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

  • Ryan Smith - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    It's possible, but the 850TX is a very well regarded unit. If it can't run a 5970 overclocked, then I surmise that a lot of buyers are going to run in to the same problem. I don't have another comparable power supply on hand, so this isn't something I can test with my card.

    Anand has a 1K unit, and of course you know how his turned out.

    To be frank, we likely would have never noticed the throttling issue if it wasn't for the client. It's only after realizing that it was underperforming by about 10-20% that I decided to watch the Overdrive pane and saw it bouncing around. These guys could be throttling too, and just not realize it.
  • Silverforce11 - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Seems iffy then since most reviews put it at 900 core and 5ghz + on the ram, with only a modest overvolt to 1.16. I would think ATI wouldnt bother putting in 3 high quality VRM and japanese capacitors if they didnt test it thoroughly at the specs they wanted it to OC at.

    My old PSU is the bigger bro of this guy being the 750 ver.">
    And had issues with the 4870x2. Got a better "single rail" PSU and it ran fine n OC well.
  • Silverforce11 - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    ATI went all out with building these 5970, the components are top notch. The chips are the best of the bunch. I'm surprised they did this, as they are essentially selling you 2x 5870 performance (IF your PSU is good) at $599 when 2x 5870 CF would cost $800. They have no competitor in the top, why do they not price this card higher or why even bother putting in quality parts to almost guarantee 5870 clocks?

    I believe its ATI's last nail on the nV coffin and they hammered it really hard.
  • ET - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Too much discussion about adapters for the mini-displayport. The 27" iMac has such an input port and a resolution of 2560 x 1440, and it seems a sin to not test them together. (Not that I'm blaming Anandtech or anything, since I'm sure it's not that easy to get the iMac for testing.) Reply
  • Taft12 - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Why would they bother using a computer with attached monitor and instead use the larger, higher-res and CHEAPER Dell 3008WFP? Reply
  • Raqia - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Look at all the finger print smudges on the nice card! I've started to notice the hand models that corporations use to hold their products. The hands holding the ipods on the apple site? Flawless, perfect nails and cuticles. Same w/ the fingers grasping the Magny Cours chip. Reply
  • NullSubroutine - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Hilbert @ Guru3d got the overclocking working with 900Mhz core speed (though it reached 90c).">

    I was impressed with some of the crossfire benchmarks actually showing improvement. If Eyeinfinity works with 5970 does it work with the card in crossfire?
  • Ryan Smith - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Bear in mind that it also took him 1.3v to get there; the AMD tool doesn't go that high. With my card, I strongly suspect the issue is the VRMs, so more voltage wouldn't help.

    And I'm still trying to get an answer to the Eyefinity + 5970CF question. The boys and girls at AMD went home for the night before we realized we didn't have an answer to that.
  • Lennie - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    I thought everyone knew about Furmark and ATi by now. It used to be like this on 4870 series too.

    It went like this, at first there were few reports of 4870(X2) cards dying when running Furmak. Further investigation showed that it was indeed Furmark causing VRM's to heat up to insane levels and eventually killing them. Word reached ATi from that point on ATi intentionally throttles their card when detecting Furmark to prevent the damage.

    Yeah in fact the amount of heat load Furmak puts on VRMs is unrealistic and no game is able to heat up the VRMs to the level Furmark does. OCCT used the same method (or maybe even integrated Furmark) to test for stability (in their own opinion ofc)

    So beware about Furmark and OCCT if you have HD4K or 5K.

    The term "Hardware Virus" is rightfully applicable to Furmark when it comes to HD4K (and 5K perhaps)
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    The article stated that they encountered throttling in real games, not Furmark. Reply

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