll take a closer look at that down the page.
The card has the standard assortment of ports for current 6870 editions, sporting two DVI ports, an HDMI port, and dual mini DisplayPorts, leaving options open when considering Eyefinity setups and 3D. There should be no issues hooking in your desired graphics setup combined with the bundled adapters and cable. On the power front, the card requires dual 6-pin PCI-E power connections from a power supply, which can also be obtained from two Molex connections using the bundled adapters.
As with the rest of the 6870 cards, this DiRT 3 Special Edition card is CrossFireX-capable with the CrossFire bridge conveniently located in the standard position, allowing the card to be linked to any other compatible 6000 series card, as opposed to SLI, which requires identical models to see scalar performance boosts.
Removing the heatsink allows me to get a closer look at just what is being provided to cool this powerful card. There are only a few cards that can boast having TWO cooling fans on board. It really looks impressive and should keep temperatures low without creating a lot of ambient noise. This looks to be a huge improvement over the reference design. The thermal paste appears to be adequate and while the two heatpipes are not directly contacting the GPU, they are nicely sandwiched between the surrounding plates.
The GPU has a nice core overclock at 920MHz, but this is an OC Edition card; that's by no means the echelon of this card's performance. To reach the upper crest of pixel pushing ability, ideal cooling and quality components are required. Everything looks to be primed for performance, so I can't wait to push this card to its limits.
That's the card in pictures, but they're only a minor part of the story. I want to see the card on paper to see what it should be capable of and then I want to burn it in with the OCC benchmark suite!