XFX 5870 + 5850 CrossFire ReviewRHKCommander959 - November 25, 2009
Category: Video Cards
Price: HD 5850 $309, HD 5870 $399
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After having tested and reviewing both the XFX HD 5850 and XFX HD 5870, it came time to make a review of the two in CrossFire. The amounts of shader processors are different between the two cards, as is the clock speeds between the two. With the XFX HD 5870 there are 1600 shader processors running at 850 MHz core speed and 1200 MHz memory speed. The XFX HD 5850 runs with 1440 shader processors with a 725 MHz core speed and 1000 MHz memory speed – both run 1GB of GDDR5. In the past mixed shader processor cards couldn’t be run in CrossFireX but with the 5-series things have changed somewhat – 5800 cards can be ran in CrossFire together but not in CrossFire with 5700’s. Continuing on with the similarities, both look the same except that in length the 5850’s are shorter with the power ports moved to the rear. Both also support DirectX 11 and software voltage modification for increasingly easy Overclocking capabilities.
Running these in CrossFire mode will give performance that will be limited by the weaker 5850, but it will be interesting to see how well they scale together. Both will be overclocked in the end and tested again with a faster CPU overclock than normal to help shed some light on the true capabilities of the cards together.
Both of the video cards look virtually identical from the top except that the length was scaled down, the artwork and shape is similar but the XFX HD 5850 is approximately an inch shorter. The blower motors look the same, but at higher speeds sound a bit different, possibly affected by the different overall design of the cards or different blower motors were used. Each card is labeled by the given video card name. Rotating around shows an immediate difference between the two video card designs. The 5870 has a back plate that is stamped ATI Radeon Premium Graphics, while the back is exposed on the 5850. The rear bolt patterns share a resemblance but since the PCB board is shorter. The XFX HD 5870 has some identification stickers located on the side of the video card near the PCI-Express slot while the XFX HD 5850 has most of them on the backside.
The expansion slots are exactly identical to each other, with the half-length vents and stacked DVI ports. The backsides are a stark contrast to each other but otherwise these two cards are very similar. Both cards have a retention mechanism to mount the heat sink firmly to the GPU core, and both have screws to hold various parts of the circuit board firmly in place. The side view shows a few more differences. After the CrossFire ports and vents the designs differ a bit, The ATI Radeon logos are in different positions and depths, and the XFX HD 5870 has two 6-pin PCI-Express connectors on the side while the 5850 has them in the rear vent.
The boxes that both cards came in are similar in dimensions except for height. The XFX HD 5870 is about twice as tall. The box art designs are very similar as well. Pardon the cable mess, both of the video cards are installed into the system with room to spare before the hard drive bay. There are two slot spaces between the cards on the MSI Platinum X58 motherboard but both CrossFire dongles reach fine. An extra fan was added to the chipset for stability when running far overclocked as the stock cooling on the chipset is inadequate at moderate overclock speeds when passively cooled.
With the XFX HD 5850 and 5870 installed, it's time to get the drivers up and running!