Special Edition” variances seem to come in just about every product you can think of these days. Marketers know well that people are immediately drawn to anything they think is “special” or only available in limited quantities. Somehow, the average person just seems to have a natural perception that any of these “Special Editions” is going to give them more, or is going to be of a higher quality. Of course, that is not always the case. There are certainly cases where people will plunk down extra cash for one of these and receive nothing more than a change in graphics color from the Not So Special Edition. Or maybe that extra $25.00 on the price tag gets you an included Special Edition Ginsu Steak Knife with a genuine reproduction signature from Rocky Aoki on the genuine artificial leather handle. You get the picture.
There are, in fact, Special Editions that mean something. These are product variances that actually give you worthwhile benefits over and above what you would expect from the Not So Special Reference Editions. Right now computer video cards are a prime example. It seems that just about everyone has their own offshoot of reference designs and, in many cases, you are definitely getting something over and above reference boards. Cooling is the big draw these days, now that GPUs are starting to overclock to points that have actual performance impacts. Sometimes a factory OC prompts the Special Edition, or sometimes a combination of both. Sapphire has been offering different editions of their cards for some time, with each edition having its own target. The Vapor-X line is well known for its excellent cooling, as well as decreased noise. The Toxic Edition cards sport a factory OC, usually the highest on the market, and enhanced cooling. The FLEX Edition offers greater flexibility in connectivity. And now from Sapphire comes the HD 6950 Dirt3 Edition, named for the game but with quite a bit more.
The Sapphire HD 6950 Dirt3 Edition Video Card uses a stock clocked HD 6950 with 2GB GDDR5, but certainly comes in with quite a bit more than a reference board. Naturally, the Sapphire HD 6950 Dirt3 Edition is named for its inclusion of a free copy of Codemaster's newest driving game Dirt3, as well as Sapphire's own TRIXX utility, but the offerings do not stop on the software side. Pulling the HD 6950 D3 Edition from the box, you are greeted with a card that looks as far from reference as you can get. A molded black housing covers the board of the Sapphire HD 6950 D3, with two fans mounted for additional, and quieter, cooling. A look in the side shows hefty heat pipes to add to the already enhanced cooling capacity. A look on the back of the Sapphire HD 6950 D3 Edition reveals a full array of connectors, with 2 DVI (one single, one dual link), HDMI 1.4a with audio and DisplayPort 1.2, enough for simultaneous connection of five monitors using AMD's Eyefinity technology. At the heart of the Sapphire HD 6950 Dirt3 Edition is, of course, the HD 6950 GPU itself. The HD 6950 is a serious gamer with an 800MHz clock speed, with 2GB of GDDR 5 running at 1250MHz, as well as dual graphics engines and 88 texture units.