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Appeared on: Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Club3D Radeon HD 6950

1. Meet the Club3D HD 6950 1GB Graphics Card

AMD released its Radeon HD 6950 earlier this year, strategically positioned perform faster than the company's HD 6800 series as well as Nvidia's GTX 460 GPUs and the recently released GeForce GTX 560 Ti. The card is utilizing AMD's Cayman PRO GPU chipset, which has a redesigned microarchitecture aimed against Nvidia's Fermi-based solutions.

The Radeon HD 6950 has 1408 stream processors, 88 texture units, and still all 32 ROPs attached to the same 2GB of GDDR5. The core clock is set to 800MHz, while the memory clock is 1250MHz . TDP is 200W, while idle power is the same as with the 6970 at 20W.

As you see in the table below, the HD 6950 featuring a stripped down version of the Cayman's PRO GPU, which also powers the HD 6970 card. So the HD 6950 features the same amount of transistors with the HD 6970 but also less stream processors, texture units and memory:

  AMD Radeon HD 6970 AMD Radeon HD 6950 AMD Radeon HD 6870 AMD Radeon HD 6850 AMD Radeon HD 5870
Stream Processors 1536 1408 1120 960 1600
Texture Units 96 88 56 48 80
ROPs 32 32 32 32 32
Core Clock 880MHz 800MHz 900MHz 775MHz 850MHz
Memory Clock 1.375GHz (5.5GHz effective) GDDR5 1.25GHz (5.0GHz effective) GDDR5 1.05GHz (4.2GHz effective) GDDR5 1GHz (4GHz effective) GDDR5 1.2GHz (4.8GHz effective) GDDR5
Memory Bus Width 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit
Frame Buffer 2GB 2GB 1GB 1GB 1GB
FP64 1/4 1/4 N/A N/A 1/5
Transistor Count 2.64B 2.64B 1.7B 1.7B 2.15B
Manufacturing Process TSMC 40nm TSMC 40nm TSMC 40nm TSMC 40nm TSMC 40nm
Lowest Price $340 $250 $210 $170 $230

In the biggest change to AMD's core GPU architecture, AMD is moving to the VLIW4 architecture, which allows better utilization than the pervious VLIW5 design, according to AMD. With AMD Radeon HD 6900 series graphics, AMD has further enhanced its GPU design efficiency, realizing a 10 percent improvement in performance/mm2.

The Cayman GPU also implements AMD's 8th generation tessellator, which implies is the 7th generation tessellator with even further enhancements. The dual 8th generation tessellation units deliver up to 2.9x tessellation performance compared to ATI Radeon HD 5870 graphics. It also features a refined texture filtering engine and supports the DisplayPort 1.2 standard, which doubles DisplayPort's bandwidth to 21.6Gbps, giving DisplayPort a significant bandwidth lead over dual-link DVI. This means that it's now possible to drive multiple monitors off of a single root DisplayPort. The 6900 series also comes with an HDMI 1.4a output.

The HD 6900 series also features AMD's PowerTune technology, which automatically adjusts GPU power draw by dynamically controlling clock speeds, allowing gamers advanced performance inside of the power envelope they specify.

The AMD Radeon HD 6900 series also enables an exceptional game play experience in DirectX 9, DirectX 10, DirectX 10.1 and OpenGL titles in single card or multi-card AMD CrossFireX configurations.

Enhanced anti-aliasing features enable dramatically improved image quality and enhanced visual quality features . New features include Enhanced Quality Anti-Aliasing (EQAA), which uses a new sampling technique to help improve visual quality, Morphological Anti-Aliasing (MLAA), compatible with any DirectX 9, DirectX 10, or DirectX 11 application, and improved anisotropic filtering.

The cards also feature AMD HD3D technology, backed by our open 3D initiative for stereo 3D gaming and movies, AMD Accelerated Parallel Processing (APP) technology and the Unified Video Decoder 3 (UVD3), a dedicated video playback accelerator that helps users get the most out of HD video, online video and Blu-ray 3D, while enjoying a video quality improvements such as advanced post-processing and scaling, dynamic contrast enhancement, color correction and more.

