Conclusion (of 2010)
The closing weeks of 2010 have proven to be quite an exciting time in the graphics business. After Nvidia successfully launched the GTX 580, surprising many observers who did not expect such a successful revision of the massive Fermi core, AMD took a somewhat defensive stance after more than a year in the lead.
The HD 6900 series is AMD's response to the new threat and now we know what both teams have to offer on the pitch. AMD took an early lead thanks to its successful HD 5000 series and Nvidia's delays, but in the latter half of the year Nvidia managed to score back some ground with the affordable GF 104 core and the speedy GF 110. Despite this, AMD cashed in on its lead and outsold Nvidia in the DirectX 11 market by a comfortable margin. However, at the end there can be only one true winner and you will be happy to know that it's you, the consumer.
AMD can claim a victory in total sales numbers and the fastest graphics card on the market, thanks to the HD 5970, Nvidia managed to retain the title of fastest GPU on the planet with the GF110. However, the end result of that the struggle is visible in any price search engine. Consumers can choose between several competitive graphics cards in all market segments at relatively modest prices.
The XFX HD 6950 and XFX HD 6970 are excellent products and if you are in the market for a high-performance DirectX 11 card, they are more than a good choice. Compared to Nvidia's GF110 cards, the new Radeons manage to perform admirably. The HD 6970 easily matches the GTX 570 in terms of performance, yet it should cost a bit less, between five and ten percent less. However, the HD 6950 truly manages to hit the sweet spot. With VAT, it's projected to cost between €250 and €275 depending on the market and at the moment Nvidia simply doesn't have a product to counter it. In addition, it's somewhat quieter than the HD 6970. It's faster than the old HD 5870, especially in new games and it has a more advanced architecture with greatly improved tessellation performance.
So there you have it. AMD did not unsettle the GTX 580, but it has done something even better. It has churned out two competitive and very well priced graphics cards that will surely end up on many Christmas shopping lists. Great work, especially in the tessellation department. The GTX 580 is still king of the hill, the HD 6970 ties with the GTX 570 both in terms of price and performance, while the HD 6950 is truly in a class of its own and offers very good value. That's it for 2010 folks, but as soon as we sober up after the holidays, both AMD and Nvidia will spice things up with new dual-GPU cards, just in time to save on heating bills in the northern hemisphere.