Pros: High Unlock-Rate, Excellent Cooling, High-Quality Components, Good Overclocking
Cons: Price, especially if it can't be unlocked
My last card was a Gtx 280, and I must admit I have an nvidia bias...but bias or not you can't argue against value. When I read that 6950's could be unlocked to 6970 specs, I jumped at the idea of saving a good $100. Well that was back when the cards were first released, now AMD has started laser-cutting their GPU's to prevent unlocking. Most 6950's you buy today won't unlock, but this one will. And it will overclock. Extremely well.
So I checked the usual places for this bad-boy, but they were all sold-out. Luckily I found someone selling their new-in-box on ebay for $275 and I snatched it up. First impression was great, card has a good weight and feel to it. The heatsink cover is made from metal, and has a high-quality feel, unlike the cheap plastic we get with most other cards.
So first thing I did was unlock this card, which was pretty simple. I chose the "hard" route and dumped(GPUz), modified(RBE tool), and reflashed the BIOS(also RBE tool). I heard that MSI flashes the 2nd BIOS with the unlocked version, and it can be activated by simply flipping the BIOS switch, too.
So now I had a 6950 with 6970 shaders, but not clock rates. Modifying those would be a little tricky for me until I downloaded the latest version of Afterburner, which finally adds support for unlocked cards. Overclocked to 900mhz core 1375 memory with a +0.015 v bump. Not bad at all.
Now here's the best part: temps stay under 65C at full load with the fan at auto. Simply amazing cooling and virtually silent.
So what's wrong with it? Nothing, but the price. You can get any other 6950 2gb for around 230 to 250 dollars, even ones with non-reference cooling designs. I'd say the premium I paid was well-worth it....but then you can just add another premium and buy a gtx 570. At the end of the day technology is always moving forwards and you'll never have the best of something, but you can say you had the best value for your money. I think I won in that regard. *looks at 6990 crossfire users*