Pricewise, the cheapest Radeon HD 6950 1Gb solution is currently available for $250. Below you see the prices of some other cards:

Lowest online price
Nvidia GTX 460 (2gb)
AMD Radeon HD 6870
Nvidia GTX 470
GeForce GTX 560 Ti
AMD Radeon HD 6950
AMD Radeon HD 5870
Nvidia GTX 570
AMD Radeon HD 6970
Nvidia GTX 480

It is obvious that Nvidia is offering the GTX 560 Ti GPU at the $250 price point.

Today we have in our labs Club3D's version of the AMD Radeon HD 6950, the Club3D Radeon HD 6950. The card is is equipped with 1GB of memory rather than the standard 2GB, and it is considered as AMD's response to the Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 Ti GPU. The reduction in memory capacity means it will not be able to scale as high in resolution and AA settings, especially with CrossFireX, since it will be limited by its RAM.


Model Product Name: Radeon HD 6950
Product Series: Radeon HD 6000
Item Code: CGAX-69524F
EAN Code: 8717249409250

Bus Interface: PCI Express 2.1
GPU Chipset: Cayman Pro

GPU Clock: 800MHz
Stream Processors: 1408

Multi-GPU: CrossFireX
Memory Size: 1024 MB
Memory Interface: 256BIT
Memory Type: GDDR5
Memory Clock: 5000MHz
Cooling Type: Active Fansink

3D API DirectX version: 11

Slot Width: 2 Slots
Profile: Standard profile
Card Size: 267*125*38 mm

Output Configuration:

DVI: 1x Dual Link
DVI: 1x Single Link
CRT: via Adapter
HDMI: 1x
Mini Display Port: 2x
HDCP ready: YES

Max. Res. digital: 2560x1600
Max. Res. analog: 2048x1536

- Package

The Club3D Radeon HD HD 6950 1GB retails in the black package you see below:


Besides the Club 3D Radeon HD 6950 graphics card, the bundle includes a CrossFire Bridge (CAC-CB), driver & e-Manual CD and a quick install guide:

The dual-slot card measures 267*125*38 mm and it should be installed to a PCI Express x16 slot:

The card is equipped with Club 3D's CoolStream dual-fan cooling system, which is features heatpipes that keeps the components cool:

The card should be powered by two 6-pin PCIe PEG power connectors:

Connectivity options include 1x dual link DVI port, 1x single link DVI, 1x HDMI and 2x mini Display port.

That's all for the packaging and the card's looks. We installed the card and fired up the GPU-Z utility, which confirms the card's basic specifications:


2. How we test
- Setup

Here is our test PC setup:

Many games and applications were used in order to measure the performance (FPS) of each card.

DirectX 9



- Testbed DirectX9

For all the tests we used the default settings for 3DMark05 as you see below:

Again we left all the settings to default:

- Testbed DirectX10

We used the three built- in benchmarks to test the performance of each graphics card. We measured the performances at various resolutions using the "Performance" and up to the "Extreme" settings.

We used the built in benchmark with all the details maxed out.

We used the FRAMEBuffer benchmark tool for the resolutions of 1280x1024, 1680x1050 and finally 1920x1200. We used all the possible quality levels to get an idea what the graphic card can do at each corresponding resolution.


We used the built-in benchmarking utility and maxed out all visual details, under both DX9/DX10 and settings up to 16x AA/16x AF.

3. Futuremark's 3D mark benchmarks
We start with the results of Futuremark's benchmarks. These include the results of the 3DMark 05, 3DMark 06, 3DMark Vantage and the 3D Mark 11 tests.

Starting with the 3D Mark 05 benchmark, the Club3D HD 6950 1GB got just 17447 points, which is very high for a $250 card:

At the 3DMark 06 benchmark the Club3D HD 6950 1GB scored an impressive 17447, which is higher than the score of a GTX 580 OC ! Of course, this does not mean that the cards are comparable in terms of gaming performance. The HD 6950 also ranked higher than the HD 5770 and the Nvidia's GTX 460, GTX 465 and GTX 470 GPUs:

The 3DMark Vantage tests the performance of each card in different resolutions. We charted the GTX 460 1GB OC, the GTX 460 768MB, the GTX 470 and the GTX 580 OC and the HD5770 graphics cards.

