Asus EAH5870 v2 Review

Geekspeak411 - 2010-05-19 13:29:44 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: Geekspeak411   
Reviewed on: June 27, 2010
Price: $410

Introduction:

When the 5000 series was first released, there was absolutely no competition. ATI had single handedly blown the green team away with crazy benchmark results and DX11 support. Now that the long awaited Fermi cards from nVidia have been released, sporting similar results, the deeply entrenched 5000 series lines have been deploying variations beyond stock models and individual manufacturers such as Asus, have been integrating more advanced solutions to help enthusiasts get the most bang for their buck. With the EAH5870 V2, Asus has integrated a custom copper heat-pipe cooler, voltage tweak integration, and a beefier fan to handle the higher TDP rating of the heatsink. Hopefully this will yield a cooler card that shows higher clocks for a healthy boost above the competition, but only time will tell. If you are out to buy a new graphics card, is this the one for you? Let’s check it out!

Closer Look:

The packaging for the EAH5870 is very engaging, sporting a large knight in massive armor on an orange lightning-filled background. The Asus logo is clearly seen in the top left corner and right underneath it is a very large 'Voltage Tweak' icon telling potential buyers about the potential of the card to ‘shift in to overdrive’. On the bottom-left corner the rest of the features are listed as well as the model name in big white lettering. Flipping the box over reveals five of the cards main features in eleven different languages along the top and the system requirements on the right side. On the bottom-left there are two blips about both the 'Voltage Tweak' feature, and the custom cooler, claiming 17% cooler operation levels than seen using the reference design. Overall, the packaging leaves me with a good impression similar to many other Asus products, but I want to see what is inside!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The inner boxing is very simple and elegant, comprised of black boxes and a centered Asus logo in gold on the front of each one. The first one is thinner and opens up portfolio style. It contains the driver/utility discs and the operation manual. Next there is a tube-like container with all of the included accessories inside. Finally, there is a padded box at the bottom encasing the 5870 itself inside of an anti-static bag.

 

 

 

 

The bundle included with the card is well thought out. Everything I need to get up and fragging with this card is included, such as a DVI to VGA adapter, an HDMI to DVI adapter, a dual Molex to single six-pin adapter, as well as a dual six-pin to single eight-pin adapter. As with all other Crossfire capable cards, the Crossfire bridge is included. With this combination, I should be able to install this card into about any system without any additional components.

 

 

 

The packaging is great, so let’s see the card!

Closer Look:

Taking the EAH5870 out of its anti-static wrapper reveals the primarily black housing with red accents. To my extreme relief, there are no gaudy stickers to be found here. The fan itself has a beefier, more imposing look to it, and the back of the card lays uncovered allowing heat to dissipate freely. This EAH5870 is no slouch based on the Cypress XT core, as it contains 2.15 billion transistors, 1600 stream processors clocked at 850 MHz, 80 texture units, and a gigabyte of extremely fast DDR5 RAM. I am talking about 2.72 TeraFLOPS of processing power on a card that idles at just 27 watts! Being such a fast card, there is a lot of heat output. To handle dissipation duties, Asus fitted this card with a custom copper heatsink to allow even more pushing and shoving in the clock speeds. Asus didn’t stop there though. By adding voltage tweaking abilities, I should be able to push this card farther than any other 5870 available, but only time will tell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the EAH5870, Asus decided to forgo the additional DVI connection to allow for an extended venting area. Even then I have plenty of connectivity options in the form of a single DVI port, an HDMI 1.3 port, and DisplayPort. On the opposite end of the card you can see the fan connector, and the two supplementary power ports the card requires in the form of an eight pin PCI-E, and a six pin PCI-E port. It looks like Asus was planning ahead with this card, giving it all the power it can handle. Something tells me this card will make a lot of enthusiasts happy once I get it on the test bench!

 

 

This EAH5870 is CrossfireX capable with up to four cards. There are two ports available on the upper lip of the card where the included crossfire bridge would attach.

