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AMD’s Radeon HD 6970M

AMD's Mobility Radeon HD 6970 In CrossFire On Eurocom's Panther
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AMD’s Mobility Radeon HD 6970 in CrossFire mode forges ahead in mobile gaming with stunning “Full HD” 3D performance. But can it stand up to Nvidia’s high-end GeForce GTX 470M and 480M in SLI? Eurocom's 17.3” Panther 2.0 gives us its answer.

We’re glad to see that even AMD is referring to its new mobile modules by the shorter “Radeon HD 6970M” moniker, as the original “Mobility Radeon HD 6970” naming scheme was terribly wordy. We’re even willing to overlook any similarities to the naming practices of its competitor, for the sake of brevity.

Speaking of similarities, Eurocom thought that Nvidia’s GTX 470M SLI would so closely-match the performance levels of AMD’s Radeon HD 6970M in CrossFire that it included a pair of each for today’s tests. If the performance is indeed similar, AMD will take the performance-value win with a colossal $219 price advantage.

A surprisingly-small die comes not from a shrink in die process, but the use of a less complex GPU. A closer look at the Radeon HD 6970M’s specs indicates that its “Blackcomb XT” is nothing more than an underclocked Radeon HD 6850 desktop part, indicating that it's based on the older VLIW5 architecture, and not the company's newer VLIW4 arrangement.

Desktop vs Mobility Radeon Graphics
 Desktop Radeon
HD 6970
Desktop Radeon
HD 6850
Radeon
HD 6970M
Transistors2.64 billion1.7 billion1.7 billion
Engine Clock880 MHz775 MHz680 MHz
Shader (ALUs)1536960960
Texture Units964848
ROP Units323232
Compute Performance2.7 TFLOPS1.49 TFLOPS1.3 TFLOPS
DRAM TypeGDDR5-5500GDDR5-4000GDDR5-3600
DRAM Interface256-bits256-bits256-bits
Memory Bandwidth176 GB/s128 GB/s115.2 GB/s
TDP250 W127 W100 W


AMD isn’t the only one still playing the horrid name game with its notebook parts, as Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 470M appears to be nothing more than an underclocked GeForce GTX 460 SE, priced around 3x higher, without the fancy heat sinks and brackets that a desktop card must include.

Desktop vs Mobile GeForce Graphics
 Desktop GeForce
GTX 470
Desktop GeForce
GTX 460 SE
GeForce
GTX 470M
Transistors3 billion1.95 billion1.95 billion
Engine Clock607 MHz650 MHz535 MHz
CUDA Cores448288288
Texture Units564848
ROP Units403224
Compute Performance1.09 TFLOPS855 GFLOPS634 GFLOPS
DRAM TypeGDDR5-3348GDDR5-3400GDDR5-3000
DRAM Interface320-bits256-bits192-bits
Memory Bandwidth133.9 GB/s108.8 GB/s72 GB/s
TDP215 W150 W50 W (GPU Only)


Note that AMD lists TDP for a complete card, while Nvidia lists it for the GPU alone. We expect actual power consumption to be somewhat similar from the complete modules.

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  • 7 Hide
    haxs101 , January 31, 2011 4:12 AM
    5292$... Are you kidding me!!
  • 3 Hide
    dogman_1234 , January 31, 2011 4:30 AM
    Yikes!
  • 4 Hide
    Crashman , January 31, 2011 4:43 AM
    dogman_1234Yikes!
    What, you don't have a $180,000 car sitting in front of your $5m mansion?
  • 2 Hide
    fstrthnu , January 31, 2011 4:45 AM
    This is even more absurd than the other recent power gaming notebook that was tested. You could save almost $500 by using Sandy Bridge instead of the old i7s, for the same performance. Even Falcon Mach V's usually don't get this expensive. This is absolutely ridiculous
  • 1 Hide
    Crashman , January 31, 2011 4:48 AM
    fstrthnuThis is even more absurd than the other recent power gaming notebook that was tested. You could save almost $500 by using Sandy Bridge instead of the old i7s, for the same performance. Even Falcon Mach V's usually don't get this expensive. This is absolutely ridiculous
    No you couldn't. Because as of CES when these cards launched, nobody produced a dual-graphics module chassis for the Sandy Bridge.
  • 2 Hide
    one-shot , January 31, 2011 5:16 AM
    There are the battery life graphs that I love! Thanks for adding those to the laptop review! My first laptop was a P4 Northwood that barely got 90 minutes of battery life. This one is insane!
  • -1 Hide
    _Pez_ , January 31, 2011 5:43 AM
    Insane and impossible to get and pay in Mëxico :(  ....
  • 0 Hide
    Maziar , January 31, 2011 6:10 AM
    First of all,great review ! I was desperately waiting for 6970M review from Tom's.
    The overall performance is quite good especially in single mode which it's faster than both GTX 470M/480M.I think if AMD pays more attention to mobile drivers, then 2 of this cards should perform better.
    About the price,well not everyone configures the laptop with i7 980x.Websites usually test the high-end specs in order to reduce the bottleneck and let the laptop run at its full potential.
    I've read that Sager will soon release a model with mobile Sandy bridge CPUs along with 1 6970M and it won't be very expensive I think.
  • 3 Hide
    tacoslave , January 31, 2011 6:23 AM
    CrashmanWhat, you don't have a $180,000 car sitting in front of your $5m mansion?


