Our today's test subject is Sapphire's HD 6970 Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam Special Edition graphics card. As the name suggests, the card comes with a gift - Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam. " Special Edition" means that the card comes in an aluminum case, whereas "Gaming Edition" comes in a standard, cardboard box. We wrote about HD 6970 Battlefield Special Edition back in December, here,so today we'll dissect it for your reading pleasure.
HD 6900 series launched on December 15th and currently offers HD 6970 and HD 6950 cards. Both cards are based on the new Cayman GPU, AMD's second DirectX 11 GPU. Radeon HD 6970 succeeded HD 5870 on AMD's single-GPU throne and it competes against Nvidia's Geforce GTX 570.
As far as clocks go, HD 6970 BFBC2 kept the reference ones. The HD 6970 GPU, a.k.a. Cayman is built in 40nm and the new architecture is based on VLIW4 design. This means that all stream processing units have equal capabilities.
HD 6970 BFBG2 Vietnam Special Edition comes in a Battlefield themed aluminum case, which can later be used to keep cables or connectors. Sapphire was never the company to skimp on gifts and the provided accessories now include a 1.7m HDMI cable, mini-DisplayPort-to-DisplayPort dongle dual molex-to-8pin and molex-to-6-pin dongles, CrossFireX bridge, DVI-to-VGA dongle and of course download voucher for Battlefield Bad Company 2 Vietnam.
Sapphire HD 6970 Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam is no different from the reference HD 6970, except for the sticker. The card uses dual slot cooling and the card is 27.3cm long (10.75 inches).
The cooler looks similar to the one used on HD 6800 cards. Unlike HD 6800 boards, HD 6900 series features a backplate, much like HD 5800/5900 series cards, which is probably used to keep PCB from flexing due to the large heatsink used under the shroud.
The I/O panel features two DisplayPort 1.2 connectors, HDMI 1.4a and two DVI connectors (one of them is single-link with a maximum resolution of 1920x1200). By using DisplayPort outputs it’s possible to chain up to six monitors to a single card. To do this you will need either a Multi Stream Transport hub or DisplayPort equipped monitors that support daisy chaining of the monitors together. As far as sound goes, HDMI 1.4a provides Dolby True HD, DTS-HD, AC-3, DTS and up to 7.1 channel audio with 192KHz/24bit output.
Unlike the HD 6800, HD 6900 comes with two CrossFire connectors. This means that you can use four cards in a 4-way CrossFire. The card also features a dual-bios toggle switch that makes bios updates a breeze. Setting 1 is unprotected for user updates, while setting 2 is the protected factory default mode. If you don't flash the card successfully, all you need to do is move the switch to revert to default bios.
The PowerTune feature looks similar to a gimmick used by Nvidia on its GTX 580 card and it looks like this one locks the HD 6970's maximum TDP at 250W.
The TDP, something that has been quite a hot topic recently, is set at 200W for the HD 6950. AMD is currently using three different TDP values and calls them PowerTune Maximum Power, Typical Gaming Power and, of course, Typical Idle Power.
Note that for the HD 6970, Typical Gaming Power is set at 190W, and for the HD 6950 typical gaming power is set at 140W. Idle TDP is set at 20W for the both cards.
HD 6970 cards needs one 6-pin and one 8-pin PCI-Express power connector whereas HD 6950 need two 6-pin PCI-Express power connectors.
HD 6970 relies on Vapor Chamber technology for GPU cooling. Beneath the hood is the Vapor Chamber and a large aluminum heatsink.
HD 6970 Battlefield comes with a total of 2048MB video memory. The GDDR5 memory chips are made by Hynix (model number H5GQ2H24MFR-R0C). They are specified to run at 1500 MHz (6000 MHz GDDR5 effective).
Motherboard: EVGA 4xSLI
CPU: Core i7 965 XE (Intel EIST and Vdrop enabled)
Memory: 6GB Corsair Dominator 12800 7-7-7-24
Harddisk: OCZ Vertex 2 100 GB
Power Supply: CoolerMaster Silent Pro Gold 800W
Case: CoolerMaster HAF X
Fan Controler: Kaze Master Pro 5.25"
Operating System: Win7 64-bit
Aliens vs Predator
Overclocking capabilities of Sapphire HD 6970 Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam is comparable to most other HD 6970 cards. Reference GPUs run at 880MHz and we managed to push it by another 65MHz, to 945MHz. Our overclock involved Sapphire TriXX tweak utility but since the card does not support voltage tweaking, TriXX's voltage sliders were unusable. We used auto fan rpm throughout the test.
Unfortunately, we can't quite say we liked the card for its silence as our overclock, modest as it was, made it go really loud. The fan occasionally went so fast that it really made for pretty uncomfortable sessions.
Without overclocking, Sapphire's HD 6970 Battlefield runs normal - the fan is not quite inaudible, but it's not loud either. When idle, the card remains pretty quiet
GPU temperatures remain in normal limits and won't exceed 89°C. Our overclock pushed the GPU to 92°C. You can increase the fan rpm and lower the temperatures to below 70°C, but we chose not to test that scenario - the card was simply too loud.
Radeon HD 6970 consumes around 22W when idle, which is a few W better than GTX 570. Compared to the same card, maximum consumption is also better by about 10W. Of course, Sapphire's card is no different than the reference card so its consumption is basically that of the reference card.
Sapphire Radeon HD 6970 Battlefield Bad Company 2 Vietnam Special Edition comes in an aluminum suitcase and bundled with Battlefield:Bad Company 2 Vietnam. To download the game, you'll have to register in Sapphire's Selected Club and then download the game. However, the bundle itself is pretty rich.
As far as graphics goes, Sapphire's HD 6970 Battlefield is no different than the reference HD 6970, with the sole exception being the sticker. Naturally, performance is great regardless but what else to expect from AMD's fastest single-GPU graphics card. The large 2GB frame buffer helps the HD 6970 keep the high tempo even at ultra-high resolutions. Compared to the GTX 570, which is currently the more affordable deal, the HD 6970 will shine exactly at ultra-high resolutions.
Sapphire Radeon HD 6970 Battlefield Bad Company 2 Vietnam Special Edition is currently available at €358 here. We must admit that this is pretty steep compared to the Gaming Edition version, which comes at €320 here.
Enthusiasts and collectors that are looking for something special will probably find Sapphire's Radeon HD 6970 Battlefield Bad Company 2 Vietnam Special Edition to be interesting. Others who are interested solely in the card and the performance should perhaps consider Sapphire's HD 6970 2GB card instead, which is curently available at €300, and can be found here .