Articles: Graphics

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The Radeon R6970 Lightning is fitted with a Twin Frozr III cooler which is claimed to cool the GPU by 26°C more effectively and produce 12 dBA less noise in comparison with the reference Radeon HD 6970’s cooler. Being all nickel-plated, the Twin Frozr III is going to look cool for a very long time. It consists of a copper base, five heat pipes that go through that base (two of the pipes are 8 millimeters in diameter and three, 6 millimeters), and slim aluminum fins of the heatsink.

The contact between the details of the cooler is established through soldering although some fins are somewhat loose on the pipes. A steel plate with thermal pads serves to cool the power circuit components and memory chips.

The whole arrangement is cooled with two 92mm impellers secured in special frames with three screws.

The actual maker of the fans is Power Logic (it is the PLA09215B12H model with ball bearings).

The speed of the fans is PWM-controlled automatically within a range of 1000 to 3750 RPM. The fans’ startup voltage was measured to be 4.1 volts. Their peak power consumption was 9.7 watts.

To check out how hot the MSI Radeon R6970 Lightning (and the other cards in this review) is, we ran the benchmark from Aliens vs. Predator (2010) in five cycles with maximum graphics quality settings at 2560x1600 with 16x AF and 4x FSAA. There was also a second test: a Bitcoin-client poclbm-qui generating a high load comparable to that of the latest FurMark but having more practical value. MSI Afterburner 2.2.0 Beta 3 and GPU-Z version 0.5.3 were used as monitoring tools. These tests were carried out in a closed system case at an ambient temperature of 23°C.

First, let’s see how hot the MSI card is with its fans working in the automatic mode.

Aliens vs. Predator (2010)


When running a 3D game, the GPU got as hot as 68°C and the fan speed was increased to 2090 RPM. The GPU temperature only increased to 70°C in the Bitcoin mode but the fan speed was 2220 RPM then. It is clear that the MSI card with Twin Frozr III is colder than the reference Radeon HD 6970 which may have a GPU temperature up to 90°C and a fan speed up to 2400 RPM.

The graphics card is even colder at the maximum speed of its fans:

Aliens vs. Predator


Of course, 3700 RPM is far from comfortable, but we will return to the problem of noise later on. Right now let’s check out the overclocking potential of this graphics card.

Without increasing the GPU voltage, we managed to lift the GPU clock rate of our MSI Radeon R6970 Lightning up to 970 MHz. This is only 30 MHz above the card’s default clock rate but as much as 90 MHz higher than the GPU clock rate of the reference Radeon HD 6970. Setting the GPU voltage at 1.225 volts helped us increase the clock rate to 995 MHz but that’s hardly worth putting the card under such a stress. So, we preferred to leave the default GPU voltage and limit our overclocking to 970 MHz. The memory chips could be overclocked to 6000 MHz without losing anything in stability or image quality:

When overclocked, the card got 4°C hotter while running the 3D game: with its fans being controlled automatically, the GPU temperature was 72°C.

The speed of the fans increased but a little, to 2280 RPM. Thus, the MSI Radeon R6970 Lightning is much colder and quieter than the reference Radeon HD 6970 even when overclocked.

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