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Today MSI has given us an opportunity to check out their Twin Frozr III 6950 1GB. What makes this a bit different from other 6950’s are the 1GB of memory and MSI’s Twin Frozr III cooler which make claims of ~14 dB quieter and 11 °C temperature differences over reference cooled models. It is also only a dual slot solution vs other competitors options allowing for ease of CrossFireX setups. Let us now take a look at the performance of the card and its cooling capabilities.
Product Specifications and Features
Below are the specifications and some major features for the card. You can see this model comes in at 850 MHz core and 5200 MHz (effective) memory speeds and (only?) 1 GB of vRAM onboard. One of the great features on this card is that it has the ability to control 3 different voltages; core, memory, and auxiliary. I couldn’t move the memory much without adjusting the memory voltage and auxiliary voltages. The core allowed me to jump up to around a 925 core clock for 24/7 operation with the memory at 1400 MHz. More on overclocking below.
Listed here are a few features that set this card apart from the rest. The icon/images were from the MSI site.
MSI Solid Capacitor Graphic Card MSI graphics card products utilities high quality solid capacitor. For the gamers and high-end users, this feature not only means that product has better quality components within, but also provide much stronger support while users want to engage in hard-core tuning.
MSI Live Update 5 is a single utility software that automatically checks BIOS, driver and utility updates and installs for you, which can save your time for searching and lower the risk while updating.
Enjoy an incredibly immersive HD gaming/computing experience with AMD Eyefinity Technology. This revolutionary multi-display technology allows you to expand your visual real estate across up to three displays with innovative “wrap around” capabilities to maximize your field of view with incredible sharpness and clarity.
AMD HD3D Technology is supported by an advanced and open ecosystem that, in conjunction with specific AMD hardware and software technologies, enables 3D display capabilities for many PC applications and experiences. Your PC has evolved, offering unprecedented amount of games, photos and movies for you to play, watch, design, create, share and download in 3D. With the arrival of the latest in 3D technology you can now enjoy an enhanced visual experience on Stereo 3D-capable desktops and notebooks powered by AMD HD3D Technology.
Afterburner co-development by MSI and Rivatuner, MSI releases the ultimate graphics card utility “Afterburner”. This utility enables all MSI graphics cards users to boost performance and to monitor all kinds of critical information in real-time. Afterburner is a completely free utility which is compatible with almost all MSI graphics cards.
Now for the pictures you all have been waiting for… no, not of me and my formerly crazy college years, but of the card. First pictured is the retail packaging. You can see it has all its major features listed on the front as well as on the inside of the flip open packaging which exposes part of the card. Its packed well underneath a plastic cover as well as padding around it.
Next up is a picture of the card. You can now see the TwinFrozrIII cooler with its dual fan and propeller blade technology and its slew (5) of heatpipes coming out of the base of the card. I do like the appearance of this cooler a lot. It has a 2 slot design making it easier than some cooler for CrossFireX fitment. One of the things I don’t like about the cooler is that it dumps the majority of heat inside your case.
Last, we look at the I/O panel on the card. You can see that it has HDMI, two DVI, and two mini DisplayPort outputs on the card, representing plenty of options for a single monitor as well as supporting Eyefinity. This card has enough horsepower to game in Eyefinity mode, but you may run in to issues with some games at those very high resolutions and high Anti-Alaising because of the 1 GB of memory on board.
