SAPPHIRE HD6970 BFBC2: Vietnam Special Edition Review
The SAPPHIRE HD6970 BFBC2: Vietnam Special Edition will be competing with NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 570 and NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 580. We overclock the SAPPHIRE HD6970 BFBC2:V Special Edition using SAPPHIRE TriXX Tweak Utility and voltage tweaking to see how it can compare to the more expensive GTX 580.
Sapphire Technology is a well-known company based in Hong Kong, and is recognized as the single largest supplier of AMD-based video cards in the world. Since ATI began funneling graphics processors to add-in-board partners in 2001, Sapphire has been at the head of the red-team pack. In addition to video cards, Sapphire also offers a series of motherboards, workstation class video cards, multimedia products such as TV tuners and Digital Photo frames, and mini PCs like the EDGE HD2.
On our test bench today is SAPPHIRE's flashiest Radeon HD 6970 card, the SAPPHIRE HD6970 BFBC2: Vietnam Special Edition. In addition to our highest playable gameplay evaluation comparisons we will be adding extra testing of this video card using SAPPHIRE's TriXX Tweak Utility and voltage modification against a reference GeForce GTX 580.
AMD Radeon HD 6970
AMD launched the Radeon HD 6970 on December 14th, 2010, alongside the Radeon HD 6950. The Radeon HD 6900 series of GPUs sports AMD's VLIW4 architecture, which is different from the 6800 series' VLIW5 architecture. It features a greater degree of parallelism in its processing engine. VLIW4 was implemented in order to increase both efficiency and performance.
The Radeon HD 6970 is comprised of 2.64 billion transistors, providing 1536 streaming processors, 96 texture units, 32 color rasterizers, and 128 Z/Stencil ROPs. It boasts an impressive 2.7 TFLOPS of computer power on the GPU, texture fill rate of 84.5 Gigatexels per second, and a pixel fill rate of 28.2 Gigatexels per second. The HD 6970 has 2048MB of GDDR5 memory clocked at 1375MHz (or 5.5GHz DDR) on a 256-bit bus. Its memory bus boasts a maximum theoretical throughput of 176 Gbps.
The Radeon HD 6970 is designed with a maximum power rating of 250 Watts. It is supposed to draw an average of 190 Watts during gaming and 20 Watts when idling. It has one 8-pin power connector and one 6-pin power connector. There are five output ports, including two DVI ports, two mini-DisplayPort connectors, and one HDMI connector.
SAPPHIRE HD6970 BFBC2: Vietnam Special Edition
The SAPPHIRE HD6970 BFBC2: Vietnam Special Edition comes loaded with AMD's fastest single GPU, the 6970. It has 2GB of GDDR5 memory, 512MB more than NVIDIA's fastest single GPU card, the GeForce GTX 580. The SAPPHIRE HD6970 BFBC2: Vietnam Special Edition has AMD's reference 6970 clock speeds of 880MHz on the GPU, and a memory clock of 1375MHz (or 5.5GHz DDR). This is, unfortunately, not a factory overclocked video card, however, it does support voltage tweaking.
What makes this video card special, is in the packaging. The BFBC2: Vietnam Special Edition has a Battlefield: Bad Company 2: Vietnam sticker on the front of the video card, and comes in a unique aluminum briefcase. This bundle did include a free copy of BFBC2: Vietnam, but unfortunately that promotion was a limited time offer, and the coupon has now expired with this bundle. That means, the game no longer comes free with this video card. What you get now is the branding on the video card, the aluminum case and of course the card itself.
It is unfortunate that the promotion has ended, but not entirely heart breaking. BFBC2: Vietnam requires the base full version game of Battlefield: Bad Company 2, so if you did not have it, that would be a game purchase you would have to make before you could play the Vietnam expansion. The game added value to this video card, but there is still value to be had in this SAPPHIRE video card, since it supports voltage tweaking, and represents SAPPHIRE's best HD6970 flavor. In that regard, we can evaluate the video card as a high-end Radeon HD 6970 and see how it stands up amongst the competition.
SAPPHIRE also produces another BFBC2: Vietnam edition video card, called the HD6970 BFBC2: Vietnam Game Edition. That video card is everything the Special Edition video card is, minus the aluminum briefcase. Right now, availability of the Special Edition is sparse, in the U.S, though there is availability in Canada. However, you can find the Game Edition more readily available, for example here at Amazon for $424.99 after a rebate.
This video card has a 2 year limited parts and labor warranty.
As we mentioned above, SAPPHIRE has two HD 6970 BFBC2: Vietnam card models. The "Game Edition" card comes in a normal cardboard box, while the "Special Edition" is housed in an Aluminum brief case. Both cards are exactly the same. The art on the box uses Battlefield: Bad Company 2: Vietnam's picture. The writing on the back is fairly pixilated, making the small print difficult to read. It touches on features including DirectX11 support, 2 GB GDDR5 memory, AMD Eyefinity support, and coupon for Battlefield: Bad Company 2: Vietnam game which is now expired.
Inside the briefcase was firm and well padded with foam that held the video card and accessories. The video card fit rather snug in the box to prevent sliding around. The soft bundle includes instructions to join Sapphire Select Club as a Gold Member, a multi-language quick installation guide, and driver disk. The driver installation CD includes an outdated Catalyst software version 10.3, and a link to an online user manual. The accessory bundle includes a 6-pin auxiliary to dual-Molex power adapter, an 8-pin auxiliary to 4-pin Molex power adapter, a mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort adapter, a 1.8 meter HDMI extension cable, a DVI to VGA adapter, and a CrossFireX bridge.
There are no significant modifications to the SAPPHIRE HD 6970 BFBC2:V Special Edition over a reference AMD Radeon HD 6970 card. The only real difference between the two is the Battlefield: Bad Company 2: Vietnam sticker on the front of the video card, and voltage tweaking. There are no added custom fans or vents to help hot air to escape, only the vent at the back end of the card.
The end of the SAPPHIRE HD6970 BFBC2:V Special Edition has five different output ports. There is one Dual-Link DVI-I port, and one Single-Link DVI-I port. There is one HDMI port, and two mini-DisplayPort jacks. The card requires at least a 550 Watt power supply. It also requires one 6-pin PCI-E and one 8-pin PCI-E power connector, which are both located on top of the card. The dimensions of the SAPPHIRE HD6970 BFBC2:V Special Edition are 11 inches in length, 3.75 inches in height, and 1.25 inches in width.
The primary competition for this video card is NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 570, which can be found for $284.99 after mail in rebate. SAPPHIRE has other, non flashy Radeon HD 6970 video cards for as low as $329.99 after a mail in rebate. Therefore, a GTX 570 is perfectly in line to compare with reference HD6970. However, with varying prices, and the fact that the "Game Edition" is upwards of $400, we felt that the more expensive GeForce GTX 580 is also worth it to put in this evaluation as competition. The current price on Amazon for the "Game Edition" video card is $424.99, which is right at the heels of GTX 580 pricing. A GeForce GTX 580 can be had for as low as $429.99 after mail in rebate. In addition to this, we will also be overclocking the SAPPHIRE BFBC2: Vietnam Special Edition video card with voltage tweaking, and comparing that performance with the GTX 580.