The picture from the HD 6970 is a little clearer; not crystal clear, but indeed clearer. The thing is, if you remove the GTX 500 series from the picture and put the HD 6970 against the GTX 480, you've got a clear winner in the new AMD card. It performs similar to the GTX 480 with it performing better at the highest resolution.
Its temperature, heat and power numbers are also a lot more attractive when compared to the GTX 480. I think it was AMDs goal to make the HD 6970 a better card than the GTX 480, and I can honestly say that they have achieved that. You wouldn't buy a GTX 480 over the HD 6970.
The problem is that the GTX 500 series is in the picture now and you wouldn't buy a GTX 480 over the two new GTX 500 series cards. So, do you buy a HD 6970 over the GTX 500 series? Well, if you want the fastest single GPU card, no. The GTX 580 really is a good chunk faster and while at times the gap between the HD 6970 and GTX 580 does shrink, it's still not really competing with it.
The thing is, though, the GTX 580 is so much more expensive; AMD don't expect people who want to spend $500 on a video card to choose the HD 6970 over the GTX 580. What they do hope is that you would maybe look at a Crossfire setup at a similar price range. For under $500 you're able to get a HD 6870 Crossfire setup that performs a good chunk faster than the GTX 580.
So, do you buy the HD 6970 over the GTX 570? You know, even after all this testing I'm not sure I can answer that. Both are good cards, both are priced at a similar level and both offer similar performance when you look at the performance of a stock GTX 570.
I love what Sapphire has done with the bundle of the HD 6970 and it helps it stand out against the competition. That we can't deny. The new Catalyst Control Center also looks great and it's got a much needed face lift.
While I can't say you should buy a HD 6970 over a GTX 570, I can't say you should buy a GTX 570 over a HD 6970 either. I think what it really comes down to is what you want out of the card. Like I've said in a few of my reviews recently, as an Eyefinity user I'm choosing the AMD option over the NVIDIA one because I want to run three monitors off one video card. I'm also becoming quite dependent on DisplayPort and it's something that NVIDIA haven't really chosen to embrace yet; albeit we've seen Gainward and Palit offer it to us.
Connectivity wise, the HD 6970 is the better option. Feature wise, it's tough; NVIDIA has CUDA and PhysX, but AMD has Stream. PhysX also hasn't gained loads of momentum, so for many it's not a deal clincher.
I think what it all really comes down to is how much do you want to spend and what's in stock. If you want to be gaming over the Christmas holidays, you'd be crazy to wait for one model over another because all you're doing is delaying your gaming experience, and honestly, both cards offer good performance.
The confusion in what to buy is what's going to hurt AMD. We expected AMD to come out and have the fastest single GPU card. They don't. If the GTX 500 series didn't come out this year they would've, but they did come out. What has hurt AMD the most is delaying the launch of this product. The GTX 570 should've never had a chance to be released. If the HD 6900 series launched last month like it was meant to, they could've charged slightly more and gotten market penetration.
Instead the GTX 580 launched, it rattled the cages of AMD and seemed to cause a delay to the HD 6900 series. While AMD spent time worrying about the GTX 580, NVIDIA turned around and threw the GTX 570 at us for further measure. What could AMD do? Nothing really, they couldn't delay the card 'till next year.
The HD 6970 performs well, it offers good value and Sapphire has put a great bundle together. Ignoring the bundle, though, and just looking at the HD 6970 for what it is and at the suggested selling price, the answer to the question rises. Do you buy the GTX 570 or the HD 6970? It can't really be answered and I think that's a bigger issue for AMD than it is for NVIDIA.
We could end up in an aggressive price war with the consumer in the middle; and you know what, it wouldn't be a bad thing. Don't let it stop you from buying a card now, though.
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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]
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