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
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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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