XFX HD 5870 ReviewRHKCommander959 - October 7, 2009
Category: Video Cards
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With the change of the seasons comes the change of hardware. AMD just released their latest series of video cards to the public in the form of the ATI HD 5870. The ATI HD 5870 comes packing double the stream processors and double the texture (TMU) units as well as doubled render (ROP) units. The stream processors total in at 1600, with 80 TMUs and 32 ROPs - the reference core speed remains the same as the 4890's while memory speed has increased to 1200MHz. The fabrication process has been shrunk from 55nm down to 40nm, but with the increase of transistors the total die size has grown considerably to nearly an extra 25% in size. ATI was the first to 40nm video cards, and is also the first to present DirectX 11 compatibility. The memory bus and size has not increased - remaining at 256bit and 1GB. Overall the new release should bring some serious performance and all of the new developments look very enticing. AMD also has developed new software to go along with the new series - it is called ATI Eyefinity, the software allows multiple monitors of up to 6 to be used at the same time on each video card.
XFX has quickly come out with their own 5870, the XFX HD 5870 1GB. It runs at the reference clock speeds of 850MHz on the core and 1200MHz on the GDDR5 memory. The card is shipped with a voucher to get Dirt 2 - a DirectX 11 game - when it comes out later this winter. The XFX HD 5870 is the same as a plain ATI HD 5870, with its double stream processors, TMUs, and ROPs of the 4-series, so I'll save the suspense and move on.
XFX has decorated the box with black and red art which resembles vents or something, and in the center black and yellow caution stripes. Some patches resemble brushed metal, none of the box is plain looking. The front has a three page fold out that is held on by four Velcro tabs and the folds are held shut by a single Velcro tab. The XFX sticker at the top has the usual company logo "play hard." Several other stickers are present: ATI Radeon, 1GB GDDR5 memory, XFX 5-Star Support, and the ATI Eyefinity. This extra attachment is not intended for retail markets, and is just showing off the Eyefinity stuff. Opening the fold shows a three page scene of a Subaru rallying on what looks like a representation of a Eyefinity demonstration. Opening the first tab shows flags against a red wall of rock.
The other flap has information about DirectX 11, ATI Eyefinity, and Dirt 2. At the bottom is XFX's website www.XFXforce.com. The ATI Eyefinity blurb reads "Enjoy an incredibly immersive HD gaming/computing experience with ATI Eyefinity Technology. This revolutionary multi-display technology allows you to expand your visual real estate across up to three displays with innovative wrap around capabilities to maximize your field of view with incredible sharpness and clarity. The DirectX 11 part talks about how the HD 5800 series is the first completely compatible DirectX 11 GPU.
The center pane shows the back side of the Subaru kicking up a bunch of dirt and gravel, the pictures are enclosed in a grayish brushed metallic border resembling monitor bezels. The two flaps fold away from each other to resemble a tri-monitor setup playing Dirt 2. Next the fold-out can be removed and the box can be seen in its entirety.
The true front of the box is the same as the attached foldout with the exception of the ATI Eyefinity sticker being replaced with a Dirt 2 sticker, and the Not for Resale words being omitted. The side of the box has Dirt 2 ratings, model/part/serial numbers and barcodes. There are also some badges for supported groups such as RoHS compliance, FCC, etc.
The end of the box is held shut with a round piece of tape and has some features of the ATI card. Four white pictures at the top are titled vivid photos, cinematic video, immersive gaming, and high performance. Underneath those pictures are some features of the card - ATI AVIVO: high definition video, gaming, and photos. ATI Catalyst Software Suite: software suite for improved stability and performance, and manage your graphics cards with the ATI Catalyst Control Center interface. ATI CrossFireX: take gaming to a new level with plug-n-play ease, add multiple compatible XFX Radeon graphics cards. Then there is the usual small dark writing about stipulations of the features.
This end is held shut just as the other end was, with a round sticker. This side says the system requirements - PCI Express or PCI Express 2.0 compliant motherboard with one X16 graphics slot, 500 Watt or greater power supply with two 75W 6-pin PCI-Express* power connectors recommended (600 Watt and four 6-pin connectors for ATI CrossFireX technology in dual mode), Certified power supplies are recommended. Refer to www.XFXforce.com or http://ati.amd.com/certifiedPSU for a list of Certified products, Minimum 1GB of system memory. The end also lists the packaged components in the box: XFX Radeon HD 5870, Installation CD, CrossFire Bridge, Quick Installation Guide, Driver CD Installation Guide, XFX Serial Number Door Hanger, 6-pin to 4-pin Power Cable, and DVI to VGA Adapter. The back of the box has plenty of information. Key features are listed, the only ones which haven't been touched on earlier in the review are: supports OpenGL 3.1, Dynamic power management with ATI PowerPlay technology, video output through Display Port, HDMI, and 2xDL-DVI. Underneath the Radeon HD 5870 are the words Expand. Accelerate. Dominate in bold green. In the middle is the 5 Star Support also bolded. The bottom has five red and black stickers side by side.
Opening one of the end flap shows a black box with greenish XFX logo, the color reminds me of the old green glow-in-the-dark toys. This box is similar to the smaller boxes XFX was shipping with except that this one is around double the width!
After opening the box users will be welcomed by the user manuals and driver disks, door hanger, and Dirt 2 voucher sitting atop black foam which is held in place by green colored cardboard. The foam is very dense and offers very good impact protection.
Underneath the top layer of foam is a form-fitted piece that encases the video card from the sides. The card is also protected by an antistatic bag. Underneath the green cardboard form are the hardware accessories - two Molex to 6-pin PCI Express adapters, CrossFire dongle, and DVI to VGA adapter.
These are the included accessories - Quick Install Guide, ATI Graphics Card drivers, Installation Guide, Dirt 2 voucher, CrossFire dongle, DVI to VGA adapter, two Molex to 6-pin adapters, and "Do not disturb I'm gaming" door hanger. A full package, other video adapters aren't included because the video card already has most of the mainstream ports. Finally, the XFX HD 5870 is out of the box but the cat isn't out of the bag just yet.
With everything unboxed it is time to examine and dissect the video card!