AMD Radeon HD 6970M Review w/ Eurocom

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In the middle of December, at the beginning of the annual holiday shopping spree, AMD released their latest and greatest graphics cards, the Radeon HD 6970 and 6950. In our review, we noted that the new GPU, code-named "Cayman" is a notable step forward from the previous generation. It incorporates dual graphics engines whereas the previous generation only had one, among other changes, that give the new chip a nice leg up in performance.

Less than a month later AMD had another product to release, the AMD Radeon HD 6970M. Code-named Blackcomb, the Radeon HD 6970M is the mobile counterpart to Cayman. This chip is currently AMD's fastest GPU for mobile applications and it's meant for use in high performance gaming and workstation laptops.

 
AMD Radeon HD 6790M on a MXM 3.0B module

In terms of its feature set, Blackcomb is similar to its desktop cousin and we have already covered the architectural details in our review of the desktop model. However, as is the case with all mobile graphics cards, the mobile and desktop models aren't the same chip, despite sharing a model number. Where the desktop Radeon HD 6970 is capable of 2.7 TeraFLOPs, the mobile version can only crank out 1.3TFLOPs, a bit less than half. While that may seem unimpressive, consider that this is the case for virtually all mobile processors and is necessary as a result of the need for power efficiency in mobile applications, something Blackcomb does very well, requiring only about 75-100 watts.

The Radeon HD 6970M is a significant improvement over AMD's previous top dog, the Radeon HD 5870M. Whereas the 5870M had 800 shaders, 1024MB of memory and 128-bit memory bus, the new 6970M has 960 shaders, 2048MB of memory and a 256-bit memory bus. This results in nearly twice the memory bandwidth and more overall processing power.

Here are the highlights:
  • Up to 1.31 TeraFLOPs of compute power
  • GDDR5 memory Interface
  • 256-bit architecture
  • 960 Stream Processor Units
  • 48 Texture Units 
  • Extremely power efficient
  • PCI Express 2.1 x 16 bus interface
  • OpenGL 4.1 support
  • UVD 3
  • 128 Z/Stencil Render Output (ROP) Units 
  • 32 Color ROP Units
  • AMD HD3D Technology
  • AMD EyeSpeed Technology
  • AMD’s 2nd generation Eyefinity Multi-display Technology
  • AMD Switchable Graphics Technology
  • AMD CrossFireX Technology
The Radeon 6970M wasn't the only new mobile product released, AMD simultaneously released the entire Radeon HD 6000M series actually. The series includes fifteen mobile graphics chips which are spread over the entire price and performance spectrum. The new offerings should be quite competitive with NVIDIA's current line-up.

AMD Radeon HD 6000M Series Graphics

Code Name

Brand Name

 

AMD Radeon HD 6900M Series Graphics

Blackcomb-XT

AMD Radeon HD 6970M

Blackcomb-PRO

AMD Radeon HD 6950M

 

AMD Radeon HD 6800M Series Graphics

Granville-PRO (GDDR5)

AMD Radeon HD 6870M

Granville-PRO (DDR3)

AMD Radeon HD 6850M

Granville-LP (GDDR5)

AMD Radeon HD 6850M

Granville-LP (DDR3)

AMD Radeon HD 6830M

 

AMD Radeon HD 6700M Series Graphics

Whistler-XT (GDDR5)

AMD Radeon HD 6770M

Whistler-PRO (GDDR5)

AMD Radeon HD 6750M

Whistler-XT (DDR3)

AMD Radeon HD 6730M

 

AMD Radeon HD 6600M Series Graphics

Whistler-PRO (DDR3)

AMD Radeon HD 6650M

Whistler-LP (DDR3)

AMD Radeon HD 6630M

 

AMD Radeon HD 6500M Series Graphics

Capilano-XT (DDR3/GDDR5)

AMD Radeon HD 6570M

Capilano-PRO (DDR3)

AMD Radeon HD 6550M

Capilano-LP (DDR3)

AMD Radeon HD 6530M

 

AMD Radeon HD 6400M Series Graphics

Seymour-XT (GDDR5)

AMD Radeon HD 6490M


This release marks a significant overhaul of the AMD mobile graphics lineup and we could go on about the various improvements of each chip over the previous generation model it replaces, but what we really want to know is how they perform, especially against competition from NVIDIA. To that end we took a pair of Radeon HD 6970M graphics cards and put them up against a pair of NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 470Ms for some head-to-head benchmarks.


The Eurocom Panther 2.0 Desktop Replacement (DTR)

Since we'll be working with mobile cards, we'll need a suitable mobile platform to run the tests on. Our benchmark platform is the Eurocom Panther 2.0. This is a very large and very powerful desktop replacement (DTR) based on the Clevo X7200 whitebook. Before we get down to the raw numbers, let's first take a quick look around the Eurocom Panther 2.0 and see what it has under its hood.

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AMD video card are jumping ahead of Nvidia and I Can safely say AMD is atleast 1 year ahead of Nvidia

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Umm... I wouldnt say that mate... sure AMD has the upper edge at the moment... but nvidia isnt lacking either. One year ahead.... one year is too large an amount of time.... perhaps 1 month ahead is more suitable.

"the 480M is likely to be similar in performance to the Radeon HD 6970M while the GTX 485M should be a bit faster. This puts the Radeon between the GTX 470M and GTX 485M in terms of performance. "

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So where is the numbers from a 5870 for us to compare?

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My only fit with gaming notebooks are battery drain mate, as well as portability (12 lbs, dang).... and the fact it probably contributes to weaker sperm haha. I've said this before, and i'll continue saying it.

Eurocom dont lie when they its a desktop replacement. And Hollly snap, 4 fans inside. My main tower has only 3 for comparison sake..... also 7K for a decked-out portable desktop... i dont know what to say.

Whats pretty cool though about the gpu is that it has dual graphics engines and you can crossfire em in a Laptop.... ergh, portable desktop

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coolice:
the fact it probably contributes to weaker sperm

That's OK, then you can do 'Bizness' without having to cash a big check!

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I salute you realneil

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Wow the 6970M's seem to do a totally bang up job in crossfire even over SLI much less anything beneath it. It seem like it may be time for ATI to receive some love on the mobile side like they did on the desktop side the last what 3 years now.

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This is great news for AMD , Excellent performance, great job. As for The Eurocom Panther, it will be nice to see the comparisons when the P67/2600k get cramped into this chassis.

And since Sandy Bridge is a great overclocker on Air with the lower TDP and better efficiency, maybe it can reach 4.0 and not present a thermal challenge like the current models with the 980x.

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yeah I have never understood the 7k up laptop/desktop replacement market anyway. If I was going to get something with components like this I think I would go to AVA direct, or just build a desktop. It is not like your going to get more than 30 minutes mobile gaming out of one, unless of course it is with a adapter in a car anyway. SO just build yourself a $2500 desktop and save yourself 4500 buck's (and that is a high price for a home brew desktop at 2500) but it will outperform this 7k Dtop replacement any day as well as last longer I would bet.

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@Teerwik - The 6970M is definitely AMD's strongest mobile GPU to date, but I just wanted to point this out from the conclustion page: "...note that the GeForce GTX 470M isn't the fastest mobile card NVIDIA has to offer. Indeed they also have a GeForce GTX 480M and a 485M which is even faster. While we didn't have a GTX 480M or GTX 485M on hand for comparison, judging by their specifications in relation to the GTX 470M, the 480M is likely to be similar in performance to the Radeon HD 6970M while the GTX 485M should be a bit faster."

We've got a different notebook with the 485M on the way and will be posting a review soon.

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