XFX Radeon HD 6870 Black Edition Reviewbishop245 , Geekspeak411 - May 1, 2011
Category: Video Cards
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With each new graphics release, a cycle can be observed regarding the rollout of specialty cards to the masses, further diversifying each series. First, stock cards are rushed to the market with MSRP stickers with discounts few and far between. Next, after a moderate decline in initial demand, the vendors cut the stock card’s pricing and manufacturers get the okay to begin pushing out factory overclocked specialty cards. These cards come in all different flavors and increments of warranteed speed. Sapphire, for instance, produces their top-tier Vapor-X cooling system to couple with their products to offer an additional few valuable degrees off of your card’s operating temperature for your top dollar. XFX takes a similar approach in its tiered factory OC options. Its flagship cards however carry a renowned Black Edition label that carries recognition anywhere computers are worshiped.
This Black Edition card looks like it will carry on the series admirably with key features such as Stereoscopic 3D support, Full Eyefinity support, Crossfire X Technology and an impressive dual-fan direct contact heat pipe heat sink sitting on an already notable overclock. I am excited to see this type of heat sink design on a high end card such as the Radeon HD 6870 because the dual fan design should mean this card can go faster, while running cooler, AND staying quieter. That is an ideal win-win-win situation on all sides that I would love to see from this card. With XFX's first-rate reputation and support channels, I have high expectations for this card. Will it be worth $240 hard-earned dollars? I intend to find out!
The box that the XFX Radeon HD 6870 Black Edition comes in is fairly standard for the Black Edition line of cards which is more a compliment than anything. I am quite fond of their design team’s refined tastes. The box looks subtle, yet striking and elite all in one glance. Featuring a black steel theme, the front of the packaging touts the card’s Black Edition status proudly and sets the entire title over a bold mock dual fan heat sink. On one end of the package, XFX places a little snippet with “The Benefits of Black Edition” stating that these cards are “Faster than any other card in the XFX lineup-or any card on the planet for that matter…By purchasing an XFX Black Edition card, you will be entering a world of the elite…”. Well, at least they are modest… The opposite end of the box hypes the card’s Eyefinity Support, Crossfire X Technology and AMD Accelerated Parallel Processing Technology. Finally, flip to the back to see a list of key features on this card and read more about AMD’s bundled technologies and XFX’s 5 Star Support. All in all a very well put together theme with not a single over-saturated cartoon figure to be found!
The inner packing box continues the 6870’s sophisticated packing design. Featuring a very similar design to what ASUS uses for their cards which I am so fond of. The inner box for the 6870 Black Edition is a finished matte black casing with a grayed out XFX logo and website centered on the main face. Opening the box, I am greeted by a thoughtful accessories tray with the atom logo and “play hard.” on the face. Pulling out the tray, you can finally capture a glimpse of the card in its antistatic packaging. I would have preferred to see the card housed in a cast casing rather than cardboard, but it feels secure and well seated in the packaging so there shouldn’t be any issues with the design choice.
Looking closer at the accessories tray, I am saluted by the standard advertising pamphlets and instruction manuals expected in a higher end component. A driver disk that everyone with Internet can ignore is included, and two full sheets of flashy XFX stickers are notable inclusions. But, the XFX “Do not Disturb, I’m Gaming” door handle tag is a personal favorite due to its dual purpose as a do not disturb sign and a handy duplicate of your card’s serial number and support information! Trust me, if you haven’t had to deal with a company’s tech support and RMA department, you are lucky. If you have, then you can understand just how thoughtful it was to include our serial sticker on a second location that doesn’t include contorting your body into ungodly positions to access in order for you to receive support. Thumbs up XFX. Finally, I uncovered a new little package within the accessory tray that I have never come across before. Almost resembling a miniature manila envelope, this small black package is all black with classy grey styling lines adorning the front and a Black Edition header in the upper left corner. On the opposite side, the XFX logo sits underneath the opening tab. Opening up the curious new package, I pull out a beautifully crafted chic metal XFX Black Edition face plate that feels very high quality to the touch. This is one of the first packaged accessories I have gotten from ANY company that I would strongly consider adorning my rig beyond a company sticker for my keyboard. I enjoy understated designs with arresting features, not necessarily bland and boring, but more an elegant touch that can carry its clout without cheesy effects and imitations. Although a miniscule part of the overall picture in this review, I really think XFX has hit a winning design here and I want to ensure my approval is conveyed.
Almost following a ‘calm before the storm’ theming so to speak, I am very impressed by the refinement of the packaging and bundled accessories. It really feels grown up compared to some other testosterone-injected designs. Let’s move on and see if the card's looks and performance radiate in the same way!