Sapphire HD6950 2GB DiRT3 Edition Reviewgotdamojo06 - July 5, 2011
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After getting the Sapphire HD6950 2GB DiRT3 Edition graphics card out of the packaging and removing it from the anti-static bag, you will see that the card does not look anything like the reference design card, as the DiRT3 Edition card has an upgraded custom cooler installed on it. The upgraded cooling solution does take up two expansion slots in your chassis, however this is just about the norm nowadays with higher-end graphics cards, even with the reference designs. Sapphire's upgraded cooling solution on the HD6950 DiRT3 Edition does include a dual-fan setup on the cooler, which is going to allow for a higher amount of cooler air being delivered into the card to help cool the internal components, such as the GPU, memory, voltage regulators, and other heat sensitive parts of the card. When you flip the card over and take a look at the back of the card, you can see that there are four mounting screws that hold the cooler in place, which means if you wish to remove the cooler and install a different on, such as a water cooling solution, it is very easy to do so. You can also see, from looking at the back of the card, that the cooler is longer than the PCB of the card, which may or may not be an issue with your chassis as it may run into clearance issues. That being said, most mid-tower chassis should be able to handle the length of the card.
Sapphire has taken the advancements in display adapter connectivity into consideration when designing the HD6950 2GB DiRT3 Edition graphics card, as it is becoming more common and more affordable to branch off into the Eyefinity gaming setups. Running an Eyefinity setup with a racing simulator, such as DiRT3, does look really nice and gives you a larger viewing angle and area to launch you directly into the game. With that in mind, Sapphire has a DisplayPort 1.2, an HDMI, and two DVI outputs on the graphics card to allow you to connect your Eyefinity setup to the card or whatever type of display adapter you may have to your system. As I mentioned before, the cooling solution on the HD6950 does hang over the back end of the PCB of the card, however it does give the cooler a little bit more of an area to blow the hot air out of the card and move it away from the card so it does not get sucked right back into the cooler. Sapphire HD6950 card does require two PCI-E power adapters to fully power the card and give it the graphics rendering power that it requires and there is a single CrossFireX adapter at the front of the card that is going to allow you to connect a second card and increase the overall graphics power of your system.
Once you get the cooling solution off the Sapphire HD6950 2GB DiRT3 Edition graphics card, you will find the GPU positioned in the center of the PCB with four memory modules positioned to the right, as well as another four above the GPU. Off to the left-hand side of the GPU, under a smaller heatsink, is where all the voltage regulators are located — they have their own special heatsink to help keep them running cool. The GPU that you find on the card is codenamed the Cayman core, which features 2640 million transistors on the 289mm2 die and uses a 40nm manufacturing process. There is a total of 1408 Unified Shaders and 32 ROPs on the card to help you with all your graphics-intensive applications and games. The memory is the Hynix H5GQ2H24MFR T2C memory modules, which happen to come clocked in at 1250MHz on a 256-bit bus, giving you a maximum bandwidth of 160.0GB/s at these stock speeds. The memory modules are rated to operate at 1.5V for both the VDD and VDDQ with a 32ms refresh rate. The modules are made lead and halogen free, giving them the ROHS3 compliant certification and are on the first generation die.
The upgraded cooling solution on the Sapphire HD6950 graphics card does include two cooling fans positioned above the base of the cooler as well as over the fin array that are pulling the heat off the heatpipes. The dual-fan setup is going to allow for more airflow being pulled inside of the cooler to help move the heat off the heatsink.
The base of the cooler is all copper and has a total of five copper heatpipes coming out of the base that then lead into the fin array of the heatsink to move the heat off the GPU. The larger side of the heatsink has three of the heatpipes going off to that side, as there is more area for the heat to be dissipated, while the smaller side of the heatsink has only two heatpipes going to it. The fans that are installed on the cooler have brushless bearings and operate at 12V and 0.35A.