ASUS Matrix 5870 Platinum Review Page: 1

ASUS Matrix 5870 Platinum

Introduction

Hi there pop pickers. By now you're all probably as tired of reading introductions to HD5870s as we are of writing them. More and more incremental updates to push the card a little further and the price a little higher.

So what if you don't want to keep having to buy a new one each time? After all even the most wealthy of us aren't made of money and a eventually you have to draw a line in the sand.

Perhaps what you need is someone to put all the absolute bees knees bits and bobs onto a single card and so you're covered until the 5890 or whatever is next over the horizon.

Welcome to ASUS, and the Matrix Platinum.

Technical Specifications

What ASUS have done is to take everything that could give you extra headroom for your overclocking, and placed it all within one board. As this is RoG branded it should definitely have the performance. Thankfully Republic of Gamers items are still carefully picked rather than slapping a logo onto everything to milk the market.

So let's have a look at the new features available on the Matrix Platinum.


Voltage Tweak Technology (Up to 17% performance increase)
ASUS Super Hybrid Engine: boost up to 19% GPU performance by reducing 54% power noise
iTracker2: the world’s only memory timing adjustment and allow you to save the favorite settings into system and recover
Extreme Cooler: 13% Cooler and 22% Stronger Air Pressure with special designed fan
ProbeIt: Easily measure the voltage of GPU, Memory and PCI-E bus with the Multimeter
Core Clock: 894MHz
Memory: 2048MB GDDR5
Memory Clock: 4800MHz
Memory Bandwidth: 153.6GB/s
Processing Cores: 1600
Bus Type: PCI-Express 2.1
Display Connectors: 2 Dual-Link DVI-I, 1 HDMI & 1 DisplayPort


As you can see it certainly has more bells and whistles than a referees convention at Notre Dame.



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ASUS Matrix 5870  Platinum

What's in the box?

Ok who said a graphics card?

We always rate the ASUS packaging and the Matrix Platinum is no different. Apart from the front box artwork which would look more at home on an Amiga game that a £400 graphics card.

The front of the box lifts up, as is becoming common with high-end products, allowing you to see the various elements of the features we'll see nearer the bottom of the page.

ASUS Matrix 5870 Platinum     ASUS Matrix 5870 Platinum  

ASUS Matrix 5870 Platinum     ASUS Matrix 5870 Platinum  

Opening up we get our first look at the Matrix Platinum. Considering how much ballyhooing there is about how this is the last word in HD5870s, it's surprising to see only a slight variation on the reference cooler.

ASUS Matrix 5870 Platinum     ASUS Matrix 5870 Platinum  

Dear ASUS. This isn't the first product that has come with a "Muti-Language" CD. Please fix your screen printer.

ASUS Matrix 5870 Platinum     ASUS Matrix 5870 Platinum

The back of the card is braced with a sturdy plate that will make sure no warping occurs under the extreme voltages, and therefore heat, that this card is capable of.

On the back of the card is a Safe Mode button, which is there to reset the clocks should you try to push the card a little too far. It's a little like a CMOS reset on a motherboard, and its placement is equally awkward. Definitely designed for those who tweak on a bench and then install.

ASUS Matrix 5870 Platinum     ASUS Matrix 5870 Platinum  

Due to the Voltage Tweak BIOS the Matrix Platinum can really draw loads of power and so has two 8-pin PCIe sockets rather than the more standard two 6-pin ones.

The Matrix display, which we'll show on a later page, means the card is slightly taller than a standard one, but nothing that will cause any issues.

ASUS Matrix 5870 Platinum     ASUS Matrix 5870 Platinum  

Here is the Probelt points for applying your multi-meter to measure voltages. From left to right we have GPU, GPU, Memory, PCIe, PCIe and Ground.

We also have a Super ML Cap that should allow for great headroom and stability in your overclocks.

ASUS Matrix 5870 Platinum     ASUS Matrix 5870 Platinum  

The Matrix logo, and underline, changes colour depending upon the GPU loading. We'll see photos of that later on, but it's definitely a snazzy feature.

ASUS Matrix 5870 Platinum     ASUS Matrix 5870 Platinum



ASUS Matrix 5870 Platinum Review Page: 3

ASUS Matrix 5870  Platinum

Software

The Matrix comes with Tracker2 which allows for manual adjustments of voltages and timings, along with having preset profiles.

On the left hand side of these five pictures we have, in order, gaming mode, optimised mode and power saving mode. ASUS also provide a monitoring section so you can keep a close eye on your stability.

ASUS Matrix 5870 Platinum     ASUS Matrix 5870 Platinum  

ASUS Matrix 5870 Platinum     ASUS Matrix 5870 Platinum  

ASUS Matrix 5870 Platinum 

Overclocking

ASUS Matrix 5870  Platinum

Naturally as the ASUS Matrix Platinum is bristling with features designed to bring the best overclocking performance we couldn't wait to punish it hard. Thanks to the very easy to use Tracker2 utility it didn't take long to find ourselves past the 1GHz mark. Despite this the best we managed to obtain that would stabily run some of our tests was 1049MHz on the GPU Core.

