Thanks to AMD’s aggressive power optimizations, the idle power of the 5970 is rated for 42W. In practice this puts it within spitting distance of the 5800 series in Crossfire, and below a number of other cards including the GTX 295, 4870X2, and even the 4870 itself.

Once we start looking at load power, we find our interesting story. Remember that the 5970 is specifically built and binned in order to meet the 300W cap. As a result it offers 5850CF performance, but at 21W lower power usage, and the gap only increases as you move up the chart with more powerful cards in SLI/CF mode. The converse of this is that it flirts with the cap more than our GTX 295, and as a result comes in 69W higher. But since we’re using OCCT, any driver throttling needs to be taken in to consideration.

Looking at the 5970 when it’s overclocked, it becomes readily apparently why a good power supply is necessary. For that 15% increase in core speed and 20% increase in memory speed, we pay a penalty of 113W! This puts it in league with the GTX series in SLI, and the 5870CF, except that it’s drawing all of this power over half as many plugs. We’re only going to say this one more time: if you’re going to overclock the 5970, you must have a very good power supply.

Moving on, the vapor chamber cooler makes itself felt in our temperature testing. The 5970 is the coolest high-end card we’ve tested (yes, you’ve read that right), coming in at 38C, below even the GTS 250. This is in stark opposition to previous dual-GPU cards, which have inhabited the top of the chart. Even the 5850 isn’t quite as cool as a 5970 at idle.

At load, we see a similar but slightly different story. It’s no longer the coolest card, losing out to the likes of the 5850 and GTX 285, but at 85C it hangs with the GTX 275, and below other single and dual-GPU cards such as the 5870 and GTX 295. This is a combination of the vapor cooler, and the fact that AMD slapped an oversized cooler on this card for overclocking purposes. Although Anand’s card failed at OCCT when overclocked, my own card hit 93C here, so assume that this cool advantage erodes under overclocking.

Finally we have our look at noise. Realistically, every card runs up against the noise floor, and the 5970 is no different. At 38C idle, it can keep its fan at very low speeds.

It’s at load that we find another interesting story. At 63.8dB it’s plenty loud, but it’s still quieter than either the GTX 295 or 5870CF, the former of which it is significantly faster than. Given the power numbers we saw earlier, we had been expecting something that registered as louder, so this was a pleasant surprise.

We will add that on a subjective basis, AMD seems to have done something to keep the whine down. The GTX 295 (and 4870X2) aren’t just loud, but they have a slight whine to them – the 5970 does not. This means that it’s not just a bit quieter to sound meters, but it really comes across that way to human ears too. But by the same token, I would consider the 5850CF to quieter still, more so than 2dB would imply.

Left 4 Dead Conclusion
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  • palladium - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Since AMD is binning their chips to get the 5970 within spec, I suppose it wouldn't make sense to make a 5950 SKU since a 5850 is simply a re-harvested 5870 (which failed the initial binning process), and 2x5850 would be out of the ATX spec anyway.

    Anyway, a great card for those who can afford it, and have the proper case and PSU to handle it.
    Reply
  • Paladin1211 - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    With 512 SP, 6.67% more than a GTX 295, I dont see Fermi has any chance of beating the 5970. nVidia will need a dual Fermi to dethrone the 5970, and thats not happening until Q3 or Q4 2010.

    nVidia has targeted a wrong, niche market rather than gamers. Sooner or later monitors without bezel will come out, and Eyefinity makes much more sense. Its really funny that the R770s aka HD 4870s are in 1 out of 5 fastest supercomputers and not Tesla.

    They have taken a long, deep sleep after the 8800GTX and now they're paying for it.
    Reply
  • cmdrdredd - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Unfortunately, PC gaming is almost dead. Look at Call of Duty's release. Look at Dragon Age which is also available on consoles. Sure the PC version might look a bit better, but when you spend as much on a video card as someone does on an entire system that can download movies, demos, act as a media box, and play Blu-Rays...you get the point. Reply
  • Lurker0 - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Unfortunately, PC gaming has been declared "nearly dead" for decades. It hasn't died, and as much as console fanboys will rage on hearing this, it isn't going to either.

    PC gaming is a niche industry, it always has been and always will be. Yes, console games do tend to be more profitable, which means that most games will be developed for consoles first and then ported to the PC. Doesn't mean there will never be games developed for the PC first(or even exclusivly), or that there's no profit to be had in PC games.

    Yes, it can be cheaper to get a console than a mid-level gaming PC, just like it can be cheaper to just buy some econobox off the lot than to buy or build your own hot rod. Sure, one market is much larger and more profitable than the other, but there's still money to be made off of PC games and gearheads alike, and so long as that's true neither will be going away.
    Reply
  • DominionSeraph - Thursday, November 19, 2009 - link

    PC gaming is no longer an isolated economy, though. That changes things. With most games being written with consoles in mind, there isn't the broad-based software push for hardware advance that there was at the dawn of 3d acceleration.
    I could give you dozens of great reasons to have upgraded from a NV4 to a NV15 back in the day, but the upgrade from a G80 to 5970 today? ~$800 when you factor in the PSU, and for what? Where's the must-have game that needs it? TNT to Geforce 2 was two years -- it's now been 3 since the release of the 8800, and there's been no equivalent to a Half Life, Quake 2, Deus Ex, Homeworld, Warcraft III, or WoW.
    Reply
  • GourdFreeMan - Thursday, November 19, 2009 - link

    Unfortunately, this is precisely the problem. When looking at AAA (large budget) games, six years ago PC game sales were predominantly PC exclusives, with some well known console ports (e.g. Halo, Morrowind). Twelve years ago PC game sales were almost entirely exclusives. Today the console ports are approaching the majority of high profile PC titles.

    Being multiplatform isn't necessarily a detriment for a console game. After all, having a larger budget allows more money to be spent on art and polishing the code to get the best performance on console hardware. In most cases, however, the PC version of a multiplatform title is almost always an afterthought. Little to no effort is spent redesigning the user interface and rebalancing game play because of the different controls. Shaders are almost never rewritten to take advantage of effects that could only be accomplished with the power of the graphic cards in modern PCs when porting. At most we seem to get better textures at somewhat higher resolutions.

    The biggest problem with multiplatform development, however, is that multiplatform games are almost always aimed at the lowest common denominator in terms of both technology and content. All this does is produce the same game over and over again -- the clichéd rail shooter in a narrow environment with a macho/reluctant superhuman protagonist thrown against hordes of respawning mooks.

    Based on the quarterly reports of sales revenue from the major publishers (EA, Activision and Ubisoft), PC games sales are comparable to PS3 game sales. The PS3, however, has several more exclusives because Sony owns several games studios and forces them to release exclusives. AMD and nVIDIA do not, much to PC gaming's detriment.
    Reply
  • mschira - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Hehe 5970CF to power three screens, now that sounds like a killer setup.
    Besides that one's burning 600+ watts for the graphic. What's the CPU supposed to live on? The BIOS-Battery?
    M.
    Reply
  • monomer - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Wouldn't it be possible to run six screens using a 5970 CF setup, or are there other limitations I'm unaware of? Reply
  • Fleeb - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    600W for the whole setup. :S Reply
  • maximusursus - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    It really seems weird...:( I've seen some reviews that had way better overclocking than the standard 5870 clocks and their tests seem to be ok without any "throttling" problems.

    For example:

    Techspot: 900/1250
    HotHardware: 860/1220
    Tom's Hardware: 900/1300
    HardOCP: 900/1350 (!)
    Guru3D: 900/1200

    HardwareZone however had a similar problem with you guys, could it really be the PSU?
    Reply

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