The Club3D HD 6950 1GB performed decently to this benchmark. The card gave relatively low scores at 1280 x 1024 but it actually showed its strength at 1920 x 1200, where it ranked second after the GTX 580 OC:


Below you see the results of the recently released 3D Mark 11 v1.00 benchmark. The Club3D HD 6950 1GB is again more powerful than the GTX 460 1GB OC:

4. Crysis Warhead

We proceed to the "Crysis Warhead" game, which supports both DirectX9 and DirectX10 rendering modes. The popular game is still the toughest game in our benchmark suite. Below are the test results from all the possible resolutions the anti-aliasing (AA) disabled.

Below you see the average and lowest FPS we measured for the specific game, in three different resolutions.

Under both DX9 and DX10 modes, the game is playble at resolutions up to 1920 x 1200 as long as you keep the quality settings at the the "Mainstream" level:

Let's see where the HD 6950 card stands card compared to some other GPUs:

At full-HD resolution (1,920 x 1,080) , the Club3D HD 6950 pulls out a significant lead over the GTX 460 and GTX 470 cards. At lower resolutions, the differences among the specific cards are smaller.

5. S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Call Of Pripyat Benchmark, Left4Dead

- S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Call Of Pripyat Benchmark

The ' S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Call Of Pripyat Benchmark' provides detailed information about a system's performance on various graphical modes. This benchmark is based on one of the in-game locations – Pripyat . The testing process includes four stages, those utilizing various weather and time of the day settings (day, night, rain, bright sun). In order to test the system thoroughly the benchmark is provided with a number of presets and options including different versions of DirectX (9.0 10.0, 11), screen resolutions, anti-aliasing etc.This makes it another one of the highly demanding games in our benchmark suite.

For our tests we set the visual details to the highest level and tested the Club3D HD 6950 1GB graphics card under DX10 and DX11 at the resolution of 1920x1200:

- DX9

- DX10

- DX11


In this game, the performance of the Club3D HD 6950 could be comparable to the GTX 570 and also 10-15% higher than the 5870.

- Left4Dead (DirectX 9)

Introduced in 2004, Valve’s Source engine continues to live on in new Valve games. Although this game is not very GPU limited to a significant degree we are using it in our testbed.

We used a custom time demo and measured the performance of the Club3D HD 6950 graphics card for the resolutions of 1280x1024, 1650x1080 and 1920x1200, with 16xAF enabled and all visual settings maxed out.

The Club3D HD 6950 1GB did it great here leaving behind most competitors:


6. Far Cry 2, StreetFighter IV, Unigine benchmark

- Far Cry 2 (DirectX 9/10)

Far Cry 2 supports both DirectX 9 and DirectX10 and its graphics engine is much lighter than the one the Crysis title is based on.

Under DX9, the Club3D HD 6950 1GB is slightly slower than the GTX 470 but still very close to the GTX 460 1GB:


Enabling the DX10 shaders, the "Ultra high" quality settings and AA also worked pretty well for the the Club 3D HD 6950 1GB, especially with AA/AF enabled:


- StreetFighter IV (DirectX 9)

Here are two more benchmarks from the Streetfighter IV and the Unigine Benchmark Engine (DX10) demonstrating the graphic performance of the Club3D HD 6950 1GB graphics card.

At the StreetFighter IV game, the HD 6950 gave less FPS than the GT 465 and the GTX 470 with 16AA enabled, but performed great when we under 16AF:

- Unigine benchmark

Unigine is a proprietary cross-platform middleware, developed by Unigine Corp. It is used as either a game engine or as an engine for VR systems. Unigine currently has support for OpenGL 4.0 and DirectX 11 It supports hardware tessellation and Screen Space Ambient Occlusion (SSAO), DirectCompute, and Shader Model 5.0.

