Considering 6950/6970 upgrade.

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Considering 6950/6970 upgrade.

Postposted on Mon Jun 13, 2011 12:12 pm

So I'm still sitting on a GeForce GTX260, and while it has served me long and well, it has served me LONG. It's getting old and tired, and I can't run everything as smoothly as I'd like. I've been looking at the Caymans, and they're awfully compelling. I'm looking at the Asus HD6950 DirectCU II in particular. With the 6950/6970 crossflash, I'd be getting a 6970 (even including the 8+6 power pins) for a slight premium over a stock 6950. Very compelling.

Has anyone looked into modding PowerTune? AMD sets TDP limits on the card, apparently not in the VBIOS, and while you can get around them via the +20% control, it still leaves you shy of 'real' 6970 TDP limits. Given the Asus 6950 and 6970 have the same cooler, voltage regulation, and physical connections, that is teh sux. If I could dig in and crack open the PowerTune info, I'd be sold.

Also, tessellation! OMG! The 6K cards seem to fall down on their faces in all the DX11 benchmarks when tessellation goes up. The gaming benches run fine, but that's mildly alarming. (This is more a PS and should probably go in it's own topic, but I'm looking for reassuring noises more than actual discussion.)
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Re: Considering 6950/6970 upgrade.

Postposted on Mon Jun 13, 2011 12:28 pm

Just be careful that you make dead certain that the particular model of 6950 you are looking at will do the cross flash.

As for tessellation - have you ever seen it in real life?

I've enable tessellation in two games - AvP and Metro 2033 - and I have been extremely disappointed in the results - i.e. it's hardly a noticeable change in my opinion. Dunno what others think. I think tessellation needs more time in the oven.

Other than that, I have a 5770 and am going to wait for the next gen, but your needs are most likely greater than mine.
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Re: Considering 6950/6970 upgrade.

Postposted on Mon Jun 13, 2011 1:51 pm

I upgraded to a 6950 from a 8800GTX. ;) Honestly I think I should have waited another generation because of how little progress there has been in game graphics complexity in the past few years. It may not be worthwhile to upgrade until new consoles arrive.

Regarding modding them, I just have mine shader-unlocked but stock clocked. They get way hotter if you push them to 6970 level, something like another 50W power. The stock cooler is very annoying, especially as a 6970. I replaced it with a Thermalright TRad2 GTX. I prefer to not hear my video cards and this did the trick.


I bought the card to have extreme excess GPU power. I only run it at 1360x768 on my TV. But I want to run max AA and SSAA if possible. Unfortunately SSAA is only possible with DX9 games. I've also been finding some performance problems with 8X MSAA, particuarly if I also have it on adaptive AA. It seems to get "stuttery" and there's no excuse for this card to do that at 1360x768. Strangely enough 4x SSAA is usually smoother than 8x MSAA+AA!

I also own a GTX 560 Ti, in my desktop PC. The MSI Twin Frozr OC edition. This is also a great card and performance is similar to a 6950. With some games SSAA works with NV and some with ATI so it's nice to have both around. NV's SSAA seems slower (and not officially supported) but it is more flexible as it can work with OpenGL and DX10+.
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Re: Considering 6950/6970 upgrade.

Postposted on Mon Jun 13, 2011 3:21 pm

If you are gaming at 1920x1080 or higher, pull the trigger.
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Re: Considering 6950/6970 upgrade.

Postposted on Mon Jun 13, 2011 3:28 pm

With regards to what to purchase, my first question is:

Will you be happy enough with what you get out of the box.

Unlocking the 6950 into the 6970 can make a compelling argument for buying the 6950, but there's no guarantee of success. My general philosophy of "things sold with extras" is never make a judgement to purchase based on the extra, a, always buy it for the base item. If the extras just happen to be good, run off like a bandit, cackling maniacally about your success. :)
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Re: Considering 6950/6970 upgrade.

Postposted on Mon Jun 13, 2011 3:47 pm

just buy a 6950 2Gb and overclock it
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Re: Considering 6950/6970 upgrade.

