XFX Radeon HD 6870 Black Edition Video Card Review

A brand new XFX Radeon HD 6870 Black Edition is on our test bench today, it offers a boosted core and memory frequency. We compare it to a GeForce GTX 470 and see how well it does in Lost Planet 2, F1 2010, Civilization V, Mafia II, and Battlefield: Bad Company 2 along with overclocking results.


XFX is a well-known manufacturer to most PC gamers. A division of PINE Technology, XFX specializes in motherboards and video cards for PC gamers and hardware enthusiasts. In the past XFX was an exclusive partner with NVIDIA delivering GeForce-based video cards. As of December 16th, 2008 that changed.

XFX is known for the transferrable lifetime warranties, which is a big plus if you try and resell it. Please be advised though, that in order to receive this protection, the video card must be registered on the XFX website within 30 days of the original purchase, or the warranty defaults to just two years of coverage.

Today we are going to be focusing on XFX’s Radeon HD 6870 Black Edition which can be found for $229.99 after rebate.

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AMD Radeon HD 6800 Series

On October 21, 2010 AMD released a new generation of video cards for the mid-level market. The two new video cards, the Radeon HD 6870 and 6850, are based upon an evolved version of the 5800 series. With this architecture, AMD has managed to improve performance while reducing transistor count and die size. All of this together means more performance with less heat and power.

The AMD Radeon HD 6850 is a little less powerful than the Radeon HD 6870 but at a targeted price of $179, it is also $60 less. The Radeon HD 6850 has a compute power of 1.5 (vs. 2.0 on the 6870) TFLOPs with a core clock speed of 775MHz (vs. 900MHz on the 6870) and 960 (vs. 1120 on the 6870) Stream Processors. They both have 32 ROPs and 1GB of GDDR5. The Radeon HD 6870 however has its memory clocked at 4.2GHz vs. 4GHz for the Radeon HD 6850.

XFX Radeon HD 6870 Black Edition

XFX currently has two models of the Radeon HD 6870 available. The first model is just a reference Radeon HD 6870 with XFX logos on the PCI cover and heatsink shroud. The second product is from the XFX’s Black Edition line. Its frequencies have been boosted to 940MHz on the GPU and 4.6GHz on the memory. This is the video card we are evaluating today. These clock speed increases are a fair boost, and we are thrilled to see the memory frequencies boosted. Unfortunately, it has not been modified in any other way that we can tell. We would have liked to have seen a unique cooling solution considering the price premium this video card demands. Base price is $259.99, which is $20 over MSRP, however thankfully there is a mail-in-rebate offered which brings it down to $229.99. Still, this is higher than the stock XFX 6870 video cards that is offered.

Box Shots

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The front of the box has a unique cooling solution theme to it and thankfully lacks any pointless avatar. It also contains a couple of key pieces of information, which are that it is a PCI Express 2.1 video card and that it has 1GB of GDDR5 memory. The side of the box goes into the lore of the Black Edition though it is a little heavy on marketing. The back of the back goes over the key features along with some marketing text on Eyefinity, "EyeDefinition", EyeSpeed, and XFX’s support. Finally, the bottom of the box goes over system requirements, what’s included in the box, and cryptically even shows the GPU frequency on the label. It would have been nice though to have the GPU frequency prominently displayed on the front of the box along with the memory frequency.

The Video Card Pictures

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XFX has of course chosen to use the reference cooling solution, which means the Radeon HD 6870 Black Edition looks like any other reference video card except for the graphics on top of the heatsink shroud. The one caveat to this being a plain Jane reference card is that there is an XFX logo on the PCI cover replacing the normal vent slits. The XFX Radeon HD 6870 Black Edition is the standard 9.75" long and takes up two PCI slots. The front of the video card has two mini-DisplayPort version 1.2 connectors, one HDMI connector, and two DVI connectors. The tail end of the video card has two six-pin auxiliary power connectors.

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The back of the XFX Radeon HD 6870 Black Edition is uncovered and you can see the thirteen bolts that hold down the cooling solution along with the two "warrantee void if removed" stickers covering the GPU’s heatsink bolts. It comes with a Quick Install Guide, a Driver Installation CD, an advertisement brochure about their PSUs, a Limited Warranty info book, XFX Black Edition stickers, a XFX metal case badge, a door hangar, and a crossfire connector.