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AMD Radeon HD 6950 1GB review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £179
inc VAT

Fast, good-value and overclockable - this is the best card to buy for under £200.

There’s a war going on in the world of mid-range graphics cards, and every month claims a new victim. March had the AMD Radeon HD 6950, which won a Best Buy, followed by the Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 Ti, which was slightly cheaper and faster if you were prepared to overclock it.

AMD Radeon HD 6950 1GB

This month sees AMD’s response – a slightly cut-down HD 6950 with 1GB instead of 2GB RAM, for around £40 less than the 2GB version. It’s also around the same price as the GTX 560 Ti.

The card is identical to the 2GB HD 6950 in every other way. It has the same 800 MHz core clock speed, 1,408 stream processors and its memory runs at 1,250MHz – it just has half the memory modules. Like the original HD 6950, it destroyed our Call of Duty 4 test, managing 89.6fps at 1,680×1,050 and 4x anti-aliasing and 87.8fps at 1,920×1,080. We were more interested in our Crysis benchmark. At our standard High settings it managed 67fps at 1,680×1,050 and 59.8fps at 1,920×1,080 – identical to the 2GB HD 6950, within statistical variation.

Crysis’ Very High settings take up more texture memory than the High settings, so we were expecting to see a difference, but again the card managed a very playable 38fps – to all intents and purposes identical to the 2GB version’s 37.72fps. Crysis doesn’t seem to need more than 1GB of graphics memory for textures, even at maximum settings. The only real difference we saw was in 3DMark 11, where the 2GB 6950’s 1,633 was very slightly ahead of the 1GB card’s 1,612.

This is such a tiny difference that we still consider the cards neck and neck. The only reason to buy the 2GB card is to future-proof yourself against future, more graphics memory-intensive titles, such as Crysis 2, due for release just as we went to print. Despite this, there’s still Nvidia’s rival Radeon 560 Ti to consider. This is easy to overclock, and boosting its core speed from the stock 820MHz to 950MHz gives it similar performance to the 6950. However, AMD’s card is also easy to overclock – we had no problems boosting the core from 800 to 840MHz and memory from 1,250 to 1,325MHz. This added a few FPS to each of our benchmarks to make the card comfortably faster than its Nvidia rival.

AMD Radeon HD 6950 1GB ports

Based on its performance in current games, the 1GB Radeon HD 6950 is the best-value graphics card there is. Until we’ve benchmarked both cards with Crysis 2 we can’t think of a reason to buy the 2GB version – our conclusions of that test will be published here in a couple of weeks.

Basic Specifications

Price £179
Rating *****
Award Best Buy
Interface PCI Express x16 2.1
Crossfire/SLI CrossFireX
Slots taken up 2
Brand AMD
Graphics Processor AMD Radeon HD 6950
Memory 1,024MB GDDR5
Memory interface 256-bit
GPU clock speed 800MHz
Memory speed 1.25GHz
Card length 275mm


Architecture 1,408 stream processors
Anti aliasing 24x
Anisotropic filtering 16x


DVI outputs 2
VGA outputs 0
S-video output no
S-Video input no
Composite outputs no
Composite inputs no
Component outputs no
HDMI outputs 1
Power leads required 2x 6-pin PCI Express


Accessories none
Software included none

Benchmark Results

Call of Duty 4 1680 4xAA 89.6fps
Call of Duty 4 1440 4xAA 89.3fps
Crysis 1680 High 4xAA 67.0fps
Crysis 1440 High 4xAA 85.1fps

Buying Information

Warranty one-year RTB
Price £179

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