With the release of the Radeon HD 6970 AMD put a really competitive product onto the market, and it surely took a while before we started seeing customized edition of the card. it's good to see that HIS is addressing that market as well but it seems that overall there's little benefit over a reference product. The looks of the new cooler are simply below par unless you put some UV lights on them, I mean that looks like a cooler that could have been designed like 5 years ago. Now if the cooler would be performing excruciating good then I and a lot of you guys could life with it as not everybody uses an open chassis where you can look into, at the computer components. So aesthetics do not matter to all of us, but this design would surely prevent me from buying the card alright.
The cooling performance itself is slightly better over the reference products but nothing ground breaking there either. In IDLE the product is downright silent, a huge plus. But once that GPU starts heating up during heavy gaming, albeit soft, you will be able to hear it. Nothing annoying, but again yeah... I've seen (well heard) more quiet aftermarket cooling solutions.
Now make no mistake, overall this is just a great card, but when you need to compare it to offerings from say ASUS, Gigabyte and MSI... well then your choice will be made fast and harsh we assume.
The cooler is UV reactive
We also do have to say this though, the R6970 remains what it is, it's a really fun product but sure, does lack here and there in performance compared to the GTX 580 for example, Most of it is due to the updated micro architecture of the GPU. Anyway, overclock it a little more and you can squeeze another 5 to 10% performance out of a product that already offers real nice performance. Of course, being all reference you could try and voltage tweak the product as well, then topping 1 GHz should be very possible.
Connectivity wise the two DP connectors, HDMI and the two DVI connectors are nearly a little silly, in a good way of course. It could even suffice for a nice Eyefinity setup, though you'd need to pursue the CrossfireX alternative real fast for performance there.
So overall the noise levels are okay, power consumption is very decent and your gaming experience will run up-to 1920x1200 extremely well and all that with the very best image quality settings. Pretty much any game to date will have no issue whatsoever. The one boggle will obviously remain its looks, some will be bothered, others do not care -- of course.
The factory overclock is too small to call it even an overclock, you'll get 20 Mhz more out of the core. Its one of these products that would be an absolute shame not to pre-overclock higher.
Anyway, overall the product definitely can be recommended, but I guess expectations where higher for me. It would be good for HIS to have a steep chat with the design team, drop the baby blue PCB color, go with a black PCB... use a more funky dark but effective cooler on there, simplify the branding, nothing screaming with logo's. In short, the card needs to become more competitive compared to the competition. But that doesn't mean that the product as tested today isn't an excellent card you play your games on.
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