Postposted on Mon Jun 13, 2011 4:27 pm

Ive been very happy with my MSI twin frozer 6950 2G card. I bought it knowing it would not unlock to a 6970, but it runs cool and took a mild OC with no real issues. The card runs everything I need it to, and is a massive improvement over my old overheating 9800GTX that it replaced.
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Re: Considering 6950/6970 upgrade.

Postposted on Mon Jun 13, 2011 4:48 pm

I don't know if the tessellation thing should be a consideration on which card to buy. Nvidia cards own that arena, but I haven't really missed not having the ability with my 5850. Like F-M, I'll be waiting until at least the HD7xxx generation of cards to upgrade my graphics.

If you're not playing at 1920x1080/1200 I would probably wait until the fall. I don't think there are any new games coming out that would require you to change anything until late fall. Maybe OC your 260 just a bit for the time being?
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Re: Considering 6950/6970 upgrade.

Postposted on Mon Jun 13, 2011 4:54 pm

Relevant details I left out: My main LCD is 1920*1200. I game there, or at no resolution at all.

My GTX260s got a healthy OC on day #1, and have been there ever since (My 55nm Core 216 was actually OCed in the box by eVGA).

I recently sold my 65nm GTX 260 Core 216, and got what I thought was an identical card. The replacement is an original Core 192. Random BSODs while SLIed.

Rather than futz with it further, I'm thinking single-GPU is a nice place to be. ATI/AMD's current generation is far more compelling than Nvidia's, IMO. Had a GTX 460 1GB briefly to burn in/test for a friend, noticed it was 'smoother' and more consistent than my SLI 260s. This must be microstuttering, I assume.

Anyways, been looking at the Asus Direct CU IIs pretty exclusively. I have no other cards to use slots these days (Ph33r the cr4b!), so three slots for bigger, slower fans and more competent coolers under those sounds good to me.

The tessellation thing: Yeah, I figured it was nothing I'd care about, but the benchmarks were shocking. Then again, it's a card for gaming, not a card for benching.
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Re: Considering 6950/6970 upgrade.

Postposted on Mon Jun 13, 2011 5:00 pm

Maybe this two fan design from XFX will be appealing to you. I suggest this one due to the warranty, small OC, and slightly lower price than the Asus you're looking at.
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Re: Considering 6950/6970 upgrade.

Postposted on Mon Jun 13, 2011 7:12 pm

What games do you like to play? 6950 is a bit faster than 5870. I have 5870 CrossFire running at 2560x1600, I can play Crysis (Very High, no AA), S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat (All maxed no AA) and Metro 2033 (Very High, Tessellation ON, Advanced DOF OFF). I think that 6950 at 1920x1200 should be OK. I would recommend to wait for HD 7000 but I am afraid it will not be released until early next year. According to AMD the Bulldozer-based platform "Scorpius" will use HD 6000.
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Re: Considering 6950/6970 upgrade.

Postposted on Mon Jun 13, 2011 8:03 pm

if the 260 is not a 216 streaming processor u should get rid of it in a hurry
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Re: Considering 6950/6970 upgrade.

Postposted on Mon Jun 13, 2011 9:25 pm

I'd upgrade just to get a quieter card and system overall. My psu doesn't spin if the wattage is under approximately 150ish watts so its to my advantage to always go for quieter better more efficient cards.
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Re: Considering 6950/6970 upgrade.

Postposted on Fri Jun 17, 2011 2:10 am

I have the Sapphire HD6950, no bios switheroo to the '70, but it is one very cool customer, and at your resolution it will run like a dream.
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Re: Considering 6950/6970 upgrade.

Postposted on Fri Aug 05, 2011 1:08 pm

I have a 6970 myself, also at 1920 x 1200.

First off, I'd get a reference-design card. These are made by AMD, then rebadged by vendors. They are higher quality than rev.2 designs, which are usually made to reduce cost. Also, the reference design models are the ones that unlock.

Unfortunately, I don't believe any 6950 reference cards are being sold new any more; you'd probably need to go through Ebay. There are still reference-design 6970 cards being made, though supply is short. Currently, NewEgg has only one in stock, from MSI. Note the "AMD" logo silkscreened just above the PCIe slot connector.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6814127554

DancinJack wrote:Maybe this two fan design from XFX will be appealing to you. I suggest this one due to the warranty, small OC, and slightly lower price than the Asus you're looking at.


