XFX HD 5870 Review

RHKCommander959 - 2009-09-27 15:21:16 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: RHKCommander959   
Reviewed on: October 7, 2009
Price: $379.99

Introduction:

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.

Closer Look:

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!

Closer Look:

XFX's HD 5870 is their newest video card released to date, and so is the RV870 GPU from AMD. The GPU has been built on a smaller fabrication - 40nm, and packs in double the amount of total stream processors, as well as the amount of texture and render units to 1600, 80, and 32 respectively. Although this GPU is produced on a smaller fabrication than its predecessors, the overall core size has increased due to the increase in transistor count to over 2 billion - making this core approximately 25% larger than the RV770/790XT. The 256bit memory bus and 1GB memory size of GDDR5 memory is the same although memory speed has been increased to 1200MHz to give another performance boost on the memory side. The stock cooling design has changed - the top is now sloping with its highest point at the center ridge highlighted by the red piece - the shape reminds me of the shape of a recurve bow and the back red vents are angled similarly. This design should help the fan breathe when next to the back side of another card in CrossFireX. The cover design is mostly red and black with gray-ish things in the back that have the shape of X's. The back side has a large back plate covering all of the card except the heat sink retention mechanism and surrounding PCB that lies underneath the GPU core. The back plate is nicely decorated with an imprinted ATI logo, the back plate should keep the PCB flattened out and stiff - allowing the components on the other side good contact all throughout.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The side sports two 6-pin PCI Express power connectors and a vent at the end since the expansion slot vents cannot be expanded the full width of the card due to the stacked DVI ports. The red ATI Radeon side looks pretty nice and hides the vents by the two CrossFireX connectors. Near the X16 PCI Express slot are many of the bar codes, numbers, and ratings that are found on the back of the PCB - but because of the back plate they were moved to the inner side of the video card. Once the card is installed these are unable to be seen, which is nice because they can be ugly and this method allows more information to be crammed in as well. There are two smaller ones on the back corner of the back plate nonetheless. The stacked DVI ports are partially visible near the slot piece.

 

 

The end of the card sports ventilation, two DVI ports, a HDMI port, and a DisplayPort. A few screws are in place for stability - the two black ones hold the expansion slot plate to the heat sink better while the small silver one holds the HDMI port in place better when plugging in cables, similar to the function of the hexagonal threaded bolts for the pair of DVI's. The back of the card has two unique red vents for airflow - using basic logic for the cage fan would suggest that the vents would exhaust air out if no special work was done inside, but special work was done inside that will be shown later, effectively one vent does nothing and the other serves as another intake with the top. This combined with the curvy top is especially handy for when two graphics cards are placed side by side in CrossFireX configuration as the older designs allowed the back of one card to starve out the fan on another.

 

 

The card features two ports for CrossFireX with up to three additional 5870's. Some companies protect these and the PCI Express port with rubber slips although XFX has not. These appear to be gold or gold based and so oxidation is not really an issue to be worried about so coverings aren't really needed anyway. The metal back plate is stamped to read ATI Radeon Premium Graphics, something to look at when the card is installed in a traditional case with a window. The back of the card has two 6-pin PCI Express power connections which were traditionally on the backend of the card. Moving these to the side-end of the card makes it easier to plug in the power cables in a cramped case, and generally makes it easier to unplug or plug in power connectors anyway.

 

 

Much of the back plate does not come in contact with the video card, although it does help keep the PCB straight. and there is some plastic insulation around the socket to keep from shorting out with the circuitry. There are some ridges along the back plate - I assume it helps keep the back plate stiffer/firmer. Inside of the covering we can observe how the airflow was guided from the fan. Air is brought in through the top of the fan and the back of the card and exhausted out the case through the vents in the expansion slots as well as circulated through the case by another vents which are located in the red side near where the CrossFireX slots are, adjacent to the expansion slot vents.

 

 

The heat sink uses four heat pipes that are soldered to the fins, all of which is attached to another plate that sits atop the video card. Part of the plate is formed to go around the 6-pin PCI Express power connections and another reaches out to the front of the card. The fan is attached to the plate with three screws and sits in a groove that fits its shape. A few holes are bored through the plate to give space for some capacitors and a buzzer - the spaces will allow some air to be pulled through. There is a small flattened heat pipe that hides under the fan to help cool the power circuitry. The plate has thermal tape for the memory and circuits that get hot and thermal paste for the GPU core. There is a plastic film for insulation along the rest of the plate to insulate the plate from other electronic components that do not need heat dissipated.

