AMD’s GTX 560 Ti Counter-Offensive: Radeon HD 6950 1GB & XFX’s Radeon HD 6870 Black Editionby Ryan Smith on January 25, 2011 12:20 PM EST
AMD’s GTX 560 Ti counter-offensive leaves us with a few different thoughts, none of which have much to do with the GTX 560 Ti.
First and foremost we have the newly launched Radeon HD 6950 1GB. Having 2GB of VRAM does have its advantages, but at this point in time there aren’t any games that can exploit this advantage at the common resolutions of 1920x1200, 1920x1080, or 1680x1050. It’s only once we get to 2560x1600 or similarly large Eyefinity resolutions that we see the 1GB 6950 fall behind its 2GB counterpart.
In the long run (e.g. a year or longer) I believe having that extra 1GB of VRAM is going to make a difference at resolutions like 1920x1200, but amidst my prognostics we’re effectively making an argument on the futureproofness of a product, which is a difficult argument to make even in the best of times. Perhaps the best argument is one of price: the 6950 1GB starts at $259, while the 6950 2GB can be found for as little as $269, putting a $10 premium on the extra 1GB. For $10 I would suggest taking the plunge, however if your budget is absolutely critical then it’s clear under most games right now you will never notice the difference between a 1GB 6950 and a 2GB 6950.
Our second card presents a more interesting scenario. The factory overclock on the XFX Radon 6870 Black Edition is not very high, but then neither is the effective price of the overclock. Instead this is a story about a custom cooler, and whether at about $10 over the average price of a reference Radeon HD 6870 it’s worth the price. While I would not call the reference 6870 loud, I also would not call it quiet by any stretch of the word; if anything I would call it cheaply built. If you don’t care about noise then the Black Edition brings little to the table, but in a suitable case those of you with sensitive ears will be in for quite a surprise. Thus while the XFX 6870 comes up short as a true GTX 560 Ti competitor as AMD would seem to be hoping for, it clearly has other redeeming values.
With AMD’s latest cards squared away, our final thought is on today’s launch in general. If nothing else, hopefully today’s write-up has entertained you, and with any luck we’ve imparted upon you a bit of practical wisdom about how the GPU industry operates. As far as we can gather AMD went through quite a bit of effort to launch a viable GTX 560 Ti competitor today – a feat they appear to have succeeded at. The GPU industry is competitive from top to bottom, but there’s something special about the $200-$300 price range that brings out the insanity on all sides. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.