XFX looks good on paper. However, they don't always handle warranty claims as well as they ought to. While almost all brands do so eventually, they're usually the first to "cheap down" their cards by switching away from reference design, and unlike some brands, they may use a reference-style cooler so the card looks like a reference design when it is not.
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Re: Considering 6950/6970 upgrade.

Postposted on Fri Aug 05, 2011 1:22 pm

The reference design also sounds like a vacuum cleaner, and the custom coolers are usually about 10-15ºC lower, while still being a bit more quiet. The 6970 is one hot customer. And while I love it, it runs most things at 2560x1600 without any problem whatsoever except for the newest stuff... bf3 alpha, crysis 2, etc which I have to run at 1920x1200.

But if the OP doesnt have anything right now that needs to be faster, I would urge a consideration to wait until the next gen comes out, which is this autumn sometime. Would probably make for a few cheap cards to go, or a new better card for the same money.
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Re: Considering 6950/6970 upgrade.

Postposted on Fri Aug 05, 2011 1:34 pm

Forge wrote:Has anyone looked into modding PowerTune? AMD sets TDP limits on the card, apparently not in the VBIOS, and while you can get around them via the +20% control, it still leaves you shy of 'real' 6970 TDP limits. Given the Asus 6950 and 6970 have the same cooler, voltage regulation, and physical connections, that is teh sux. If I could dig in and crack open the PowerTune info, I'd be sold.


I have a 6970, and mine goes +/-50%

Haven't noticed the 'faceplant' when tessellation ramps up.
Also I thought it was synthetic benchmarks that were supposed to see more impact from the TDP limitation issue because of their potential to draw much more power. Games are more designed to be good looking and streamlined. Synthetic benchmarks don't really have this need. Or am I wrong?
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Re: Considering 6950/6970 upgrade.

Postposted on Fri Aug 05, 2011 6:09 pm

Aphasia wrote:The reference design also sounds like a vacuum cleaner, and the custom coolers are usually about 10-15ºC lower, while still being a bit more quiet. The 6970 is one hot customer. And while I love it, it runs most things at 2560x1600 without any problem whatsoever except for the newest stuff... bf3 alpha, crysis 2, etc which I have to run at 1920x1200.

But if the OP doesnt have anything right now that needs to be faster, I would urge a consideration to wait until the next gen comes out, which is this autumn sometime. Would probably make for a few cheap cards to go, or a new better card for the same money.


My reference design card doesn't sound this way, even under load. *shrug*. Neither did my reference design 5870 before that, with a similar cooler.
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Re: Considering 6950/6970 upgrade.

Postposted on Sat Aug 06, 2011 2:42 am

So, that either means that Asus reference designs are different, or a reference design isnt a true common template. My graphics cards needs to be put to around 45% of the fan effect during full load in heavy games, and that overpowers all other fans in the Antec p193 easily.

The only other thing it might be is that i just might have to check if its time to clean out the dustbunnies.
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Re: Considering 6950/6970 upgrade.

Postposted on Sun Aug 14, 2011 4:32 pm

Aphasia wrote:So, that either means that Asus reference designs are different, or a reference design isnt a true common template. My graphics cards needs to be put to around 45% of the fan effect during full load in heavy games, and that overpowers all other fans in the Antec p193 easily.

The only other thing it might be is that i just might have to check if its time to clean out the dustbunnies.


ASUS does not always use the reference-design cooler on their reference cards. They are unusual in that regard.

Though if your card looks like this, it's safe to say it's a reference cooler.

Image

There is a third option --that the card's fan speed is either ramping up sooner than it should, or that you have an unusually loud fan in your cooler and it's an outlier or has bearing issues. You should be able to tweak the fan speeds with software to reduce the noise; you'll just want to monitor the temperatures.

Removing the cooler and re-applying the thermal grease with better stuff may help too. My reference 5870 had way more TIM than it should have; removing and re-applying made a difference in dropping its temperatures (which can result in dropping fan RPMs).
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Re: Considering 6950/6970 upgrade.

