AMD Radeon HD 6870 Roundup

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

PowerColor PCS+ 6870

Powercolor's PCS+ 6870 is a real sleeper - understated packaging giving no clues to the overclocked specification and upgraded cooling delivered inside. The package is all about the card itself, as there are few accessories - a driver CD, a multi-lingual quick install guide and a DVI-VGA adapter about covers. The box is unadorned, standard cardboard although quite rigid and offering good protection of the product, and a standard ESD bag for the card in which to travel.

The heat shroud is a black plastic and metal grille design with lots of cool artistic slots. The centrally mounted axial fan blows directly down, pushing air out all sides. Two decals adorn the heat shroud, a funky orange go-faster stripe and a Radeon HD 6870 sticker so you can tell what it is. Embossed in the plastic is the PowerColor logo. The card is lighter than standard HD 6870, thanks to less metal and plastic used in the cooling solution.

The red PCB contrasts the black shroud design well, looking great in similarly colored systems. The rear of the card is unprotected, with all components exposed. Looking at the rear, the PCB appears to be of stock reference design, complete with original heatsink mounting holes. Interestingly, the base of the card by the PCIe connector has check box markings for memory capacity - 512MB, 1GB and 2GB; none of which are checked.

Removing the heatsink and fan shows that this is indeed a reference PCB design, no modifications by PowerColor in any area. In some respects this is good as it means common clock and voltage tools will work easily. The VRMs are cooler by a push-pin mounted heatsink, and the memory is unencumbered by heatspreaders of any kind.

The heatsink itself uses a copper base to mount the three heatpipes to the GPU. The fin arrays are mated to the heatpipes at the middle and both ends. The fin array and heatpipe unfortunately block direct airflow to the memory chips, but it's likely a fair volume of air still moves over the chips.

PowerColor seems to have taken the simplest route for their customization - binning for speed and improving cooling; just what the enthusiast ordered.