Sapphire HD 5870 Reviewccokeman - September 22, 2009
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The Sapphire HD5870 is the latest video card from Sapphire and ATI. It is a full size card that measures eleven inches in length, slightly larger than its contemporaries. In the theme of going bigger, ATI has more than doubled the transistor count to 2.15 billion on the 40nm RV870 core, while doubling the number of Stream processors from 800 on the 48XX series to 1600 on the HD 5870. The RV870 core measures 334mm2 in size, or about 1.25 times the size of the HD4870, with a 100% bump in the number of Texture units from 40 on the HD4870 to 80 on the HD5870. While many things have doubled, the 1GB frame buffer remains. What does all this mean you ask? It means that the HD5870 has 2.7TFLOPS of computing power in a pretty compact package. The HD5870 uses a full cover design much the way the GTX 285 does with the whole of the electronics on the backside of the PCB covered minus the GPU heatsink retention bracket.
Connectivity on the Sapphire HD 5870 comes in the form of two DUAL link DVI ports as well as a single DisplayPort and HDMI port. With ATI's EyeFinity Multimonitor technology it looks as though DisplayPort has found a permanent home as a standard. The back end end of the HD5870 features two intakes for the blower fan assembly and with the racing stripe down the center of the card could be mistaken for the front end of a car!
The HD5870 is Crossfire capable with the addition of a second HD5870 and motherboard that supports Crossfire technology. Power is routed to the Sapphire HD5870 via two 6-pin PCI-E connections on the top of the board rather than on the end of the PCB. The HD5870 is said to use 188 watts of power under load and a miserly 27 watts at idle. One thing I did notice was that the GPU core clock dropped to 150MHz when in an idle state versus the 300MHz seen on the HD4890. Lower clock speeds equate to lower power consumption.
Let's see if this baby lives up to the promise of doubled performance!