Asus Matrix 5870 2GB Video Card Review

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Hardware aficionados know there is more to performance computing than just buying the most expensive parts available and throwing them altogether in the same system. There's overclocking, case modding, cooling, and performance tuning to consider, among many other thigs. Of course, everyone has their opinions on these aspects of the hobby, with some folks taking things to further extremes than others. We get excited when the companies that manufacture the hardware we crave actually listen to our requests and incorporate features in their products that provide enthusiasts with more tweaking options, along with increased performance.

The Republic of Gamers line of products from Asus is the company's answer for enthusiasts who demand top of the line performance and style. From the ROG series, we recently looked at the monstrous Rampage III Extreme X58 motherboard, along with the jaw dropping Ares dual 5870 4GB video card. Both parts represent the company's commitment to meeting the needs of hardware fanatics by offering exclusive features not found in more mainstream products.  


Today we look at one of the most highly customized Radeon HD 5870 cards on the market. The Asus Matrix 5870 offers identical clock speeds to AMD's reference design, with an 850 MHz core clock and 1200 MHz memory speed, but that's where the similarities end. This particular graphics card features 2GB of GDDR5 memory, a custom ROG shroud, an LED load indicator, voltage read points, a video BIOS recovery button, dual 8-pin PCI-E power connectors, and a Super Hybrid Engine chip which provides real time hardware monitoring and adjustments. Without a doubt, it's loaded with options and unlike any other 5870 currently available. Interested? Read on to find out if the Matrix 5870 has what it takes to be your next upgrade.

Asus Matrix 5870 2GB Video Card
Specifications and Features

Core Clock
850 MHz
Memory Clock
1200 / 4800 MHz (Clock Rate / Effective Rate)
Stream Processors 1600
Total Memory
2 GB GDDR5
Memory Interface
256 bit
Output Connectors
1 x HDMI, 1 x DisplayPort, 1 x Dual Link DVI-I
Bus Type
PCI-E 2.0
Form Factor
Dual Slot
Accessories

HDMI to DVI Adapter
DVI to VGA Adapter
Dual 6-pin PCIe to 8-pin PCIe Power Adapters
CrossFire Bridge
Driver Disk
User Guide
Case Badge
CD Case
Power Requirements 2 x 8 pin PCI-E power connectors
Dimensions

Height - 5 in
Length - 11.5 in
Warranty
3 Years Limited
Price
$499



When compared to reference design 5870s, the $499 Asus Matrix 5870 commands a hefty price premium over standard 1GB models, which can be purchased for about $355. Obviously that's a huge difference, and a consideration that budget conscious users will find difficult to swallow. On the other hand, the Matrix targets a different type of consumer. In this market segment, we find it occupies the same price point as other 5870 cards equipped with 2GB of memory, but lacks the exclusive Eyefinity 6 connectivity the other $500 models offer. It's clear that Asus has differentiated itself from its competitors by designing a non-reference 2GB 5870, with only three video outputs. Do the additional features add enough value to justify the extra cost thought? We find out in the following pages...

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sexy

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"Lastly, the idle temperature we recorded from the Matrix was surprisingly high. After uninstalling iTracker 2, the card ran a full 10 degrees cooler, while lowering power consumption by 26W. "

I'm confused why iTracker installed vs. uninstalled would affect temperature.  Are you equating "iTracker2 installed" to overclocked, and iTracker2 uninstalled" to reference speeds?

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Nice...But I am still going to convert to being a Nvidia customer!

If I am going to use cash for toilet paper then I will go with hardware that will last for a few years, and have more stable drivers :P

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rofl yeah but over a few years you will save more in energy on the ATI card than the price of either animatortom

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I don't know Rapid...The V8800 has 227/400 power consumption.

The Quadro 6000 is 243/446 Not that much of a difference. But when it comes to having my viewports actually working properly over saving a few bucks, is worth a whole lot more in terms of production times!

It still bugs the hell out of me that I spend 1400bucks and when I scroll through a scene, certain parts of a character stays in place and doesn't move with the animation. It becomes very frustrating when you are supposed to watch the motion of that arm or leg. Especially when it didn't do that with a cheap HD4850? So much for paying for WS drivers!
 
ATI has lost my support and I urge anyone who values their time in production to stick with Nvidia for 3D DCC!

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Tom, as someone who doesn't have any need for a 1,400 dollar rendering mega-wamba video card, I like both ATI and NVIDIA cards. I have no driver issues with either one of them and I see stellar performance out of both brands when it comes to gaming. I'm leaning towards NVIDIA (two GTX-460's in SLI) for my next buy because they've finally come out with DX11 capability in a card that doesn't melt the insides of your case when you turn it on. (like the GTX-480 does) Something that has low power consumption as well as added functionality (CUDA, Phys-X) that's not available with an ATI card that sells for much more. A pair of them will out-perform a GTX-480 at less than what the single GTX-480 costs, while producing far less heat. (win-win situation)

Now, I did buy an overclocked XFX Radeon HD4850 1GB Black Edition a while back and it's a bitchin' card.

My point is that most of us don't have the issues that you do. So we don't feel the ATI hatred that you're feeling. Their video cards aren't so bad to most of us, and I'm sorry that you spent so much and ended up unhappy with that card.

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I agree Neil!
 
If it was just a matter of gaming, then the costs would be the major factor and ATI would win hands down. On the Professional side, they really need to step up their products!
 
I had an HD 4850 and that was a good card for Gaming. It even ran my 3D programs at reasonable rates, just the rendering sucked. Now imagine buying a 1400dollar card that is supposed to be ten times better than that one, and it is actually worse when actually working with it!  The render times are substantially faster, but when working with it, the display is actually less stable than the HD4850. Then two months later they come out with a card that is half the price with the same performance and uses less power!
If they can not provide good drivers for the game professionals then I don't see how ATI could have stable drivers for the games they make? Much like a Yugo. It may look like a car and get you there. But the engine is unreliable and becomes more trouble than it is worth!
 
This is the era of disposable Chinese electronics so I guess I should know better by now:P

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@ jturnbull65 As part of the review process, I installed iTracker 2 since Asus includes the overclocking utility with the Matrix. After completing power and temperature testing, I noticed relatively high idle power and temperatures which is uncharacteristic of a 5870 card.

After uninstalling iTracker 2 and retesting, idle power and temperature sharply decreased. In both cases, the Matrix was operating at stock speeds of 850 core, 1200 memory. I posted the numbers with iTracker 2 installed and removed to reflect my discovery.

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The smart thing to do is just to wait for the "6" series and see what kind of performance they will bring being that they are due out in the next few months. 

If I remember correct the 1GB 460 performance was much better than the 768MB. 

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