 

The Cooling solution for this card is a step beyond what the stock solution provides, Asus claims that this cooler will keep the card 17% cooler than the stock design through the use of an all-copper design and an extra large fan. After removing the retention bracket and the outer screws, thirteen in total, the cooler pulls off the card fairly easily revealing the underbody of the cooler. There are two different thermal compounds in use here; a comparatively high quality thermal tape as opposed to others I’ve seen, and a high quality thermal paste on the GPU itself. After wiping the paste off the GPU and the cooler, I can see some very heavy machining marks that are pretty unacceptable. I can easily feel the marks by simply running your finger across the surface, so there is some definite room for improvement here. After removing the rest of the screws, I took off the plastic casing to have a look at the copper itself. The first thing that came to mind for me was that this is probably the largest fan I have seen in this style, and the fins are huge! I can see all three heat-pipes - two large ones and a smaller one. They each attach to the fins along the top so that the bottoms of the fins can directly dissipate the heat coming up from the mounting plate. Other than the machining marks, this looks like a very polished cooler so depending on how fast I can ratchet up that fan, I should get some pretty awesome thermal overheads.

 

 

 

This EAH5870 clocks it’s GPU core at 850MHz and its Samsung based memory at 1200MHz, but the enthusiast direction of this card tells me that very few owners will be keeping these stock speeds for long. I expect a lot of overhead out of this chip after voltage tweaking has been employed.

 

What does Asus want me to know about this card? It is all on the next page.

Specifications:

Graphics Engine
ATI Radeon HD 5870
Bus Standard
PCI Express 2.1
Video Memory
GDDR5 1G
Engine Clock
850 MHz
Memory Clock
4.8 GHz ( 1.2GHz DDR5 )
Memory Interface
256-bit
D-Sub Max Resolution
2048x1536
DVI Max Resolution
2560x1600
D-Sub Output
Yes x 1 (via DVI to D-Sub adapter x1 )
DVI Output
Yes x 1
HDMI Output
Yes x 1
DisplayPort
Yes
HDCP Support
Yes
Adapter/Cable Bundled
DVI to D-Sub, HDMI to DVI, Six-pin to Eight-pin, Molex to Six-pin, Crossfire
Software Bundled
Asus Utilities & Driver
Card Size
11 inches x 5 inches

 

Features:

 

All information courtesy of Asus @ http://usa.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=RcTBCaKTLKvZNIrO&templete=2

Testing:

Testing the EAH5870 V2, I will run the card through the OverclockersClub.com suite of games and synthetic benchmarks. This will test the performance against many popular competitors in order to gauge its performance. The games used are some of today's newest and most popular titles to give you an idea on how the cards perform relative to each other. The system specifications will remain the same throughout the testing. No adjustment will be made to the respective control panels during the testing with the exception of the 3DMark Vantage testing where PhysX is disabled in the NVIDIA control panel when applicable. I will test the card at stock speeds and then overclocked to see how much additional performance is available and to determine if it can run with or faster than the current fastest single GPU cards on the market. Of course, all settings are left at defaults in the control panels of each respective manufacturer except where noted. The drivers used in this test will be the 10.4 Catalyst drivers for ATI and 197.45 Forceware drivers from Nvidia. I really want to see just how fast this card can fly!

 

Comparison Video Cards:

 

Overclocking:

Overclocked settings:

Phew! Just as I had hoped, this new revision of the 5870 puts out quite a show! The cooling performed comparably to Saphire's Vapor-X cooling system keeping the GPU chilly at around 53 degrees Celsius under full load with the fan at 100% and didn't go over 72 degrees when the drivers controlled the card, even then I had difficulty hearing the card. Once I started pushing the card I was able to slide up to 990MHz stable with temperatures around 65 degrees. Even with that, I would consider this card to be a good overclocker, but where the v2 is special, is with the voltage tweak ability. Once I pushed that into effect, I bumped the voltage on the core to 1.349v and was able to get the card up to 1035MHz on the GPU and 1275MHz on the DRAM. Yes, a 5870 just hit over 1GHz stable, and only around 70 degrees! I expect some pretty awesome performance jumps in the OCC Benchmarks.

