HIS Radeon HD 6970 2GB Video Card Overclocked

With some extra juice having already been pumped into the HD 6950, it's time to see what the big brother does with that extra juice.

Manufacturer: HIS Digital
14 minutes & 23 seconds read time

Introduction and Package


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We've just had a look at the HIS HD 6970 Turbo and I then realized that we hadn't even had a look at the reference HD 6970 2GB from HIS. It's not that we had forgotten about it, but we wanted to give the card the same treatment as the GIGABYTE HD 6950 2GB we have just looked at.

Since we had looked at the HD 6970 by itself as well as in Crossfire, the next thing to do was see what happens when we overclock them. With the holidays it seemed that MSI were a little slower than normal when it came to updating Afterburner with voltage support, so unfortunately we're looking at the HIS HD 6970 in this regard a little later than we would normally.

The HIS HD 6970 2GB is in our test system now, though; Afterburner is fired up and we've pumped the voltage up and began to overclock. Because we haven't looked at the card, though, we'll quickly look at the package HIS has put together here before taking a closer look at the card. We'll then get into the fun stuff - Overclocking!

The Package

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Inside there's nothing that you wouldn't have seen before with the package being fairly standard and following the same setup as we saw in the Turbo package. Of course, the main difference is the lack of Turbo labeling.

Card, Specifications and Overclocking

The Card

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A reference design HD 6970 2GB from HIS means that you're not going to see anything new when it comes to the overall layout. Towards the back of our card we've got two PCI-E power connectors; one a 6-Pin and the other an 8-Pin.

Closer to the front we've got our little BIOS switch and two Crossfire connectors and on the connectivity front we've got a Single-Link DVI, Dual-Link DVI, HDMI 1.4 and two mini DP ports.

Specifications and Overclocking

As we've mentioned a few times already, the HIS HD 6970 2GB we've got on our hands is just a reference one which means unlike the Turbo version we looked at recently, it doesn't carry an overclock. That means the clocks come in at 880MHz on the core and 5500MHz QDR on the 2GB of memory.

Of course, we'll be turning this card into our own version of the Turbo series by cranking up the voltage to 1.3v and overclocking the core and memory ourselves.

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With a bit of time we ended up getting our core to 980MHz and the memory up to 6000MHz QDR.

Test System Setup and 3DMark 11

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We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASRock, Kingston, Mittoni, Noctua and Corsair.

The main thing we're going to be looking at today is the performance of the HIS HD 6970 2GB when overclocked ourselves compared to just a reference clocked HD 6970. We've also got the HD 6950 at reference speeds along with the GIGABYTE one we overclocked with the help of Afterburner to over 950MHz.

Along with those cards, we've also got some HD 6800s in single form and in Crossfire along with the GTX 480, GTX 570 and GTX 580 from NVIDIA.

Let's get started!

3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.3dmark.com/3dmark11/
Buy It Here

3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world's most popular benchmark. Designed to measure your PC's gaming performance 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

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Under 3DMark 11 we see a nice performance gain over the reference clocked HD 6970. More importantly, though, when overclocked the HD 6970 out performs the overclocked HD 6950.

3DMark Vantage

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmarkvantage/
Buy It Here

3DMark Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware.

3DMark Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.

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Like 3DMark 11 we see a nice little boost in performance which puts it ahead of the AMD cards, including that heavily overclocked HD 6950.

Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Version and / or Patch Used: 2
Developer Homepage: http://www.unigine.com
Product Homepage: http://unigine.com/press-releases/091022-heaven_benchmark//

New benchmark grants the power to unleash the DirectX 11 potential in the gift wrapping of impressively towering graphics capabilities. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. With the interactive mode emerging experience of exploring the intricate world is ensured within reach. Through its advanced renderer, Unigine is one of the first to set precedence in showcasing the art assets with tessellation, bringing compelling visual finesse, utilizing the technology to the full extend and exhibiting the possibilities of enriching 3D gaming.

