Power, Temperature, & Noise

As was the case with gaming performance, we’ll keep our running commentary thin here. The Radeon HD 6950 1GB is virtually identical to the 2GB card, so other than a few watts power difference (which can easily be explained by being an engineering sample) the two are equals. It’s the XFX Radeon HD 6870 Black Edition that has caught our attention.

Radeon HD 6800/6900 Series Load Voltage
Ref 6870 XFX 6870 Ref 6950 2GB Ref 6950 1GB
1.172v 1.172v 1.1v 1.1v

While the XFX 6870 has the same load voltage as the reference 6870, between the change in the cooler and the higher core and memory frequencies power usage still goes up. Under Crysis this is 11W, and under FurMark this expands to 16W. Unfortunately this factory overclock has wiped out much of the 6870’s low power edge versus the 6950, and as a result the two end up being very close. In practice power consumption under load is nearly identical to the GTX 460 1GB, albeit with much better gaming performance.

Meanwhile this is one of the few times we’ll see a difference between the 1GB and 2GB 6950. At idle and under Crysis the two are nearly identical, but under FurMark the 1GB reduces power consumption by some 12W even with PowerTune in effect. We believe that this is due to the higher operating voltage of the 2Gb GDDR5 modules AMD is using on the 2GB card.

As far as temperatures go both cards are in the middle of the pack. The vapor chamber cooler on the 6900 series already gives it a notable leg up over most cards, including the XFX 6870. At 41C the XFX card is a bit warm at idle, meanwhile 78C under load is normal for most cards of this class. Meanwhile the 6950 1GB and 2GB both perform identically, even with the power consumption difference between the two.

Last but certainly not least we have our noise testing, and this is the point where the XFX 6870 caught our eye. The reference 6870 was an unremarkable card when it came to noise – it didn’t use a particularly advanced cooling design, and coupled with the use of a blower it ended up being louder than a number of cards, including the vapor chamber equipped Radeon HD 6970. The XFX 6870 reverses this fortune and then some due to XFX’s well-designed open-air cooler. At idle it edges out our other cards by a mere 0.1dB, but the real story is at load. And no, that’s not a typo in the load noise chart, the XFX Radeon HD 6870 Black Edition really is that quiet.

In fact at 41.4dB under load, the XFX 6870 is for all intents and purposes a silent card in our GPU testbed. Under load the fans do rev up, but even when doing so the card stays below the noise floor of our testbed. Compared to the reference 6870 we’re looking at just shy of a 14dB difference between said reference card and the XFX 6870, a feat that is beyond remarkable. With the same warning as we attach to the GTX 460 and GTX 560 – you need adequate case cooling to make an open-air card work – the XFX Radeon HD 6870 Black Edition may very well be the fastest actively cooled quiet card on the market.

Meanwhile for the Radeon HD 6950 1GB and 2GB, we’re once again left with results that are nearly indistinguishable. Under load our 1GB card ended up being .6dB quieter, an imperceptible difference.

The Test & Gaming Performance Final Words
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  • sinPiEqualsZero - Tuesday, January 25, 2011 - link

    The market speaks louder than needlessly outraged readers. Like it not, overclocked cards will continue to be produced. In order to be responsible journalists, they have to include them in order to evaluate their value to the consumer.

    He also made clear that AMD was bumping up the launch at little notice. I think you are making much ado about nothing and will see plenty of factory-OC'd cards in the near future.
    Reply
  • prdola0 - Tuesday, January 25, 2011 - link

    It's not about not liking benchmarks of overclocked cards. As I stated, I didn't agree with the whining about GTX460 OC as well. I think it's legitimate to include OCed models. But if you do it, then do it for both sides. Especially after such a drama and a strict decision by the writer not to do it. That is the point. Reply
  • britjh22 - Tuesday, January 25, 2011 - link

    In the original 68xx review, the site got flack for including a highly overclocked GTX 460, at NVIDIA's asking.

    This time, they review the GTX 560 Ti against stock clocked rivals. In a separate article they present ATI's competitive reaction to the GTX 560 launch. I think Anandtech and Ryan handled this correctly. They analyze and present the GTX 560 as a reflection of what NVIDIA has done, and produce a separate article where they focus on the GPU ecosystem as a whole.

    In this way I think it looks a lot less like they kowtowed to a vendor's requests, and in fact show how targeted and thought out AMD/ATI's launch is. In a market this closely matched for performance and price, and with vendors offering customized versions of AMD/NVIDIA products, it's hugely complicated.

    Well done Anandtech for today's articles, they definitely made my lunch hour more enjoyable.
    Reply
  • prdola0 - Tuesday, January 25, 2011 - link

    "They analyze and present the GTX 560 as a reflection of what NVIDIA has done, and produce a separate article where they focus on the GPU ecosystem as a whole."

    Well if they did that, why didn't they include the OCed GTX560 Ti as well? Consider the fact that there are likely going to be a lot of oveclocked GTX560s as with the GTX460 card. That isn't part of the GPU ecosystem?
    Reply
  • britjh22 - Tuesday, January 25, 2011 - link

    The card just launched, it's very possible they don't have one, or didn't have the time to put that through the test suite with all the other things coming off NDA today. As a news source it's more sound for them to be able to have timely coverage, even if they have to revisit something they didn't have time for in the original article.

    It sounds like most tech blogs were up very late compiling, testing, and writing for these launch articles. Most people are content with waiting a week for the entire picture to become clear, and if not, well that is the price for early adoptership.

    80/20 rule.
    Reply
  • prdola0 - Tuesday, January 25, 2011 - link

    You may be right that they didn't have any OCed GTX560s. However while there are many more review sites that did receive them, I kinda doubt that a site with such a big name as AnandTech wouldn't receive any. Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Tuesday, January 25, 2011 - link

    We do in fact have one: an MSI Twin Frozr II (880MHz core). You'll see it later this week, as we didn't have time to pull it in to our review on top of everything else that was going on today. Reply
  • SlyNine - Wednesday, January 26, 2011 - link

    Just tell him to quite his whinning .. jk But for the love of god it's not a big deal. I'm just glad we get the objective tests that we do, As opposed to taking a shot in the dark when buying cards. Reply
  • softdrinkviking - Wednesday, January 26, 2011 - link

    agree 100%

    this was totally about an AMD market reaction, and both cards reviewed are varients of other cards previously released by AMD.
    absolutely no foul.
    Reply
  • 3DVagabond - Sunday, January 30, 2011 - link

    Completely different scenario. This is a review of 2 AMD cards. This is not the review of the GTX-560 with the inclusion of a highly overclocked card that was put in at AMD's request/insistence, as was the case with the GTX460 FTW. Add to that there was also input from nVidia what cards of theirs to NOT include for comparison in the 6870 review and even benchmarks they wanted AMD cards tested with (HAWX2). Again, not even close to the same scenario. Reply

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