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PowerColor Radeon HD 5870 Review

Date: 2009-9-24

   The Road to EvergreenThe ATI Radeon HD 4000 series made its debut with the Radeon HD 4870 and HD 4850 in June last year. Little did we know that these were the cards that heralded the comeback ...

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The ATI Radeon HD 5870 1GB GDDR5

The new ATI Radeon 5870 is not a small card, measuring a hefty 11 inches, it is noticeably larger than the Radeon HD 4890 and about the same size as the dual-GPU Radeon HD 4870 X2. Its core is clocked at 850MHz (identical to the Radeon HD 4890), whereas its GDDR5 memory is running at a hyper-fast 4400MHz DDR.

One criticism that is often leveled at the older Radeon 4800 series was that it uses a 256-bit memory interface, instead of a 512 or 448-bit one like cards from NVIDIA. Sadly, the new Cypress series GPUs are still using a 256-bit wide memory interface. But since GDDR5 memory offers twice the bandwidth of GDDR3 memory and the memory on the Radeon HD 5870 is clocked at a staggering 4400MHz DDR, overall memory bandwidth of the HD 5870 is still a highly respectable 153.6GB/s - this is significantly greater than that of the HD 4890 and comparable to NVIDIA's top SKUs. Speaking of memory, the Radeon HD 5870 will be launched with 1GB of frame buffer, with 2GB variants appearing only later.

Heat was also a problematic issue for the older generation 4800 series cards and ATI has drastically redesigned the cooler to ensure a cooler graphics card this time round. In terms of noise, this new cooler is fantastically quiet.

Take your time to ogle at the new Radeon HD 5870.

PowerColor Radeon HD 5870 Review
You might not be able to tell from this shot, but the new Radeon HD 5870 is a massive 11 inches long.

PowerColor Radeon HD 5870 Review
As this shot clearly shows, the new ATI card is markedly longer than the Radeon HD 4890 and trounces even the GeForce GTX 295, albeit by a slight margin.

PowerColor Radeon HD 5870 Review
The new card has two DVI, a single DisplayPort and a single HDMI port. The card can drive up to three monitors using the DisplayPort and any combination of DVI and HDMI port. Do note that with two TMDS transmitter still, one cannot drive three monitors without using the DisplayPort. Worryingly, the exhaust vent seems small and we hope it won't adversely affect the operating temperatures of the card.

PowerColor Radeon HD 5870 Review
In an attempt to compensate for the tiny exhaust vent, ATI has two vents round the front to draw in cool air.

PowerColor Radeon HD 5870 Review
The card has two CrossFire connectors. Quad-CrossFire setup is possible, and one can only imagine what kind of performance that'll give.

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