AMD Radeon HD 6950 1GB Review

Author: SKYMTL
Date: January 24, 2011
Product Name: AMD HD 6950 1GB
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It isnít often that we get two cards competing cards launching on the same day but thatís exactly what we have here today. On one hand NVIDIA is showcasing the GTX 560 Ti; a card that brings high performance at a mid-range price. Meanwhile, AMD needed to respond and thatís exactly what they did with the Radeon HD 6950 1GB. We talked about this spin-off of the $300 2GB version in our original Cayman launch article and the results are exactly what we were hoping for: comparable performance to the enthusiast level HD 6950 2GB at a lower price point. What more could anyone ask for?

Even though the choice between the HD 6950 1GB and GTX 560 Ti will likely come down to personal preference, AMDís new card displays both strengths and weaknesses. At 1920 and 1680 even a slight price premium over its NVIDIA counterpart is simply too much since performance stays neck and neck through every test. Overall power consumption and noise levels are also two areas where the HD 6950 1GB loses out as it seems like removing 1GB of memory had very little impact upon overall efficiency. Also, donít expect it to reach the absolutely stratospheric overclocks most will be able to attain with the GTX 560.

On the positive side of things, regardless of the similarities in framebuffer size, the HD 6950 1GB has more top-end power than the GTX 560 Ti which allows it to take a commanding lead at extremely high resolutions and image quality settings. Some will correctly argue that sub-$300 graphics cards wonít be used for these types of scenarios but the benefits of AMDís huge memory bandwidth are undeniable.

Ironically, AMD and their board partners may be a victim of their own success when looking at the current lineup and the comparative performance between certain cards. From what we can tell the two HD 6950 cardsí in-game framerates are far too close to one another to justify a $30 price difference. This situation will likely lead to a complete destruction of HD 6950 2GB sales over the coming months unless some drastic cost cutting is done.

To be honest with you, we were ready to lash out at AMD of paper launching a card with limited to no availability but our tune changed shortly before this review went live. After reaching out to board partners, it seems like many will have cards on store shelves within the next two weeks. Others are naturally afraid of cutting the heart out of their HD 6950 2GB sales and are waiting until after the Chinese New Year to begin introducing their own 1GB products. So instead of tearing AMD a new one, weíre going to give them some major kudos for reacting so quickly to the GTX 560 Ti with a great looking alternative.

For the market it competes in, the HD 6950 1GB is priced to move and performs extremely well. It does have its fair share of negative points but we have to remember that AMDís aim for this card was to provide an alternative to the reference GTX 560 Ti. And in our opinion they succeeded beyond most peopleís expectations.


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