AMD Radeon HD 6870 Roundup

Author: James Prior
Editor: Charles Oliver
Date: February 13th, 2012

Sapphire HD 6870 D3

Sapphire's Radeon HD 6870 D3 edition is a striking and impressive looking card, it's appearance dominated by the two large cooling fans with Sapphire logos adorning them.

The large cutouts give a nice view to the heatsink itself, which is an array of aluminum fans attached to two copper heatpipes. The heatpipes are immediately obvious, nicely tucked away inside the shroud of the card.

The back of the card is plain, and features lots of fun surface mount components to accidentaly rip off if you sit and play with it too much. Shipped in a padded anti-static bag, it should stay in the bag until you're ready to mount it (apart from initial receipt of course, when you check for physical defects).

The heatspreader is affixed using four spring loaded screws. Removing these allows the entire fan and heatsink assembly to fall away, but not the VRM heatspreader, which is seperately affixed. As we flip the card over we find that the memory is not equipped with any heatspreader, just exposed directly to the airflow from the two fans.

Sapphire's custom PCB moves the power circuitry to the rear of the card, and supplements the OE specification of 4 VRMs and 4 chokes with Sapphire Black chokes - still four but with three VRMs per phase. The VRMs are equipped with a large screw-mounted anodized aluminum heatsink, mounted using sticky thermal pads. The whole PCB is similar to previous generation 5850 custom designs, which seems likely as AMD's Barts ASIC is pin compatible with Cypress - tweaking the existing PCB design was likely less work than starting from the AMD reference design.

The heatsink itself is a heatpipe through base design, with two large diameter heatpipes. The heatpipes wick away heat to the aluminum fin arrays, effectively giving each heatpipe a whole fan to itself.

The whole package is well presented, and Sapphire include useful accessories like a HDMI cable, mini-DP to full-DP adapter, and obviously a DiRT3 coupon to redeem for STEAM key download of the game. The card is well protected and presetned, quite a conservative box art design and overall feel; mildly understated, not gaudy or outlandish.