 

 

The blower fan is a dull/matte red, and the design is pretty standard for blowers. The bottom has some holes in it which would allow it to pull some air through the holes for the capacitors on the heat sink assembly. The fan uses four pins, and is attached with three screws to the plate that the heat sink is attached to. heat shrink keeps the cables in order. The fan is produced by NTK Limited and is model FD9238H12S - 92mm diameter by 38mm tall. At full speed this thing is loud, resembling a vacuum cleaner inside the case. At full power this thing draws 12V and 0.8A.

 

 

There are eight GDDR5 memory IC's from Samsung on the HD 5870. The GPU core size has increased from R700 but is still quite a bit smaller than the R600 GPU core. The card has two DVI outputs, an HDMI, and a DisplayPort for most setups. Users using component video do not have a port however. Along the card there are many holes that could be easily used for a 3rd party heat sink. Towards the back of the video card is a buzzer - likely for audible error codes, it sits next to the four-pin plug for the blower motor. The two 6-pin PCI Express parts have been moved from the back to the side of the card, similar to what Nvidia did. The back of the card is less interesting, most of the main circuitry is on the other side of the card. Plenty of resistors around though.

 

 

Here is a shot of the GPU core exposed and cleaned up a bit. Protecting it is a shim - a piece of metal that is slightly shorter than the core and is used to help keep the core from being damaged when the heat sink is being installed. The core is etched with the ATI logo and is made in Taiwan. The GDDR5 Samsung is labeled K4G10325FE-HC04 and translates into: GDDR5, 1G 8K/32ms, x32 organization, pod_15 VDD 1.5v VDDQ 1.5v, 6th generation, 170 FBGA halogen/lead free, commercial normal power and temperature, and 0.40ns (5.0Gbps) speed.

 

 

Time to take a look at the drivers!

Closer Look:

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!

Specifications:

Bus Type
PCI-E 2.0
Performance
Standard 
GPU Clock MHz
850 MHz
Memory Interface Bus (bit)
256
Memory Type
DDR5 
Memory Size (MB)
1024 MB
Memory Clock (MHz)
4800 MHz
Microsoft® DirectX® Support
11
Shader Model Support
5.0
Open GL Optimization and Support
3.2
Minimum Power Requirement (Watt)
500W with two 6-pin power cable 
Cooling Fansink
Yes
ROHS
Yes
Profile
Double
ATI Radeon CrossFireX™ Technology
Yes
ATI Radeon PowerPlay™
Yes
ATI Radeon Stream Technology
Yes
Dimensions (Metric)
27.9 X 11 X 3.8
Max Resolution Analog
2048 x 1536 (Pixels)
Max Resolution Digital
2560 x 1600 (Pixels)
ATI Eyefinity Technology
Yes
DisplayPort
1

 

Features:

All Information courtesy of XFX @ http://www.xfxforce.com/en-us/products/graphiccards/HD%205000series/5870.aspx

Testing:

To test the XFX HD 5870, the card will be used in a range of games and benchmarks to see how well it performs against other competitive products. The games consist of Far Cry 2, Crysis Warhead, BioShock, Call of Duty World at War, Fallout 3, Dead Space, Left 4 Dead, and the benchmarks are 3DMark 06 and 3DMark Vantage. After running the card normally through the testing phase, the video card will then be overclocked and then re-tested. The results of the overclocked and stock speed performance can then be compared to see how large of a gain (if any) is made. All of the system settings remain the same from card to card and test to test, with the exception of disabling PhysX for Nvidia cards on 3DMark Vantage.

 

Comparison Video Cards:

 

Overclocking:

Overclocked settings:

Overclocking video cards that are the forerunners of a new series is generally difficult - there isn't a ton of options or information out to set the card up properly. Depending on the driver versions, ATI Catalyst Control Centers Overdrive did not always function properly. With RC6 however it did function for the most part, I hit the maximum 900 core and 1270 memory, backing down to 1260 just incase for stability. However, the voltage regulators are software modifiable. Using AMD GPU tool I was able to increase the speeds over the limit in Overdrive, and with the help of MSI Afterburner for voltage control of the GPU I was able to hit 1010 on the core! The only problem was that although the speeds were showing up properly, benchmark scores were disappointingly low. When the drivers and software both mature more this card should devastate at 1GHz+ core speeds! I finally decided to test at 900 core and 1260 memory as I did see a more noticeable gain with Overdrive than I did with the other software at this point. Clock speeds were being reported as correct with the other software but the data with very little to no gain didn't make much sense in comparison to the speed gain from overclocking, so the Overdrive speeds were used for the overclocked testing.

