When AMD's Radeon HD 6870 landed back in August, we weren't overly impressed with its performance for the price.
Sandwiched between Nvidia's extraordinarily wallet-friendly GTX 460 cards and its more powerful predecessor, the HD 5870, our advice was to ignore the relatively minor changes in the core architecture that the HD 6870 introduced over older cards and hang on to see what the new Cayman GPU brings later in 2011.
That advice doesn't change.
If you thought a clock speed increase of just over two per cent wouldn't make much difference to a card which already appears more limited by a reduction in the number of processing cores and texture units over the previous generation than by hertz alone, you'd be right.
At the resolutions we'd expect it to be used at – 1920 x 1080 with 4xAA – the difference is minimal.
The new heatsink is quiet and allowed us to overclock as far as 950MHz, but if you really want to manually tweak things further you'll be looking for something like the Asus HD 6870 OC edition, which offers much more control over BIOS voltages.
The real problem, though, is that since the launch of the HD6870, prices for everything have dropped through the floor.
Both the Nvidia GeForce GTX 470 and the Radeon HD 5870 are faster chips than any amount of overclocking will make the HD 6870, and they can both be found for less than £200.
If you must upgrade now, grab one of those. Otherwise save your pennies and see what Cayman brings at marginally higher price points instead.
A small overclock to the core speed and the support for HDMI 1.4 and 3D goodness, plus a decent amount of headroom for pushing the card further.
Not enough of a default tweak to make much difference at the kinds of resolutions you'll use it with. The biggest problem, however, is that falling prices of Nvidia GTX 470s and Radeon HD5870s mean you can get an awful lot more performance for substantially less cash.
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