Postposted on Wed Aug 17, 2011 10:57 am

6950 is a pretty good card. Jus that. I've got some experiences playing with ati card, flashing them. But if u turn urs to 6970 good luck.
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Re: Considering 6950/6970 upgrade.

Postposted on Wed Aug 17, 2011 12:10 pm

Since we're on the subject of 6950/6970 I have a question I've been meaning to ask for a while. I'm running my 2650x1600 screen off of this card and can play most games with good settings and smooth frame rates. The card is a reference 2GB 6950 (in sig) that has the extra shaders unlocked with a mild overclock.

Here is my problem: with stock (latest) drivers the card locks up after a while. It usually just crashes the game and I'm able to restart it in Windows most of the time. It also happens across several games so it's not game-specific. The problem is clearly heat-related because it happens when the house is hot. I programmed keyboard shortcuts to kick up the fan and that cures the problem. My questions are:

1. why are AMD programmers so moronic that they can't write a proper driver that detects the card is overheating and kick the fan up automatically? I never had that issue with nVidia cards in same house
2. are there any good programs that can do so? I looked at several but none were easy to live with. Some required a special boot loader to disable signed driver check, others were just inadequate so any ideas or recommendations?
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Re: Considering 6950/6970 upgrade.

Postposted on Wed Aug 17, 2011 7:51 pm

I believe MSI afterburner will let you do that. I know my 6950 2 gig ran hot, I ended up setting the fan to a higher setting as it was running only at 20%. I set it to run at 70% and it is not much louder and runs 20C cooler. I do not see the point of running a fan so slow that the card runs extremely hot for no reason.
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Re: Considering 6950/6970 upgrade.

Postposted on Wed Aug 17, 2011 10:58 pm

Synchromesh wrote:1. why are AMD programmers so moronic that they can't write a proper driver that detects the card is overheating and kick the fan up automatically? I never had that issue with nVidia cards in same house


I believe the fan steps are in the BIOS code. You can check on TechPowerUp!, but I think it may be possible to modify a BIOS to change this. The driver really isn't part of the equation, although as said, utilities like MSI Afterburner can allow custom fan profiles in software.

Normally, the card's fan operates off of hardware temperature sensing onboard the card itself. If I run 3DMark11 on my 6970, it's easy to tell, as the fan will ramp up as the GPU gets warmer. I'm not sure why yours is not, unless it has reached maximum stepping.

If you're comfortable with it, it might be worth removing the cooler, and re-applying the TIM to the GPU. My 5870 had it glopped on at the factory; I cleaned it off and replaced it with a much smaller amount, lowering the GPU temps by a couple of degrees C.
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Re: Considering 6950/6970 upgrade.

Postposted on Thu Aug 18, 2011 6:44 am

I'm having similar thoughts. I have a Radeon 5850 which does about all that I want (usually runs 1600x). Anyone seen a performance chart comparing 5850s and 5870 to current cards? (Tom's' does such things from time to time, I recall.)

I am wondering if there will be much improvement - I am typically not bowled over by what improvement arrives with new GPUs.

Anyone upgraded from a single 5850?
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Re: Considering 6950/6970 upgrade.

Postposted on Thu Aug 18, 2011 8:20 am

Try this. The 6950 has similar overall performance to the 5870 and the 6970 is about 10% faster. I think this means that even the 6970 will only be around 20%-25% faster than a 5850, so I would have thought this would be a not particualrly cost-effective upgrade for you. Given current prices, a pair of 6870s (35% more perofrmance than 6970 for similar cost) looks like the best current option if your system is capable of Crossfire.
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Re: Considering 6950/6970 upgrade.

Postposted on Fri Aug 19, 2011 3:23 am

ordskiweicz wrote:I'm having similar thoughts. I have a Radeon 5850 which does about all that I want


If it does all that you want, wait a bit. ATI's next generation of cards is supposed to be out close to the end of this year, according to current reports. I think it's worth waiting to see what they bring to the table, even though I like the current 68xx/69xx cards.
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