Article by: Nathan Glentworth (Owner / Head Editor)
Product was submitted by: Sapphire
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PRODUCT PICTORIAL & WALKTHROUGH
Let's take a virtual walk around Sapphire's version of ATI's HD 6950.
First off we start at this videocard's VPU. Sapphire's use of the 40nm manufactured Cayman core is stock clocked at 800Mhz core, 1250Mhz 256bit DDR5 memory which is bandwidth capable of 160.0 Gb/sec memory transfer which is 30 Gb/sec higher than your HD 5870 and 16Gb /sec lower than the HD 6970. This coupled with the VPU's 1408 unified shaders (same as the HD5870 / 192 less than the HD 6970) is capable of 25.6 GPixels/sec and 70.4 GTexels/s while powertune drawing 200 watts during maximum load and 20watts at idle.
The amount of shader pipeline and clock rates is the main difference other than the core capabilities between it and the HD 6970. The memory bandwidth of the onboard 2Gb of DDR5 along with the VPU's pixel and texture fillrate is what separates this from the higher model. It should lead to some performance difference in terms of benchmarking and gaming, but how much of a difference is left to be seen.
Sapphire chose to use the reference based GPU cooler that exhausts hot air directly out of the case. And when I say HOT, I mean HOT. After a FurMark stress test, the back exhaust plate was too hot to touch. Although the cooler seems to be enough to keep temperatures down, testing under a full 1920x1200 FurMark stress test load on an open testbed had temperatures reaching 84c before they would stabilize and 40c during idle. Another thing to note was the change in temperature whether up or down was very slow. The card would heat up slowly and cool down slowly which in my experience can be a good thing and how slow the temperature increases is usually related to a larger heatsink. The smaller the heatsink, the faster it will get saturated with heat at a certain airflow.
Fan noise could be noted as being moderate at best and during testing could be easily heard in the next room. But as I said previously, this test was done on an open testbed so sound levels will be less once installed in a case. But keep in mind that this reference cooler is not meant for silent gaming by any stretch of the imagination.
The back of the card is completely void of any obstruction to interfere with any sort of upper motherboard components and facilitated an easy install. As you can see, the reference cooling solution encases the videocard and worrying about the cooling detaching is next to impossible. Keep in mind that this is a full size videocard and consideration should be taken if you are planning on installing this videocard on a smaller motherboard or case. Also note in the top right hand corner you have your crossfire bridge connections for use on an AMD multi-videocard setup.