ASUS Radeon HD 6950 2GB DirectCU II Overclocked Video Card Review

It's been a while since we've seen an ASUS card, but today we check out a monster HD 6950 and overclock it.
@ShawnBakerTW
Published Sat, Mar 5 2011 3:01 AM CST   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Rating: 93%Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Package


Introduction

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It's been so long since I've looked at an ASUS video card, so long that I honestly couldn't remember the last time I saw one. I can tell you, though, it was in the day where the TOP series reigned supreme.

So what's happening these days with ASUS in the video card market? Well, we haven't paid too much attention to be honest, but it's time to see what this DirectCU II series offers us.

What we'll do firstly is check out the package of the card to see what's going on. Once that's done we'll check out the card and the specifications. Carrying only a mild overclock, we decided to just crank up the speed through overdrive and we'll talk about that more in the specifications.

Once all that's done, it's time to get into the fun stuff, the performance. First, though, let's check out the package.




The Package

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Looking at the package, there's not a whole lot going on with nothing too notable.

Card and Specifications


The Card

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This is a big card made even bigger by two 100mm fans and a massive heatsink sitting behind them. It looks like a beast which is something generally only reserved for the highest end model. It's great to see such a massive setup on a cheaper, yet still high end card like the HD 6950.

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Power is provided with the help of a single 6-Pin and 8-Pin PCI-E power connector, while the front of the card gives us our two Crossfire connectors. You can also see that ASUS has thought about the design and angled the edge of the cooler so Crossfire isn't a problem.

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Connectivity is another area the ASUS HD 6950 DirectCU II is strong in, and here you see just the massive size of the card that takes up three slots. Apart from a whole lot of metal, we've got two DVI ports, one Single-Link and the other Dual-Link. Below those two connectors, though, we've got four display ports. This is fantastic for people who want Eyefinity and have gone down the path of buying DisplayPort monitors. It's nice to not have to use DVI if you can use DisplayPort, and this card lets you do that.




Specifications

Out of the box this card comes overclocked, but only in a very minor way which is surprising since the massive cooler is used. We've only got a 10MHz core bump bringing it in at 810MHz, while the 2GB of GDDR5 comes in at 5000MHz QDR.

Since it wasn't much of an overclock and ASUS offered us such a big cooler, we thought we'd fire up Overdrive and see if we could just crank the sliders to the end without the need to add any voltage.

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We did that and the card ran great which brought the clocks in at 950MHz on the core and 5400MHz QDR on the memory. Let's see what kind of performance this gives us when compared to some other cards.

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 ASUS HD 6950 DirectCU II @ 950 / 5400MHz QDR against the MSI HD 6950 Twin Frozr II, Sapphire HD 6970 2GB and MSI GTX 560 Ti and GTX 570.

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 some strong performance which puts the card ahead of the reference HD 6970 which is good news.

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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Vantage also sees a good boost in performance which puts the HD 6950 DirectCU II again ahead of the reference clocked HD 6970 2GB.

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 sees a strong boost in performance, but in this case it sits a little behind the HD 6970 2GB.

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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Like both 3DMarks we see that the boost in performance again puts it ahead of the HD 6970 at every resolution.

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 continue to see that strong boost in performance with very playable numbers 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 like our other games sees a strong boost, but in this instance we see we are able to move over 60 FPS at the highest resolution which is exactly what we want when overclocking.

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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While we see a nice boost in performance, unfortunately we're still below that 60 FPS average we need which is what we consider playable.

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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Aliens vs. Predator see strong gains and in this instance we see that we're able to move over that 60 FPS barrier, in this case at 1920 x 1200.

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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Street Fighter IV sees a good boost again, but performance across the board is still extremely strong.

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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Far Cry 2 numbers across the board are impressive thanks to the overclock with playable numbers at every resolution.

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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Like Far Cry 2 we've got a nice boost and just some great performance overall; not much more we could ask for.

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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Apart from Aliens vs. Predator we've got playable numbers across the board including another push over 60 FPS under Mafia II.

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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That big cooler does a good job of offering some impressive cooling numbers considering the quite large overclock we've got.

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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Where the model really shines, though, is noise levels. Oh my...so quiet.

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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Power Draw doesn't hold any surprises coming in a bit under 350 watt.

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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When overclocked the card is a strong performer which puts it ahead of the stock HD 6970 and even some pre overclocked models. Considering the noise levels, it's very impressive.

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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At over $300 this is one of the more expensive HD 6950s, but for some people it's going to really be worth it.

Final Thoughts




Oh how I've missed you ASUS, what a card! - Three slots is so overkill, but with onboard gigabit, decent quality audio and RAID, the need for multiple expansion cards isn't nearly as necessary as years past, which means that taking up an extra slot on top of the normal two doesn't really seem like all that much of a deal.

The cooler is fantastic. Sure, it's massive, and while it might run a little warmer than something like the Twin Frozr II MSI we recently looked at, this thing is just dead silent. It pretty much offers the noise of a passive cooled card with the performance of a good aftermarket cooler. There's not much more you can ask for from a cooler, well, maybe that it takes up two slots, but who cares?

Outside of that, though, we've got an "overclock", and I say "overclock" in quotation marks because it's annoying me a bit lately that companies push the core up 10MHz and throw the "overclock" tag on it, but none the less we still have it. More importantly, one of the big stand out features is the connectivity line-up with four DisplayPorts.

I'm all four DisplayPort (get it, see how I said "four"?). Get rid of DVI and HDMI and bring in the future of connectivity. It frustrates me as someone who owns three 27" DisplayPort monitors in Eyefinity that I still have to use a DVI cable because the HD 6950 I have only supports two mini-DP connectors.

The triple slot nature of the card has to be noted, it's going to be an important factor for some people. If it's not to you, though, and you want something that is pretty much silent, this is just a killer card. The performance of the cooler is even more exciting when you consider the fact we had the card clocked to its maximum speed in overdrive, and we were still able to achieve near silent numbers.

Just a really strong HD 6950 at a little over $300 USD, and to be honest you can see why ASUS is throwing the DirectCU II cooler on all these higher end models. It's nice to get something so meaty in the cooling department without the need to own a $600 USD model.

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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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