PowerColor DEVIL 13 HD 6970 2GB Video Card Review

Our testbed gets the devil within her via the brand new PowerColor DEVIL 13 HD 6970. Let's find out what it's all about.

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Fri, Nov 18 2011 9:16 AM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:01 PM CST
Rating: 95%Manufacturer: PowerColor

Introduction and The Package

Introduction

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Every time I write a video card review at the moment I feel like I have to throw in this arbitrary "it's few and far between video cards at the moment". It's kind of annoying to say, but it's definitely true. Saying that, I now have three HD 6970s sitting around me, so there's a few to do. Along with that, I've also got a HD 6670.

If rumors are correct, we'll also see a new model from NVIDIA before this month comes to an end. I know if they're true, but I can't really say; it doesn't take a genius to figure out what's true or not these days, though. I'll just leave it at that for now.

Anyway, onto the card we're looking at today. Speaking of "few and far between", that statement holds weight to PowerColor cards. We don't see heaps of them, but whenever we do look at them we always find ourselves impressed with what they're offering with the last card we looked at being the PowerColor HD 6870 X2.

Today it's all about the new DEVIL 13 card that we saw show up the other week. This card instantly grabbed my eye and I really wanted to check it out. Ask and you shall receive; today is all about the PowerColor DEVIL 13 HD 6970 2GB.

There's been a few changes to everything around here since we last looked at a video card, but we'll cover that all in just a few pages. The first thing we need to do is find out what this new HD 6970 is all about.

The first thing we need to do is check out what's going on with the package. Once we've done that we'll move in closer to look at the card and see what exactly makes the card stand out from the competition. Once that's done it's all about the specifications this bad boy has before we get into the fun stuff and see what kind of performance we can get out of the new DEVIL 13 card.

That just about covers everything for now, so let's get into the package to see just what the new DEVIL 13 HD 6970 is offering us.

The Package

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The box of the new DEVIL 13 is extremely sleek looking. I love it! - On the front PowerColor don't even have their own logo; instead it's on one of the sides. The design is awesome, though, and turning over we just get a rundown of the specifications the card offers along with a breakdown of what's in the package.

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Moving inside the box, you've got these two awesome little draws that come out; one has the card while the other has the "Recovery Chamber" and "Equipment Chamber". It's a really nice package that PowerColor have got going on here and it's nice to see as we've seen a lot of companies ignore the fancy packaging and instead just throw everything inside the box.

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Moving inside, we've got a driver CD along with some DEVIL 13 paperwork. Also included is the DiRT 3 coupon that lets you grab a copy of the game. We've got a nice little sticker, CrossFire bridge, two 6-Pin to 8-Pin PCIe power connectors, DisplayPort to mini DP connector and a DVI to VGA connector.

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Along with all that, we've also got these awesome little screw drivers in the recovery kit. One is a little one that has a bunch of heads included in the top of the screw driver, while the other is a skinnier and longer one that sits in a nice little package that wraps up. It's really nice to see PowerColor doing something a bit different; we see so many packages the same these days. They've done a good job here of making the new DEVIL 13 stand out from the other HD 6970s on the market at the moment.

The Card & Specifications

The Card

Pulling the new DEVIL 13 out of the box, you find yourself staring at a very hot looking card with a red / black color scheme going on. What I really love, though, is that PowerColor have opted to go with a black PCB to fit in with everything else. So often we see these really nice coolers installed on a card and then a company has that horrible green PCB stand out.

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You can see when it comes to cooling, we've got a very mean setup going on with two fans that sit on top of a massive heatsink that covers the majority of the card. We can also see we've got a couple of heat pipes coming out the top of the card to make sure everything runs nice and cool.

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If we move in closer to the card we get a good idea of what's going on. Towards the back of the card you can see our two PCIe power connectors. While normally we'd have a single 6-Pin and 8-Pin one, you can see that PowerColor has indeed opted for a dual 8-Pin setup which is something we see on these higher up custom cards.

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Moving up to the front, we can see our two CrossFire connectors. The heatpipe actually gets in the way of the rear connector, but thanks to the flexibility of the CrossFire connectors, this shouldn't cause any problem in the event you want to throw two or three cards into the mix.

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Finally, we move over to the I/O side of things and for the most part we don't see anything out of the ordinary with two Mini DP connectors along with a single DisplayPort and two DVI ports, with one being Single-Link and the other being Dual-Link. Of course, the one thing that does stand out is the giant red button in the top left corner.

The DEVIL 13 actually comes installed with two BIOS'. To switch between them you simply just push this button before turning your PC on. Out of the box you've got the normal BIOS; if you push the button, though, you'll end up with a secondary BIOS that is overclocked. We won't really talk about that now; instead we'll get into it in just a second when we look at the specifications.

