MSI Radeon HD 6950 1GB Twin Frozr III Power Edition OC Review
MSI has put a serious amount of effort into increasing their exposure within the gaming community. Their Z68 motherboards were among the first to include support for PCI-E 3.0, the GTX 580 Lightning and follow up Lightning Extreme Edition were two of the most impressive cards we reviewed all year and their notebooks continue to offer excellent performance in an appealing package. But most important of all, the prices for most of their products have continually undercut those of the competition without sacrificing quality.
The most recent graphics card in their quickly expanding stable doesn’t aim for the headlines but continues a tradition of offering excellent performance at a reasonable cost. Their HD 6950 Twin Frozr III 1G/OC (yes, it’s a mouthful) only goes for around $260 but should be able to play almost any game on the market at high detail settings and mid to high resolutions. You may remember the HD 6950 1GB as being one of our all time favorite budget friendly gaming cards and MSI seems to have made it all that much better by adding their highly regarded Twin Frozr III heatsink and a healthy dose of overclocking.
The specifications on this card make it absolutely identical to the HD 6950 2GB OC with the difference being each card’s respective memory allotment. Both the memory and core are overclocked by reasonable amounts but don’t expect to notice too much of a difference in game since that would take some much higher clock speeds. However, one of the most important aspects of MSI graphics cards for us Canadians has remained intact: any RMAs throughout this card’s 3 year warranty can be shipped to a Canada-based facility which minimizes downtime while eliminating cross border shipping hassles.
MSI hasn’t really gone a different route for this card; their distinctive, twin fan Twin Frozr III heatsink has been installed while the PCB itself retains the HD 6950’s reference length of 9.5”. However, due to the cooler’s size, it does stick out over the PCB’s edge, making this particular card 10.75” long but still short enough to fit into every modern ATX enclosure.
Some may consider the Twin Frozr III heatsink to be slightly overkill for AMD’s HD 6950 core but with five large heatpipes and a large internal fin array, it should benefit this card in a number of ways. First and foremost, lower temperatures can contribute to higher efficiency due to less transistor power being wasted as heat. In addition, large fans can move more air at reduced RPMs so acoustics should be vastly improved over the reference design as well.
Due to the weight of the Twin Frozr III cooler and its relatively small footprint, MSI has added an aluminum stiffener along the Power Edition’s leading edge in order to reduce PCB flex. But aside from the higher clock speeds and custom heatsink, MSI has foregone several features seen on their Hawk and Lightning editions (like voltage read points and dual BIOS chips) in order to hit a lower price point. It does however include an expanded 6+2 PWM and a P / S switch for power & silent cooling modes.
MSI has decided to retain the generous reference display connector layout for the Power Edition. It includes two mini DisplayPort connectors, a single HDMI 1.4a output and a pair of DVI connectors.
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