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Heaven performance is strong and you can see the overclock again gives us a nice boost in performance with its higher resolution number looking good against the NVIDIA competition.

Benchmarks - Resident Evil 5

Resident Evil 5

Version and / or Patch Used: Demo Benchmark
Developer Homepage: www.residentevil.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.residentevil.com/

Resident Evil 5 is a survival horror video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the seventh installment in the Resident Evil survival horror series, and was released on September 18. Resident Evil 5 revolves around Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar as they investigate a terrorist threat in Kijuju, a fictional town in Africa.

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Getting into some games, we see that the performance increase is again seen and the HD 6970 at 980MHz has no problem cementing its dominance amongst the single GPU AMD offerings.

Benchmarks - Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.2

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/UK/default.aspx
Product Homepage: http://www.hawxgame.com/

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2 is an arcade-style flight action game developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft. The game is the sequel to Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X., released in 2009.

The game begins with Colonel David Crenshaw participating in a routine patrol mission in the Middle East. After halting an insurgent attack, a volley of missiles is fired at the Air Force base that Crenshaw was stationed at, with one of the missiles disabling Crenshaw's aircraft, resulting Crenshaw being in enemy captivity. A joint strike force composed of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and a Ghost Recon squad executes an operation to rescue Crenshaw. In Scotland, Royal Navy Pilot Colin Munro encounters an unidentified passenger aircraft that explodes from an on-board bomb when undergoing training exercise. In Russia, an air force squadron led by Colonel Denisov and Captain Dmitri Sokov engages separatist aircraft but is ordered to retreat from the region after numerous Russian military installations have been attacked.

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We again see a boost in performance over the stock clocked card and again we see the card has a nice little jump even on the overclocked HD 6950.

Benchmarks - Mafia II

Mafia II

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage: http://www.2kczech.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.mafia2game.com/
Buy It Here

Mafia II is a third-person action-adventure video game, the sequel to Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven. It is developed by 2K Czech, previously known as Illusion Softworks, and is published by 2K Games. The game is set from 1943 to 1951 in Empire Bay (the name is a reference to New York's state nickname "The Empire State"), a fictional city based on San Francisco and New York City, with influences from Chicago and Detroit. The game features a completely open-ended game map of 10 square miles. No restrictions are included from the start of the game. There are around 50 vehicles in the game, as well as licensed music from the era.

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Those nice gains are seen again under Mafia II, but the most important number is that 2560 x 1600 one. While we are over 60 FPS with the card at stock clocks, when we're this close to that number the extra FPS is really appreciated and we would much prefer to be at 67 FPS instead of 63 FPS.

Benchmarks - Lost Planet 2

Lost Planet 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark - Test A Scene 1
Developer Homepage: http://www.capcom.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.lostplanet2game.com/

Lost Planet 2 is a third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the sequel to Lost Planet: Extreme Condition which is also made by Capcom, taking place ten years after the events of the first game, on the same fictional planet. The story takes place back on E.D.N. III 10 years after the events of the first game. The snow has melted to reveal jungles and more tropical areas that have taken the place of more frozen regions. The plot begins with Mercenaries fighting against Jungle Pirates. After destroying a mine, the Mercenaries continue on to evacuate the area, in which a Category-G Akrid appears and attacks them. After being rescued, they find out their evacuation point (Where the Category-G appeared) was a set-up and no pick up team awaited them. The last words imply possible DLC additions to the game, "There's nothing to be gained by wiping out snow pirates... unless you had some kind of grudge."

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Lost Planet 2 is super intensive and you can see the AMD single GPU setups have problems getting that 60 FPS average we need. While at 980MHz the HD 6970 continues to fall behind it, we're only 5 FPS behind which means just a small detail drop would get those numbers up to a very playable level.

