AMD Radeon HD 6970 & 6950 Debut: Enter Cayman
The Radeon HD 6970 & 6950 Cards
The Radeon HD 6970 and 6950 are virtually indistinguishable from one another. The cards look identical, with the sole exceptions being the respective model number decals affixed to their fan shrouds and their power connector configurations.
Radeon HD 6900 series reference boards are 10.75-inches long and feature fan shrouds and heat plates that encase the entire card. On the back side of the cards, the GPU cooler retention bracket is exposed through a hole in the heatplate that runs the entire length of the card. The front side of the card is dominated by a black shroud with red accents that covers the card’s inner workings. Underneath the shroud lies a large vapor chamber cooler, with a heavy copper base and a dense array of aluminum fins. The barrel-type fan sucks air in through the far end of the card, where it is forced through the heatsink’s fins, and ultimately expelled out of the back of the system through vents in the case bracket. In singe-card configurations, we found the coolers on the Radeon HD 6900 series cards to be fairly quiet. At idle, the cards are essentially inaudible, masked by a system's CPU and PSU fans. Under load, the fans on the cards do spin up considerably and are audible, but they’re not very loud at all. In a dual card configuration, however, when the second card is butted up against the first, and the first card’s temps range considerably higher and as a result, its fan can spin much faster than normal and get relatively loud--definitely louder than the 5800 series.
Along the bottom edge of the cards, the only thing visible is the PCI Express edge connector, but at the top there’s something interesting worth noting. Of course there are the CrossFire edge connectors for running cards in multi-GPU configurations, but nestled right alongside the second CF connector is a tiny switch. That tiny switch is used to toggle between two BIOS chips on the card—the first BIOS can be altered / updated, while the second will return the card to its factory settings. That’s something that might come in handy with the modding crowd.
Also on the top, at the far end of the cards are their power connectors. The Radeon HD 6970 requires two supplemental power feeds, a PCIe 8-pin feed and a 6-pin as well. The Radeon HD 6950 also requires dual supplemental feeds, but both of them are of the 6-pin variety.
The output configuration on reference Radeon HD 6900 series cards is unchanged from the 6800 series we showed you a few weeks back. They’ve got one singe and one dual-link DVI output, two mini-DisplayPort outputs and single HDMI outputs. Four of these outputs can be used at any given time to power displays in a multi-monitor Eyefinity configuration.