So it's finally that time of year when after a significant amount of time of what seems as though a stagnant market we're presented with something new and hopefully very special. What exactly do you hope to see? Substantial performance increases from the previous top end of graphics card? An improvement in visuals and eye candy and/or just all out bang per buck? Honestly, we welcome change of any sort so long as it's change for the good.
Today we had the opportunity to try out AMD's new killer GPU, the HD 5870 for a limited set of benchmark runs. Loosely based on the successful RV770 (HD 4800 series) architecutre, it is hammed up and tweaked into a mammoth 2.1 billion transistor, DX11 compliant creature aimed squarely at nVidia's excellent but steadily ageing arsenal of GTX 2xx Graphics Cards. So what makes this graphics card so great? Comparison table, here we come
| ||nVidia GeForce GTX 285 ||ATi Radeon HD 4890 ||ATi Radeon HD 5870 |
|55nm ||55nm ||40nm |
|DirectX ||10 ||10.1 ||11 |
|Memory Interface ||512bit GDDR3 ||256bit GDDR5 ||256bit GDDR5 |
|240 ||800 ||1600 |
|Core Clock ||648 ||850MHz ||850MHz |
|Memory Clock ||1242 ||975MHz ||1200MHz |
|TMU Count ||80 ||40 ||80 |
|ROP Count ||32 ||16 || |
Would you like the long story or the short story? In a nutshell the ATI Radeon HD 5870 features everything that the HD 4800 series could offer but more. Everything has seen an improvement. The shrink to 40nm and retaining the smaller 256bit interface allows for a less complex and smaller GPU core, driving the costs right down, but without the performance loss thanks to the faster GDDR5 memory. TMU/ROP count and subsequently Stream Processor count has also doubled, which means a theoretical “doubling” of bandwith. On paper, it would seem as though ATi has a rather good chance of pipping the GTX 285 as well. Understatement of the century? Maybe, maybe not. Let's have a physical look at ATi's latest gem.