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MSI Radeon HD 6950 1GB Twin Frozr III Power Edition OC Review

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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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.

HD6950-TWIN-59.jpg

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.

HD6950-TWIN-1.jpg

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.

HD6950-TWIN-5.jpg

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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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
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Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
Test System & Benchmark Sequences

Main Test System

Processor: Intel Core i7 920(ES) @ 4.0Ghz (Turbo Mode Enabled)
Memory: Corsair 3x2GB Dominator DDR3 1600Mhz
Motherboard: Gigabyte EX58-UD5
Cooling: CoolIT Boreas mTEC + Scythe Fan Controller
Disk Drive: Pioneer DVD Writer
Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB
Power Supply: Corsair AX1200
Monitor: Samsung 305T
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate N x64 SP1


Drivers:

AMD 11.12 WHQL + 11.12 CAP1
NVIDIA 285.62 WHQL

Application Benchmark Information:
Note: In all instances, in-game sequences were used. The videos of the benchmark sequences have been uploaded below.


Battlefield 3

<object width="640" height="480"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/i6ncTGlBoAw?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/i6ncTGlBoAw?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="640" height="480" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>​

Crysis 2

<object width="560" height="315"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/Bc7_IAKmAsQ?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/Bc7_IAKmAsQ?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560" height="315" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>​


Deus Ex Human Revolution

<object width="560" height="315"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/GixMX3nK9l8?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/GixMX3nK9l8?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560" height="315" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>​


Dirt 3

<object width="560" height="315"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/g5FaVwmLzUw?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/g5FaVwmLzUw?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560" height="315" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>​


Metro 2033

<object width="480" height="360"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/8aZA5f8l-9E?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/8aZA5f8l-9E?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="480" height="360" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>​


Shogun 2: Total War

<object width="560" height="315"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/oDp29bJPCBQ?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/oDp29bJPCBQ?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560" height="315" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>​


Witcher 2 v2.0

<object width="560" height="315"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/tyCIuFtlSJU?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/tyCIuFtlSJU?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560" height="315" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>​


*Notes:

- All games tested have been patched to their latest version

- The OS has had all the latest hotfixes and updates installed

- All scores you see are the averages after 3 benchmark runs

All IQ settings were adjusted in-game and all GPU control panels were set to use application settings
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Joined
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Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
3DMark 11 (DX11)

3DMark 11 (DX11)


3DMark 11 is the latest in a long line of synthetic benchmarking programs from the Futuremark Corporation. This is their first foray into the DX11 rendering field and the result is a program that incorporates all of the latest techniques into a stunning display of imagery. Tessellation, depth of field, HDR, OpenCL physics and many others are on display here. In the benchmarks below we have included the results (at default settings) for both the Performance and Extreme presets.

Performance Preset

HD6950-TWIN-30.jpg


Extreme Preset

HD6950-TWIN-31.jpg
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
Battlefield 3 (DX11)

Battlefield 3 (DX11)


For this benchmark, we used a sequence from the Rock and Hard Place mission. The results may seem lower than normal and this is due to the fact that after playing through the game multiple times, this one are was found to be the most demanding on the GPU. As with all of the tests, we try to find a worst case scenario in order to ensure a given card can properly play through the whole game instead of just a “typical” section.

1680 x 1050

HD6950-TWIN-32.jpg


HD6950-TWIN-33.jpg


1920 x 1200

HD6950-TWIN-34.jpg


HD6950-TWIN-35.jpg
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
Crysis 2 (DX11)

Crysis 2 (DX11)


Crysis 2 with the DX11 and Texture Package installed not only looks great but it is a strain on any GPU. For this benchmark, we used a classic runthrough which includes far views, explosions, combat and close-in knifing; basically every hallmark of gameplay.

1680 x 1050

HD6950-TWIN-36.jpg


1920 x 1200

HD6950-TWIN-37.jpg
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
Deus Ex: Human Revolution (DX11)

Deus Ex: Human Revolution


Deus Ex: Human Revolution may not be the hardest game for today’s high end gaming rigs to render. While the game mostly takes place indoors, it is the few outdoor areas that put additional strain on graphics cards. So for this test, we use one of the more involved outdoor sections: the Sharif Manufacturing Loading Docks.

1680 x 1050

HD6950-TWIN-39.jpg


HD6950-TWIN-40.jpg


1920 x 1200

HD6950-TWIN-41.jpg


HD6950-TWIN-42.jpg
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
Dirt 3 (DX11)

Dirt 3 (DX11)


Dirt 3 isn’t all that much different from its predecessor but the developers have added a few more visual touches but boost image quality. In this case, we used the Michigan Rally track since it features some of the hardest to render features of the game: expansive vistas, water, dirt effects, trees and many other items.

1680 x 1050

HD6950-TWIN-43.jpg


HD6950-TWIN-44.jpg


1920 x 1200

HD6950-TWIN-45.jpg


HD6950-TWIN-46.jpg
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
Metro 2033 (DX11)

Metro 2033 (DX11)


For this test we use a walkthrough and combat scene from The Bridge level which starts at the beginning of the level and lasts for about 3 minutes of walking, running and combat. Famerates are measured with FRAPS and Advanced PhysX is turned off.

1680 x 1050

HD6950-TWIN-47.jpg


1920 x 1200

HD6950-TWIN-48.jpg
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
Shogun 2: Total War (DX11)

Shogun 2: Total War (DX11)


Due to its very nature, Shogun 2 is a tough game to benchamark since the in-game tool doesn’t accurately convey an in-game experience. So we took a pre-recorded battle which pits three large armies against one another and includes camera zooms, fog, gun smoke and other items. Using a pre-recorded sequence also effectively removes the CPU from the equation since it doesn’t have to process AI.

1680 x 1050

HD6950-TWIN-49.jpg


HD6950-TWIN-50.jpg


1920 x 1200

HD6950-TWIN-51.jpg


HD6950-TWIN-52.jpg
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
The Witcher 2 (DX9)

The Witcher 2 (DX9)


The Witcher 2 may be a DX9 based game but its graphics quality is beyond reproach. In this benchmark we take an area out of The Kayran mission and include one of the toughest effects the graphics engine has in store for the GPU: rain. Throughout this sequence, rain plays a large part but explosions, combat and even some sun shafts are included as well.

1680 x 1050

HD6950-TWIN-53.jpg


HD6950-TWIN-54.jpg


1920 x 1200

HD6950-TWIN-55.jpg


HD6950-TWIN-56.jpg
 
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