AMD Radeon HD 6870 Roundup



Author: James Prior
Editor: Charles Oliver
Date: February 13th, 2012

Introduction

It's time for an old-fashioned Rage3D Radeon round up! Today we've got five Radeon HD 6870 cards from four manufacturers throwing down with factory overclocks and custom coolers, vying for position as the best Radeon for the low end of the sweet spot price band. Sapphire, HIS, Powercolor and ASUS are represented here today, strutting their custom design stuff. Let's being with a quick overview of the AMD Radeon HD 6870:

Reference AMD Radeon HD 6870 design

AMD Radeon HD 6870 Specifications:

  • 40nm Barts GPU using VLIW5
  • 1120 Stream Processors / 14 SIMD
  • 900Mhz Engine Clock
  • 1050MHz (4.2Gbps) 1GB GDDR5 RAM
  • 256-bit Memory Bus
  • 134.4GB/s memory bandwidth
  • 56 Texture Units
  • 32 ROPS
  • DVI-DL + HDMI 1.4 & 2 mini-DisplayPort outputs
  • DirectX 11 / OpenCL 1.2 / OpenGL 4.2
  • 19W idle / 151W Board Max Power
  • $239USD Original SEP

All of our custom design Radeon cards dump the reference cooler for a design aimed to provide better cooling and noise profiles. This choice is driven by the increased heat load the overclock cards provide, and the demands that the custom Radeon buyer has for their bespoke-style card purchase.

Sapphire HD 6870 D3 Edition

First we have the Sapphire Radeon HD 6870 D3. This card is co-branded with Codemaster's DiRT 3 title, a game showcasing its close involvement with AMD, with great DirectX 11 features and performance implementations. The Sapphire 6870 D3's most obvious feature is its large dual-fan cooler design, copper heatpipes and huge aluminum fin array. This card boasts a 920MHz core engine clock, 20MHz up on the engine clock of the reference design but the same memory clock, which is the reference 1GB in capacity and 1050MHz / 4.2Gbps memory clock.

PowerColor PCS+ 6870

Next we have Powercolor's PCS+ 6870, which looks quite normal in this company. So normal that you might overlook the big centrally mounted fan and heatpipe cooler. If you do, then the core clock will come as a big surprise - a 940MHz engine clock (+40MHz over reference) and 1100MHz memory clock (+50MHz over reference). 1Gb of GDDR5 VRAM is fitted.

ASUS HD 6870 DirectCU

Third in the list is the ASUS Radeon HD 6870 DirectCU. This card is much larger than the first two, with not only a custom heatsink on the front but a rear finned heatsink as well. The front heatsink features direct contact nickel plated heat pipes and a sizeable fin array under a large axial fan. The GPU core is clocked at 915MHz, with 1GB of memory at reference speeds, 1050MHz.

HIS HD 6870 IceQ

Finally we have an IceQ pair from HIS. First the HIS 6870 IceQ, which features a gigantic blower fan and cooler that brings to mind the halcyon days of custom cooling Radeon 9700’s with VGA silencers. The GPU core is 900MHz and the 1GB memory is 1050MHz - this one is all about potential.

HIS HD 6870 X Turbo X

Following the IceQ is the HIS 6870 IceQ X Turbo X, using a less outrageous cooler than the IceQ but featuring large heatpipes, long fin array and large central mounted fan. The IceQ X Turbo X (XTX - see what they did there?) comes with the boss specifications - 975MHz engine clock and 1150MHz memory (again, still 1GB).

Except for the ASUS, these cards all stick to AMD's reference output configuration of stacked DVI outputs (DVI-DL + DVI-SL), a HDMI 1.4a port, and two mini-DisplayPort 1.2 outputs; ASUS feature two full-size DisplayPort and two DVI outputs (one DVI-DL, one DVI-SL). AMD's Add-In Board (AIB) partners have differentiated their cards one other way than we described above, which is board component choice. Sapphire and ASUS are rocking custom PCB offerings here, where all AIBs have opted for upgraded power components - voltage regulators, chokes, and capacitors.