Product: Sapphire Radeon HD 6870 FleX
Company: AMD
Authour: James Prior
Editor: Charles Oliver
Date: March 10th, 2011
Summary & Conclusions

Sapphire's Radeon HD 6870 FleX edition offers triple panel gaming without the need for adapters, and lots of display flexibility. The non-reference cooler works well, keeping the GPU core around 5-7C cooler than the reference design; It's a good looking design and very quiet. With an MSRP of $225, the HD 6870 FleX holds a small premium over the standard HD 6870, which has dropped from its original SEP of ~$239 to $180 after mail in rebate. That's more than the difference of buying a standard card and an active adapter, neglecting the trials and tribulations inherent in actually getting your rebate back and in your hand.

More than Eyefinity 3, the Sapphire HD 6870 FleX is capable of driving 5 displays. We lacked the time to investigate performance in that configuration just yet, but we'll come back and look to see just how hard the Bart's XT GPU has to work to do that. The main problem it will have, and one that it already runs into under Eyefinity 3 configurations, is VRAM: 1GB can easily be soaked up with high quality textures and enabling anti-aliasing. Tripling the resolution also soaks up shader power for lighting effects like ambient occlusion.

AMD's CrossfireX technology shines in Eyefinity 3, boosting gaming performance to levels where you can avoid the quality sacrifices required when running Eyefinity 3 with a single HD 6870 GPU. Still, while adding a second card in single display mode offers some very nice scaling examples, you'll find fewer of these near-perfect performance increases at Eyefinity resolutions - highlighting that while the 6870 is a great enthusiast gamers card, at a great price, you need to go up the price scale a little bit to the 6950 2GB for real Eyefinity performance value.

Another option one has is to set your displays to use lower resolutions when running Eyefinity. This might still offer the increased overall resolution, immersion and fun without the performance hit of triple 1080p displays. AMD's drive allows you to select non-native resolution screen sizes for Eyefinity, or you could use lower resolution displays. There is a pixel density to panel size correlation to be careful of, with too small a display or with too low a native resolution the bezels will feel more and more intrusive.

The Sapphire HD 6870 FleX edition integrates the active adapter into the main design for increased stability in Eyefinity configurations using 'legacy' displays. This extra engineering effort is reflected in the relative price over the standard 6870, and is well worth the small increase. A well-built card with thoughtful and relevant, although the TriXX application should be updated to offer voltage control for overclockers. That one niggle aside, we award the Sapphire's excellent Radeon HD 6870 FleX 5 stars!

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