 

 

  1. Far Cry 2
  2. Crysis Warhead
  3. BioShock
  4. Call of Duty World at War
  5. Dead Space
  6. Fallout 3
  7. Left 4 Dead
  8. 3DMark 06 Professional
  9. 3DMark Vantage

 

Testing:

Far Cry 2:

Featuring a new game engine named Dunia, this game looks to be another one to stress your video card. Built especially for Far Cry 2, this engine allows for real time effects and damage. This next generation First Person Shooter comes to us from Ubisoft surprisingly - not from Crytek. The game is set in a war-torn region of Africa where there is a non-existent central government and the chaos that surrounds this type of social environment. If you have seen the movie Blood Diamond, you know the setting. Ubisoft puts the main storyline of the game into focus with these statements: "Caught between two rival factions in war-torn Africa, you are sent to take out "The Jackal," a mysterious character who has rekindled the conflict between the warlords, jeopardizing thousands of lives. In order to fulfill your mission you will have to play the factions against each other, identify and exploit their weaknesses, and neutralize their superior numbers and firepower with surprise, subversion, cunning and, of course, brute force." In this version of the game, you don't have the beautiful water, but instead the beauty and harshness of the African continent to contend with. Most games give you a set area that can be played through, while Ubisoft has given the gamer the equivalent of 50km2 of the vast African continent to explore while in pursuit of your goals. The settings used are just a few steps below the maximum in-game settings and offer a good blend of performance vs. visual quality.

 

Settings:

 

 

  

  

 

 

 

 

 

The first results here with testing of Far Cry 2 are simply astounding to see! The GTX285 comes in at a very distant second, though overclocking gave a decent boost in FPS gain with a few to each chart. The HD 5870 is definitely powerful, nearly getting double what the GTX 260's got.

Testing:

Crysis Warhead is a standalone expansion pack situated in time with the story line of the original Crysis. As Sergeant "Psycho" Sykes, you have a secret mission to accomplish on the far side of the island. Along the way there are EMP blasts and aliens to contend with, as you hunt down the KPA chief. This game uses an enhanced version of the CryEngine 2.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crysis Warhead is much the same story as Far Cry 2 - this might be a recurring trend. The HD 5870 obviously has more power than the 4870's and even the 4890's. Overclocking gained one to two frames extra in each resolution here.

Testing:

BioShock is one of the creepier games you can play. The building of a perfect Utopian society undersea gone horribly wrong. Its inhabitants driven mad with the introduction of tonics and genetic modifications. Now Rapture is just a shadow of its former glory with little girls looting the dead of what little they have left while being shadowed by guardians known as "Big Daddies" It is a demanding game that will make your hardware scream for mercy. This First Person Shooter allows for an infinite number of weapons and modifications to provide a unique experience each time it is played. The environment as well as the story line will wrap you up for hours on end.

 

Video Settings:

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With BioShock the tables finally turned - at least until the latter three resolutions. Each increase in resolution gave the HD 5870 more distance between it and the others. The Nvidia GTX 285 and 275 both put up a decent fight in the lower resolutions, even beating the stock XFX HD 5870 by 15 FPS and the overclocked XFX HD 5870 by 3 FPS. With all settings set to maximum the game is still easily playable.

Testing:

Activision's Call of Duty: World at War goes right back to the bread and butter of the franchise - WWII FPS action. In this rendition, you start off in the South Pacific and move through a series of missions that flip back and forth between the Russian front and the island hopping advance toward the Imperial Japanese homeland. Included is a mission on Peliliu Island, arguably one of the more difficult and costly battles in the Pacific theater. The gameplay in the single player mode is rather short, but the game makes up for this shortcoming in online gameplay. If you thought CoD4 looked nice, this game is amazing with the graphics maxed out playing at a high resolution. I will use Fraps to measure a section of gameplay in the Semper Fi map on Makin Island to compare the performance of these video cards.

Settings:

 

 

  

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Call of Duty World at War sets the familiar pace of the past tests. The XFX HD 5870 overclocked actually did get double the frame rate compared to the Sapphire HD 4870 1GB Toxic in the lowest and highest resolutions. The 4890's however weren't stomped as heavily. The valiant GTX 285 was no where near the 5870.

Testing:

Fallout 3 takes place after the nuclear holocaust that nearly wipes out civilization and leaves the world an irradiated mess. The vault, or fallout shelter, you are born in is Vault 101, situated in the Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia area. The premise of the game is that the Vault has been sealed for 200 years, and now your father has opened the vault and escaped without a trace. The Overseer believes you are involved, so you must escape as well into the wasteland that was once our nation's capital.

