The catch however is that what we don’t have is a level of clear domination when it comes to single-card solutions. AMD was shooting to beat the GTX 295 with the 5870, but in our benchmarks that’s not happening. The 295 and the 5870 are close, perhaps close enough that NVIDIA will need to reconsider their position, but it’s not enough to outright dethrone the GTX 295. NVIDIA still has the faster single-card solution, although the $100 price premium is well in excess of the <10% performance premium.

-From Our Radeon 5870 Review, On The GTX 295 vs. The 5870

Let’s get straight to the point, shall we? Today AMD is launching the 5970, their dual-GPU card that finishes building out AMD’s technical domination of the high-end market. With it AMD delivers the absolute victory over NVIDIA’s GTX 295 that the Radeon 5870 couldn’t quite achieve and at the same time sets the new high water mark for single-card performance.

This also marks the last AMD product introduction of the year. The rest of the Evergreen series, composing the sub-$100 low-end parts, will be launching next year.

  AMD Radeon HD 5970 AMD Radeon HD 5870 AMD Radeon HD 5850
Stream Processors 2x1600 1600 1440
Texture Units 2x80 80 72
ROPs 2x32 32 32
Core Clock 725MHz 850MHz 725MHz
Memory Clock 1GHz (4GHz data rate) GDDR5 1.2GHz (4.8GHz data rate) GDDR5 1GHz (4GHz data rate) GDDR5
Memory Bus Width 2x256-bit 256-bit 256-bit
Frame Buffer 2x1GB 1GB 1GB
Transistor Count 2x2.15B 2.15B 2.15B
TDP 294W 188W 151W
Manufacturing Process TSMC 40nm TSMC 40nm TSMC 40nm
Price Point $599 $400 $300

The 5970 serves as the nowadays obligatory dual-GPU part. It is 2 Cypress dice mounted on a single, dual-slot video card. AMD clocks it at 725MHz core and 1GHz (4GHz effective) for the GDDR5 memory. The card comes equipped with 2GB of GDDR5, which is split between the two GPUs, giving it an effective memory capacity of 1GB. The card will be selling for $600, at least so long as vendors and retailers hold the line on MSRP.

In practice this makes the card something between a 5850 in Crossfire mode and a 5870 in Crossfire mode. The clocks are the same as the 5850, but here all 20 SIMD units are enabled. This is a 15% clockspeed difference between the 5970 and 5870CF, so officially the 5870CF will continue to be the faster setup. However as we’ll see in a bit, looking at the stock 5970 can be a bit deceiving.

This also brings up the matter of the name of the card. We asked AMD what happened to the X2 tag, and the answer is that they didn’t want to use it since the card was configured neither like a 5850 nor a 5870 – it was closer to a mythical 5860. So rather than call it an odd (or worse yet, wrong) name, AMD just gave it a new model number entirely. We suspect AMD wanted to be rid of the X2 name – their processors go up to X4 after all – but there you go as far as an official reason is concerned. It looks like special multi-GPU tags are now gone in both the NVIDIA and AMD camps.

Moving on, for power, the 5970 uses an 8pin and a 6pin power connector (although the 6pin sits on top of a spot silk-screened for anther 8pin). The TDP is 294W, bringing it in just under the 300W ATX limit. Idle power is 42W, thanks to AMD’s aggressive power optimizations present in the entire 5000 series.

As some of you may have noticed, in spite of the fact that this card is at least a pair of 5850s, it consumes less than the 320W (2x160W) such a setup would. In order to meet the 300W limit, AMD went and binned Cypress chips specifically for the 5970, in order to find chips that could operate at 725MHz at only 1.05v (the 5850 runs at 1.088v). Given the power creep coming from the 4800 series, binning for the best chips is the only way AMD could get a 300W card out.

AMD’s official guidance for this card is that the minimum requirements are a 650W power supply, and they recommend a 750W power supply. The recommended power supply will become more important later on when we talk about overclocking.

