Nvidia’s introduction of its new GF114-based graphics card didn’t shatter the market of performance-mainstream products priced at about $250, yet the GeForce GTX 560 Ti did provoke some inconveniences for AMD’s graphics department. The Radeon HD 6950, although competitive to Nvidia’s new card in sheer speed, cost $299 whereas the Radeon HD 6870, priced at the same level as the GeForce GTX 560 Ti, was inferior to the latter in performance. AMD must be given credit for producing a quick response, though. Two responses, actually. The company has dropped the price of the Radeon HD 6870 from $239 to $219 and has released a cheaper ($259) version of Radeon HD 6950. We are going to talk about this latter card in this review, so here are some more details about it.
The amount of memory that gaming graphics cards carry on board was growing up linearly along with the progress in consumer-oriented 3D technologies. At one time, this was a crucial parameter, and one of the most frequently asked questions went like “do I need more megabytes of graphics memory to have a faster frame rate?” Graphics cards progressed from 64 megabytes to 1 gigabyte with stops at 128, 256 and 512 megabytes. So, that’s where we are at now. 1 gigabyte of graphics memory is enough for 99 percent of applications and usage scenarios, especially as more and more gaming projects are developed for multiple platforms and thus have lower requirements regarding this parameter. There are exceptions, though. The senior models of the GeForce GTX 500 series come with more onboard memory due to their memory controller configurations that employ 320 and 384-bit memory buses.
However, AMD endowed its Radeon HD 6900 products with 2 gigabytes of graphics memory, making them more expensive to manufacture. As a result, the Radeon HD 6950 turned to be less competitive than it might be. Fortunately, the company realized its mistake quickly enough, so the new Radeon HD 6950 version priced at $259 comes with 1 gigabyte of memory, retaining the rest of the specs of its more expensive cousin.
We’ve got PowerColor's version of the new Radeon, so we can have a chance to check out if 2 gigabytes of graphics memory is redundant for a modern top-end graphics card.