Benchmarks - Aliens vs. Predator

Aliens vs. Predator

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage: http://www.rebellion.co.uk/
Product Homepage: http://www.sega.com/games/aliens-vs-predator/

Aliens vs. Predator is a science fiction first-person shooter video game, developed by Rebellion Developments, the team behind the 1999 original PC game, and published by Sega for Microsoft Windows, the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. The game is based on the Alien vs. Predator franchise, a combination of the characters and creatures of the Alien franchise and the Predator franchise. There are three campaigns in the game, one for each race/faction (the Predators, the Aliens and the Colonial Marines), that, while separate in terms of individual plot and gameplay, form one overarching storyline.

Following the storyline of the campaign modes comes the multiplayer aspect of the game. In this Multiplayer section of the game, players face off in various different gametypes in various different ways.

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Good gains are again seen, but like Mafia II we can see that 1920 x 1200 performance increase is appreciated as we move just 3 FPS over the average we aim for to 7 FPS, which equates to more than 10% higher than the average we want to get as a minimum.

Benchmarks - Street Fighter IV

Street Fighter IV

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage: http://www.capcom.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.streetfighter.com/

While Street Fighter IV features models and backgrounds rendered in 3D, the gameplay remains on a traditional 2D plane, with the camera having freedom to move in 3D at certain times during fights, for dramatic effect. Producer Yoshinori Ono has stated that he wanted to keep the game closer to Street Fighter II. A new system called "Focus Attacks" ("Saving Attack" for the Japanese version) has been introduced, as well as Ultra moves. The traditional six-button control scheme returns, with new features and special moves integrated into the input system, mixing classic gameplay with additional innovations.

All the characters and environments in Street Fighter IV are rendered as 3D models with polygons, similar to the Street Fighter EX sub-series Capcom produced with Arika. However, there are a couple of key differences. Art director and character designer Daigo Ikeno, who previously worked on Street Fighter III 3rd Strike, opted for non-photorealistic rendering to give them a hand-drawn look, with visual effects accented in calligraphic strokes, ink smudges and ink sprays during the fights.

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Under Street Fighter IV we see some nice gains, but the numbers are so high that it's fairly irrelevant.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01
Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long
Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.farcry2.com/
Buy It Here

The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.

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Nice performance gains again, but more importantly we're seeing numbers that equate to silky smooth gaming performance which is the most important thing.

Benchmarks - Batman Arkham Asylum

Batman Arkham Asylum

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.batmanarkhamasylum.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.batmanarkhamasylum.com/

Batman: Arkham Asylum exposes players to a unique, dark and atmospheric adventure that takes them to the depths of Arkham Asylum - Gotham's psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane. Gamers will move in the shadows, instigate fear amongst their enemies and confront The Joker and Gotham City's most notorious villains who have taken over the asylum.

Using a wide range of Batman's gadgets and abilities, players will become the invisible predator and attempt to foil The Joker's demented scheme.
Batman: Arkham Asylum features an original story penned exclusively for the game by famous Batman author and five-time Emmy award winner Paul Dini, whose credits include Lost season one and Batman: The Animated Series.

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Again some strong performance gains, but like Far Cry 2 we're just seeing some numbers that equate to silky smooth performance.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF

High Quality AA and AF

Our high quality tests let us separate the men from the boys and the ladies from the girls. If the cards weren't struggling before they will start to now.

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We see some nice gains again across the board when we crank up the detail. Again, though, we've got to come back to Mafia II where we see the overclock just help us move away from that minimum average we want to see. It's these kinds of increases that make us overclock, as they just help make our gaming experience that bit smoother.

Temperature Test

Temperature Tests

The temperature of the core is pulled from MSI Afterburner with the max reading used after a completed run off 3DMark Vantage and the Performance preset.

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The HD 6970 no doubt heats up when we start pumping extra voltage through it. At 91c, though, it's the same temp as the HD 6950, but of course it's faster.

Sound Test

Sound Tests

Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.

After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).

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Idle noise jumps a little, but overall load noise doesn't really change with it falling in line with other HD 6970s.

