The sensible option: HIS HD Radeon 6870 review

With so many GPUs available these days it can be hard to know what’s what. This week we’re explaining what to look for in a graphics card and assessing five of the best models on the market.

At nearly every price point that AMD is competing at NVIDIA has a very compelling answer. At the most affordable side of the spectrum the GTX 460 is hard to beat but at the $300 price point that this HIS HD Radeon 6870 resides at AMD seems to have the competition stitched up.

Looking for all intents and purposes identical to the 6950 and 6970 cards this sizable slab of plastic will swallow up two of your expansion slots on the rear of the case. It’s powered by a pair of six-pin power connectors. Because it’s based on the more power-efficient 6870 GPU a 500W PSU should provide plenty of juice. This same power efficiency accounts for the low-volume cooling solution which will be hard to notice over the hum of your other PC components.

Like many AMD-powered cards HIS has decked this one out with an excellent range of outputs: 2 x DVI 1 x HDMI and 2 x DisplayPort. Unfortunately these DisplayPorts aren’t of the 1.2 standard yet there’s still plenty of output options for those with multiple monitors.

In our benchmarks this card hovers just below the half way point of all results. Yet it’s only 30% behind the highest-end cards in most tests. Considering this card sells for just half the price of those same benchmark behemoths we see the law of diminishing returns in full effect. As performance scales upwards in video cards the prices increase even more making the high end much more expensive for not much of a performance boost.

This leaves the HIS HD Radeon 6870 in a great place to be – affordable yet offering most of the performance of the high end. It mightn’t sound sexy but this is surely the definition of a sensible video card to own.
Available from HIS retailing for $299.
APC rating: 9/10 (Editor’s Choice)