PowerColor HD 6870 PCS++ 1 GB 19

PowerColor HD 6870 PCS++ 1 GB Review

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Value and Conclusion

  • According to PowerColor, their HD 6870 PCS++ will retail for around $230.
  • Large overclock out of the box
  • Extremely quiet in idle
  • Almost as fast as HD 6950
  • Volterra voltage regulator for software voltage control
  • Native full-size HDMI output
  • Two CrossFire fingers
  • Up to four active displays
  • Support for DirectX 11
  • Fan could be quieter under load
  • High power draw in Blu-ray playback
  • DirectX 11 relevance limited at this time
  • No support for CUDA / PhysX
PowerColor went all out when designing their HD 6870 PCS++. The card comes at blazing clock speeds of 975 MHz core / 1150 MHz memory, which are the highest available on any retail HD 6870 product at the moment. This clock increase helped the card gain 11% over the reference design HD 6870, which makes it as fast as NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 560 Ti. PowerColor has not only done well with their clock choice but their selection of components is also worth mentioning. First we see memory chips made by Elpida, not the usual Samsung or Hynix. Overclocking-wise these chips deliver similar results as other GDDR5 chips - a bit above 1200 MHz. Personally I was positively surprised to see the long-lost Volterra VT1165 voltage controller on this card. It was used on ATI's dual GPU cards from HD 3870 X2 to HD 5970 and offers outstanding voltage control and monitoring features - better than many controllers today. Overclocking on our card was quite limited which can be attributed to the high out of the box overclock PowerColor is using on their card. Even though they increased 3D voltage a bit, which helps with clocks, power consumption is not significantly higher, possibly also thanks to the Volterra voltage regulation circuitry. Fan noise in idle is very very low, leading the top of our charts. During gaming the fan ramps up to be quite pronouced but the levels are still bearable.
The most important selling points in this $250 segment are price and price/performance. PowerColor's HD 6870 PCS++ does very well here. It costs a bit more than a reference design HD 6870, yet offers proportionally more performance than that. When compared to NVIDIA's GTX 560 Ti, which is king in this segment, the card is about the same performance but costs $20 less. On the other hand GTX 560 Ti has more overclocking potential and comes with CUDA and PhysX. Feature-wise HD 6870 can trump GTX 560 Ti with its better display connectivity and lower power consumption - at the end of the day it comes down to your priorities, but it's not only GTX 560 anymore.
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