Efficiency and Affordability of AMD Radeon HD 6970

Bethany Walsh

Jun 27, 2022

The "Cayman" GPU made its debut with AMD Radeon HD 6970 ($370 as of 12/14/2010), which also marks the premiere of AMD's "Cayman" GPU. The "Cayman" GPU offers substantial architectural modifications from the Radeon HD 5800 series and their newly announced Radeon HD 6800 series. This new technique will be used instead. All of these improvements are designed to make the card more useful.

Artificial Standards to Compare Against

As is usually the case, synthetic benchmarks are not always indicative of a GPU's performance in real-world scenarios. However, they provide us with a basic picture of how the card will do in a set of tests oriented toward the future (click on a chart to see a larger version). AMD's graphics card came in third place behind both of Nvidia's high-end products when tested using Futuremark's DirectX 10-based 3DMark Vantage benchmark. The 6970 trailed behind the GTX 570 by as much as 8 percent on the High level of 3DMark (1680 by 1050 pixel resolution), while Nvidia's GTX 580 grabbed a dominating 27 percent lead.

The difference between the Radeon HD 6970 and the Nvidia GeForce GTX 570 has shrunk to 5 percent (in Nvidia's favor), indicating that it performs much better on the Extreme benchmarks (1920 by 1200 pixel resolution). The GTX 580 has a lead of 22 percent, which is a respectable margin, but the price tag of $500 for the GTX 580 makes it considerably less impressive. The card can bridge the gap at higher resolutions, partly because it has 2 gigabytes of DDR5 memory, as opposed to the 1.5 gigabytes of the GTX 500 series.


In actual gaming situations, the card's performance is not quite as black and white as one would want. During our testing, we put the GPUs through their paces by playing a series of taxing games based on DirectX 10 and 11, and the Radeon HD 6970 showed to be a worthy adversary. The Radeon HD 6970 delivers an amazing performance an affordable price in the Formula One racing game F1 2010 developed by Codemasters. It not only managed to outperform the GTX 570 in all of our tests, but it also maintained its competitiveness with (and even sometimes surpassed) the performance of the more expensive GTX 580. The architectural advancements made to the "Cayman" GPU come through in this regard, and gamers with big screens with high resolution stand to profit from the 6970's superb performance.

The demanding Just Cause 2 "Concrete Jungle" benchmark test was won by Nvidia's GTX 580, although AMD's Radeon HD 6970 was never too far behind in second place. Considering the disparity in cost, it is a rather remarkable accomplishment. According to the results of the simulated benchmarks, the card performs much better at higher screen resolutions. At 1920 by 1200 pixels resolution, the GeForce GTX 580 and 570 continue to have a significant advantage over their competitors.

The Value Placed On the Effectiveness

When it comes to power consumption, the enthusiast segment of the GPU market presents some significant challenges. To determine the overall performance of these graphics cards, we calculated the average number of frames generated per second throughout all of our game tests. We divided that number by their power consumption while the games were running. AMD's products continue to be the most power-efficient of the bunch, particularly at higher resolutions. Nvidia's products tend to be rather power-hungry in general. While the updated Fermi architecture made significant strides toward taming their appetites, AMD's products remain the leader in this regard.

Regarding efficient performance, the Radeon HD 6970 can't compete with the GeForce GTX 570, which can be purchased for three hundred and fifty dollars less. This is particularly true if you don't already have a display with a resolution of 2560 by 1600 inches. However, there are a few exceptions that work to AMD's advantage. The only interfaces available on Nvidia's cards are a pair of DVI connections and an HDMI port. Nvidia cannot compete with AMD's much-touted Eyefinity technology, which enables a single graphics card to power up to three monitors simultaneously.

Another option to consider if you are concerned about your monthly electric cost is energy efficiency. To sum it all up, the difference of $20 becomes a choice between squeezing out those last few frames on your visually demanding games and having a little more freedom in your display choices. The performance crown now belongs to Nvidia, but the Radeon HD 6970 provides an amazing and all-around excellent value that is difficult to surpass.

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