What is the difference between these two PC graphics cards?
August 14, 2011 11:06 AM   Subscribe

What is the difference between these two PC graphics cards? Crossfire setup question inside.

I recently built a new desktop PC for primary use as a gaming machine. It's running this graphics card: XFX HD-695X-CNFC Radeon HD 6950 2GB.

If I were to install a second card in crossfire mode, what is the difference between that one and this one: XFX HD-695X-CDFC Radeon HD 6950 2GB 256-bit ? As far as I can tell, the only difference is that the second one has two fans?

I'm not sure that I want to spend the extra money to upgrade, but I think I'd rather go ahead and do it sooner rather than wait and possibly have difficulty finding the same model card in a year or 18 months How closely should the two cards in a crossfire setup match? Should they be the EXACT same model, or is the same base design close enough?
posted by T.D. Strange to Computers & Internet (1 answer total)
Best answer: The only difference between those two cards is the fan configuration. The first card is a "reference" setup, meaning the card, chip, fans, heatsink, memory, etc. are all set up like the reference design AMD produces. The second card is a modified setup, and a common one. The difference between the two is that the card with two fans will put through more air, causing lower temperatures, but be louder at higher temperatures.

Before upgrading to Crossfire you should ask yourself if you really need or want the setup.

Needs: unless you are running multiple monitors for gaming at resolutions above 1920x1080 or 1920x1200 this will likely not be a good way to spend money. Tom's Hardware kicks out their Best Graphics Card For The Money article every month. It indicates that a 6950 is already excellent for 1920x1080/1200 graphics. It isn't until you get to multiple monitors or the 2560x1600 screens that it really becomes a need. You should also consider which games you are playing and the frame rates you get with the settings maxed out (high AA, AF, full resolution, VSync, High everything, etc.) If your frame rates are holding up high then why spend $280? Maybe get a faster video card 2 years down the road instead?

The other thing to consider is if you really want this setup. Crossfire means two cards, which means twice the heat output, twice the fan noise and double the (video) power usage. You will need to make sure your PSU is up to snuff for the task. As for availability concerns: I have a Radeon 5850 in my system and was concerned about the availability issue. It's been 17 months since I built this system, and Radeon 5850's are still widely available per Google Shopping.

If you do Crossfire, you must have a card from the same series (i.e. 6000, 5000, 4000, etc.) or else it will not work. If you have mismatched cards such as a 6950 and a 6970, the more powerful card will throttle itself down to the lowest card. Crossfire is dependent only on the GPU inside; different brands do not matter.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 12:34 PM on August 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

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