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HIS Radeon HD 5870 - HIS Radeon HD 5870

By Edward Chester



Our Score:


Looking more closely at the card itself, this is one of the longest graphics cards AMD has ever produced, coming in at 284mm. While this is bad enough in itself, what makes it worse is that the some of the extra length comes from the red vents on the back that don't actually appear to do anything. We appreciate AMD's attempts to make its card look a bit different but we'd rather it didn't come at the expense of practicality.

Elsewhere the card looks pretty familiar with the usual CrossFire connectors on the top edge and radial fan based cooling solution. However, there are a couple of notable changes.

The first thing to note is the drop in the number of extra power connectors. Instead of the 1x8-pin and 1x6-pin required by the HD 4890 and HD 4870 X2, the HD 5870 needs just 2x6-pin adapters. These means the card will be compatible with many more power supplies.

The other noticeable change is in the display output configuration. Instead of the familiar 2xDVI and 1xanalogue 9-pin DIN connectors, this card has four digital outputs; 2xDVI, 1x HDMI, and 1xDisplayPort. Before you get too excited, though, only three of these can be run at any one time and one of the three must be the DisplayPort. Still, when using 2xDVI and 1xDisplayPort you can at least run three thirty-inch monitors at once, which is sure to impress the ladies. There will also be a card that sport six DisplayPort connections for the ultimate in single-card, multi-monitor configurations.

As a result of the change in outputs, the exhaust of the card has had to be changed as well. With one DVI socket covering half the area that is normally given up for exhausting hot air, AMD has had to resort to venting some of the hot air out the top of the card, where it will flow back into your case. While we never like to have hot air being blown back into PC cases, considering how cool this card runs, it's not half as much of a problem as we may have expected.

This coolness is due mostly to the change in manufacturing process and it also explains the change in power configuration mentioned above. The smaller transistors simply require less power to run at the same speed, thus they produce less heat. This explains the drop in maximum board power as compared to the HD 4870 but it's down to some tweaking of the chip's circuitry that AMD has also significantly reduced power when the card is idling. AMD quotes idle power consumption of just 27W, which is less than half that of previous gen cards, so you're wasting less power when the card isn't being used for anything too taxing.


October 6, 2009, 4:25 am

I think it may be time to drop Counter-Strike from the games test list. Over 100FPS at 2560*1600 with 4x AA, even on last generation hardware, could be called excessive even for CS addicts ;)


October 6, 2009, 5:15 am

it would be nice if you stated quality settings on the benchmarks,you have the 5870 trouncing the gtx 295 in far cry 2,yet in all others reviews ive read the 295 scores higher.

Tommy K

October 6, 2009, 4:01 pm

surely ther overall should be 9 as if you add up the 3 columns you get an average of 9?

Luan Bach

October 6, 2009, 4:02 pm

The features table image has the Frame Buffer and Memory Bandwidth data transposed for the GTX285.


October 6, 2009, 7:10 pm

@ betelgeus: they do page 4


October 6, 2009, 7:24 pm

Why is the noise level of the cooling fans does not get a mention?

For me, the noise level is a major factor in choosing a new graphics card. I know this new generation card runs cooler than the previous generation due to the smaller and more efficient manufacturing process, but does this equal a quieter fan? Nothing worse than a card immitating a hair dryer.


October 7, 2009, 12:28 am

I dont understand why when the card consumes alot less power and runs alot cooler than previous high end cards is it so... massive.

I remember I got my 2900XT on release day ( /sigh at people who actually bet on the 8800GTX horse) i was amazed at how massive it was, but then you realized the heat it produced and understood why.

I have a fairly roomy case, but the biggest case in the world wouldnt stop this monstrosity from hitting my southbridge heatsink.

AMD looks like they have DX11 in the bag though. GT300 looks inefficient, late, and poor real world performance. I'll just wait a little though, something like a 5830 or 5770 for me with a smaller footprint.


October 7, 2009, 1:40 am

@ Malderon - The size of the card has nothing to do with the amount heat it produces; there's a lot more stuff they've got to fit on the PCB than just the GPU, it isn't just wasted space.

Also, where are you getting you information on GT300? AFAIK, nVidia are still at the testing stages with early production samples and haven't even decided on clock speeds yet, which is why they're so late and also why any reports on performance are most likely wrong. Besides, the talk coming out of nVidia is that Fermi will be faster than Cypress, which will almost certainly be the case in the GPGPU stakes, although for gaming that remains to be seen, not least because nVidia aren't talking about it to anyone. While this may just be marketing guff, it would be quite embarrassing for them if it turns out it's not true.

Oh, and I think you'll find that the 5850 is a good deal shorter than the last generation of high-end cards, and almost exactly the same length as your 'huge' 2900XT at ~9.5":



October 7, 2009, 5:54 am

@guy - agree about noise levels, though they've been mixed messages on this front for the 5870.

AnandTech said "At 64 dB it’s louder than everything other than the GTX 295 and a pair of 5870s. Hopefully this is something that the card manufacturers can improve on later on with custom coolers"

While The Tech Report said "The 5870 has best-in-class acoustics at idle and the second-lowest noise level under load."

So, I'd be interested in TR's take on this.


October 7, 2009, 12:34 pm

I basically ran out of time so haven't done noise level testing yet. I should have time this afternnon to take a look so I'll update the review if I get that done.


October 7, 2009, 9:55 pm

It scored 10, 9 and 8 = 27/3 = 9. Why 8 overall?????


October 7, 2009, 10:51 pm

@jm - because scores are not an average ;)

Don Kanonjii

October 8, 2009, 3:00 pm

I agree about changing the gaming benchmarks, especially with this new generation of hardware. Need to run stuff that is crippling not because it is poorly optimised but because of the level of detail etc. Crysis still fits this bill though.


October 8, 2009, 3:03 pm

For these high end cards, i totally agree, but I keep running CSS becuase it's a popular game and becuase it's still a challenge for low end cards. I also find it an interesting reference point as only running the latest games gives a skewed impression of overall perforamnce.


October 24, 2009, 5:13 pm

Please note, I've now added sound level results to this review.

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