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PowerColor HD 6870 PCS+ tested

by on12 January 2011



Review: Batmobile in action again


PowerColor HD 6870 PCS+ is a special version of Radeon HD 6870 card that comes factory overclocked and strapped with special cooling.

Just a reminder – at the end of October 2010, AMD launched two new graphics cards from its Northern Islands family Radeon HD 6870 and HD 6850 cards. Radeon HD 6870 beats the Radeon HD 5850 but it is slower than Radeon HD 5870.

PowerColor overclocked it HD 6870 PCS+ card as you can see from the GPUZ screenshot.


The Barts XT, known as the HD 6870 card, has 14 SIMDs, with 80 Stream Processor per SIMD (total of 1120 Stream Processors) and 56 texture units (TMUs). As noted it has a 256-bit GDDR5 memory interface and comes with 32 Raster Operation Processors (ROPs). The fully enabled Barts, or the Barts XT, has 2TFLOPS of computational power. The reference Barts XT GPU ended up clocked at 900MHz for the GPU and 4200MHz for 1GB of GDDR5 memory paired up with a 256-bit memory interface.

PowerColor HD 6870 PCS+ looks pretty nice with the hood seriously makes the card resemble the futuristic racing car pictured on the box.


The HD 6870 PCS+ cooling is dual slot and the card is 24cm long. Although the card’s PCB is as long as the reference one, reference card’s cooler makes the card 7mm longer.

The fan is 9cm in diameter and is connected to the 3-pin connector. Fan speed regulation can be performed via the Catalyst Overdrive or any other tool you may prefer.


The I/O panel features two DisplayPort 1.2 connectors, HDMI 1.4a and two DVI connectors (one of them is single-link with maximum resolution of 1920x1200).



Unlike the Radeon HD 5850, Radeon HD 6870 comes with only one CrossFire connector. This means that you can only use two cards in 2-way CrossFire.


Radeon HD 6870 consumes 151W at max so it will require two power connectors.



PowerColor included all the necessary equipment, including the DVI-to-VGA adapter and mini-DisplayPort-to-DisplayPort converter; the card already comes with a standard HDMI out.




Our test HD 6870 PCS+ came with a “Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2” voucher. Unfortunately, this gift is aimed only at specific regions, so you might want to check with your retailer whether yours is included





Motherboard: EVGA 4xSLI
CPU: Core i7 965 XE (Intel EIST and Vdrop enabled)
Memory: 6GB Corsair Dominator 12800 7-7-7-24
Harddisk:   OCZ Vertex 2 100 GB
Power Supply: CoolerMaster Silent Pro Gold 800W
Case: CoolerMaster HAF X
Fan Controler: Kaze Master Pro 5.25"
Operating System: Win7 64-bit
CCC 10.12



Aliens vs Predator


Metro 2033


3D Mark Vantge


3D Mark 2011




Unigine Heaven



HD 6870’s reference clocks are 900MHz for the GPU and 1050MHz for the memory, and our today’s PowerColor cards clocks are 940MHz for the GPU and 1100MHz for the memory. We relied on MSI’s Afterburner for our overclocking. We managed to hit 985MHz for the GPU but only after we increased the voltage.

We managed to hit 960MHz for the GPU and 1100MHz for the memory by running the card on factory voltage and with the fan in AUTO mode, it resulted in additional 4% better results in Aliens vs. Predator. Overclocking to  985MHz GPU provided another 2% boost to results.





Thermals and Noise

PowerColor HD 6870 PCS+ didn’t exceed 86°C during our tests. The cooler was almost inaudible in idle operation (42°C). Although PowerColor’s card runs a few °C higher than the reference card, you’re still in the safe zone. On the other hand, the cooler wasn’t loud, not even in intensive GPU operation. Naturally, you can always turn to Catalyst Overdrive and meddle a bit to find your preferred temperature-noise ratio.

Power Consumption

HD 6870 consumes 19W in idle and 151W during operation whereas the 6850 draws 19W when idle and 127W during operation.

We measured our entire rig's consumption after stressing the graphics with FurMark. The tests show that HD 6870’s consumption is similar to the GTX 460 1GB. PowerColor HD 6870 PCS+ consumes about 15W more that the reference card.


PowerColor HD 6870 PCS+ is a factory overclocked card that comes with special cooling. The card is currently priced about €208 in the EU, which is about €10 higher than PowerColor’s reference HD 6870.

HD 6870 PCS+ performs great and will be perfect for gamers who play at 1920x1080. However, that’s not to say that the card will not handle 2560x1600.

The factory overclock will provide 2-4% better results compared to the reference card. The cooler is efficient and very quiet in idle. When the card is pushed, you will hear the cooler run but we still considered it to be quiet.

PowerColor will bundle Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 but only in some regions. Naturally, the HD 6870 PCS+ is a good deal even without the game. So let’s recap: quiet and efficient cooling coupled with increased performance and all that at only €10 more than reference card. What’s there not to recommend?

You can find the card listed here.


Last modified on 18 January 2011
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