PowerColor Radeon HD 5970 LCS Reviewccokeman -
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The look of the PowerColor HD 5970 LCS is definitely a step away from the looks of the fully shrouded Batmobile-look reference shroud and cooling solution. While the reference cooling was designed to disperse a 400 watt thermal load it just did not have the chops to handle it when the voltages and clock speeds were increased. PowerColor has done something that the water cooling crowd has been doing for a while and has partnered up with EK Water Blocks to get rid of the heat load as a problem using the EK FC5970 nickel plated Acetal covered waterblock as the means to this end. Built using TSMC's 40nm process and loaded up with 4.3 Billion transistors, 3200 shader processing cores (1600 per GPU), 64 ROPs and a 512-bit memory bus split into two 256-bit buses accessing the 2GB of GDDR5 memory, the HD 5970 is built for speed. When designing this card ATI built it for the overclocker in mind, at least that's what the press deck leads you to believe. The use of digital programmable Volterra regulators, Japanese ceramic super capacitors and real time power monitoring are tools they used to make the HD 5900 series OC friendly. The front of the card is dominated by the large EK FC5970 that has the PowerColor and LCS logos cut into the acetal. The back of the card retains the stock backplate to offer some additional structural rigidity.
Connectivity options consist of two Dual Link DVI ports and a single DisplayPort. What, no HDMI port you say? You can get your HDMI fix by using the supplied adapters. HDMI 1.3 output is supported with Deep Color, xvYCC wide gamut support, and high bitrate audio as well. You can use this card to power three different monitors with resolutions up to 1920x1200 when using HDMI and up to 2560x1600x3 when using the DVI/DisplayPort options. You can connect the PowerColor LCS HD 5970 to up to three monitors in an Eyefinity multiple monitor setup to really get into your games. The back end of the PCB is pretty bare where the water block does not cover since the block fully covers the power circuits. The two power connections used include a single 6-pin and a single 8-pin PCI-E power connection used to supply the juice this hungry beast needs.
The PowerColor HD 5970 LCS is much like the rest of the 5 series lineup when it comes to a multi GPU strategy. CrossfireX is supported so you can use this card with another of this kind or an air cooled HD 5970 if you like living on the edge. Hooking up another 5970 is not the only way to go thankfully. A while ago I decided to do some testing and coupled an HD 5970 and HD 5870 together for a three GPU CrossfireX setup that delivered some pretty outstanding results. The PCI-E power connections come out of the card along the top spine. Routing them out the back side would make hooking them up almost impossible in many of today's cases as this card is still just as long as the factory reference cards by virtue of using the stock backplate for support.
Hooking up and using this card means either cutting into your existing water cooling loop or building a system from scratch. For me to install the LCS HD 5970 I just had to add a short piece of tubing from the existing CPU waterblock and run it into the FD 5970 block after installing the 1/2inch barbed fittings. These screw directly into the top side of the water block in any of four (two per side) pre-drilled and threaded bungs. The supplied fittings use a captured o-ring to keep it from squeezing out when being tightened up. I then refilled the system with distilled water, bled the system and ran it overnight to check for leaks. I must be living right since there was not a leak in sight.
Installed? Check! Ready for testing? Not quite as we have to install the drivers.