Vertex3D (VTX3D for short) is relatively new to the Australian market, but its roots stem from its sister company PowerColor under the TUL Corporation umbrella. TUL employs hundreds of people worldwide, with offices in China, Netherlands, Russia and USA to support over 300 channel partners and distributors in 50 plus countries, so it's no small company.
For the start of 2011 we've updated and tweaked our set of benchmarks as well as updated our rig with a new AMD Phenom II X6 Black 1100T processor and overclocked it to 4.0GHz. Nevertheless let's get onto the review and see how the HD 6970 compares to the older Radeon 5870, and how AMD's latest single-GPU card reacts with a bit of overclocking too!
VTX3D's Radeon HD 6970 measures in at approximately 279 millimetres in length (just under 11 inches) like a reference HD 6970, and requires a minimum of 550W or greater system power supply. Cooling is provided by a blower style fan in combination with a large vapour chamber explained in more detail later, all enclosed in a large housing to direct airflow for efficient heat transfer from the graphics processor core out the rear of the PC.
As with majority of new 6000-series of graphics cards it features support for AMD's Eyefinity multi-display technology, AMD Accelerated Parallel Processing (APP), HD3D technology, CrossFireX, PowerPlay power management technology and Microsoft DirectX 11 game support. It also supports UVD 3, a set of dedicated video playback accelerators and video quality enhancements, as well as Dual-stream HD (1080p) playback support. More information about these technologies can be found here (PDF).
In the box we find a simple set of accessories and documentation. The package includes one mini-DisplayPort to DisplayPort (full size) connector, CrossFireX bridge, DVI to VGA converter, 6-pin to 8-pin power converter, driver CD and installation manual.
VTX3D's Radeon HD 6970 conforms to the AMD reference design without any alterations to the display outputs on the back of the card. Two mini-DisplayPort, one HDMI and two DVI ports are featured by default. This configuration allows up to four monitors to be used when two DVI and two mini-DisplayPort connectors are utilised, without the need of a second graphics card.
On the top of the card you'll see a set of CrossFireX connectors. Unlike mainstream video cards such as the 6870 and 6850, the 6970 allows two, three and four-way CrossFireX with supporting motherboards, just like we find on AMD's reference design.
For those unfamiliar with these new cards, AMD have introduced a dual BIOS toggle switch near the CrossFireX connectors. This switch allows users to flash their cards with updated BIOS versions, or their own custom blends without the risk of bricking their video card. If there is an issue with the main BIOS, flicking the switch to the number 2 position enables the protected factory default BIOS to be enabled, booting your system as if nothing happened.
At the end of the card there are a pair of PCI-Express power connectors, one 6-pin and 8-pin, which is a standard offering for performance/enthusiast level of a video card.
Being the true successor to the previous Radeon 5870 and sporting a larger physical die size, AMD have moved to a large vapour chamber design compared to the 5870's quad heat pipe design. The use of vapour chambers has been implemented in a handful of previous AMD video cards over the years, but this seems to be the largest, thus making sure the card stays cool and quiet in a varying set of workloads.