Specifications

As we just mentioned, the DEVIL 13 comes with two BIOS' installed. Having a look below, you're able to see the difference between them. On the left we've got the BIOS that loads out of the box; it brings the core in at 880MHz while the 2GB of GDDR5 comes in at 5500MHz QDR. These clocks are of course the standard HD 6970 clocks, so there's no real surprise

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Pushing the button on the I/O area fires up the second BIOS on the board and you can see on the right that pushes our core too 960MHz. At the same time we see it also bumps up the 2GB of GDDR5 to 5700MHz QDR. This is a really nice overclock and it should yield us some strong performance. We'll find out exactly the kind of performance we're able to get in just a moment.

Test System Setup

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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, ASUS and Corsair.

While we've seen X79 for the most part does nothing for games over the older Sandy Bridge Platform, we've decided to make the transition over to it anyway. It's not going to help us so much in single card reviews, but more so in multi GPU testing thanks to the fact we've got a total of 40 PCIe lanes on offer.

Really, though, you can see everything in our test system above and if you've been following our X79 coverage then you'll have a fair idea of what we're using and why we're using it.

For today's testing we've chosen to run our card using the second BIOS which means we're running at a 960MHz core and our 2GB of GDDR5 comes in at 5700MHz QDR.

Let's get started!

The FPS Numbers Explained

When we benchmark our video cards and look at the graphs, we aim to get to a certain level of FPS which we consider playable. While many may argue that the human eye can't see over 24 FPS or 30 FPS, any true gamer will tell you that as we climb higher in Frames Per Seconds (FPS), the overall gameplay feels smoother. There are three numbers we're looking out for when it comes to our benchmarks.

30 FPS - It's the minimum number we aim for when it comes to games. If you're not dropping below 30 FPS during games, you're going to have a nice and smooth gaming experience. The ideal situation is that even in a heavy fire fight, the minimum stays above 30 FPS making sure that you can continue to aim easily or turn the corner with no dramas.

60 FPS - It's the average we look for when we don't have a minimum coming at us. If we're getting an average of 60 FPS, we should have a minimum of 30 FPS or better and as mentioned above, it means we've got some smooth game play happening.

120 FPS - The new number that we've been hunting down over recent months. If you're the owner of a 120 Hz monitor, to get the most out of it you want to get around the 120 FPS mark. Moving from 60 FPS / 60 Hz to 120 FPS / 120 Hz brings with it a certain fluidity that can't really be explained, but instead has to be experienced. Of course, if you're buying a 120 Hz monitor to take advantage of 3D, an average of 120 FPS in our benchmark means that in 3D you will have an average of 60 FPS, which again means you should expect some smooth gameplay.

3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1

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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Looking under 3DMark 11, we can see that performance out of the new DEVIL 13 card from PowerColor is strong. You can see compared to the stock clocked offering, we've got some really nice performance on hand.

Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.5

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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Looking at Heaven performance, we can see that this has always been a benchmark that has favored NVIDIA cards due to the emphasis on tessellation. You can see, though, we've got some really strong performance out of the DEVIL 13 card here with a healthy little boost over the stock clocked offering.

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've always seen the NVIDIA cards perform strong here, but you can see the DEVIL 13 gives us a good boost in performance over the stock offering while making sure we're at a very playable FPS at all resolutions.

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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We again see some excellent performance from the DEVIL 13 here and while you can see that the GTX 570 and DEVIL 13 perform close to each other at the lowest resolution, when we move up to the highest, the 11 FPS difference we have on the PowerColor offering is the difference between that playable FPS of over 60 versus under 60 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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Looking at Lost Planet 2, we can see that all the cards struggle at the highest resolution. The overclock offered by PowerColor here, though, makes a real difference and you can see at 1920 x 1200, the extra MHz gives us enough performance to break that 60 FPS barrier that we always aim for.

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 again see our cards struggle at the highest resolution. At 1920 x 1200 and 1680 x 1050, though, we see some excellent performance again from the PowerColor DEVIL 13 which puts it ahead of the pack at all resolutions.

Benchmarks - Just Cause 2

Just Cause 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.2

Timedemo or Level Used: Dark Tower

Developer Homepage: http://www.eidos.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.justcause.com/

Just Cause 2 employs the Avalanche Engine 2.0, an updated version of the engine used in Just Cause. The game is set on the other side of the world from the original Just Cause, on the fictional island of Panau in Southeast Asia. Panau has varied terrain, from desert to alpine to rainforest. Rico Rodriguez returns as the protagonist, aiming to overthrow the evil dictator Pandak "Baby" Panay and confront his former mentor, Tom Sheldon.