 

Maximum Clock Speeds:

Each card has been tested for its maximum stable clock speeds using MSI's Kombuster utility. So far, my testing has shown that higher clock speeds may be stable in games where GPU usage does not reach 100%, but will crash within a few minutes using this utility. The reported clock speeds are those that proved stable over a 15 minute test at 1920x1200 8x AA.

 

  1. Far Cry 2
  2. Metro 2033
  3. Crysis Warhead
  4. Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2
  5. Darkest of Days
  6. Bioshock 2
  7. Just Cause 2
  8. Unigine Heaven Benchmark 2.0
  9. Batman: Arkham Asylum
  10. Resident Evil 5
  11. 3DMark 06 Professional
  12. 3DMark Vantage
  1. Temperature
  2. Power Consumption

Testing:

Featuring a new game engine named Dunia, this game looks to be another one to stress your video card. Built especially for Far Cry 2, this engine allows for real time effects and damage. This next generation First Person Shooter comes to us from Ubisoft surprisingly - not from Crytek. The game is set in a war-torn region of Africa where there is a non-existent central government and the chaos that surrounds this type of social environment. If you have seen the movie Blood Diamond, you know the setting. Ubisoft puts the main storyline of the game into focus with these statements: "Caught between two rival factions in war-torn Africa, you are sent to take out "The Jackal," a mysterious character who has rekindled the conflict between the warlords, jeopardizing thousands of lives. In order to fulfill your mission you will have to play the factions against each other, identify and exploit their weaknesses, and neutralize their superior numbers and firepower with surprise, subversion, cunning and, of course, brute force." In this version of the game, you don't have the beautiful water, but instead the beauty and harshness of the African continent to contend with. Most games give you a set area that can be played through, while Ubisoft has given the gamer the equivalent of 50km2 of the vast African continent to explore while in pursuit of your goals. The settings used are just a few steps below the maximum in-game settings and offer a good blend of performance vs. visual quality.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

Alright - after the very first benchmark, the 5870 performs right where it should. Once the card is overclocked, it surpasses the Sapphire edition.

Testing:

Part first-person shooter, part survival horror, Metro 2033 is based on the novel of the same name, written by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. You play as Artyom in a post-apocalyptic Moscow, where you'll spend most of your time traversing the metro system, with occasional trips to the surface. Despite the dark atmosphere and bleak future for mankind, the visuals are anything but bleak. Powered by the 4A Engine, with support for DirectX 11, NVIDIA Physx and NVIDIA 3D Vision, the tunnels are extremely varied - in your travels, you'll come across human outposts, bandit settlements, and even half-eaten corpses. Ensuring you feel all the tension, there is no map and no health meter. Get lost without enough gas mask filters and adrenaline shots, and you may soon wind up as one of those half-eaten corpses - chewed up by some horrifying manner of irradiated beast that hides in the shadows, just waiting for some hapless soul to wander by.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

Even with such a demanding game, the EAH5870 v2 keeps right up with the GTX470 in all tests.

Testing:

Crysis Warhead is a standalone expansion pack situated in time with the story line of the original Crysis. As Sergeant "Psycho" Sykes, you have a secret mission to accomplish on the far side of the island. Along the way there are EMP blasts and aliens to contend with, as you hunt down the KPA chief. This game uses an enhanced version of the CryEngine 2.

Settings

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

The card is easily playable in all resolutions, with overclocking providing good bonuses.