Power Consumption Tests

Using our new PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01 or "Power Thingy" as it has become quickly known as to our readers, we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated graphics cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).

There are a few important notes to remember though; while our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10% more. We test at the exact same stage every time; therefore tests should be very consistent and accurate.

The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a SSD hard drive is used with a single CD ROM and minimal cooling fans.

So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.

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It comes as no surprise that power draw jumps up when we start throwing more voltage through the card, but at just over 400 Watts it's nothing most good quality 600 Watt power supplies won't handle.

Total Performance Rating (TPR)

Total Performance Rating

The TPR graph is a combination of all our benchmarks in which NVIDIA and AMD are on an even playing field.

The TPR number is a combination of:

3DMark 11, Heaven Benchmark V2, Resident Evil 5, Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.2, Mafia 2 (PhysX Off), Lost Planet 2, Aliens vs. Predator, Street Fighter IV, Far Cry 2, Batman: Arkham Asylum (PhysX Off) and our four High Quality tests which include Mafia 2, Aliens vs. Predator, Street Fighter IV and Far Cry 2.

All of the benchmark results achieved are then combined into a single number. As this graph will grow over time and cards won't be re-tested, next to each model you'll find the driver version that was used when the card was benchmarked.

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Overclocked the HIS HD 6970 at 980MHz offers us a strong performance gain against the other new AMD models. At the same time it's not that far off the GTX 570 from Gainward which carried with it quite a high pre-overclock.

Total Value Rating (TVR)

Total Value Rating

The TVR graph is the TPR score divided by the price of the video card. The price of the video card is based on the list price of the model on Newegg.com. In the event the card isn't listed, it will be based on the U.S. $ MSRP given to us by the manufacturer.

In the event we can't source a price from either, the product will not receive a TVR rating. As with our TPR graph, the amount of video cards on the list will grow over time and the price of the model won't change from what it was when first reviewed. For this reason the U.S. $ price that the card is based off will be included next to the name of the model.

In the event you want to find the TVR rating yourself based on the current price, all you have to do is simply divide the TPR number by the list price.

TVR numbers are rounded to the nearest whole number; 100.3 will be 100; 100.8 will be 101 and 100.5 will be rounded down to 100.

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We see a jump in value thanks to that extra performance at no extra cost, but it's still a fair chunk away from the HD 6950 which really offers great value at its under $300 price tag.

Final Thoughts

You might've seen some people getting in excess of 1000MHz on the core of HD 6970s and the first thing we have to say is that it's not that the HIS HD 6970 2GB we're using is a poor overclocking card. Under 3DMark 11 and Vantage we could benchmark at 1000MHz on the core, but Heaven would see crashes, and so did Batman AA.

Due to the way we offer these overclocking articles in that we test it in every benchmark verses just one or two like others, we have to make sure our OC is capable of completing all our tests.

Falling short of the 1000MHz mark isn't a huge deal, though. 6GHz QDR on the memory is just a huge number and overall the performance out of the model when overclocked is very strong.

On the topic of the HIS HD 6970, there's nothing to really say about it that we haven't said about other HD 6970s that follow the reference design. You've got a good model with a strong price tag that's going to play a lot of games with no real dramas at the higher resolutions.

Is it worth going to the effort to overclock the model? Absolutely, and you can see in certain situations that the extra MHz really helps make game play a bit smoother. The best example of that is in Mafia II where we see at stock we're just getting over that 60 FPS average we want. With the overclock we're pushing a bit further away from it and the difference between a 63 FPS average and a 67 FPS average is noticeable as it helps lift the minimum FPS up.

Another great HD 6970 and today we're able to see the kind of extra performance we can get when it comes to overclocking the card with additional voltage. For some it's going to be worth the effort, while for others they'll be happy with the stock clocks. Of course, there's always the option to buy a pre-overclocked one like the HIS Turbo we looked at recently.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

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