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PowerColor HD6870 PCS+: PCB Design and Specifications

The box with the PowerColor card is compact and upright. This shape may make it easier to carry for some people. It is designed like this:

As you can see, the box design is quite conventional and not very informative. The clock rates of the graphics card are not indicated on the box but you can learn the amount and type of its graphics memory there.

The interior of the box is simple, too. The cardboard tray is not much of protection. Besides the graphics card in an antistatic pack, the box contains the following accessories:

  • DVI-I → D-Sub adapter;
  • Mini DisplayPort → DisplayPort adapter;
  • CrossFire bridge;
  • User manual;
  • CD disk with drivers and utilities.

The accessories are scanty. We expected to see at least a passive DisplayPort->DVI-D adapter but none can be found inside. On the other hand, the card is equipped with two native DVI connectors. Considering that PowerColor positions it as an affordable product, the scanty accessories can be explained by the manufacturer’s desire to keep the product price low.

The card has a red PCB, which is the color traditionally associated with ATI Technologies and AMD. It is eye-catching and easily recognizable as the result:

As usual, the most interesting things are hidden below the cooling system. It is easy to remove the latter. We only had to unfasten the four spring-loaded screws on the reverse side of the PCB.

Curiously, the PCB design copies the reference one developed by AMD except that a red solder mask is used instead of a dark-gray one. So, there is no point in our describing its details to you because we already did that in our ATI Radeon HD 6800: Generation Next review.

Like on the reference card from AMD, the 4+2 power circuit is based on CHiL Semiconductor CHL8214 and uPI Semiconductor uP6122 controllers. There are two 6-pin PCIe 1.0 power connectors.

The PowerColor HD6870 PCS+ is equipped with GDDR5 chips from Hynix Semiconductor (H5GQ1H24AFR). Each chip is 1 gigabit (32 Mb x 32) in capacity and the suffix T2C denotes a rated frequency of 1250 (5000) MHz. The card's actual memory frequency is 1100 (4400) MHz which is but slightly above the reference card's 1050 (4200) MHz. We can’t expect this to ensure a significant increase in graphics memory bandwidth.

The GPU chip was manufactured on the 43rd week of the last year. Being a regular Barts, it contains 1120 ALUs grouped into 224 stream processors with VLIW5 architecture. It also features 56 texture-mapping units and 32 raster back-ends. The factory overclocking of this card is somewhat more aggressive than that of the ASUS HD 6870 DirectCU. The GPU clock rate is 940 MHz in 3D mode as opposed to the reference card’s 900 MHz. This can be expected to add noticeably to the card’s performance in real-life applications.

PowerColor preferring the reference PCB design, the HD6870 PCS+ also has a standard configuration of interface connectors. You can see two DVI-I ports, one HDMI and two mini-DisplayPorts on its mounting bracket. You can use all five simultaneously or even take a DP 1.2 switch and connect as many as six displays, if you’ve got that many. There is also a CrossFire connector on the PCB for building multi-GPU configurations out of two such cards.

The cooling system of the HD6870 PCS+ looks highly promising at first sight. It features a large 92mm fan and a massive heatsink with three heat pipes.

The pipes are connected to the copper base. Judging by the thermal grease imprint, the spring-loaded screws ensure high pressure, so the performance of the cooler will depend on how efficiently the pipes can transfer heat between the GPU and heatsink. Additionally, the cooling system includes a small heatsink on the power packs of the GPU voltage regulator. It gets some air flow from the cooler’s fan. Let’s see now how this cooler performs in comparison with the cooling system deployed on the MSI R6870 Hawk.

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