AMD’s Radeon HD 6950 is based on the same Cayman architecture as the Radeon HD 6970, and the cards are physically identical. The 6950 runs at lower clock speeds and only uses 1408 of the 1535 available cores. Early versions of the cards could be upgraded to a 6970 by flashing the BIOS but unfortunately, this has since been disabled by AMD.
It runs at 800MHz, while its memory runs at 1250MHz (5GHz effective). Sapphire has not factory-overclocked its Radeon HD 6950 Flex, but has built additional electronics onto the card for three-way Eyefinity, out of the box.
Eyefinity allows you to connect multiple monitors to your PC and run games over multiple displays, for extra-wide gaming, but normally you’d need to buy extra adaptors for it to work. This card can use Eyefinity with the two DVI connectors and the HDMI connector, with a supplied adaptor. Although gaming on a huge monitor is fun, and Sapphire’s effort to simplify this is to be applauded, few gamers may have enough displays to take advantage of it.
Sapphire’s variant of the Radeon HD6950 has 2GB of memory, but there are versions to be found with only 1GB. Its 256-bit memory interface is less than nVidia’s offerings, but its high memory frequency enables it to deliver 160GB/sec of memory bandwidth.
In our tests it performed brilliantly, nudging slightly in front of the similarly priced GeForce GTX 560 TI in everything. It achieved 102fps in Battlefield: Bad Company 2 at 1280 x 1024, and 77fps at 1920 x 1080. Likewise, in Stalker, it averaged 60.6fps at 1920 x 1080, roughly a 5 per cent improvement over the GTX 560 TI. In Crysis, we even found it snapped at the heels of the more expensive GeForce GTX 570, managing 55.9fps at 1280 x 1024 and 37.4fps at 1920 x 1080.