Meet the 5870

The card we’re looking at today is the Radeon HD 5870, based on the Cypress core.

Compared to the Radeon HD 4870, the 5870 has seen some changes to the board design. AMD has now moved to using a full sheath on their cards (including a backplate), very much like the ones that NVIDIA has been using since the 9800GTX. The card measures 10.5” long, an inch longer than the 4890 or the same as the 4870x2 and the NVIDIA GTX lineup.

The change in length means that AMD has moved the PCIe power connectors to the top of the card facing upwards, as there’s no longer enough room in the rear. Facing upwards is also a change from the 4870x2, which had them facing the front of the card. This, in our opinion, makes it easier to plug and unplug the PCIe power connectors, since it’s now possible to see what you’re doing.

Since the card has a TDP of 188W, AMD can still get away with using two 6-pin connectors. This is going to be good news for those of you with older power supplies that don’t feature 8-pin connectors, as previously the fastest cards without 8-pin connectors were the 4890 and GTX 285.

Briefly, the 5850 that we are not testing today will be slightly smaller than the 5870, coming in at 9.5”. It keeps the same cooler design, however the PCIe power connectors are back on the rear of the card.

With the 5800 series, DisplayPort is getting a much-needed kick in the pants. DisplayPort (full size) is standard on all 5800 series cards – prior to this it has been rather absent on reference cards. Along with a DisplayPort, the 5870 reference card contains a dedicated HDMI port, and a pair of DVI ports.

Making 4 ports fit on a card isn’t a trivial task, and AMD has taken an interesting direction in making it happen. Rather than putting every port on the same slot of the bracket as the card itself, one of the DVI ports is raised on to the other bracket. ATI could have just as easily only equipped these cards with 1 DVI port, and used an HDMI-to-DVI adapter for the second port. The advantage of going this direction is that the 5800 series can still drive two VGA monitors when using DVI-to-VGA adapters, and at the same time having an HDMI port built in means that no special adapters are necessary to get an HDMI port with audio capabilities. The only catch to this specific port layout is that the card still only has enough TMDS transmitters for two ports. So you can use 2x DVI or 1x DVI + HDMI, but not 2x DVI + HDMI. For 3 DVI-derived ports, you will need an active DisplayPort-to-DVI adapter.

With the configuration AMD is using, fitting that second DVI port also means that the exhaust vent of the 5800 series cards is not the full length of the card as is usually common, rather it’s a hair over half the length. The smaller size had us concerned about the 5870’s cooling capabilities, but as you’ll see with our temperature data, even with the smaller exhaust vent the load temperatures are no different than the 4870 or 4850, at 89C. And this is in spite of the fact that the 5870 is rated 28W more than the 4870.

With all of these changes also comes some changes to the loudness of the 5870 as compared to the 4870. The 27W idle power load means that AMD can reduce the speed of the fan some, and they say that the fan they’re using now is less noticeable (but not necessarily quieter) than what was on the 4870. In our objective testing the 5870 was no quieter than any of the 4800 series cards when it comes to idling at 46.6dB, and indeed it’s louder than any of those cards at 64dB at load. But in our subjective testing it has less of a whine. If you go by the objective data, this is a push at idle and louder at load.

Speaking of whining, we’re glad to report that the samples we received do not have the characteristic VRM whine/singing that has plagued many last-generation video cards. Most of our GTX cards and roughly half of our 4800 series cards generated this noise under certain circumstances, but the 5870 does not.

Finally, let’s talk about memory. Despite of doubling just about everything compared to RV770, Cypress and the 5800 series cards did not double their memory bandwidth. Moving from the 4870 and it’s 900MHz base memory clock, the 5870 only jumps up by 33% to 1.2Ghz, in effect increasing the ratio of GPU compute elements to memory bandwidth.

