AMD ATI Radeon HD 5870: Unquestionably Number One

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Over the past couple of weeks, we've been completely preoccupied trying to come up with a catchy and informative introduction for this article. We thought maybe it would be fun to play off of AMD's tree-laden GPU codenames to come up with an interesting segue into the Radeon HD 5800 series' power efficiency. But we came up short. Then we thought we could use an image of the Radeon HD 5870's cooler and draw a parallel to the awesomeness that was the original Bat Mobile, but a couple of folks from AMD snagged that idea. Even being briefed on the technology we're about to show you on the very same aircraft carrier that scooped up the Apollo 11 astronauts didn't cure the writer's block.

Then it hit us. Why bother? PC Enthusiasts are always chomping at the bit trying to glean even the slightest bit of information about cutting edge GPU technology. And that's exactly what we've got in store for you right here.

We've got a sneaking suspicion that telling you all about the first DirectX 11 compatible GPU, that's crammed with over 2 billion transistors, produced using an advanced 40nm process, would get you all worked up into the kind of frenzy that a no pithy intro could. So, feast your eyes on the Radeon HD 5870, check out the specs and features below, and read on for full scoop on AMD's latest flagship GPU. Just don't get too worked up, too quickly. We want you to make it all the way to the end without passing out...

AMD Radeon HD 5870 DirectX 11 Graphics Card

AMD ATI Radeon HD 5870
Specifications and Features

2.15 billion 40nm transistors

TeraScale 2 Unified Processing Architecture
  • 1600 Stream Processing Units
  • 80 Texture Units
  • 128 Z/Stencil ROP Units
  • 32 Color ROP Units
GDDR5 Memory Interface

Up To 153.6GB/sec of memory bandwidth

PCI Express 2.1 x16 bus interface

DirectX 11 support
  • Shader Model 5.0
  • DirectCompute 11
  • Programmable hardware tessellation unit
  • Accelerated multi-threading
  • HDR texture compression
  • Order-independent transparency
OpenGL 3.2 support

Image quality enhancement technology
  • Up to 24x multi-sample anti-aliasing
  • Super-sample anti-aliasing modes
  • Adaptive anti-aliasing
  • 16x angle independent anisotropic texture filtering
  • 128-bit floating point HDR rendering
ATI Eyefinity
  • Advanced multi-display technology
  • Three independent display controllers
    • Drive three displays simultaneously with independent resolutions, refresh rates, color controls, and video overlays
  • Display grouping
    • Combine multiple displays to behave like a single large display

ATI Stream acceleration technology

  • OpenCL 1.0 compliant
  • DirectCompute 11
  • Double precision floating point processing support
  • Accelerated video encoding, transcoding, and upscaling
    • Native support for common video encoding instructions

ATI CrossFireX multi-GPU technology

  • Dual, triple, and quad GPU scaling
  • Dual-channel bridge interconnect


ATI Avivo HD Video & Display technology

  • UVD 2 dedicated video playback accelerator
  • Advanced post-processing and scaling
  • Dynamic contrast enhancement and color correction
  • Brighter whites processing (blue stretch)
  • Independent video gamma control
  • Dynamic video range control
  • Support for H.264, VC-1, and MPEG-2
  • Dual-stream 1080p playback support
  • DXVA 1.0 & 2.0 support
  • Integrated dual-link DVI output with HDCP
    • Max resolution: 2560x1600
  • Integrated DisplayPort output
    • Max resolution: 2560x1600
  • Integrated HDMI 1.3 output with Deep Color, xvYCC wide gamut support, and high bit-rate audio
  • Max resolution: 1920x1200
  • Integrated VGA output
  • Max resolution: 2048x1536
  • 3D stereoscopic display/glasses support
  • Integrated HD audio controller
  • Output protected high bit rate 7.1 channel surround sound over HDMI with no additional cables required
  • Supports AC-3, AAC, Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio formats

ATI PowerPlay power management technology

  • Dynamic power management with low power idle state
  • Ultra-low power state support for multi-GPU configurations

Certified drivers for Windows 7, Vista, and XP

Speeds & Feeds

  • Engine clock speed: 850 MHz
  • Processing power (single precision): 2.72 TeraFLOPS
  • Processing power (double precision): 544 GigaFLOPS
  • Polygon throughput: 850M polygons/sec
  • Data fetch rate (32-bit): 272 billion fetches/sec
  • Texel fill rate (bilinear filtered): 68 Gigatexels/sec
  • Pixel fill rate: 27.2 Gigapixels/sec
  • Anti-aliased pixel fill rate: 108.8 Gigasamples/sec
  • Memory clock speed: 1.2 GHz
  • Memory data rate: 4.8 Gbps
  • Memory bandwidth: 153.6 GB/sec
  • Maximum board power: 188 Watts
  • Idle board power: 27 Watts


Radeon HD 5800 Series Design Goals...