 

Testing:

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is the latest iteration of the venerable first-person shooter series, Call of Duty. Despite its long, successful pedigree, the game is not without substantial criticism and controversy, especially on the PC. Aside from the extremely short campaign and lack of innovation, the PC version's reception was also marred by its lack of support for user-run dedicated servers, which means no user-created maps, no mods, and no customized game modes. You're also limited to 18-player matches instead of the 64-player matches that were possible in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Despite all this, the game has been well received and the in-house IW 4.0 engine renders the maps in gorgeous detail, making it a perfect candidate for OCC benchmarking. You start off the single player missions playing as Private Allen and jump right into a serious firefight. This is the point where testing will begin. Testing will be done using actual game play with FPS measured by Fraps.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

The 5870 v2 beats out all but the GTX480 from the nVidia stable, though overclocking puts the framerates over 100 up until 1920x1200.

Testing:

What would testing be if you did not show both sides of the fence? In this test, PhysX was set to low, while leaving the remaining settings intact. You have seen time and again where the ATI cards suffer when PhysX is enabled. Mirror's Edge and Cryostasis are two prime examples. Darkest of Days is no different. What happens in this test shows that, although the game can be played by cards from the red team, the video effects and quality are diminished.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

This is the oddest benchmark run I've seen through the entire review. The scores on the 1280x1024 resolution are indeed correct, as the framerate DROPS from stock speeds to overclocked. Otherwise the card sits in the #2 spot. The abnormality has been verified and is repeatable, which is weird.

Testing:

BioShock 2 is the sequel to a game that won more than 50 game of the year awards and sold more than 2.5 million units worldwide. Though a first-person shooter at its core, BioShock 2 blends that with RPG elements and drops you into an environment like no other - the underwater dystopian city of Rapture. Set approximately ten years after the events of the original, BioShock 2 allows the player to be one of the most iconic video game characters of recent years, a Big Daddy. Powered by the Unreal Engine 2.5 and featuring Havok Physics, BioShock 2 also adds multiplayer to the mix, filling in the one hole prevalent in the first game. There are seven different multiplayer game modes that take place in 1959, before the events of the original BioShock.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

At 1920x1200 the 5870 v2 has an almost 100fps lead over the GTX465 at overclocked settings.

Testing:

Just Cause 2 is a third-person shooter that takes place on the fictional island of Panau in Southeast Asia. In this sequel to 2006's Just Cause, you return as Agent Rico Rodriguez to overthrow an evil dictator and confront your former boss. When you don't feel like following the main storyline, you're free to roam the island, pulling off crazy stunts and causing massive destruction in your wake, all beautifully rendered by the Avalanche Engine 2.0. In the end, that's what the game basically boils down to; crazy stunts and blowing things up. In fact, blowing things up and wreaking havoc is actually necessary to unlock new missions and items.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

The EAH5870 v2 provides good framerates across the board, but overclocking yields excellent gains!

Testing:

Unigine's Heaven Benchmark 2.0 is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on the Unigine engine. What sets the Heaven Benchmark apart is the addition of hardware tessellation, available in three modes; Moderate, Normal and Extreme. Although tessellation requires a video card with DirectX 11 support and Windows Vista/7, the Heaven Benchmark also supports DirectX 9, DirectX 10 and OpenGL. Visually, it features beautiful floating islands that contain a tiny village and extremely detailed architecture.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

Yet another good showing for the EAH 5870 v2 from Asus.

Testing:

Batman: Arkham Asylum brings together two bitter foes, The Joker and Batman. The Joker Has taken over Arkham Asylum, Gotham's home for the criminally insane. Your task is to rein the Joker back in and restore order. This game makes use of PhysX technology to create a rich environment for you to ply your trade.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

The EAH5870 puts in an excellent showing as usual.

Testing:

Resident Evil 5 is the sequel to one of the best selling video games of all time. You play the game as Chris Redfield a survivor of the events at Raccoon City who now works for the BSAA. Sent to Africa to find the gen6sis of the latest Bio Organic agents you meet up with another BSAA operative and work together to solve the problem. The game offers incredible 3D effects and a co-op gaming style.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

Keeping over 100fps in Resident Evil 5 in the higher resolutions with all the eye-candy on is tough, but the EAH5870 v2 overclocks like it's no sweat at all.