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While not quite as much of a struggle at 2560 x 1600 here for the cards, we do see that we fall just short of that 60 FPS mark we aim for. Fortunately, the closest is the DEVIL 13 and a small detail drop would lift that FPS to the numbers we want if you wanted to play at 2560 x 1600. Moving to 1920 x 1200 and 1680 x 1050, though, we've got some awesome performance out of the card.

Benchmarks - Metro 2033

Metro 2033

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.4a-games.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.thqnordic.com/

Metro 2033 is an action-oriented video game with a combination of survival horror and first-person shooter elements. The game is based on the novel Metro 2033 by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. It was developed by 4A Games in Ukraine and released in March 2010 for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360.[3] In March 2006, 4A Games announced a partnership with Glukhovsky to collaborate on the game.[4] The game was announced at the 2009 Games Convention in Leipzig;[5] a first trailer came along with the announcement.[6] A sequel was announced, currently titled Metro: Last Light.

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Under Metro 2033 we again see that overclock from the DEVIL 13 really help the card. Compared to the stock card you can see we manage to pull a good 5 FPS away from it and when you're so close to the 60 FPS area, those extra few FPS are really appreciated.

Benchmarks - Dirt 3

Dirt 3

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.codemasters.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.dirt3game.com/

DiRT 3 boasts more cars, more locations, more routes and more events than any other game in the series, including over 50 rally cars representing the very best from five decades of the sport. With more than double the track content of 2009's hit, DiRT 3 will see players start at the top as a professional driver, with a top-flight career in competitive off-road racing complimented by the opportunity to express themselves in Gymkhana-style showpiece driving events.

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Like some of our other games, we see the DEVIL 13 offer us some fantastic performance at 1680 x 1050 and 1920 x 1200. When we move to the highest resolution, 2560 x 1600, like our other cards we see it fall back a little. Like the other times, though, the DEVIL 13 manages to perform ahead of the other offerings including the GTX 570.

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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Under Far Cry 2 we continue to see that very strong performance from the DEVIL 13 card which puts it ahead of the competition at all resolutions. You can see you wouldn't have any issues playing this still very intensive game on the DEVIL 13 card at any resolution.

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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Cranking up the detail, we can see that even with AA and AF on we've got some great performance coming from the DEVIL 13 which sees strong FPS under both Mafia II and Far Cry 2. The only time we see the card struggle is under Aliens vs. Predator which is where we see our other cards struggle as well.

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 cooler that PowerColor have implemented does an excellent job of keeping temperatures down. You can see we've got 9c shaved off the reference cooler we see on a HD 6970 and 16c compared to the GTX 570 stock cooler.

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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The card sits a little louder than our other offerings, but across the board you can see there's only a few dB between the three cards with less than a single dB separating the two HD 6970s. That big drop in temperature hasn't come at the cost of noise and that's always a good thing.

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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Even though overclocked and utilizing two 8-Pin PCIe power connectors instead of a 6-Pin and 8-Pin, we can see that power draw on the DEVIL 13 pretty much lines up evenly with the reference HD 6970.

Final Thoughts

We have to be honest when we say that the video card market has been pretty stale now for a few months. We've seen few companies innovate over the last few months and with the lack of new chipsets, we're just not seeing much come through. That should all change in the coming months, but it's probably fairly safe to say outside of any rumored cards coming soon, we're not going to see anything really high end 'till next year.

PowerColor has put a really nice card together here, though, and it's been looked after in all areas. Everything from the bundle to the cooling and of course the performance has been looked at and PowerColor has gone out of the way to offer us something that manages to stand out in a market that doesn't have many new stand outs.

For the most part I'm not sure why you wouldn't hit that BIOS button straight away to get the overclocked performance, but if you just wanted to run it at stock, the option is of course there.

Overclocked performance is really strong, though, and you can see in our benchmarks, we manage to move from under 60 FPS on a stock HD 6970 to over it on our overclocked DEVIL 13 card here today.

Outside of the performance, we've got the bundle, and that's a real stand out with some nice extras including the two screw sets. The packaging on a whole is just really nice and presented extremely well and when you pull the card out, you can take it all in.

The card looks great and the cooler is also fantastic; noise levels put it on par with the reference one, but you can see a nice drop in load temperatures when comparing the two.

Like we said, PowerColor has managed to produce a card that stands out from the pack. Considering we're probably not going to see any high end offerings come out before Christmas, PowerColor has done a good job of offering us this card. If you look at the current game releases as well, it's pretty easy to be convinced to buy a new graphics card and why not let it be the DEVIL 13 that offers a strong 3 Year warranty.

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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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