PowerColor HD6870X2 Review
Published: 6th July 2011 | Source: PowerColor | Price: £300 |
The PowerColor HD6870X2 is quite a complex thing to sum up in a snappy few lines.
All of the press blurb relentlessly hammered home the fact that the HD6870X2 was designed to best the nVidia GTX580 and if that is the sole measure of the PowerColor HD6870X2 then clearly it's attained its goal.
Throughout testing the HD6870X2 outshone the GTX580, sometimes was up with the GTX590, and also regularly out-performed two HD6870s in Crossfire. This last bit is especially impressive as normally when two GPUs are placed on a single card there are reductions in performance due to power draw issues, or the need to keep the whole thing cool.
Speaking of keeping things cool, this has been far and away the biggest drawback of the current range of cards. Compared to the Radeons of old the 6 series have, almost to a man, been hot and loud. The PowerColor HD6870X2 isn't really either of these things when we consider how that we've got two GPUs to try and tame. It's not cool, our overclock was thermally limited more than anything. It's not exactly quiet when compared to any of the nVidia offerings. However if you are expecting two GPUs to be twice as hot and loud as a single HD6870, then by that measure it's actually doing quite well, even if it ends up being just as loud and warm. This is largely a product of the twin-GPU design more than a problem with the cooler, which is very good indeed. As you can see, it's not as simple as it might seem.
Performance is indeed excellent, and a single card will always be more energy efficient than a pair. You don't need a ton of cables off your PSU and even an ITX board can handle the card happily. However a couple of the results we obtained, Unigine in particular, weren't quite as stellar as one would hope, especially the minimum frame-rate of some games caused noticable stutters. Although we're not sure if this is related to the drivers which follow the normal Radeon problem of being just not as stable as their nVidia challengers. During testing the whole system froze on more than one occasion.
Finally pricing which, at the time of going to press, isn't officially available. We've heard word that HD6870X2 should be available for around $450 which should mean (with the normal conversion methodology of just replacing the dollar with a pound) a UK price of between £300 and £350. We'd hope it would be on the bottom end of that and if it comes in around the £300 price mark it's a steal. If it ended up being more towards the £350 mark then we'd definitely question it as a valid purchase despite its GTX580 beating. After all you can pick up a couple of HD6870s for about £260, so once you take into account the better cooler then £300 would be about right. So we'll score based on a retail of £300 and you can adjust once the price becomes available.
All in all the PowerColor HD6870X2 is a great performing card that gives high frame-rates across a raft of games. The huge heat-pipes on the cooler keep everything cooler than we expected and in normal use it's not distractingly noisy although under extreme loading it becomes both hot and loud.
However it's much easier to live with than many of the other Radeon cards around and for that it's deserving of OC3D Silver Award.