ConclusionThe performance of the HD 6950 is well known, and with the latest Catalyst 11.4 preview drivers it nearly matches the overall performance of the older (but still quite powerful) GTX 480 from NVIDIA. For comparison’s sake, the GTX 570 is about the same speed as the GTX 480, but features a nice decrease in operating temperature and power consumption.
The back is not terribly exciting, as there are no real components installed here. All 2GB of memory are located on the other side.
MSI’s Twin Frozr II version takes the reference design and brings it up a notch. The extra cooling and decreased fan noise is sure to please a lot of users out there, and it certainly impressed me. It is unfortunate that MSI decided to forego the BIOS switch, as it would have made the card much more interesting to users who are willing to spend the extra money and potentially mod this card into something more powerful.
MSI did hit their goals of producing a slightly faster card with outstanding cooling. But unfortunately, cooling might not be enough for quite a few users looking to invest in a HD 6950. Now that reference designs are hitting the $250 to $260 price point, the MSI TFII edition at $294 AFTER rebate may not be as desirable. Overclocking was decidedly average, with other HD 6950s showing speeds upwards of 950 MHz. The extra cooling did not provide a huge amount of help here, but the card always stayed pretty quiet and the GPU never got above 75C.
The HD 6950, though in the same performance class as the older HD 5870, is a shorter and more compact card.
Personally I like the card. I was disappointed I could not mod it successfully to a HD 6970, but even in stock form the card is not slow. I am doing some “long term” testing on this particular model in my main machine, clocked at a much more mundane 900 MHz core and 1350 MHz memory. This has provided a nice performance boost, all the while producing less sound than the more aggressive overclock I did while testing. So far the card has worked flawlessly at this speed, and it has handled every application I have thrown at it with aplomb.
Haha, the HD 6950 wins by one port!
This card is not for everyone. It is more expensive than a reference design, and it can’t be unlocked to a HD 6970 easily. But it is well built, it is very quiet, and it keeps the GPU very cool. For some, those facts are worth the price premium of this particular card. Then again, Asus has their triple slot Direct CU II based HD 6950 for $324. When viewed in that light, the MSI version is a bargain. Currently there is an instant $20 rebate taking it from $309.99 to $289.99. If a user is willing to wait, MSI is offering an extra $15 rebate, which brings the price down to $274.99. Now that is certainly more palatable than the MSRP. If the price stays around this level, then it certainly is deserving of a long look by most consumers.
MSI HD 6950 Twin Frozr II OC