Meet The 5970

To cool the beast, AMD has stepped up the cooler from a solid copper block to a vapor chamber design, which offers slightly better performance for large surface area needs. Vapor chambers (which are effectively flat heatpipes) have largely been popularized by Sapphire, who uses them on their Vapor-X and other high-end series cards. This is the first time we’ve seen a vapor chamber cooler on a stock card. AMD tells us this cooler is design to keep up with 400W of thermal dissipation.

With the need for such a cooler, AMD has finally parted with their standard 5000 series port configuration in order to afford a full slot to vent hot air. In place of the 2xDVI + HDMI + DisplayPort configuration, we have 2xDVI + MiniDisplayPort, all on one slot. MDP was just approved by the VESA last week, and is identical to DisplayPort in features, the only difference is that it’s smaller. This allows AMD to continue offering Eyefinity support, and it also conviently solves any questions of how to plug 3 monitors in, as there are now only as many DVI-type ports as there are available TMDS encoder pairs.

Finally, as dual-GPU cards are always bigger than their single-GPU brethren, and the 5970 is no exception to this rule. However the 5970 really drives this point home, being the largest video card we’ve ever tested. The PCB is 11.5” long, and with the overhang of the cooling shroud, that becomes 12.16” (309mm). This puts it well past our previous record holder, the 5870, and even father ahead of dual-GPU designs like the 4870X2 and GTX 295, both of which were 10.5”. The only way to describe the 5970 is “ridiculously long”.

With such a long card, there are going to be some definite fitting issues on smaller cases. For our testing we use a Thermaltake Speedo case, which is itself an oversized case. We ended up having to remove the adjustable fan used to cool the PCIe slots in order to make the 5970 fit. On a smaller and more popular case like the Antec P182, we had to remove the upper hard drive cage completely in order to fit the card.

In both cases we were able to fit the card, but it required some modification to get there, and this we suspect is going to be a common story. AMD tells us that the full ATX spec calls for 13.3” of room for PCIe cards, and while we haven’t been able to find written confirmation of this, this seems to be correct. Full size towers should be able to accept the card, and some mid size towers should too depending on what’s behind the PEG slot. However – and it’s going to be impossible to stress this enough – if you’re in the market for this card, check your case

GTX 295, 5970, 5870, 5850, 5770

On a final note, while the ATX spec may call for 13.3”, we hope that we don’t see cards this big; in fact we’d like to not see cards this big. Such a length is long enough that it precludes running a fan immediately behind the video card on many cases, and quite frankly at a 294W TDP, this card is hot enough that we’d feel a lot better if we had a fan there to better feed air to the card.

Index 40nm Supply Redux


View All Comments

  • 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. Reply
  • 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. Reply
  • 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. Reply
  • 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 Reply
  • tajmahal - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

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

    would using 3 monitors in portrait orientation sort out the aspect ratio in eyefinity? Reply
  • 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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