Ok I seriously just joined to post this.
There was so much misinformation and fanboyism in the Toxic and Reference PCB posts I had to reply
Now I just picked up a 6950 and soaked up a ton of info this last week.
To the OP, this is my short awnser.
To give you a good awnser I'd want more info from you!
Are you going to eyefinity? (maybe two cards then?)
Are you a mad overclocker who wants to see how high you can clock them? (maybe 6970 for more powertune TDP watts headroom)
Are you concerned about price mostly? (Definately go with 6950, price jump to 6970 not close to valuable enough)
Deus Ex and starcraft arnt terribly gfx intensive. I bet a single card would do.
Maybe buy a second later if diablo 3 wont play nicely when released? The cards will be cheaper then as well
Unlocking and overclocking the 6950 is always great for free performance. Both seem quite successful with this card.
I think most people are seeing at least 870mhz overclock (anyone correct me?).
If your shaders dont unlock dont worry they're only worth 2-5% performance. They're a nice freebee though.
Now on to the spazoids
As reference this is the powercolor card I own with 2x 6pin power.
Mr Toxic guy
PLEASE look at the way the TOXIC card is BUILT ... the TOXIC cards come on a true 6970 Rev.2 PCB board, have better digital VRMs than stock 6950's,
It looks just like my cheap powercolor card (cheapest card I could find)
(it) comes with the 6970's 8+6 pin Power connector requirement vs the 2x's 6 pin of stock 6950's, and thus the voltage is 1.175v on the TOXIC compared to 1.100v on stock 6950's.
Big deal, the two extra pins are ground pins and serve no perpose in electrical capacity terms.
I've yet to discover why they do this besides incentive to sell power supplies
Stock voltage is higher, but not due to these connectors
I tune mine in software anyways. No biggie imo
The TOXIC card IS 99% a true HD-6970 once you Un-Lock the shaders which ARE on the 2nd BIOS on the card, no need to FLASH IT.
The Toxic card does not have the higher clocked ram chips.
The Toxic card does not have the higher TDP limit of the 6970 (Powertune overclocking headroom before throttling)
Reading the bios, opening with RBE, and flashing is quite a simple process. (And satisfying! This is why I enjoy overclocking! its a hobby!)
With dual bios its incredibly safe as well.
If Toxic is the same price sure, otherwise I don't see what great things it provides over cheaper cards.
Mr My expensive launch card is faster than your card guy
My rev.1 reference sapphire 6950 flashed with 6970 bios would eat your toxic for breakfast .. i guarentee it
I get higher results @ 920/1420 than an msi 6970 lightning at 970/1500 ..
You are flat out wrong.
Clock speed is all that matters. There is NO voodoo, there is NO magic in the board. The silicon renders, the memory buffers.
As long as its stable and all else being equal the MSI will beat your card. Period
So what is this guarantee you speak of? If your confident put your card on the table and someone with a 970 clocking 'blue' pcb style board put theirs on the table.
Winner takes both cards. Where do you live, lets set this up. Put $ where your mouth is.
The first ever pcb design for this card was beastly and $400+ when i bought mine .. out performs the new ones by quite abit .
Wrong again. Care to explain yourself?
Gen1 Gen2 GenN whatever, clock for clock performance will NOT increase.
Performance is based ONLY on memory clock speed, gpu clockspeed and the silicon.
power regulation, cooling solution, pcb colour have NOTHING TO DO WITH CLOCK FOR CLOCK PERFORMANCE. PERIOD!
NOW... what CAN change between these PCB designs and/or revisions are things such as cost saving measures, power consumption, overclock-ability, and heat output.
Silicon : The silicon has not changed. Generally speaking chip yields improve with time which traditionally make more recently manufactured silicon able to clock higher. Never do chips become worse with time, this costs AMD money so they are very efficient at raising yields
Silicon does go though revisions generally known as 'steppings' which usually results in less driver patches for silicon bugs and/or reduced power consumption.
Power consumption : might have changed for a variety of reasons. Silicon revisions can reduce consumption, revised more efficient voltage regulation can lower power consumption. On the flip side cheaper power regulation can RAISE power consumption.
I don't have a revision 1 card to compare with so I don't care to randomly speculate.
Heat output : See above generally, power consumption has direct bearing on heat output.
I don't have a revision 1 to compare with. My card runs @ 920/1475 @ ~69 degrees C but with custom fan profiles its hard to compare
Overclock-ability : Now this is a complicated topic. There are many factors in how fast we can get our cards to run. The silicon, pcb design, voltage regulation all play factors in this.
If there are blue style pcb's that clock to 970mhz I would say the design is sound.
you can just tell by the look of the blue pcb its designed cheaper to sell cheaper
Your likely correct in that the blue card is cheaper to produce. That does not mean its a bad thing though.
Electronics have evolved a year since the reference design was created.
The biggest difference I see appears these new cards are using the CHiL 8228 voltage controller. It has 8 power channels (7 used).
The older reference design is using the Volterra VT1556 which has 4 power channels.
Can you see 7 channels on the 'blue' pcb? Can you see 4 on the Reference design?
The RAM needs its own regulator so that leaves 6 vs 3 regulators for the core in favour of the blue design.
From experiance I can say I've never seen my core voltage waver even in the slighest in my testing
I tested up to 1.275v core. I actually find this quite amazing actually at the amperage this card can pull.
The GPU-Z graph on a second monitor is very telling during gameplay.
I would be interested if the reference voltage regulation can do this as well.
Bottom line is your trying to justify your 400$ purchase.
Your $400 card runs the same speed as my $220 card I bought a week ago.
Suck it up. You've had this performance for ~1 yr and I've had it for a week.
That is what $180 bought you.
Oh and PS. Whats with linking a million pictures of cards. Did that prove some sort of point? uhhh yeah they are cards... we know what they look like. what the hell?
Good talk guys.... good talk