Sapphire Radeon HD 6950 Dirt 3 Edition review

A quality HD 6950 graphics card with good overclocking capabilities

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Sapphire radeon hd 6950 dirt 3 edition

It's a mighty close thing, it has to be said, although if you were looking to this version to right the dubious wrongs of AMD limiting the previous shader-unlocking shenanigans then sadly you're barking up the wrong GPU.

It looks as though the shader count has been well and truly locked down. We tried multiple methods, bricking the odd Bios as we went along (thank the maker for the recovery Bios switch), of getting at those hidden shaders but nothing worked.

Unfortunately this here Sapphire Radeon HD 6950 Dirt 3 Edition is going to stay an HD 6950.

The other unfortunate thing about not being able to flash it to HD 6970 levels is the artificial locking of the clock speed to a maximum of 840MHz still in place. That means no extra overclocking speed compared with the reference design in either AMD's OverDrive or our usual favourite, MSI's Afterburner.

But wait! Like the cavalry's flag coming flapping over the horizon is Sapphire's Trixx overclocking utility. Not only does this software enable us access to tweak the card's voltage nipples, we can also push the core clock speed up to a theoretical 1,200MHz.

In practice we struggled to get a completely stable run through of our benchmarks at 1GHz, but even at a shade under the 1,000MHz mark that's an impressive overclock.


DirectX 11 Tessellation performance
Heaven 2.5: fps. Higher is better
HD 6950 Dirt 3 Ed: 15.4
HD 6950 Reference: 15.4

DirectX 11 gaming performance
Shogun 2: fps. Higher is better
HD 6950 Dirt 3 Ed – 17.3
HD 6950 Reference – 17.3

DirectX 10 gaming performance
Just Cause 2: fps. Higher is better
HD 6950 Dirt 3 Ed – 29
HD 6950 Reference – 29

Tech Specs

Product TypeGraphic Card
Chipset ManufacturerATI
Chipset ModelHD 6950
Chipset LineRadeon
Chipset SeriesHD 6000
Maximum Resolution2560 x 1600
Brand NameSapphire
Standard Memory2 GB
Host InterfacePCI Express 2.0 x16
Bus Width256 bit
Multi-GPU TechnologyCrossFireX
Analog SignalYes
Digital SignalYes
Dual Link DVI SupportedYes
Number of DisplayPort Outputs1
Number of DVI Outputs2
Number of HDMI Outputs1
Cooler TypeFan Cooler
Memory TechnologyGDDR5 SDRAM
Form FactorPlug-in Card
ManufacturerSapphire, Inc
Memory Speed5000 MHz
Product Model11188-05-50G
Product NameRadeon HD 6950 Dirt3 Edition Graphics Card
Package TypeRetail
Manufacturer Part Number11188-05-50G
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

The SAPPHIRE HD 6950 Dirt3 Special Edition is a new SAPPHIRE original model with a special cooler using a new dual fan configuration. Based on the latest high end AMD GPU architecture, it boasts true DX 11 capability and the powerful configuration of 1408 stream processors and 88 texture processing units. With its clock speed of 800MHz for the core and 2GB of the latest GDDR5 memory running at 1250Mhz (5 Gb/sec effective), this model speeds through even the most demanding applications for a smooth and detail packed experience. A Dual BIOS feature allows enthusiasts to experiment with alternative BIOS settings and performance can be further enhanced with the SAPPHIRE overclocking tool, TriXX, available as a free download from

Package Contents
  • Radeon HD 6950 Dirt3 Edition Graphics Card
  • 1 x Dirt3 Coupon
  • CrossFire Bridge Interconnect Cable
  • DVI to VGA Adapter
  • 2 x 6-Pin to 4-Pin Power Cable
  • 1.8 m HDMI Cable
Limited Warranty2 Year
API SupportedDirectX 11.0, OpenGL 4.1, DirectCompute