Graphics Cards Guide
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Power to the Overclockers
With its higher clock speeds, the MSI R6950 Twin Frozr III Power Edition was appreciably quicker than a reference Radeon HD 6950 by about 5% overall. As far as customized, factory overclocked cards go, a 5% improvement in performance is certainly decent, but nothing wholly outstanding nor amazing. However, the custom Twin Frozr III cooler is pretty effective, keeping the card operating at a cool 61 degrees Celsius, which marks an improvement of 13 degrees Celsius when compared to a reference card.
MSI has positioned the R6950 Twin Frozr III Power Edition as a card for enthusiasts who are keen on overclocking, and in that aspect it does reasonably well. With the Military Class II suite of components and the efficient Twin Frozr III cooler, the MSI R6950 Twin Frozr III Power Edition managed to run stably at a maximum overclocking state of 960MHz at the core and 5600MHz DDR at the memory. It falls short of the magic 1GHz mark, but in real world gaming situations, these boosted clock speeds translated to a 6% to 10% increase in performance, which is quite substantial. In fact, in its overclocked state, it was able to outperform the more powerful and costly Radeon HD 6970.
These clock speeds were achieved using the standard Twin Frozr III cooler that came with the card. We even set the fan speed to “auto” to prevent it from spinning wildly and causing a ruckus. That said, it is likely that the card could run at even higher clock speeds if we had a better cooling setup. Hence, those who are willing to sacrifice tranquility for performance can always opt to have the fans set at a higher speed, likewise, those with more elaborate and aggressive cooling setups can always attempt higher clock speeds for a bigger performance boost.
As you would expect of a card of this calibre, the MSI R6950 Twin Frozr III Power Edition costs appreciably more than most other Radeon HD 6950 cards. With a recommended retail price of US$338, this MSI card costs about US$20 more than most other Radeon HD 6950 cards, which we think is a little pricey, but overall still mostly justifiable given its improved performance and extensive features. That said, this card is ultimately meant for enthusiasts who have the knowledge and tools to really push the card to its limits.
So as a customized and factory overclocked Radeon HD 6950 card, the MSI R6950 Twin Frozr III Power Edition is certainly decent and commendable. However, if you look at the bigger picture, you would find that factory overclocked GeForce GTX 560 Ti cards could be had for much lesser at around US$270. These cards might only have half the framebuffer of this MSI card, but for most people it'll suffice. And that is what's holding us back from giving this card our full and wholehearted recommendation. NVIDIA has really got their act together in recent times and are coming up with really competitive alternatives. Get this if you really need the features that only a Radeon HD 6950 can offer you, but if you want real bang for buck, there are other alternatives to consider.
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