    Duh of course, we all do but i mean 32 bedrooms IS kinda small. On a serious note, wtf 5k seriously? I could build a desktop and hook it up to a small generator for 1.5k and get at least 4 hours of power than pay 5k for 20min Fuk that $hit.
  • 1 Hide
    christop , January 31, 2011 6:29 AM
    Who is buying this? I bet it weights 50 lbs. Nice battery life of 22 minutes.
  • -4 Hide
    sparky2010 , January 31, 2011 7:05 AM
    You know what really gets to me.. AMD really markets the whole 1.3 teraflops, and 2.7 teraflops.. but at the end of the day, nvidia, with a lot less flop, overpowers AMD's cards... so where does all of tha processing power go in AMD's cards?
  • 2 Hide
    stingstang , January 31, 2011 7:12 AM
    Looks like AMD hit the sweet spot in their mobile graphics division...FINALLY. I'd like to know what the price difference is between the 6970m and the 460m. It probably won't change the 460m pricing, but I'm willing to bet Nvidia snapped their fingers and said, "Damn, we can't milk our mobile cards for 4 times what they're worth anymore."
    Seriously, how could they charge 800 dollars or some such crap for half the power of their 600 dollar cards?
  • 3 Hide
    darkchazz , January 31, 2011 8:44 AM
    Who the Fu** would pay for this :/ 
  • 2 Hide
    Helltech , January 31, 2011 9:01 AM
    This... is sad. I don't know why anyone would want this, especially for that price.
  • -1 Hide
    alidan , January 31, 2011 9:55 AM
    stingstangLooks like AMD hit the sweet spot in their mobile graphics division...FINALLY. I'd like to know what the price difference is between the 6970m and the 460m. It probably won't change the 460m pricing, but I'm willing to bet Nvidia snapped their fingers and said, "Damn, we can't milk our mobile cards for 4 times what they're worth anymore."Seriously, how could they charge 800 dollars or some such crap for half the power of their 600 dollar cards?


    it does sound like they are screwing you, at first. but you have to think about it. with a full size card, they have how much space and cooling to work with? and how much space do they have with a notebook? pluss less people buy a notbook that high powered, so they have to recupe the costs of production somehow.
  • 1 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , January 31, 2011 10:54 AM
    The cost is way out of my price range.
  • 1 Hide
    jimishtar , January 31, 2011 11:38 AM
    "These desktop replacement notebooks are designed to run primarily from a wall outlet anyway"

    So all of your that cry about the battery life, the price, the weight.... its an elite desktop replacement. It was never meant to be power efficient, lightweight nor cheap. You don't buy this kinda stuff cause u need it - you buy it cause u don't.
  • -1 Hide
    dkaral , January 31, 2011 12:16 PM
    Should be compared to GTX 485M. Remember 485M is around 40% faster than a 480M according to notebookcheck.
  • 1 Hide
    Reynod , January 31, 2011 12:45 PM
    $5G for a high end gaming laptop is what you would expect to pay.

    A bit of a written rule over the years for me is that you can build the best PC for $5000 (with all of the performance bits but ditch the teenage blinged up case) ... it still applies.

    Crunch the numbers for yourself and include CF or SLI and you will see it works.

    $5G in a laptop fors out the best "mobile" money can buy ... will this is about right ... unless you want a bigger SSD I guess.

    Nice article crash.

  • 0 Hide
    rolli59 , January 31, 2011 12:46 PM
    Just need a portable generator to go with it (at that price they could throw one in for free)
    On a more serious note just get a desktop!
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