The Radeon HD 5800 Series
We've had endless amount of different details of these cards thrust into our inboxes over the past few weeks, we didn't quite know what to believe. Finally, the cards are in store, and most of the details were pretty accurate, but let's just consolidate all of the facts into one place for now.
The Radeon HD 5850 is the entry level offering of the 5800 series, and it features a standard 725Mhz core clock, 1024MB of DDR5 memory running at 4000Mhz with a maximum bandwidth of 128GB/s. The 5870 is a more high end offering, with a higher price to suit. This features a faster 850Mhz core speed and the same 1024MB of DDR5, this time at a staggering 4800MHz. This means a maximum bandwidth of 153.6GB/s. Ofcourse, both of these cards include support for DirectX 11, OpenGL 3.2, shader model 5.0 and both draw their power from a set of two 6pin PCI express power connectors. The only major difference between the two is price - around £200 for a standard 5850, or an extra £100 for the 5870 at the moment.
As usual with any new graphics card, all of the usual manufacturers have their cards available upon release. As usual, atleast for the first few weeks, they are very similar, often just a different sticker on the shroud of the heatsink or slightly different bundle, but mostly the same cards, which explains the similar pricing. However, after the first few weeks, the dust has settled and the partners are let loose, often introducing overclocked models, custom coolers, PCBs and higher quality components for improved overclocking.
So, lets take a look at what we can buy today, and see if there is any significant differences between the available cards. At the time of writing, cards from XFX, ASUS, HIS, Gigabyte, Powercolor, Sapphire, MSI and VTX are all available for purchase. Most of these manufacturers are offering a free download of the highly anticipated DirectX11 title, Colin McRae: DiRT 2, when it is released later this year. Apart from that, every single one of the cards available to buy are stock-clocked models with a 2 year warranty, with only ASUS and Sapphire breaking the trend. Sapphire are adding not only DiRT 2, but also adding Edios' Battlestation Pacific game to the bundle of their 5800 series cards.
Meanwhile, something more exciting, ASUS' two cards come with their own Voltage Tweak Technology. This is controlled by ASUS' smart doctor software, which allows users to increase the voltages of the card for improved overclocking abilities. They say that the 5870 can have it's core voltage increased from 1.15v to 1.35v, allowing a speed boost from 850Mhz to 1035Mhz and a memory speed increase from 4800Mhz to 5200Mhz! The 5850 also gets this treatment too, a voltage increase from 1.088v to 1.4v, meaning a boost from 725Mhz to 1050Mhz, with the memory overclocking from the standard 4000Mhz to 5200Mhz! These are some very impressive figures and ASUS claim they produce a 38% improvement in 3DMark Vantage, effectively making the world's fastest single GPU even faster! Pricing for this model is expected to be the same as the other stock variants, making it a very attractive choice!