The Unigine benchmark was easy for the Radeon HD 6950 1GB and the card performed pretty close to higher-end cards, such as the GTX 580 OC:

7. Dirt 2, Overclocking

- Dirt 2 (DirectX 11)

Colin McRae: Dirt 2 (known as Dirt 2 outside Europe and stylised, DiRT) is a racing game released in September 2009, and is the sequel to Colin McRae: Dirt. The game runs on an updated version of the EGO engine, which powered Codemasters' Race Driver: Grid as well. The engine features an updated physics engine and makes pretty through use of the DX11’s tessellation abilities.


We used the latest Dirt 2 game patch and used the built-in benchmark for the resolution of 1920x1200, various quality levels and with AA enabled.

Thsi time the Club3D HD 6950 1GB is slightly slower than the GTX 460 OC, especially under demanding image quality settings:


- Alien vs Predator Benchmark v1.03 (DirectX 11)

Rebellion has released a standalone DirectX 11 PC benchmark test based upon its shooter Aliens vs. Predator. The benchmark test requires a graphics support supporting DirectX 11, which are used to produce such fancy features as tessellation, advanced shadow sampling and DX11 anti-aliasing.

We used the default settings of the benchmark (resolution: 1920 x 1200, Texture Quality: 2, Shadow Quality: 3, Anisotropic Filtering: 16, SSAO: ON, Vertical Sync: OFF, DX11 Tessellation: ON, DX11 Advanced Shadows: ON, DX11 MSAA Samples: 1).

- Lost Planet 2 Benchmark (DX9/DX11)

The Lost Planet 2 benchmark allows you to measure the performance of your graphics card using a a pre-configured route within the game. The benchmark can be run under both DX9 and DX11.

- Overclocking

For our overclocking tests we used the latest MSI AfterBurner utility which also allows you to unlock the card's voltages for further tweaking. We enabled the 'Core Voltage' slider (though the 'settings' tab). The 'Core' and 'Shader' sliders are synched and move as one, allowing you to play with the 'Memory' slider as well. The package also includes the 'MSI Kombustor' application that stresses your graphics card and test its stability.

The overclocking with the Club3D HD 6950 was limited to 840MHz /1280 MHz (clock/memory), which is about a 5% overclock).

The Catalyst Control Panel allows for a maximum core frequency of 840MHz using the built-in AMD Overdrive tool.


8. Final words

The $250 Radeon HD 6950 1GB has been released as a response to Nvidia's GeForce GTX 560 Ti 1GB card. Unfortunately, the GTX 560 Ti sample arrived in our labs after the Radeon HD 6950 1GB, so we did not include the results of Nvidia' s offering to our performance comparison charts. However, according to some quick benchmarks we did with our GTX 560 Ti sample, in most of the games, the performance for both cards is the same. Since both video cards have 1GB of RAM they are both limited in the same way in resolutions higher than 1920 x 1280. As a result, the choice between the HD 6950 1GB and GTX 560 Ti will likely come down to personal preference.

Compared to the 2GB version of the HD 6950, the 1GB version seems to perform equally unless you play with AA enabled. In this case, you likely better off with the more expensive HD 6950 2GB .

Without any doubt, our Club 3D HD 6950 1GB sample outperformed the Nvidia GTX 460, GTX 470 and the AMD HD 5850 and HD6850, HD 5870 cards. So if you are having one of these cards and you thinking of an upgrade, you can safely go for it. On the other hand, overclockers will be most probably disappointed as the Club 3D HD 6950 1GB did not show any wide overclocking margins.

The Club3D HD 6950 1GB is a gaming powerhouse in the category of mid-range graphics cards. As it currently stands, there is no better value than Radeon HD 6950 GPU 1GB video card in this "sweet spot" of ~$250. If you are gaming at 1920x1200 or lower and you are on a budget, the Club3D HD 6950 1GB version should be your choice. For high levels AA or game at higher resolutions, you' d better go for the 6950 2GB model.

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