The new output configuration also impacts on the airflow for the cooling system. Instead of hot exhaust air being expelled through vents that fill one entire ‘slot’ of this dual-slot card, only half the ‘slot’ is available as one of the DVI sockets is in the way. The rest of the exhaust air is directed out the top of the card and back into your case. This concerned us when we saw it on the HD 5870 but we found that in practice it wasn’t a problem, so we expect it to be a similar situation with this card.
It should come as no surprise that this card requires two six-pin PCI-Express power sockets and they can be found nestling inside the faux venting on the front of the card. There are also two CrossFire connectors on the top of the card so you can of course run multi-card configurations for more performance.
Taking a closer look at the technology inside this card, like the HD 5870, you get AMD’s brand new RV870, or Cyprus, graphics chip that is built on TSMC’s latest 40nm process. In its HD 5870 form it housed 1,600 stream processors and 80 texture units (collectively split up into 20 ‘SIMD’ blocks containing 80 stream processors and 4 texture units each) accompanied by 32 ROPs. All of this lot ran at 850MHz and talked to 1GB of GDDR5 RAM running at 4.8GHz.
With the HD 5850, two of the SIMD blocks have been disabled resulting in a total of 1,440 stream processors and 72 texture units. The 32 ROPs still remain, though. All this lot runs at 750MHz while the accompanying 1GB of GDDR5 RAM runs at 4GHz.
Other features of this new chip are improved anisotropic filtering that is now completely angle-independent and super-sampling anti-aliasing support. It is of course ready and waiting to run all the new DirectX 11 games that will be coming in the not too distant future.
So that’s the card, now let’s get onto the important bit, the testing.