When looking back at the RV770, AMD believes that they were not bandwidth starved on the cards that used GDDR5. And since they had more bandwidth than they needed, it was not necessary to go for significantly more bandwidth for Cypress. This isn’t something we can easily test, but in our benchmarks the 5870 never doubles the performance of the 4870, in spite of being nearly twice the card. Graphics processing is embarrassingly parallel, but that doesn’t mean it perfectly scales. The different may be a product of that or a product of the lack of scaling in memory bandwidth, we can’t tell. What’s for certain however is that we don’t have any hard-capped memory bandwidth limited situations, the 5870 always outscores the 4870 by a great deal more than 33%.

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  • mapesdhs - Saturday, September 26, 2009 - link


    > That is quite all right, you fellas make sure to read it all, ...

    But that's the thing S.D., I pretty much don't read any of it. :D (does
    anyone?) First sentence only, then move on.

    Ian.

    Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Monday, September 28, 2009 - link

    Oh, ha ha, another lowlife smart aleck.

    One has to wonder if you do as you say, and only read the first sentence, and move on, why you would care what I've typed, since you cannot imagine anyone does anything different. Heck you shouldn't even notice this, right liar ?

    Yes, another liar, not amazing, not at all.

    No need to modify or delete the sentence prior to this JaredWalton, smarty pants insulter won't read it, but I'm sure you can't resist, for "convenience's" sake of course.

    Oh, I don't have to bring anything up on topic at all, because neither did lowlife skum not reading, he just got his nose awfully browner.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, September 25, 2009 - link

    Very happy to have everyone here convinced you don't know what you're talking about? That's the only "truth" you've brought to this party. Marketing generally wants reputable people to promote a product - the "every man" approach. Funny that we don't see crazy people espousing products on TV (well, excepting stuff like Sham Wow!)

    Being crazy like you are in this thread only cements your status as someone who doesn't have a firm grip on reality - someone that can't be trusted. Thanks again for clearing that up so thoroughly.

    I am very happy about it as well! :-D
    Reply
  • erple2 - Tuesday, September 29, 2009 - link

    Yeah, but that "Sham Wow" product works like a freakin' charm...

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/blogs/home_journal...">http://www.popularmechanics.com/blogs/home_journal...
    Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - link

    Im' sure you spend your time drooling in front of a TV after you spank your joystick for fps, so know all about wacky commercials you have memorized, and besides, it's a pathetic, all you have left insult, off topic, who cares, pure hatred, no real response, and the 5870 double epic fail IS THE HOTTEST ATI CARD OF ALL TIME! Reply
  • erple2 - Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - link

    What's with the personal attacks? Does that mean that you concede defeat?

    Meh, you've no more credibility. Chill out.
    Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Friday, September 25, 2009 - link

    Yeah, now down to insults, since you lost everything else.

    Let's have your claimed specialty outlined here in context, let's have you come clean on LAPTOP GRAPHICS, and spread the truth about how NVIDIA is so far ahead and has been for quite some time, that it's a JOKE to buy a gaming laptop with ATI graphics on board.
    Come on mmister!
    --
    Now that is REALLY FUNNY ! You grabbed your arrogant unscrupulous self and proclaimed your fairness, but picked a spot where ati is completely EPIC FAIL, and NVIDIA is 1000% the only way to go, PERIOD, and left that MAJOR slap in the face high and dry.
    --
    Great job, yeah, you're the "sane one".
    LOL
    Reply
  • dieselcat18 - Saturday, October 03, 2009 - link

    Nvidia fan-boy, troll, loser....take your gforce cards and go home...we can now all see how terrible ATi is thanks you ...so I really don't understand why people are beating down their doors for the 5800 series, just like people did for the 4800 and 3800 cards. I guess Nvidia fan-boy trolls like you have only one thing left to do and that's complain and cry like the itty-bitty babies that some of you are about the competition that's beating you like a drum.....so you just wait for your 300 series cards to be released (can't wait to see how many of those are available) so you can pay the overpriced premiums that Nvidia will be charging AGAIN !...hahaha...just like all that re-badging BS they pulled with the 9800 and 200 cards...what a joke !.. Oh my, I must say you have me in a mood and the ironic thing is I do like Nvidia as much as ATi, I currently own and use both. I just can't stand fools like you who spout nothing but mindless crap while waving your team flag (my card is better than your's..WhaaWhaaWhaa)...just take yourself along with your worthless opinions and slide back under that slimly rock you came from. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, September 25, 2009 - link

    You've been insulting in this whole thread, so don't go crying to mamma about someone pointing that out. I did go and delete the posts from the person calling you gay and suggesting you should die in various ways, because as bad as you've been you haven't stooped quite that low (yet).