Finally, AMD is also launching Crossfire Eyefinity support with the 5970, and thus far only the 5970. Currently Eyefinity doesn’t work with Crossfire mode on any of AMDs cards due to driver limitations. The drivers that the 5970 will be shipping with enable Crossfire Eyefinity support on the 5970 for 22 games – currently AMD is using whitelisting and is enabling games on a case-by-case basis. Crossfire Eyefinity will make its way in to the mainstream Catalyst drivers and be enabled for other cards early next year.

Meet The 5970
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  • kilkennycat - Thursday, November 19, 2009 - link

    Er, have you noticed the "Not in Stock" or "Pre-order" when you have gone to order one. You might get a 5850, but try finding a 5870 without having to psy a jacked-up premium over MSRP. Best of luck.
  • mrdaddyman - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Since the 5870 seems to be in such great supply, I would like for someone to post a link where I can actually buy one of these. I have been trying to buy one for a month and haven't been able to find one.
  • rennya - Thursday, November 19, 2009 - link

    Does it has to be online?

    Here, I have many options for 58xx and 57xx models in retail stores. Which is more applicable for me because Newegg doesn't ship to my place.

    Well, if you insist of finding online links, plenty of them at"> or"> or"> or"> or"> and many more.

    These are just some of the sellers in my place who sells those so-called mythical ATI cards online (doesn't include the gazillions others sold in retail). You may want to argue that they won't ship to you in United States, but then again the likes of NewEgg doesn't ship here too.

    If you are desperate enough, I can help you obtain one of those cards. Want to take the offer?
  • Alexstarfire - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    And this is the 5970 that we are talking about. Not the same thing.
  • MamiyaOtaru - Thursday, November 19, 2009 - link

    by saying "another paper launch" you were implying that the previous launches were paper. So you were talking about the 5870. As they are and have been available, they were not paper launches. So even if the 5970 is a paper launch (it isn't) you can't very well call it another one
  • tajmahal - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    No link yet for the 5850 or the 5870? That's a surprise.
  • lloyd dd - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    would using 3 monitors in portrait orientation sort out the aspect ratio in eyefinity?
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    It would be closer. 4800x2560 would end up at a 1.875 AR, compared to 1.78 for 16:9 and 1.6 for 16:10. I think that 16:9 content stretched to fill 4800x2560 should look fine (about the same as 16:10 stretched to fill a 16:9 monitor).

    Of course, the more difficult question is how to put three 30" LCDs into portrait mode. You would need a different base stand -- none of the 30" LCDs I've seen allow you to rotate the display into portrait mode, probably because the LCDs are two feet wide.
  • yyrkoon - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Hey Jarred,

    Why not be inventive, and make a stand to hold 3 x 30" LCDs ? I do not mean you specifically of course, but whomever would want to have one. It really is not that difficult . . . just a little planning, and the ability to work with steel ( heavy ) or quality aluminum. Now if someone did not have the skills to make brackets etc, they could even draw something up, give it to a local fabricator, and be on their merry way . . .

    Personally, I like the first option mainly because I enjoy working with materials as such ( metals, wood, plastics, etc ). Not to mention the fact that it can cost far less doing it yourself.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, November 19, 2009 - link

    I understand it's entirely possible. My point is merely that it's yet another expense. I don't think 3x30" with EyeFinity is going to be anything but a very, *VERY* niche product. LOL.

    5970 = $600
    3 x 30" = $3000 (minimum)
    3 x Stands = $120 to $600

    So besides having the money, you need the space (and possibly time). I'd say $4000+ just for the GPU and LCDs is where the costs start, and naturally you would want a killer system (i7-920 with overclocking, or i7-975). But hey, you want the best of the best, there you have it. Until the next big thing comes along.

    Speaking of which, what about 30" LCDs with 120Hz and 3D Vision? LOL.... (No, I'm not saying that's out or coming soon, but it could be.)

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