Settings:

 

 

 

  

 

  

  

 

 

 

 

 

Fallout 3 has always clumped the cards together. The Asus GTX 285 Matrix and Sapphire HD 4890 held the top scores for the first three resolutions, while the HD 5870 kicked in at the largest resolution where the cards generally separate.

Testing:

In Dead Space, as part of the crew of the USG Kellion you are headed on a repair mission to repair a ship in distress. Things go from bad to worse, starting with the crash landing and seemingly silent and "dead" ship, the USG Ishimuru. Offering a non-traditional over the shoulder viewing angle, the game gets right into the action as soon as the ventilation systems are activated. From there things get worse with the appearance of the Necromorphs. Survival now becomes a primary concern for the primary character Isaac Clarke. Survive and you may find the loved one that was aboard the Ishimuru.

Settings:

 

 

 

 

  

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dead Space did great with the GTX 275 and GTX 285, but did even better with the XFX HD 5870! The GTX 260's still put up decent rates and 4-series cards got half to less than half the score that the XFX HD 5870 got. Overall even the worst card provided playability with the game at full quality.

Testing:

Left 4 Dead is a new release from Valve that leaves you as part of a group of survivors in a world where an infection has rapidly turned the populace into a zombie horde. You goal is to make it to a rescue point, all the while fighting what seems like overwhelming odds. Along the way there are safe houses where you can replenish your weapons and health. The movie 'I Am Legend' comes to mind to set the stage for this game. But unlike the movie, there are four characters and not just a lone gun and his faithful companion. The horde is not at all like the typical slow walking, foot shuffling zombie. These zombies are quick and work with the pack mentality. Your job: survival!

Settings:

 

  

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Left 4 Dead turned the tables on the XFX HD 5870, bringing it down to the level of the prior power cards. The GTX 285 scored really closely to the HD 5870 here and proved to be the only real competition in Left 4 Dead.

Testing:

3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest has begun. 3DMark06 presents a severe test for many of today's hardware components. Let's see how this setup fares. The settings we will use are listed below.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

3DMark 06 scores were through the roof for the XFX HD 5870! At the default resolution of 1280x1024, the nearest scoring card was still over 2000 points away.

Testing:

Featuring all-new game tests, this benchmark is for use with Vista based systems. "There are two all-new CPU tests that have been designed around a new 'Physics and Artificial Intelligence-related computation.' CPU test two offers support for physics related hardware." There are four preset levels that correspond to specific resolutions. 'Entry' is 1024x768 progressing to 'Extreme' at 1920x1200. Of course, each preset can be modified to arrange any number of user designed testing. For our testing, I will use the four presets at all default settings.

 Settings:

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3DMark Vantage almost had some competition at Entry, but every other setting showed the XFX HD 5870 winning by a huge margin.

Conclusion:

The XFX HD 5870 performed admirably. Benchmark scores were phenomenal and the level of performance that this card offers even at stock is high above the last generations capabilities. The box was very sturdy and the card was well protected by the full cover of foam. All of the required accessories were included as well as some that just make the job of installing the card easier - such as quick installation guides and so on. The free game voucher is a nice touch - Dirt 2 should be out in early December and will show off DirectX 11. Overclockability of this card is very high with the software modifiable voltage although with the lack of updated software and stable drivers it can be very finicky. ATI Overdrive worked just fine in the end for a modest overclock and fan control. The fan was very loud at full speed but kept the temperatures very low on auto and manual speeds - left at defaults the card idled in the mid 40's and loaded mid-to-high 60's. The Samsung memory on this particular card didn't want to overclock very far and while being stable, they topped out at around 1275. The core easily reached over 1GHz bench stable but the scores were very close to the stock scores while using Catalyst gave higher scores - something must have been incompatible or interfering - it almost reminded me of a strap by how it acted during overclocking. Nonetheless this card is a beast and was at the top for almost all of the benchmarks. With a good card and a good package, not much more could be asked for.

The only con other than the oddities with overclocking/driver support would be how loud the fan gets when manually set above a third of its capabilities. Generally when I overclock I set the fan speed to 100%, but it sounded like a jumbo jet engine was being tested inside my case. When left at auto or kept in the low 30% range the fan was inaudible next to the case fans so it isn't really a problem, more of just a notice to others that this thing can be loud when set to higher speeds. At higher speeds this fan pushed a lot of air!

High performance and overclockability, good temperatures, great packaging, and a free game are all ingredients for the recipe of a winner - this time the XFX HD 5870 1GB.

 

Pros:

Cons: