Test Setup and Results: The 3D Marks
Test Setup

Going a bit off the beaten path, I have chosen an AMD machine to test the graphics capabilities of this card.  The AMD Phenom II X6 1100T is still a pretty hefty processor, and it provides a glimpse of overall performance of 3D games on the AMD platform.

MSI HD 6950 Twin Frozr II Review:  Cool, Quiet, and somewhat Beastly - Graphics Cards  1

2 x 6 pin PCI-E power plugs round out the design.  The HD 6950 is still under the 225 watt limit for this particular configuration.

AMD Phenom II X6 1100 T (3.3 GHz/3.7 GHz)
Asus Crosshair IV Extreme 890FX Motherboard
OCZ DDR-3 1600 Platinum 2 x 2GB DIMMS @ 1333 MHz 7.7.7.21 timings
Antec HCP 1200 Power Supply
WD Caviar Black 1 TB SATA 6G 7200 RPM Drive
Lite-On 4X BD Reader
Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
AMD Catalyst 11.4 Preview Drivers
NVIDIA 266.58 Drivers

Results

I added a few extra benchmarks from my usual routine, but still have kept some of the old standards.  I have not upgraded to F1 2010 for the racing sim, as I think DiRT 2 still offers a better overall look.  I believe this will be the last review I ever use Fallout 3 on, as we have exhausted the scaling of this particular game with the latest top end graphics cards.

The standard benchmarks were run on automatic mode, while most of the other games were manual run-throughs using FRAPS to record average framerate.

3D Mark 2011

Fresh off the presses, this new standard benchmark does impress with full DX11 visuals and a robust GPU physics implementation.  We are still getting used to the results, but so far it seems to scale nicely with the different levels of cards that we test.  The 720p Performance setting was used for all cards.

MSI HD 6950 Twin Frozr II Review:  Cool, Quiet, and somewhat Beastly - Graphics Cards  2

MSI HD 6950 Twin Frozr II Review:  Cool, Quiet, and somewhat Beastly - Graphics Cards  3

MSI HD 6950 Twin Frozr II Review:  Cool, Quiet, and somewhat Beastly - Graphics Cards  4

The HD 6950 is consistently faster than the older HD 5870, but the GTX 480 just barely edges out the 6950.  This is good news for AMD, as the GTX 480 is right around the same performance area as the new GTX 570.

3D Mark Vantage

The default DX10 benchmark still scales nicely after all these years, and should show us the theoretical performance of modern cards.  Driver developers have had plenty of time to optimize for this benchmark, so we should see a fairly level playing field between the two different sides.  The Performance preset was used for all cards.

MSI HD 6950 Twin Frozr II Review:  Cool, Quiet, and somewhat Beastly - Graphics Cards  5

MSI HD 6950 Twin Frozr II Review:  Cool, Quiet, and somewhat Beastly - Graphics Cards  6

MSI HD 6950 Twin Frozr II Review:  Cool, Quiet, and somewhat Beastly - Graphics Cards  7

MSI HD 6950 Twin Frozr II Review:  Cool, Quiet, and somewhat Beastly - Graphics Cards  8

The PPU performance of the GTX 480 is courtesy of the PhysX implementation inside 3DMV.  Once we step away from that particular result, we see that the HD 5870 just edges out the 6950, while the GTX 480 is again consistently faster than either of the AMD cards being used.

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