XFX HD6950 1GB Overclocked Edition Reviewairman -
» Discuss this article (0)
The card itself actually seems a little bit shorter than the original XFX, which leads me to think that the PCB is different as well. This could mean different memory chips, voltage regulators, etc. I will be checking this out momentarily! The part of the card that stands out the most is the cooler, which features two propeller style fans inside a shroud, located above a large set of aluminum fins. The only protrusions from the card at this point is the PCI Express connector. The back of the card shows off a black PCB, the CrossfireX connectors, and the heap of micro components located on the back of the card.
Turning to the sides of the card will show the mounting bracket that houses the five ports of the card, which include two mini DisplayPorts, one full size HDMI, and two DVI-D connectors. In total, these ports allow the use of up to six monitors using AMD Eyefinity. The fan exhaust will be pushed out this side through the stamped out XFX logo, along with the total of 13 venting holes on the right side of the plastic housing. Unlike a lot of stock vendor housings, this card will exhaust a slight amount more of hot air back into the case, rather than focusing it all outwards through the rear mounting bracket.
The XFX 6950 XXX Edition shows off three large 6mm copper heatpipes which are routed from the base of the GPU outwards to the rest of the aluminum fins shrouded inside the plastic housing. I will be taking an in-depth look at this very soon. The card itself uses two 2x3-pin connectors, opposed to its bigger brother, the 6970, which uses one 2x4-pin connector and one 2x3-pin connector.
Even though XFX offers outstanding support and warranty with its products, these products' warranties are somewhat protected from disassembly of the card. On two of the four screws that hold the cooler directly to the GPU core are stickers that read "Warranty Void if Removed", hinting that if you're going as far as removing the cover, XFX will not replace it if you break it in the process. However after speaking with XFX, they have stated that if you live in the US or Canada, removing these stickers will not cancel the warranty. :) I've seen this on several other cards before, but not many. For a quick reference, the CrossfireX connectors are located at the top of the card (while installed in the case), closest to the I/O support bracket. Also, food for thought: the small, black, button-head screw above the heatpipe in the picture does not fasten the cooler to the board. I'll show exactly what it's for soon!
Underneath the plastic shroud that holds the cooler in place and directs airflow is a pretty impressive sight. This is possibly one of the few coolers that I've come across (that aren't aftermarket) that use direct contact heatpipes to cool a GPU core. This is a pleasant surprise and I'm expecting it to perform well. Surrounding the GPU core on the top and right side are eight GDDR5 memory chips, which all add up to the 1Gb that the card contains. Doing the math (duh) equals out to 128mb per chip. Reading the text on the GPU core shows that it is a Taiwan chip, and is a 1050, N3F723.00 core. Got any idea what that screw was for that I pointed out just before this?
The two small pins shown here at the corner of the card are the power supply for the fans. I almost forgot to reattach the header when putting the card back together due to how small it is! On a different topic, the memory modules used on this PCB are made by Hynix, which are almost identical to that of the standard XFX 6950, though there are two digits/letters that are different. I am no longer versed in reading memory modules, so I cannot explain if these differences are significant or not.
Separating the cooler itself from the shroud is accomplished by removing four small screws near the base of the cooler. With the cooler out of the shroud, the path that the heatpipes follow can be seen. Since there are an odd number of heatpipes, it looks like XFX chose to put two of them on the side furthest from the rear of the case. I would have done this differently and concentrated the heat as close to the rear of the case as possible, as it would prevent less heat from entering the case. The direct contact bottom is of relatively good quality, though there are some machine marks visible. I won't pick on the manufacturer for this, as it's still a large improvement over the reference design!
To get a better understanding of what to expect out of the fans themselves, I removed one of them from the shroud to see if there was any identifying factors on the label. Luckily, it had everything I was looking for! The label shows that the fan is manufactured by Everflow, operates on 12V and pulls 0.20A. The 0.20A is smaller than I would have expected, so I don't forsee these fans having a high RPM value or be very noisy. The tradeoff: less airflow.
Still guessing what that screw was for? There are actually two of them, and they hold a small heatsink onto a set of components near the GPU core. Certain components can get very hot other than the GPU core, and some don't have enough surface area to effectively keep themselves cool. XFX was conscious of this, so a small heatsink was strapped across these four chips.
As I said before, I noticed that the video card is a little bit shorter than that of the regular XFX. Pictured below is a standard XFX HD 6970, which is the same size as the standard HD 6950. With the card completely dissected, the next page will contain a list of manufacturer-provided specifications and features.