Testing:

3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest has begun. 3DMark06 presents a severe test for many of today's hardware components. Let's see how this setup fares. The settings we will use are listed below.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

Although the scores were lower than expected, the EAH5870 puts out a decent performance.

Testing:

Featuring all-new game tests, this benchmark is for use with Vista based systems. "There are two all-new CPU tests that have been designed around a new 'Physics and Artificial Intelligence-related computation.' CPU test two offers support for physics related hardware." There are four preset levels that correspond to specific resolutions. 'Entry' is 1024x768 progressing to 'Extreme' at 1920x1200. Of course, each preset can be modified to arrange any number of user designed testing. For our testing, I will use the four presets at all default settings.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

The EAH5870 is consistently lower than the comparison 5870, undoubtedly because of the other's stock overclock. The Asus v2 edition always comes out on top in the overclocked tests, however, and even scores over 10k in the Xtreme test!

Testing:

Temperature testing will be accomplished by loading the video card to 100% using the MSI Kombuster utility that is paired with MSI's afterburner overclocking utility for temperature monitoring. I will be using the stability test set to a resolution of 1920x1200 using 8xAA. I will use a 15 minute time frame to run the test ensuring that the maximum thermal threshold is reached. The fan speed will be left in the control of the driver package and video cards BIOS for the first test with the fan moved to 100% to see the best possible cooling scenario. The idle test will be a 20 minute cool-down with the fan speeds left on automatic.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lower = Better

 

The EAH5870 is definitely a cool cat. When the huge fan on this thing is cranked up, the numbers only go lower. At full speed, it gets pretty loud though.

Testing:

Power Consumption of the system will be measured in both idle states and load stated and will take into account the peak voltage of the system with each video card installed. I will use MSI Kombuster to load the GPU for a 15 minute test an use the peak load of the system as my result for the maximum load. The Idle results will be measured after 15 minutes of inactivity on the system.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lower = Better

 

If you are looking for an energy conscious device anywhere on this page, you have bigger issues than your power bill. Seriously though, the 5870 scales VERY nicely considering the huge gap between idle and load consumptions. The ATI card is easily able back off when you aren't using it.

Conclusion:

The Asus EAH5870 v2 puts on an impressive showing all the way around. The card comes well packaged with quality containers and superb design. The card itself is quite the looker, with its custom shroud designed by Asus itself. The black and red color combo was a solid choice and the colors play well off each other. The cooling system is effective and well designed with an all copper construction, oversized fan, and expanded vent. This card supports CrossFireX, as well as Eyefinity technology. Beyond those features, the card is compatible with all of the other DX11 add-ons and applications.

The inclusion of SmartDoctor was a good move by Asus. Enabling the voltage tweak option on such an advanced card really let ATI's HyperScaling technology shine, and enabled 1GHz+ clock speeds! Once the EAH5870 v2 got cranked up to its upper frequency range, it became a driving force in the single-GPU arena. OCC has never had a 5870 break the 1GHz barrier on its test bench, so this card is the first. Being able to play any modern game with DX11 turned all the way up on a single GPU is awesome. Tessellations are a breeze for this power-house! While ATI's Stream technology hasn't caught on quite like nVidia's PhysX has, it still provides a noticeable boost to everyday activities and keeps Photoshop feeling perky.

Really, Asus has a game-changer on their hands here for the enthusiast market. Throwing four voltage tweak 5870's into CrossFireX all clocked over 1GHz into a single rig would truly output benchmark-crushing power. Put some exotic cooling solutions on them and I can only imagine where the clocks could end up. If there is a sweet-spot for next-gen high-end graphics cards, this is it. The card is close to the GTX480 when overclocked and is over $100 less! I can not think of anything that would really improve this card, other than a quiet performance cooling solution and an extra gigabyte or two of RAM for post-processing duties. Even then, the 1GB on-board was easily handling 8xAA and 16xAF with everything turned up in Crysis at 1920x1200, so you really can't ask for too much more!

 

Pros:

 

Cons: