AMD ATI Radeon HD 5870: Unquestionably Number One

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Our Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: The new Radeon HD 5870 proved to be an excellent performer throughout our entire battery of tests. In comparison to other single-GPU powered cards, the Radeon HD 5870 is clearly and unquestionably the most powerful released to date. The Radeon HD 4890 and GeForce GTX 285 never really came close to competing with the Radeon HD 5870, regardless of the benchmark or game, or resolution tested.

The Radeon HD 5870 also performed very well in light of the dual-GPU powered offerings we compared it to--the Radeon HD 4870 X2 and GeForce GTX 295. More often than not, the single-GPU powered Radeon HD 5870 is faster than the Radeon HD 4870 X2, depending on the game engine and resolution; 3DMark Vantage, ET:QW and Left 4 Dead ran better on the 5870, while the cards split victories in FarCry 2, and the 4870 X2 finished out in front in H.A.W.X. and Crysis. The GeForce GTX 295, however, was a bit faster than the Radeon HD 5870 overall. The performance deltas weren't very large though, the Radeon consumed far less power, and it isn't plagued by the issues sometimes associated with multi-GPU solutions.

 

It has been quite a while since we've been able to evaluate a totally new GPU architecture, that also offers best-of-class performance and support for a new edition of DirectX. When Windows Vista first hit the scene, and brought with it DirectX 10, the OS and API were not very well received due to performance, compatibility, and stability issues. The situation is very different today, however, with Windows 7 garnering praise from a myriad of outlets and DirectX 11 shaping up to be a game changer (pardon the pun), with its integration of DirectCompute, a new Shader Model, and numerous other features. And AMD is poised to take advantage of the potential windfall with the first, and currently the only, GPU in town to fully support DX11, that just so happens to offer killer performance and features.

By now, we're sure you're all wondering what arguably the fastest graphics card released to date, and unquestionably the fastest single-GPU, is going to cost. Well, according to the latest information provided to us by AMD the Radeon HD 5870 will e-tail for about $379 and its sibling, the Radeon HD 5850, will be roughly $259. We are also told to expect initial quantities of Radeon HD 5870 cards to be available on store shelves today, with the Radeon HD 5850 arriving sometime next week. While we can't sit here in good conscious and say that a $380 graphics card is a bargain, we can't help but be pleased that the single most feature-rich graphics card available right now will be sold at under $400.  Although NVIDIA doesn't have an answer for the Radeon HD 5870 just yet, other than some expected price cuts on their current cards, AMD isn't introducing the 5870 at an ultra-high price point to milk enthusiasts and early adopters, which we feel is a very good thing.

We've been hearing rumblings about the Radeon HD 5800 series for quite some time. They are here now. And they are good. The Radeon HD 5870 we've evaluated here offered excellent performance that decimated any other singe GPU with top notch image quality. It also has the most extensive feature set of any other GPU, with support for ATI Eyefinity, an enhanced UVD 2 engine, and support for DirectX 11. And it is arriving at a fair price point--should street prices jibe with AMD's claimed MSRPs, of course. All things considered, we'd have to declare the arrival of the ATI Radeon HD 5800 series unequivocal success.

     
  • Excellent Performance
  • Good Power Consumption
  • DirectX 11 Support
  • ATI Eyefinity
  • Fastest Single-GPU To Date
  • Competitive Pricing

 

  • Doesn't Dominate 4870 X2 or GTX 295
  • No DX11 Games Just Yet


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