A few of the design goals AMD / ATI set when the Radeon HD 5870 was still in the design phase are outlined on the slides above. Of course, a lot of groundwork had to be laid over the years before the company could produce such a product. As the above list of specifications and features show, the new Radeon HD 5870 is quite advanced in comparison to other current GPU products. But the chip does leverage technologies already implemented in previously released GPUs--it's not all new.  As such, we'd recommend perusing some recent HotHardware articles to brush up on a few of the technologies and features employed by the new Radeon HD 5870...

The articles listed above cover many of the features available with the Radeon HD 5870, like CrossFire, the UVD 2 video engine, Catalyst Control Center, PowerPlay, GDDR5 memory, and more. There are, however, a lot of brand new things being introduced with the Radeon 5800 series that we plan to cover on the pages ahead. So strap in as we take the most advanced GPU released to date for a spin through the the labs--we promise you won't be disappointed.

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gibbersome 5 years ago

Now this is what I'm talking about. That Spanish review on Tom's Hardware was a little difficult to understand, lol.

One of the things that struck right off the bat was the idle power usage, much lower than any of the other cards tested. The 5870 delivers the best bang per watt and is the best performing single GPU solution on the market. And the price point of $379 is brilliant move by ATI (some sub-$300 should be had this holiday season).

ClemSnide 5 years ago

If I can get one of these mommas for under $300, I'll do it, even though I don't have a system to put it in.

3vi1 5 years ago

Are you sure this is a GPU? I don't see any pictures of Batman characters on it.

transam02 5 years ago

That thing is a hoss of a card. And not bad on the numbers even slightly behind the gtx 295 and that is a dual gpu card set.

Crisis Causer 5 years ago

One unexpected thing that really stuck me as impressive was the power consumption.  Right around 4890 or 285 level... nice.

Of course the performance is the main thing.  Freaking incredible for single GPU and it spanks the crap out of the GTX 285 despite only costing around $30-$55 more.  And why pay $80+ more for the GTX 295 when it's barely faster (or in many cases not faster)?  ATi is back on top and without price gouging like some other companies have been known to do ($650 video card in June 2008, anyone?).

With the system requirements of most PC games only very gradually improving, one of these would be all someone needs for quite a bit - though people demanding Crysis perfection will want to pick up 2.

gibbersome 5 years ago

The GTX was in many cases faster than the ATI 5870. But at the same time it had much higher power requirments and costs more. Remember, we'll be seeing 5870 X2's soon as well. Nate's review over at legit reviews shows the 5870's potention in crossfire config. It looked pretty damned impressive.

Marco C 5 years ago

The GTX 296 doesn't support DX11 either.

realneil 5 years ago

I think that the ATI Radeon HD 5870 Is a better deal than the tested Nvidia Card, especially when you take into consideration the amount of performance for the price.

NVIDIA will probably lower prices to counter this situation, but then ATI will follow suit.

I know that every time that I've bought a graphics card within the past two years, ATI offered the best bang for the buck at that time.

I appreciate that,...Big Smile

gibbersome 5 years ago

The reviewers at AnanTech were disappointed that the 5870 didn't outperform the GTX 295. And even moreso that doubling the hardware power from the 4870 didn't translate into the double the performance.

ATI made such a large leap from the 3870 to the 4870, and I think we didn't witness the same with the 5870. However, it's still the best single GPU card on the market, and barring two GTX 295x in SLI (though there are problems associated with quad GPU configs and the enormous power requirements), two 5870's in Crossfire will give gamers the most stable, powerful video gaming power available.

A 5870 x2 poses problems for ATI, especially in terms of power. Right now we're seeing a lot of great news on the 5870, but Nvidia can really beat ATI into the ground with something that's revolutionary rather than evolutionary.

mentaldisorder 5 years ago

That's a very good looking card, however regardless of the performance, I'm still loyal 100% to nvidia.  I always have driver issues with ati.  Driver issues outweigh the performance in my opinion.

