These scores indicate that the Radeon HD 6970 will handle any game you care to throw at it, but the situation is less clear-cut when you consider Nvidia’s cards. The GTX 580 retains its crown as the fastest single-GPU product on the market, but it’s the GTX 570 that AMD should be worrying about. Nvidia’s card is around the same price as the HD 6970 and almost as impressive in our tests, running only 2fps slower than the HD 6970 in our 1,920 x 1,080 Very High quality test with 4x anti-aliasing activated.
For our secondary gaming test, we’re moving to Just Cause 2 as of this month – a keen test for any graphics card thanks to its detailed environments, complex lighting effects and long draw distances. The Radeon HD 6970 motored through its Very High quality tests (run at 1,920 x 1,080 and with 8x anti-aliasing) at 37fps, but again the GTX 570 was better, romping through the same tests with an average of 63fps.
Elsewhere, AMD has introduced a vapour chamber cooler in the Radeon HD 6970, aping Nvidia’s GTX cards. It works by circulating liquid around the chip to transfer heat away from the surface, and makes the HD 6970 a very large card indeed. At 274mm in length, it’s a shade longer than the GTX 580, and requires both eight- and six-pin power plugs.
Unfortunately, AMD’s vapour chamber isn’t as efficient as Nvidia’s. An idle temperature of 57˚C is fine, but the HD 6970 rocketed to 92˚C during our stress tests – 8˚C hotter than the GTX 570. It’s power intensive, too: our test rig drew 377W with the card under stress; with the GTX 570 it drew 283W; and with the GTX 580 in situ it pulled a total of 292W. It's also loud, especially during more intensive benchmarks.
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