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PowerColor Radeon HD 5870 PCS+ Review

Price: $409.99+


PowerColor has a full lineup of all the ATI GPU's available, in stock and overclocked variants. The card here is the PowerColor HD 5870 PCS+ - an overclocked 5870 Cypress core and memory, packing in 1600 stream processors at 875 MHz and 1GB of GDDR5 at 1225 MHz. The move of AMD/ATI to 40nm allowed more transistor count to be packed into similar area on the silicon substrate – translating (generally speaking) to increased efficiency on both cost, power, and productivity. The PCB is made for the 256-bit bus. Adding in the GDDR5 along with the smaller bus, allows AMD/ATI to produce the card cheaper since GDDR5 costs less than GDDR3 and smaller buses are cheaper and bandwidth isn't sacrificed because the high speed GDDR5 makes up for the smaller bus to put it most simply. Combine that with the die shrink from 55nm on 4-series AMD/ATI cards to 40nm on 5-series and this card should be budget friendly for manufacturers and make room for price cuts. The heat sink on the PowerColor HD 5870 PCS+ is a custom job with four heat pipes and massive core cooling while offering no active RAM cooling. The card also supports native Microsoft DirectX 11, as do the rest of the 5-series cards. ATI Eyefinity and PowerPlay are more supported technologies for multiple monitor spanning and power adjustments.

Overclocking will be a surprise – if the graphics card can have the voltage raised with software and if the heat sink can handle the heat it should do great. The memory probably won't fare as well, but the airflow across the chips might be enough to give a decent boost.

Closer Look:

The box and box art or the PowerColor HD 5870 PCS+ is the same as the other PCS+ 5-series cards thus far, except larger than the 5770 PCS+ reviewed prior, in order to fit the larger 5870 graphics card. The center of the box art is a car with tire tread marks left around it, and wispy particles/wind floating around it. The car itself has a giant impeller in the roof and the back and fan both resemble the shroud/fan assembly on the PCS+ cards. PowerColor heads the top of the box and is angled on the rear trunk area of the car, PCS+ Radeon HD 5870 sitting bold nearby underneath. The bottom right has the ATI Radeon graphics card sticker and a Colin McRae: Dirt 2 sticker indicating that this box also contains a certificate to get a free copy of Dirt 2 online. The top right corner of the box displays the supported memory and video outputs - 1GB GDDR5 memory and dual DVI, HDMI, and a DisplayPort for output. The side of the box has Radeon HD 5870 boldly placed along the majority of the length of the side. Underneath, some basic system requirements that are needed to enjoy this graphics card are listed: PCI Express based PC with one x16 lane graphics slot available on the motherboard, 500 Watt or greater power supply with two 75W 6-pin PCI Express power connections recommended (600 Watt and four 6-pin connectors for ATI CrossFireX technology in dual mode), certified power supplies are recommended, minimum 1GB of system memory, installation software requires DVD drive, DVD playback requires DVD drive, Blu Ray playback requires a Blu Ray drive, and for an ATI CrossFireX system, a second ATI Radeon HD 5870 graphics card, an ATI CrossFireX Ready motherboard and one ATI CrossFireX Bridge Interconnect cable are required. Underneath these requirements is another PowerColor branding. The whole box has a general background that looks similar to carbon fiber weaving.




Switching to the back, we find some generic specifications and features in eight languages. Most important is the explanation of the PCS acronym - Professional Cooling System. "With unique cooling technology and attractive cover design, this fantastic cooling solution can decrease operating environment temperature effectively, and enhance headroom for overclocking capabilities. All of these advantages will provide more flexibility for all gamers to take control and tune their rig for maximum performance." This graphics card should be equipped with a heat sink that leaves plenty of overclocking headroom past the factory overclock. The general specifications lay underneath the PowerColor name and are: Powered by ATI Radeon HD 5870, 256-bit memory interface, PCI Express 2.1 support, 40nm process technology, DirectX 11 / Shader Model 5.0 support, ATI Stream technology, ATI CrossFireX multi-GPU support for highly scalable performance, ATI Avivo HD video and display technology, Enhanced Unified Video Decoder 2 (UVD2) for Blu Ray and HD content, and built-in HDMI with 7.1 surround sound. Five snippets underneath explain some of these features in further detail, followed by a chart with three categories and five stars to rank the graphics card capabilities in gaming, video, and office use. The 5870 got all five stars in the three categories meaning that it is proficient at gaming, video content, and office usage. The other side just has a serial and model number. Opening the box shows that a folding corrugated cardboard box encases around the video card. The card is protected by a standard anti-static bag. Underneath all of this are the accessories!



With the PowerColor HD 5870 PCS+ out of the box we can sneak a peek at it through the anti-static bag, a large fan and two large copper heat pipes can be readily seen in the center and top. The right-side looks similar to the trunk of the car on the box art. The accessories included are an installation manual, Colin McRae Dirt 2 game voucher, driver disk, DVI to VGA adapter, and CrossFireX ribbon cable.



With the PowerColor HD 5870 PCS+ out of the box, it's time to get some shots of it!

  1. Introduction & Closer Look
  2. Closer Look (The Video Card)
  3. Closer Look (Drivers & Programs)
  4. Specifications & Features
  5. Testing: Setup & Overclocking
  6. Testing: Far Cry 2
  7. Testing: Crysis Warhead
  8. Testing: Darkest of Days
  9. Testing: Call of Duty World at War
  10. Testing: Warhammer 40,000 Dawn of War II
  11. Testing: Batman Arkham Asylum
  12. Testing: Resident Evil 5
  13. Testing: Left 4 Dead
  14. Testing: 3DMark 06
  15. Testing: 3DMark Vantage
  16. Conclusion
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