AMD Radeon HD 6970 & 6950 Debut: Enter Cayman

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Test Setup & Unigine Heaven v2.1

How We Configured Our Test Systems: We tested the graphics cards in this article on a Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD5 motherboard powered by a Core i7 980X six-core processor and 6GB of OCZ DDR3-1333 RAM. The first thing we did when configuring the test system was enter the system BIOS and set all values to their "optimized" or "high performance" default settings. Then we manually configured the memory timings (DDR3-1333, CAS 7) and disabled any integrated peripherals that wouldn't be put to use. The hard drive was then formatted and Windows 7 Ultimate x64 was installed. When the installation was complete we fully updated the OS and installed the latest DirectX redist, along with the necessary drivers, games, and benchmark applications.

HotHardware's Test System
Intel Core i7 Powered

Hardware Used:
Core i7 980X (3.3GHz)
Gigabyte EX58-UD5 (X58 Express)

Radeon HD 5870 (2)
Radeon HD 6870 (2)
Radeon HD 5970 (2)
Radeon HD 6950 (2)
Radeon HD 6970 (2)
GeForce GTX 570 (2)
GeForce GTX 580 (2)

6GB OCZ DDR3-1333
Western Digital Raptor 150GB
Integrated Audio
Integrated Network

Relevant Software:
Windows 7 Ultimate x64
DirectX Nov. 2010 Redist
ATI Catalyst v10.11b
NVIDIA GeForce Drivers 263.09

Benchmarks Used:

Unigine Heaven v2.1
Futuremark 3DMark11
FarCry 2
Just Cause 2
Alien vs. Predator
Metro 2033
Lost Planet 2
F1 2010*

* - Custom benchmark

Unigine Heaven v2.1 Benchmark
Pseudo-DirectX 11 Gaming


Unigine Heaven

The Unigine Heaven Benchmark v2.0 is built around the Unigine game engine. Unigine is a cross-platform real-time 3D engine, with support for DirectX 9, DirectX 10, DirectX 11 and OpenGL. The Heaven benchmark--when run in DX11 mode--also makes comprehensive use of tessellation technology and advanced SSAO (screen-space ambient occlusion), and it also features volumetric cumulonimbus clouds generated by a physically accurate algorithm and a dynamic sky with light scattering.

The new Radeon HD 6970 and 6950 are a huge step up over the Radeon HD 5870 in terms of performance according to the Unigine benchmark; the 6970 even manages to outpace the dual-GPU Radeon HD 5970 here. NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 500 series cards have an advantage, however, at the extreme settings we used to test. Geometry processing was a big focus for NVIDIA with Fermi and it shows in this test.


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