    Laptop issues with ATI... you mean http://www.anandtech.com/mobile/showdoc.aspx?i=356...">like this. Granted, I gave them a chance to address the issues. They failed and my full article on the various Clevo high-end notebooks will make it quite clear how far ahead NVIDIA is in the mobile sector right now.

    "Fair" is treating both sides objectively. ATI has major problems with getting updated graphics drivers out on mobile products, and that's horrible. On the desktop, they don't have such issues for the most part. Yeah, you might have to wait a month or so for a driver update to fix the latest hot release and add CrossFire support... but you have to do the exact same thing for NVIDIA with about the same frequency. Only SLI and CF setups really need the regular driver updates, and in many cases the latest 18x and 19x NVIDIA drivers are slower than 16x and 17x on games that are older than six months.

    Fair is also looking at these results and saying, "gee, I can get a 5870 for $400 (or $360 if you wait a few weeks for supply to bolster up), and that same card has no CrossFire or SLI wonkiness and costs less than the GTX 295 and 4870X2. Okay, 4870X2 and GTX 295 beat it in raw performance in some cases, but I don't think there's a single game where you can say one HD 5870 offers less than acceptable performance at 2560x1600, and I can guarantee there are titles that still have issues with SLI and CrossFire. (Yeah, you need to turn down some details in Crysis to get acceptable performance, but that's true of anything other than the top SLI and CF configs.) I would be more than happy to give up a bit of performance to avoid dealing with the whole multi-GPU ordeal. Why don't you tell us how innovative and awesome tri-SLI and quad-SLI are while you're at it?

    At present, you have contributed more than 20% of the comments to this article, and not a single one has been anything but trolling. Screaming and yelling, insulting others, lying and making stuff up, all in support of a company that is just like any other big company. We don't ban accounts often, but you've more than warranted such action.
    Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Friday, September 25, 2009 - link

    I think it is more than absolutely clear, that in fact, I said my peace, my first post, and was absolutely attacked. I didn't attack, I got attacked, and in fact you have done plenty of attacking as well.
    I have also provided links, to back up my assertions and counter arguments, added the text for easy viewing, and pointed out in very specific detail whay issues with bias I had and why.
    --
    Now you've claimed "all I've done is post FUD".
    It is nothing short of amazing for you to even posit that, however I can certainly understand anyone pointing out the obvious bias problems (in the article no less) is "on thin ice", and after getting attacked, is solely blamed for "no facts".
    ---
    I certainly won't disagree that the 5870 is a good value as appearing if especially if you don't like to deal with 2 cards or 2 cores.
    But my posts never claimed otherwise. I first claimed it was not as good as wanted, was disappointing, and therefore was not the end of what ati had in store.
    Since I have posted on the 5890, which will in fact be 512 bit.
    Now, you don't like losing your points, or someone adept enough, smart enough, and accurate enough to counter them.
    Sorry about that, and sorry that I won't just lay down, as more heaps are shovelled my way.
    You skip my actual points, and go some other tangent.
    1. PhysX is an advantage and best implementation so far.
    your response: "It sucks because only 2 games ar available"
    ---
    Is that correct for you to do ? Is it not the very best so far ? Yes, it is in fact.
    I have remained factual and reasonable, and glad enough to throw back when I'm attacked.
    But the fact remains, I have made absolutely solid 100% poijnts no matter how many times you claim " lying and making stuff up, "
    ---
    Yet of course, what I just said about NVIDIA and laptp chips, you agreed with. So accoring to your own characterization (quite unfair), all you do is scream and lie, too.
    Just wonderful.
    The GT300 is going to blow this 5870 away - the stats themselves show it, and betting otherwise is a bad joke, and if sense is still about, you know it as well.
    Reply

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