Okay, so over the last few weeks we have established (see here
) that ATi's brand new Radeon HD 5870's are somewhat competent. In a nutshell, Team Red has successfully taken the crown of “fastest single GPU graphics card” and won the race for DX11 compliance (erm, DX11 games, feel free to arrive by the dozen if you could...). Most importantly, this has all been rolled into a ~170W TDP package that is almost as quiet as the mouse that's raiding my packs of McCoys in the cupboards. Ho hum, perhaps somewhat competent is a bit of an understatement after all. For the first of it's generation, ATi seem to have done a rather good job especially when one compares previous graphics card generations and think about the times when it wasn't until the graphics card in question was "refreshed" as an improved solution that an initially half baked product was now just right. We can actually take a page straight out of ATi's books as far as that one is concerned and it wasn't particularly long ago. Think Radeon HD 2900XT followed by the HD 3850/3870 that soon followed. Very much the same core architecture, but improved core clocks and a die shrink that finally made it a sensible option. Let's not dwell on the past however as we're meant to be complementing Team red for releasing a quality product that depending on how nVidia's "Fermi" DX11 graphics card pans out may send them back to the glory days of the performance leading Radeon 9700 Pro and also the infamous GeForce FX 5000's....that were infamous for all the wrong reasons...
I'm not here to brown nose ATi till the cows come home however and as the title may suggest we are not talking about just one Radeon HD 5870. We're revisiting ATi CrossfireX but now with a pair of their finest sitting on our table. I wish to cast your mind back to 2004, which saw the introduction of Multi GPU technology for the gaming masses. It went by the name of nVidia SLI technology. ATi followed suit with it's own "Crossfire" technology that worked by means of a slave card and a complex “crossfire edition” card, where both were then linked externally and outside of the case. Truth be told, Crossfire was somewhat unpopular because of this but this soon changed just over a year later when they brought out their value for money Radeon X1950 Pro graphics card, which took inspiration from nVidia's SLI Bridge. Since then, Crossfire had gained much needed attention and popularity and a couple of generations later, here we are with the technology embedded in our Radeon HD 5870 samples and so this brings me back to the review. Why settle for just one HD 5870 when you can have two? Is such a monstrous pairing the answer to a truly fluid gaming experience in just about everything? With a pair of 1600 stream processor cores ploughing away with two dedicated banks of 1GB GDDR5, we believe that this could be very interesting indeed.
|Name||ATi Radeon HD 4890||ATi Radeon HD 4890 Crossfire||ATi Radeon HD 5870||ATi Radeon HD 5870 Crossfire|
|Stream Processors||800||2 x 800||1600||2 x 1600|
|ROP Count||16||2 x 16||32||2 x 32|
|TMU Count||40||2 x 40||80||2 x 80|
It goes without saying but Gigabyte need no introduction thanks to a wide range of motherboards, coolers and obviously as a top tier graphics card partner as well. The brand is an add in board partner for both ATi and nVidia based video cards and has sold both reference based cards and their own derivatives of the same that feature custom PCB's, Heatsinks and varying Memory IC's. With years of experience under their belt, one would be tempted to feel optimistic about the quality of this particular product. Let's turn over to examine the Gigabyte Radeon HD 5870 1GB.