We have finally reached the previous generation’s high end product for AMD and Asus.  The EAH6970 is again a triple slot unit with extreme cooling and a non-reference board design.  It is based on the fully functional Cayman chip which features a total of 1536 stream processors (again down from the HD 5870’s 1600 units), 96 texture units, and 32 ROPS.  The 2 GB of GDDR-5 memory runs at a blistering 1375 MHz (5500 MHz effective) giving a total of 176 GB/sec of bandwidth.

Note the power adapter.  This is a 2 x 6 pin to 8 pin unit.  Serious business.

The power regulation is slightly more beefy than on the 6950 version.  It has 2 x 8 pin PCI-E power connections for the maximum power draw of 300 watts.  Overclocking should be pretty productive on this particular card.  It shares the same 4 Display Port/2 DVI setup with the dual link/single link toggle on the board to enable/disable the 4th Display Port connector.  It again can drive up to 6 x 1920×1200 panels.  This design does not feature the Proadlyzer chip for power delivery (unlike the competing MSI R6970 Lightning).  The Proadlyzer chips are only used on the NVIDIA GTX 570/580 products from Asus, as their power draw is again significantly above that of the HD 6900 series.

The output plate is identical to the EAH6950.

The cooler on this product is different from the previous 6950 model.  It is comprised of 5 heatpipes going to two separate arrays of aluminum fins.  This provides more airflow over the entire board as compared to the EAH6950.  This should keep the memory and power regulation arrays a lot cooler, and hopefully allow for some extra headroom in overclocking.  The twin 80 mm fans are again PWM controlled and are pretty silent throughout most operations.  Only when the card was at full load did I start to hear the fans crank up a bit.  When overclocking the fans became quite noticeable, but they did not have an annoying whine that made it uncomfortable to be in the same room as.

The shroud and heatsinks for this card are slightly larger than the EAH6950 though.

This purchase might be a bit harder to rationalize in the face of the HD 7900 series of cards, as well as the upcoming HD 7800 series.  This does not necessarily mean that it is a bad product that has outlived its usefulness.  The ability to drive 6 monitors is pretty impressive, and the card in CrossFire can in fact run a lot of games in that particular configuration.  3 panel Eyefinity with these cards in CrossFire can run pretty much everything out there comfortably (except perhaps BF3 in Ultra mode).  In single card mode it can handle a lot of older applications in 3 monitor Eyefinity.  If a user can find these available and on sale, the card should last them a good, long time considering the performance.

Again, not much to see here.

The one big thing to remember about these triple slot cards, and using them in CrossFire, is to check the slot spacing on the motherboard that will be used.  Asus caters their latest motherboard designs to these particular cards and allows plenty of slots between to use up to three of the cards.  Of course, an appropriate case that can handle 9+ slots should only be used for triple CrossFire.  There are only a handful of cases out there, and they are expensive.  The card itself runs around $349 US online, but they are starting to get pretty scarce right now.

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