Performance and Overclocking
- Intel i7-2600K CPU (Overclockers.com Intel i7-2600K Review)
- MSI Z68A GD65 Motherboard (Overclockers.com MSI Z68A GD65 Review)
- G.Skill 2×2 GB DDR3-2133 7-10-7-27 @ 1.65v RAM
- OCZ 60 GB Vertex 2 SSD
- Seasonic X750 PSU
- HIS 6870 IceQ (Overclockers.com 6870 IceQ X Turbo X Review)
- HIS 6970 IceQ Turbo (Overclockers.com 6970 IceQ Turbo Review)
- Windows 7 64 bit Operating System
- Catalyst 11.10 drivers
- All Synthetic benchmarks were at their default settings
- Alien vs. Predator was run at its default setting (textures high, no AA), and the highest it offered (4x AA, textures set to highest)
- Hawx 2 was run at a resolution of 1920×1080 with 8x AA and every setting at its highest (DX10)
- Dirt 2 was run at a resolution of 1920×1080 with 8x AA/16x AF and all settings at their highest
- Stalker:COP was run at a resolution of 1920×1080 using Ultra settings, 4x AA with tessellation enabled using the Sunshafts portion of the benchmark only
- Unigine Heaven (HWbot) was run with the “extreme” setting
For all the stock and overclocked synthetic benchmarks we have here from Futuremark, this card fell right in line with its counterparts in the review. Like I mentioned in the other HD6950 review, this card will run just about anything at 1920×1080 or less with AA and full AF. I overclocked it to a respectable 925 MHz Core and 1400 MHz for the memory for a 24/7 overclock. You can see there were solid gains to be had when overclocking this card as was expected really.
Our game benchmarks are no different. This 6950 hangs right with the previous ones we have looked at and also accepts and shows a nice boost when overclocked. Again, with the aftermarket TwinFrozrIII cooler, it runs quieter and much cooler than reference.
Pushing the Limits
Well, I’m just going to be frank with this section. The scores here off quite a bit compared to my last HD6950. For some reason, after the 24/7 overclock testing at 925/1400 MHz, this card did not want to clock at all past the stock core speeds no matter what voltage. I had only used 1.26 v to get to 925 MHz core as well, which is the same voltage I used to push further with the other 6950 we had and that card is still kicking. That said, the results you see below are with just the memory overclock to 1400 MHz. Not bad, but not close to its potential due to apparent failure of this review sample on the core. These cards are made for overclocking with the larger cooler on it and better power delivery parts, so I’m confident to say this is just an anomaly…though disappointing for sure. Regardless, here are the results.
As far as the temperatures with this cooler, again, I do not have a reference model to compare it to, however we have some other 6950’s to compare it to such as the 6950 IceQ X Turbo X. But before we get in to that result, take a look at the cooler. Notice it has five heatpipes starting from the base where it contacts the die, spreading out across the heatsink fin array for better dispersion. You can also see the memory is covered and benefits from the fan orientation blowing down on the PCB. One not so great thing I noticed is the extremely liberal use of the thermal paste on the die. I went ahead and wiped it off and applied some MX-2… a lot less of this product.
Temperatures on this card were pretty cool at idle coming in at 32 °C in a 22 °C room. Load temperatures at stock speeds did not break 60 °C and the fan speed was around 40% and nearly silent. I expected, because of the smaller size of the fans for them to be a bit more noisy than a card with larger fans, but that wasn’t the case. After adding some voltage and pushing the card, I still managed to keep it under 60 °C with the default fan profile.
After cranking it up to the max for clockspeed, voltage, and fan speed, the temperature of this card only reached 53 °C. Impressive and slightly better results across the board compared to the 6950 IceQ X TurboX we tested in the past. The Twin Frozr III cooler is a nice addition to this video card keeping it notable cooler and quieter than reference as well as being negligibly cooler than another aftermarket unit we tested on the same card.
Where to start where to start? On one hand I have a card here that will only run at stock speeds after a bit of a voltage adjustment and overclocking. That does not bode well for the card taken at face value. On the other hand, you have a mid-ranged price ($239.99 after MIR at newegg.com) 6950’s available with an aftermarket cooler on it and even at stock speeds will charge through most anything at 1920×1080 or less.
The cooling was obviously better and quieter than any reference solution and did manage to best the IceQ X turbo X 6950 we reviewed in the past so those are definitely good things. This card never really wanted to clock up with the best of them, and then when I REALLY tried to push the clocks, she had nothing left in the tank. Again, I strongly believe this was an anomaly. It’s tough to hold anything against a manufacturer for things like this as all of them have a bad card in the batch. I think this is just one of them. I have seen several of these close to or past 1000 MHz core so when working properly, it seems like these will clock just as high as the rest of them, and maybe more with the superior cooling and more robust power delivery.
With that said, MSI has brought to the market a well cooled, and quiet 1 GB 6950 to the end users and with no regret is Overclockers.com approved.