XFX HD 5870 ReviewRHKCommander959 - October 7, 2009
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The XFX HD 5870 video card was packaged with a disk that contained drivers for the new release. The Dirt 2 game is not yet out; the free game was actually more like a free game coupon/voucher for the Dirt 2 game when it is released. So this time around we will just be focusing on the ATI Catalyst Control Center features, which has options for overclocking the video card and adjusting fan speed through the ATI Overdrive tab, as well as options for adjusting desktop and monitor controls for the perfect setup. Users can also adjust game, video, and photo qualities by either forcing certain features or by letting the application use its own settings. To install the drivers, I suggest using the express option – it installs to the default location quickly and easily. Users will be prompted to install extras at their will such as the Folding@Home client. Overclockers Club has its own folding team where anyone is welcome to join; our team number is #12772. To overclock with the ATI Overdrive feature users are likely to hit a brick wall. The new drivers allow for manual fan speed control but otherwise the only other capabilities of the program are running a rudimentary stability test, basic monitoring, and using sliders with limited ranges to adjust speed. Catalyst effectively overclocked the XFX HD 5870 to 900 MHz core speed and 1260MHz memory speed stable. Once the drivers are installed a quick system restart will get things on the right path and allow the Advanced ATI Catalyst Control Center to be used. The first page to open with ATI Catalyst Control Center is the Welcome page which has quick hyperlinks to check for driver updates, get in contact with customer care, to give feedback, visit the AMD website, or to join the Folding@Home cause. The next page is the Information Center; the Information center is split into two tabs – one for Graphics Software information and the other for Graphics Hardware information. These two tabs can be very handy for troubleshooting any problems a person may run into.
The Graphics Hardware tab of the Information center contains information about the XFX HD 5870 including BIOS version and date, chipset, memory, vendor code, and so on. Most people shouldn’t need the Graphics Hardware and Software information, but it definitely handy when a problem may occur. The next page is the Desktops & Displays page – this page is for the basic settings of the monitor(s) and desktop. Users can figure out which monitor is which and rotate the outputted image. Clicking the properties or moving along brings us to the Desktop Properties page.
The Desktop Properties page has much more control over the desktop with settings such as desktop area, color quality, refresh rate, and again rotation. The next tab in the Desktop Properties page adjusts the color, contrast, brightness, and gamma output. This can be handy on monitors that need some help putting out the appropriate colors – back when I used a CRT a long time ago it helped keep the colors closer to true when the monitor would get aged and get a gray or yellowish tint.
The Display Options page is very short and is used just for one option – Display Detection Option. The options are automatic or manual detection of displays. The 3D page has several tabs that allow users the ability to define a custom scheme for their games. There are previews for the effects or users can power through all of the settings on the 'All' tab at the end.
The Avivo Video page has five tabs dedicated to performance and quality adjustments for video output. A preview is included of a woman with flowers and fruit. Again just as with the 3D page there is an 'All' tab that can adjust all of the settings for the Avivo Video at once.
The last page on the graphics menu is the ATI Overdrive. To first use this feature users must click the lock to ‘unlock’ the program after then agreeing to some terms. The software is capable of automatically overclocking the video card through Auto-Tune but I prefer using the manual settings. Users can test their settings using the Test custom Clocks button. Fan speed control is relatively new to ATI Overdrive and allows users to define what speed the fan or blower runs at. Underneath and to the right of this are gauges and readouts of some of the more important data for this card – temperature, usage activity, fan speed, GPU clock speed, and memory clock speed. The test feature brings up a full screen image that is pretty basic – greenish reddish with an AMD logo in the bottom left.
The new additional menu is the HydraVision menu. The first page is the HydraGrid page, which allows users to define a grid-like component to lock applications to a certain chunk of desktop real estate. Options such as showing the grids when moving a window and showing an icon in the tray are settable at the bottom while adjustingthe grid is near the top. The grid can be previewed as the default layout is seen with white bars representing the grids. Users can customize the grid layout to whatever they desire, the keyboard shortcuts are listed out in the image while the red bar means it is the selected grid component to be adjusted.
The next page is the Desktop Manager, which does exactly what the name implies – it manages the desktop. The desktop manager can keep track of application position and size, and allow spanning across multiple displays. The last page is the Multi Desktop. This name is also suggestive to its use – this program allows users to have multiple desktops ranging from two up to nine. Users can rotate between desktops with the scroll wheel, preserve display settings, and enable another tray icon. This can be useful for those who have a ton of desktop icons as a means to separate them out – one could for instance even make a desktop for each category of their own choosing even – gaming, work, school, and whatever else.
With the drivers all set up it’s time to take a look at the specifications of the XFX HD 5870!