Moving over to the card, you can see straight away the dual fan cooler and the shroud on it looks great with the aggressive lines that we saw on the Sapphire HD 6870 Dirt 3 Edition card in September. Outside of the actual look, though, the cooler should perform well with its dual fan setup and copper heat pipes which you can see running out the bottom of the card. Hopefully it does a good job of keeping our card run cool today while being quiet at the same time.
Moving around the card, we can see in the power department nothing is out of the ordinary with the single 8-Pin and 6-Pin PCIe power connector present. Closer to the front we've got our two CrossFire headers which are again nothing new. Just to the left of that, though, we've got a switch for the dual BIOS on the card.
At first you think that the ability to switch BIOS' on the HD 6970 is a little pointless as the biggest benefit to doing so on the HD 6950 is that you can flash it so a HD 6970 BIOS knowing that you can revert back if something goes wrong. The Sapphire website, though, explains perfectly the advantage to the second BIOS, though.
With the Dual BIOs set to the standard position, the Dual fans keep this model quiet and up to 25% cooler than the standard model even under load conditions. With the BIOS switched to the performance setting, the core voltage of the GPU is raised to 1.2V, the fan speed is set to a high performance profile and the powertune adjustment for overclocking is raised to 50% allowing the user to maximise performance of the card by increasing clock speeds either with AMD Overdrive or with SAPPHIRE TriXX up to a ceiling of 1500MHz core, 2000MHz memory
Mind you, don't expect to hit 1500MHz on the core with the stock cooler.
On the I/O side of things we can see that Sapphire have got two mini DP connectors on the left, full size HDMI, a single Dual-Link DVI connector along with a Single-Link DVI connector.
Out of the box the Sapphire HD 6970 Dual Fan carries with it a stock clock; that means the core comes in at 880MHz while the 2GB of GDDR5 comes in at 5500MHz QDR. We figured we wouldn't worry about testing it at that speed today, though, since we've already tested stock HD 6970s. Instead we'd just do a bit of overclocking to see the performance we could get out of the card.
Without any effort at all the card came in at 950MHz on the core and 2GB of GDDR5 came in at 5800MHz QDR. This is a nice overclock and should yield with it some nice performance. Before we get into that, though, let's check out the testbed.