Soupstyle 5 years ago

When considering the 5870 is a single gpu and the gtx 295 and 4870x2 are dual gpu cards, the numbers are impressive.

What I'm very impressed with the fact that they've been able to drop the power used. One would expect that they would just keep pushing the power required higher and higher, but to improve the performance while keeping the power under the previous generation is showing that AMD/ATI is trying to not build us space heaters that can play games.

ClemSnide 5 years ago

Yesterday, CyberPowerPC offered these cards in their custom system configurators. Of course, it takes a little while for them to build you a systm, so I guess they would have waited till today to plug in the GPU.

Newegg has several versions available for the MSRP of $380. I agree with the sentiment that it's a decent price for what you get, though I'll still wait to pick one up (pre- and post-holiday sales and maybe Xmas presents, if Mom takes the hint).

realneil 5 years ago

I won't pay the new tax, but will wait for a month or two to get one at a more reasonable price. This is a slick Video Card and I can't wait to try it out! ATI does it again.

jtm55 5 years ago

Hi All

Excellent Review.

AMD/ATI really outdid themselves with this GPU.

They not only increased performance, but also introduced a host of new features as well.

It'll be intersting to see how Nvidia responds.





acarzt 5 years ago

Well, looks like i'm still safe with my GTX295... no need to upgrade yet :-D

marco c 5 years ago

In the short term NVIDIA will respond with price cuts, in the long term, expect a killer new GPU...

3vi1 5 years ago

Yeah - gotta love competition! :)

Der Meister 5 years ago

Good looking card, but my 275gtxs are sitting pretty still

aigarius 5 years ago

All Linux guys choose NVidia for three reasons:

* ATi drivers are generally poor quality and even worse in Linux;

* ATi is randomly dropping support even for video cards that are still shipping and not updating legacy drivers to keep up with the times;

* ATi has all kinds of horrible blunders in Linux drivers that cause most games to have serious issues, even WoW does not work right half the time.

Bottom line - ATi might have the greatest hardware, but unless they fix their software, they are pretty screwed.

3vi1 5 years ago

I can't disagree (I prefer nVidia cards in my Linux boxes for the very reasons you cited), but the ATI situation is improving now that ATI opened up their docs (which nVidia has yet to do):

- 2.6.32 has open source kernel mode setting and 3D support for newer ATI cards.

- The 5870 should work with the already released 9.9 drivers, as opposed to the situation where I've bought a brand new nVidia card (9600GT) and had to wait over two months for them to release a proprietary Linux driver.

- The ATI drivers are performing more in line with their Windows counterparts nowadays.  It used to be really atrocious though:  I remember years back when I had a GF4400 and  ATI9600XT card:  On windows the ATI would win in the benchmarks... under Linux the ATI would run at about 1/3rd speed of the nVidia card.

So, if the trend of improvement from ATI continues, it's not improbable that we won't see the competition in the Linux sector get a bit tighter... with all the resulting consumer benefits.  :)

Fletch71 5 years ago

holy crap look at that thing are they sure its a GPU not a small computer

3vi1 5 years ago

Hey, wait a second... if you turn it on it's side it does look a bit like a HAL 9000.

marco c 5 years ago

It totally looks like the original the link in the intro.

3vi1 5 years ago

Lol... it does, now that I clicked on the "snagged that idea" link.

When I was a kid, I saw the batmobile at a car show... and got Yvonne Craig's autograph.... ahhh... good times.

Clingtier81Re2 5 years ago

Looks really bad ass and i mean really! They have on sale where i live for about 400 dollars and thats really expensiveAngry

How long is this card it looks about maybe 12 inches? Power supply requirements looks pretty low for a powerful card? Only 500 watts? Man the gtx 295 needs about 550 watts and you are looking at getting maybe a 750-800w psu just to power the 295Surprise

Looking at the benchmarks for crysis and far cry 2, it looks like this card did pretty alright but it still looks as if the gtx 295 beats it by about 5 fps. On far cry 2 even its predecessor the 4870 x2 does better!

Either way I would want to buy just to see how good it is except i font know if my power supply would handle it (I have a 680 watt). Cant wait till Nvidia releases its new 300 series probably gonna be even more expensive than this one, and maybe even higher on performance (perhaps 200 gigabytes a second on  memory bandwith, I hopeDevil) Time will reveal.

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