You kind of get this feeling that the motto at AMD is "If you can't beat them on performance, beat them on price". It seems to be something that has constantly held true over the last couple of generations of cards we've seen from the team, previously known as the red one.
Compared to the current crop of NVIDIA cards, the HD 6850 doesn't really go directly against anything it seems. It's priced between the GTX 460 and GTX 570 and sits between the two models. The person who would buy the HD 6950 seems to be the person who wants to spend right on $300.
I feel a little confused with the HD 6950 and do struggle to figure out if it's a card that's as good as it could've been, or just a card that is good. Sure the performance is there in a lot of situations and the temperature, heat and power numbers are nothing short of fantastic, but you feel there's a "but" at the end of it all.
Maybe we expected too much from the HD 6950? Maybe the delays and the release of the NVIDIA cards skewed our opinions a bit. You have to think that if AMD released this card before the GTX 570 you would be looking at it against models priced significantly more than it. NVIDIA have really done a number on AMD when it comes to the GTX 500 series because it's really changed what we expected out of this card.
Word is stock's going to be strong. Talking to suppliers and retailers, I would be inclined to believe that with companies happy with the stock they're getting, this could ultimately be what wins it for AMD. Stock continues to be tight on the GTX 500 series and when you come to this time of year people aren't willing to wait just another two weeks, because there's a good chance that a bulk of their holiday has passed.
The best way to sum up the HD 6950, though, is that it's a HD 5870 with improved tessellation performance. This is how we summed up the HD 6800 series really, and we're not sure that it's going to be enough for some people.
The HD 6950 is a good card with essence of greatness in it. $299 is a good launch price, but I think that with the GTX 570 costing only $50 more it's not going to be an easy sell. It's certainly not an open and shut case, and this is probably the biggest problem with the HD 6950. While so often we see clear winners at a given price bracket, the HD 5800 series when it launched, the GTX 460 when it launched and so on, the decision to save the $50 and buy this over the GTX 570 isn't just a matter of going, "yeah, let's do it." It's the same for the GTX 570 as well now, though. You think, "do I save $50, take a bit of a performance hit and get the HD 6950, or do I stick with the GTX 570?".
For me the HD 6950 wins out for the simple fact I can run my three monitors off a single card. I won't be going back to a single monitor setup and if I can avoid it I would like to stay with a single card solution. Eyefinity is a niche market, though, and for many it's not going to be the thing that decides which card they buy.
The Sapphire HD 6950 offers us everything we would expect out of the card; good connectivity, a nice little bundle and just that typical confidence in owning a Sapphire product.
We do leave wondering if our expectations of the HD 6950 on a whole have been met. Overclocking and Crossfire support which is something we'll be looking at in the coming days are areas that will help make the decision easier.
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- Page 1 [Introduction and Package]
- Page 2 [Card and Specifications]
- Page 3 [Test System Setup and 3DMark 11]
- Page 4 [3DMark Vantage]
- Page 5 [Unigine Heaven Benchmark]
- Page 6 [Benchmarks - Resident Evil 5]
- Page 7 [Benchmarks - Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2]
- Page 8 [Benchmarks - Mafia II]
- Page 9 [Benchmarks - Lost Planet 2]
- Page 10 [Benchmarks - Aliens vs. Predator]
- Page 11 [Benchmarks - Street Fighter IV]
- Page 12 [Benchmarks - Far Cry 2]
- Page 13 [Benchmarks - Batman Arkham Asylum]
- Page 14 [Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF]
- Page 15 [Temperature Test]
- Page 16 [Sound Test]
- Page 17 [Power Consumption Tests]
- Page 18 [Total Performance Rating (TPR)]
- Page 19 [Total Value Rating (TVR)]
- Page 20 [Final Thoughts]