However as this wouldn't run all of our tests in a rock solid manner we had to reduce the speeds until eventually we settled on 1004MHz on the GPU Core.

ASUS Matrix 5870 Platinum    ASUS Matrix 5870  Platinum

Pretty Colours

The Matrix logo changes colour dependant upon the amount of GPU usage, as mentioned on the previous page. How does it look?

ASUS Matrix 5870 Platinum     ASUS Matrix 5870 Platinum  ASUS Matrix 5870 Platinum     ASUS Matrix 5870 Platinum  



ASUS Matrix 5870 Platinum Review Page: 4

ASUS Matrix 5870  Platinum

Test Setup

Motherboard : ASUS Rampage III Extreme
CPU : Intel Core i7 930 180bclk 3.6ghz
RAM : 6GB Corsair Dominator GT @1333mhz
GPU : ATI 5870 1GB
PSU : OCZ 1000w Gold PSU
HDD : 160GB Western Digital
Monitor : Samsung 2433 24" @ 1920x1200
OS : Windows 7 Ultimate 64

 
3D Mark Vantage

With everything suitably ready to go it's time for our old favourite, 3D Mark Vantage. The default 900MHz core clock gives a great score of just under 20000 in our performance test which is up there with the best 5870s we've seen. Mind you as it's £70 odd more than a reference card we'd hope so.

Our 100MHz overclock gives us an extra 1500 points which is a fine score indeed.

 

With the far more demanding High settings applied the scores naturally reduce, but still an impressive level. The overclock really holds up well with a thousand points gained over the stock, and already fast, card.

Unigine

Unigine really stresses cards under the DirectX 11 API as you can see with neither the stock or overclocked card making it to 60FPS. Considering the eye candy on offer though it is hardly surprising.



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ASUS Matrix 5870  Platinum

Dirt 2

Despite the settings being absolutely at the stops, the Matrix Platinum still chews through the game like a dog at your slippers. Perhaps the biggest surprise is how little extra performance we see from the overclock despite having our core past 1GHz.

Just Cause 2

No your eyes do not deceive you. No we didn't mix up the results and yes the graph is accurate.

Faster than you can say "CPU limited" we find possibly the smallest gain ever seen from an overclock. 0.007 frames per second. The most curious thing when you consider CPU limited, is that both min, max and average results are identical. Strange things that need investigating further another time.

Need For Speed Shift

The brilliant Need for Speed Shift from EA is our favourite racing game at the moment. Sumptuous visuals, great sounds and fine playability. Here the Matrix Platinum makes short shrift of it in both stock and overclocked form, with over 100 FPS even at minimum.

Crysis Warhead

Although the maximum rates are clearly CPU limited, the extra grunt of the overclock makes all the difference and we break through the magical 60 FPS barrier. Impressive stuff.



ASUS Matrix 5870 Platinum Review Page: 6

ASUS Matrix 5870  Platinum

Conclusion

Sometimes I think we expect too much.

When the Matrix Platinum was first started to break out of the ASUS labs a, admittedly very specially selected model, managed to obtain 1500MHz on the core. Of course we'd never hope to get near that on a retail model, but nonetheless we were hoping for perhaps 1150+. 

Certainly with the myriad of overclocking features available and with this board currently an eye-watering £408 we were hoping for more than 1050MHz with a stable of just past the 1GHz barrier. Most of the "specialist" cards we've seen will do a GHz happily and for a fraction of the price.

However, there are two important things we need to note here. Firstly if there is one thing we have learnt from our many reviews here in the OC3D dungeon, it's that Jim is a demon with the branding iron. No hang on that's not right. It's that you should never go into a product review with a preconception of its performance.

Secondly remember whenever you're overclocking that some chips perform better than others. We've always prided ourselves here at Overclock3D on not demanding some specialist hand-picked sample. We want to review exactly what you get. Therefore it might just be that we've got an average one.

More importantly than either of these you have to look at the hard numbers. Here there can be no doubt that the Matrix Platinum is quite the performance powerhouse. It's the fastest stock card around, although purchasing it for its stock abilities would be somewhat missing the point.

In short ASUS have put everything possible together so if you really want to push it to the maximum, the card shouldn't let you down at the vital moment. If it does, a quick press of the reset switch on the back and you're ready to go again.

Boy do you pay for this feature set though. Considering the ASUS voltage tweak BIOS can be flashed to any card of your choosing, then for the absolute hardcore that alone isn't enough. The cooler is alright, but not a patch on the Frozr 2 or similar. So what you need to ask yourself is, is a Super ML cap, a reset button and a logo that changes colour enough to justify the extra £70-odd over a reference HD5870?

For the hardcore overclockers or those who demand the absolute best, probably. Everyone else should stick to the already brilliant HD5870 from a manufacturer of your choice.

It's an easy winner of our Performance award. It's just stretching our "performance at all costs" definition to the limits.

Pros
Bulletproof construction
Theoretically nearly unlimited potential

Mediocre
Our one didn't overclock any better than any other we've tested
Matrix lighting is perhaps more for flash than anything

Cons
That price. The HD5870 is a price/performance King. This is nearly GTX480 money.

   

Thanks to ASUS for providing the Matrix Platinum for review. Discuss in our forums.