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AMD Radeon HD 6970 2GB GDDR5 Video Card

The Bottom Line

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AMD Radeon HD 6970 2GB GDDR5 Video Card
Image Courtesy AMD

Dec 15 2010 - The AMD Radeon HD 6970 is competitively priced starting at $369, putting it in direct competition with the NVIDIA GTX 570. The AMD Radeon HD 6970 features a new core design and 2GB of GDDR5 for fast texture loading. It offers outstanding performance with above average frame rates in the most graphic-intensive games. Along with the launch of the HD 6970, comes a new set of Catalyst drivers and a new user interface within the Catalyst Control Center for added flexibility. Although it would be nice to have a regular DisplayPort, the AMD Radeon HD 6970 is a worthwhile buy for gamers hungry for performance.


  • Runs Games Using Maxed out Settings with Ease
  • Performs Slightly Better Than the NVIDIA GTX 570 in Many Games
  • Excellent Catalyst Drivers and Control Center with Advanced Power Management


  • No Regular DisplayPort Connection
  • Takes Up Two Slots


  • 880MHz Core Clock
  • 1375MHz Memory Clock
  • 2GB GDDR5
  • 2.7 TFLOPs
  • 96 Texture Units
  • 32 ROPs
  • 24 SIMD / 1536 ALU
  • 256 Bit (5.5 Gbps) Memory Interface
  • 250 Watt PowerTune Maximum Limit
  • 8-pin and 6-pin Power Connectors
  • Two DVI, Two Mini-DisplayPorts, and One HDMI v1.4a Port
  • EyeFinity Support For Up to Six Displays
  • Dual Slot

Review - AMD HD 6970 2GB GDDR5 Graphics Card

AMD Radeon HD 6970 2GB Graphics Card ReviewImage Courtesy AMD

When AMD first announced the HD 6970, gamers were immediately excited to see an updated card to compete with NVIDIA's line of GeForce 5-series cards. Coming on the heels of the launch of the GTX 570, AMD pulls ahead slightly with the latest Radeon HD 6970. Equipped with 2GB of GDDR5 graphics memory, running the latest games, such as Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, is a pleasant experience. The new Catalyst drivers and Control Center are impressive with a new user interface that is simple and flexible with one-click access to any setting. AMD also had overclockers in mind with an Overdrive tab that lets gamers adjust the power limits of the GPU.

Starting price on the AMD Radeon HD 6970 at e-tail is $369. This positions the HD 6970 to compete with the NVIDIA GTX 570, leaving the ATI Radeon HD 5970 to take on the GTX 580. If you enjoy maxing out settings, the AMD Radeon HD 6970 doesn't disappoint. It handled Battlefield: Bad Company 2 with ease on a 30-inch display using 2560x1600 resolution and maxed out settings both within the game and within the Catalyst Control Center. Using the FRAPS utility on an Intel Core i7-920 system running at 4.2GHz with 12GB of DDR3 memory as a test machine, the follow benchmarks were achieved:

Battlefield: Bad Company 2

Testing Scenario:

  • Resolution: 2560x1600
  • Settings: High
  • 8x MSAA
  • 16x AF


  • Minimum: 27 FPS
  • Maximum: 81 FPS
  • Average: 64 FPS

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

Testing Scenario:

  • Flying through Orgrimmar
  • Resolution: 2560x1600
  • Settings: Maxed Out


  • Average: 48.6 FPS

F1 2010

Testing Scenario:

  • Resolution: 2560x1600
  • Settings: Ultra
  • 8x MSAA


  • Minimum: 42 FPS
  • Maximum: 55 FPS
  • Average: 48 FPS

Mafia II

Testing Scenario:

  • Resolution: 2560x1600
  • Settings: Maxed Out Except for PhysX


  • Minimum: 9.8 FPS
  • Maximum: 200 FPS
  • Average: 38.3

As you can see, the AMD HD Radeon 6970 performed well in all games in terms of frames per second, especially considering all settings were at the highest levels.

As worth noting are the design improvements on the 6900 Series GPUs, which include an updated VLIW4 core architecture and dual graphics engines. The Radeon HD 6970 is equipped with 24 SIMD engines, 96 texture units, and a fast 256-bit GDDR5 memory interface. The VLIW4 core design allows for better performance with independent stream processors in lieu of the former "T-units." The AMD Radeon HD 6970 also offers Enhanced Quality Anti-Aliasing (EQAA) with up to 16 samples per pixel. In addition, the AMD Radeon HD 6970 can handle multiple compute kernels at the same time, and the two 8th generation tessellation units provide enhanced performance, especially over the previous ATI Radeon HD 5870, which is being phased out.

AMD Radeon HD6970 Graphics Card ReviewImage Courtesy AMD

One flaw found on the new Radeon HD 6970, though, is the lack of a regular DisplayPort connection. The card is equipped with two DVI ports, two mini-DisplayPorts, and one HDMI port. If your monitor uses a DisplayPort, such as the Dell U3011 display used for testing, you'll want to look into purchasing an appropriate cable or adapter.

Overall, the AMD Radeon HD 6970 offers playable frame rates for even the most demanding games on the market. Plus, this card is equipped with 2GB of GDDR5, which is excellent for loading detailed textures quickly (word is a 1GB model will be available at a later date). The Catalyst Control Center offers a great deal of flexibility to tweak the settings just right for the performance you crave.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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