Monday, 14 November 2011

The Great Trans-Siberian PC Build - part 4

This is a part of a series on a computer that I am building. For links to all of the articles in the series, click here.

ATI Radeon HD 6970

Sapphire Radeon HD 6970
This card comes in several versions, but after having read a few reviews it seems that the most overclockable aftermarket card was is the Sapphire Radeon HD 6970, as opposed to the version released by Gigabyte, MSI or even the Asus reference card. The XFX 6970 comes close, but performance wise I felt this was a slight bit better, though it cost a few £'s more.

The first thing anyone will notice about this graphics card is that it is big and heavy, and as such it has some hefty power requirements and takes a standard 6-pin and a 8-pin power connector. With all of that power, you do get some pretty hefty processing prowess. The card easily competes with its Nvidia rival, the GTX 570; Though both certainly have their own strengths and weaknesses.

Some specs about the card:

Power requirements: 1x6pin &1x8pin 
Interface type: PCI express 2.1 x16
Clock speed: 880MHz
Video Memory: 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 SDRAM
Memory clockspeed: 5500 MHz = (5.5GHz)
API's supported: OpenGL 4.1, DirectX 11
Max. Resolution: 2560x1600
Output: 2x DVI, HDMI, 2x mini display ports

cutout of the internals of the card
With that out of the way, the card supports, what AMD refer to as AMD Eyefinity, which is another way of saying the graphics card supports up to 6 monitors. This particular model comes with 5 output ports, but I dont think I have the money to buy enough decent monitors to game with 5 active monitors.

I chose this card, due to some overclocking reviews stating that the sapphire 6970 was the most overclockable of the aftermarket cards (XFX 6970 being the second best for overclocking ability). And I may at some point try and up the clock rate to the fabled 950MHz and also attempt upping the voltage and other parameters as much as possible.

The card fared well in most technical reviews with very high frame rates in most games, however my purchase from (this in no way reflects on the solid build quality from sapphire or brilliant customer services offered by was a dud card. After several attempts, where the card worked in some instances and failed after a few minutes of use - I tested all of the components belonging to my build one by one, and isolated the cause of the fault to the graphics card. I assume that some sort of static build-up or a heavy drop during delivery was the cause. The box certainly had a slightly dented corner upon delivery. Dabs instantly offered a refund, and even arranged for a free pickup of the dead card.

All in all, a faulty card (just my luck), but great customer service and a great graphics card. I plan on purchasing another one of these, perhaps after my I tug the reigns on my spending limits a bit.

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