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Sapphire Radeon HD 6950 1GB Video Card Review

To compete with the GTX 560 Ti, Sapphire offer us a 1GB version of the much loved HD 6950. Is it what the camp needs?
@ShawnBakerTW
Published Sun, Feb 20 2011 11:54 PM CST   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Rating: 93%Manufacturer: SapphireTech

Introduction and Package


Introduction

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The GTX 560 Ti is a killer card and at launch we saw some companies do some fantastic things with the model when it came to overclocks. This is great for you the consumer, but for AMD and its partners, not so great.

The HD 6950 offers great performance, but with 2GB of GDDR5 the price of the card is higher than the GTX 560 Ti which carries with it only 1GB of GDDR5. Personally, I thought it was a mistake for AMD to push 2GB models of the card, as it means prices are higher and if the past has told us anything, it brings little gains when compared to its 1GB counterparts.

Instead of dropping the price on the model, though, they've decided to halve the memory which helps bring the overall cost down. The question we ask, is it enough for AMD?

We've got the Sapphire version of the HD 6950 1GB on hand and we're going to find out exactly what halving the memory does not just to performance, but price. First, though, let's check out the package.


The Package

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Quite a full on package actually with a lot of cables. The stand-outs would be that mini-DP to DP cable and HDMI cable; two things a lot of companies are choosing not to include in the bundles.

Card and Specifications


The Card

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The card we're looking at doesn't carry the standard HD 6950 cooler we're used to seeing; instead it uses a Sapphire one which sports a massive fan and some sexy looking copper heat pipes in the back ground. It will be interesting to see what this does to the temps of the card.

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Around the rest of the card you're not going to find any surprises. We've got two 6-Pin PCI-E power connectors at the back, two Crossfire connectors at the front and connectivity comes in the form of a Dual-Link DVI, Single-Link DVI, HDMI and two Mini DisplayPort connectors.


Specifications

Sapphire hasn't changed the clock on the 1GB card which comes as no surprise to us. We also won't be changing them today as we want to see how the card goes against its big brother, the 2GB version.

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Anyway, what all that means is the core comes in at 800MHz and the 1GB of GDDR5 on this HD 6950 carries with it a clock of 5000MHz QDR - the same clock as the 2GB big brother.

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.

We'll be checking out the HD 6950 1GB card against a few today, but the two most important would be the GTX 560 Ti and of course the HD 6970 2GB.

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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Comparing the HD 6950s, there's really no difference. Compared to the GTX 560 Ti, you can see we're a little ahead here.

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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Performance is again close here between the HD 6950s; the GTX 560 Ti is a bit faster, though, thanks to the PhysX support under Vantage.

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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We can see that again the HD 6950s are very close to each other. The 1GB version is just a tiny bit slower. Compared to the GTX 560 Ti we can see while it wins at 1680 x 1050, it loses out at 1920 x 1200.

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 can see that the HD 6950s again perform almost identically. Compared to the GTX 560 Ti, the card manages to pull out a win at the highest resolution with playable FPS.

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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H.A.W.X. 2 does indeed favor the NVIDIA offerings, but looking at just the HD 6950s again we can see that performance is almost identical across the board.

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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Mafia II performance across the board is again near identical. Compared to the GTX 560 Ti we can see the HD 6950 pulls out the win at the highest resolution; we're just a few FPS away from that 60 FPS mark, though. Fortunately it's going to be easier to get with this model thanks to only a 4 FPS deficit vs the 8 FPS on the GTX 560 Ti.

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 a little down on the HD 6950 1GB at the lower resolution. The most important factor, though, is that we're well below that 60 FPS average we need to achieve.

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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Under AVP we can see again that performance is close. Compared to the GTX 560 Ti we can also see it out performs it across the board.

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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Big numbers across the board here, but comparing the two HD 6950s again sees that both cards are very close to each other.

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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Comparing the two HD 6950s again, we see that performance is very close. Compared to the GTX 560 Ti we can see across the board the HD 6950s are a little slower, but fortunately we've still got very capable FPS at all resolutions.

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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Big numbers for Batman AA where we see again both HD 6950s perform very close to each other. Compared to the GTX 560 Ti, performance is a little behind; fortunately we've got playable FPS across the board, though.

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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You can see even with the detail level cranked right up, that extra 1GB of GDDR5 shows no difference.

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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Looking at the heat, there's no real difference between the two versions of the card.

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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Noise levels also show no difference.

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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Like our other two tests, power draw shows no surprises.

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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Overall you can see that both HD 6950s perform very close to each other. Compared to the GTX 560 Ti there's also not much between these stock models and a slightly overclocked GTX 560 Ti.

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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Thanks to the cheaper price, the value for the HD 6950 jumps almost to the top of the list. You can see it's battling it out with the GTX 560 Ti, which is exactly what we wanted to see from the 1GB version of the card.

Final Thoughts




The HD 6950 1GB is an important model for the simple fact that it attacks the price point that NVIDIA attacked head on with the GTX 560 Ti, which really made the HD 6950 2GB just too expensive. Yes, it carried with it more memory, and yes, it performs better in some areas, but with both cards quite neck and neck you would've probably been better off opting for the GTX 560 Ti as it was cheaper, unless of course you wanted Eyefinity.

The HD 6950 1GB prevents AMD from having to drop the price on the 2GB model while offering similar performance. Really, when it all comes down to it, the difference between 1GB and 2GB is debatable.

Unlike the GTX 560 Ti, though, AMD has the option for a 2GB card and while some will argue it's not worth the money, you're not going to change people's minds that want the extra memory and are happy to pay for it.

What the model also does, though, is make the decision harder when it comes to deciding what you buy. The HD 6950 2GB carried with it a good chunk higher price tag when compared to the GTX 560 Ti. If money was the most important factor you would opt for the 1GB GTX 560 Ti. Now, though, you've got this 1GB model that carries an aggressive price tag and the same high performance.

Outside of the actual model on a whole there's the Sapphire version which carries with it a great cooler and an even greater bundle. The inclusion of the mini-DP to DP adapter is great as we're seeing a lot of companies ignore the inclusion of one and as people are starting to make use of DisplayPort monitors it is frustrating to get a card and then not be able to use it until you've got yourself an adapter, which can still be a little hard to buy.

At the end of it all, though, this is a great card and one much needed by AMD and its partners. It offers strong performance and a strong price. From a psychological perspective as well, people feel they're getting a higher end card with this as you're part of the top series - the HD 6900 in this case. The GTX 560 Ti on the other hand is known as a midrange card due to the GTX 460 being a midrange one. Perception is important and it's probably something that's playing for AMD in this instance.

I wouldn't be surprised if we see NVIDIA play a little more with the naming scheme in the near future now that the "Ti" tag has shown up.

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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.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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