AMD Radeon HD 6870 Graphics Card

Graphics Cards
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FINAL THOUGHTS

Gaming: Please check out gaming-oriented reviews of the HD 6870 at sites like like HardwareCanucks, The Tech Report, and AnandTech. The general consensus is that the HD 6870 performs somewhere in-between the HD 5850 and HD 5870 and is a much more energy efficient alternative to Nvidia's GTX 470 It is optimal for gaming at resolutions of 1920x1080/1200 with extra image quality features enabled.

Power Consumption: By our estimates, the Radeon HD 6870 uses about 18W when idle, a 4W improvement over the overclocked HIS HD 5870 we reviewed earlier this year, and an excellent result for a graphics card of its caliber. When stressed to the theoretical limit with FurMark, the card consumed approximately 163W, a significant 50W+ savings over the aforementioned 5870.

Cooling: The reference cooler attached to our HD 6870 sample was very quiet when idle, measuring 15 dBA@1m in our test system, only a few dB higher than our anechoic chamber's noise floor. Like most high performance cards, it runs hot and loud on full load. If you only care about the noise level of the card when it's sitting idle, you can stick with the stock cooler. Otherwise it is a perfect candidate for an aftermarket heatsink like the GELID Icy Vision, now in its second revision with HD 6850 and 6870 compatibility. The GPU core has been shifted away from the back panel so some older coolers that don't fit on the HD 5850 will work, though they may not be able to handle the heat output.

The HD 6870 is an upgrade over the HD 5850, bringing to the table a nice performance bump but without using nearly as much power as the 5870. No, it isn't quite as fast the 5870, but it uses approximately 50W less on load, and is about US$100 cheaper. Solid performance, well priced, and energy efficient, we feel it is the best overall choice at the US$240~250 mark. The 6000 series also offers a few extra niceties like stereoscopic 3D output and the potential for six displays running off a single card with DisplayPort. DP has not been fully embraced by display manufacturers yet, but HDMI adoption did not happen overnight, either; it will come. For now, this means extra costs in adapters past on to end-users, but it is still preferable to what Nvidia requires — a pair of cards in SLI or a dual GPU card to drive just three displays. Usable and practical benefits, excellent performance for money, and improved energy efficiency spell out the new AMD Radeon 6870's formidable strengths.

Our thanks to AMD for the Radeon HD 6870 sample.

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Articles of Related Interest
Arctic Cooling Accelero Xtreme Plus GPU Cooler
GELID Icy Vision Dual Fan VGA Cooler
HIS HD 5550 & 5570 "Silence" Graphics Cards
HIS HD Radeon 5870 iCooler V Turbo
Asus EAH5750 Formula Graphics Card
ATI Radeon HD 5450 & HD 5570 Graphics Cards

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