Originally Posted by Mr. Mojo
The Sapphire 6950 (older 2GB version) has a dual BIOS and a switch on the side. Those are probably the easiest/safest to flash. The 1GB version is newer, and I haven't heard yet if they unlock or not.
I was going to buy an EVGA GTX 570 SC, but newegg sold out before I could place my order. I instead went with the Gigabyte with the Windforce cooler because I've heard it cools better and runs quieter than the reference coolers, plus I've always had good luck with Gigabyte products. I haven't seen too much in the way of non-reference 570's (EVGA has the only one that I know of...the 570 HD), so they all should be very similar other than coolers, clock speed, and warranty.
I think you have that mixed up. The card that you bought is a "non-reference" model as they do not use the Nvidia reference design for the cooler shroud.
The new eVGA 570 HD is a reference design as it's based off the shroud cooler of the GTX 560.
Your windforce cooler is a non reference because they not only use their own cooler design but sometimes their own proprietary PCB as well with better components and sometimes more power phases.