In line with our "Tech on The Go" and "Short Attention Span Reviews", we are also introducing a "30-day with..." review. We'll also introduce "180 Days with" and "365 Days with" types, all featuring hardware we use on everyday basis, to see did the product justified the investment or not. Meet the retail 5870: PowerColor AX5870 1GBD5-MDH We acquired a plain-vanilla, no frills model from PowerColor. If you're an HDTV buzz, there is a version with Konnet's FidelityHD 150 cable. If you're a gamer, PowerColor offers two game-bundling versions - a 5870 with S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Call of Prypat or a version with Colin McRae's DiRT 2. We just wanted the model for the lowest price possible, as we already have DiRT 2 and Call of Prypat. In a way, this is quite a positive way to get the ideal flavor of the product - either go for bundled versions or plain vanilla one. But back to our model - due to not bundling any games, the suggested retail price is a bit lower than other models - due to shortage that should hopefully resolve by the end of the year.
The good thing about the packaging was that it wasn't as oversized as some vendors like. We performed our usual Drop'n'Kick test with and the box didn't even suffered a dent. Upon opening the box, we saw that the reason for that is the way how inner cardboard shell interacts with the outer shell. PowerColor did a very neat job with the box as it will safely protect the valuable content inside.
When it comes to environmental impact, packaging is cardboard in and out, so recycling should not be an issue. However, you may want to hold on to packaging. There is a lot of talk about recycling and getting rid of packaging but what many won't tell you that might automatically void warranty. In fact, some companies are betting on you doing just that.
The packaging contains all the usual ingredients: the board itself, DVI-to-Analog D-Sub adapters, one Crossfire bridge cable, and CD media with the drivers and a simplistic manual. Given the price of the product, we were disappointed to see that only one Crossfire cable was included. It would be positive that in the future we see more than one cable, so that there is a degree of freedom when it comes to separating the boards. We expected that a single card will heat up, and that the two would mean one mean thermal "footlong" sandwich. PowerColor Radeon 5870 specs
Here's a quick rundown of interesting specifications for this product:
Cypress GPU chip packs 1600 shader cores divider into 320 fully fledged cores and 1280 "Asset Light" ones [Vec5D - 1 FP32 + 4 MADD units]. The GPU is clocked at 853 MHz, while 1GB of Samsung GDDR5 memory physicalčy ticks at 1.2 GHz in Quad Data Rate mode [technically, we should call GDDR5 - GQDR i.e. Quad Data Rate], meaning you'll mostly hear talks about 4.8 GHz, 4.8 GT/s [billion transfers per second] or 4.8 Gbps [data rate per pin/ball]. The board requires two 6-pin power connectors to work, so you'll be fine with a 550W power supply, depending on the rest of your components.PowerColor Radeon HD 5870 vs. Ferrari F2003-GA in 1:18 scale. Yes, the 5870 is longer
The board itself will take two slots, but the biggest surprise is the weight. Few months ago, I held the prototype of Radeon 5870, known under codename Marvin and the board was significantly lighter than the final retail PowerColor-branded board at hand. ATI did some modifications in below the Batmobile-looking hood and the board now weighs in almost a kilogram. When installing in a case, make sure you screw both screws in, especially in aluminum cases - then again, this is a standard for all heavy boards and this card can be considered "on diet" when compared to dual-GPU boards such as GeForce GTX 295 or Radeon HD 5970. Still, this board packs in more weight than 4870X2, the previous top-end product from AMD. Having mentioned the 4870X2, do bear in mind that this card is even longer than dual-GPU 4870X2: 27cm for the PCB and additional 1.5cm for the Batmobile grill. Thus, if your case has tiny ATX 11" clearance, this board won't fit in. But in our tested cases, there was more than enough room [both Cooler Master Cosmos S and SilverStone Raven fit 5970 too].The back connectors: 1x DisplayPort, 1x HDMI, 2x DVI. You can only use three displays at the same time.
Looking at the back of the board, we see four independent display connectors; two times DVI-D and a single HDMI and DisplayPort. The debut of ATI's Eyefinity technology limited the heat exhaust from the standard full-length of the second slot bracket to about 40% of conventional size. In order to address this, AMD resorted to a split solution between the backside heat exhaust and an internal one, located on top of the card. According to Dave Baumann, one of AMD's technical gurus, "5870 uses a split cooling exhaust. 70% of hot air leaves the case, while roughly 30% remains inside the case. In internal testing, rear exhaust was good enough for cooling the whole board, but we added the internal exhaust to pass worst case scenario QA."
This statement may sound like a PR stunt, but we will all have to wait until February 2010 to see the arrival of Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity6 Edition, board equipped with six mini-DisplayPorts and full-sized heat exhaust. We'll make appropriate thermal testing at that time.
Given that PowerColor used AMD reference manufactured board [usually, AMD manufacturers all of its boards in PC Partner factories until the company releases design kits to AIBs], the only modification of AMD's reference design lies solely in a sticker on the heatsink and an interesting "R-looking Pc" sticker on the fan itself. To us, sign "Pc" more looked like an "R" letter. Then again, this is one "race-ready" board. Setup
The most important part of any product is exactly how easy or hard is to set it up. In case of this Radeon 5870 board, we tried the card in several environments: testbed [vertical position], Cooler Master Comos S [ATX case, horizontal], SilverStone SG01-Evolution [micro-ATX case, horizontal] and our favorite, SilverStone Raven RV01 case [vertical position]. In each and every case we had no issues with making the 5870 fit inside and there was enough spacing. ATI's choice to go for dual 6-pin power connectors has two sides - from one, it will fit nicely even with a 550W power supply with dual 6-pin PEG rails, but overclockers only have 37W of extra juice to play with [5870 is declared at 188W]. We used the following system:
- Intel Core i7 965 @3.33 GHz [provided by Intel]
- Asetek Low Cost Liquid Cooling [provided by Asetek]
- ASUS P6T7 SuperComputer [provided by ASUS USA]
- DFI X58-T3H6 JR mATX
- 12GB Kingston DDR3-1600 [provided by Kingston]
- 2x 600GB Seagate Cheetah 15.7K in RAID0 [provided by Seagate]
- Sony BD-100A Blu-ray burner
- Cooler Master Real Power Pro 1000W [provided by Cooler Master Balkan]
In all cases, we used the following peripherals:
- Logitech G19 Keyboard [provided by Logitech Adria]
- Logitech G500 mouse
- Dell 2408WFP
- Panasonic Viera 46" 100Hz Plasma TV
On the next page, we explain our experience with the PowerColor Radeon HD 5870, all the pluses and minuses to see is this product worthy of your investment.
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