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Written by Olin Coles   
Wednesday, 18 November 2009
Table of Contents: Page Index
ATI Radeon HD 5970 Hemlock Video Card
Radeon HD 5970 Features
ATI Eyefinity Multi-Monitors
ATI Radeon HD 5970 Closer Look
Video Card Testing Methodology
3DMark Vantage GPU Tests
BattleForge Performance
Crysis Warhead Tests
Devil May Cry 4 Benchmark
Far Cry 2 Benchmark
Resident Evil 5 Tests
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat
Unigine Heaven Benchmark
Radeon HD 5970 Temperatures
VGA Power Consumption
Radeon 5000-Series Final Thoughts
ATI Radeon HD 5970 Conclusion

ATI Radeon HD 5970 Conclusion

Although our rating and final score are made to be as objective as possible, please be advised that every author perceives these factors differently at different points in time. While we do our best to ensure that all aspects of the product are considered, there are often times unforeseen market conditions and manufacturer changes which occur after publication that would render our rating obsolete. Please do not base your purchases solely on our conclusion, as it represents our product rating at the time of publication. Benchmark Reviews begins our conclusion with a short summary for each of the areas that we rate.

The first section rated in our conclusion is performance, which considers how effective the Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 5970 DirectX 11 video card performs with its "Hemlock" GPU in designated test operations against direct competitor products. Considering that the GeForce GTX 295 sells at the $500 price segment and is NVIDIA's most powerful desktop graphics product, the ATI Radeon HD 5970 has set the bar so high that it could be several months before any other product comes close. In each of our benchmarks we've ensured that these two products were tested head-to-head, and in terms of DirectX 10 performance the Radeon HD 5970 offered approximately 40% better performance in NVIDIA TWIMTBP video games (Crysis Warhead, Devil May Cry 4, Far Cry 2, and Resident Evil 5). Looking at games with SSAO available to them, the Radeon HD5970 leaped ahead of the GTX295 more than 60% most times, and sometimes as much as 200% depending on the game and resolution. These are all the DirectX 10 tests, because when DirectX 11 is utilized only the ATI Radeon 5000-series is able to participate. In terms of power efficiency, the ATI Radeon HD 5970 is far more conservative and offered 5.35W per each frame rendered compared to the GTX295 with 14.43W per frame. For the time being and at least through to the end of the year, ATI's Radeon HD 5970 is the most powerful desktop graphics product available, and the only brand of graphics card capable of playing DirectX 11 games.


Product appearance is relative to personal tastes, but the entire Radeon 5000-series looks very similar to one another with the only difference being overall length and some minor changes to the vent grill. Lately it seems that almost everything has been encased in a plastic housings with a label fixed to the top, so I'm rather used to the basic style lines. In the end though, ATI strikes a comfortable blend of elegance and flair that seems appealing to the senses.

Construction is solid, and unlike ATI had done to the 5800-series cards the HD5970 receives a full-length grill for venting out all heated air from the case. Gamers and overclockers alike should appreciate it when the video card exhaust outside of the computer case, because it affects everything else inside of it. Every inch of the Hemlock graphics card is covered, save for some small knockouts on the back for the two GPUs. Considering that serious overclocking to the Cypress-XT GPUs could result in a fast-approaching 100°C loaded temperature, ATI was within right to extend the housing to lengthy 12.1" and open the vent.

While most consumer buy a discrete graphics card for the sole purpose of PC video games, there's a very small niche who expect extra features beyond basic frame rates. AMD isn't the market leader in GPGPU functionality, but their ATI Stream Technology is the only one designed to utilize DirectCompute 5.0 and OpenCL code. ATI Eyefinity technology is impressive, as it demonstrates yet another dimension of visual experience that the competition cannot offer. But for most consumers, it's the added connectivity that really counts: native DisplayPort and HDMI interfaces. As a whole, the ATI Radeon HD 5890 video card offers more raw functionality than we can find from competing GeForce products.

As of February 2010, supplies of the Radeon HD 5970 'Hemlock' video card seem very scarce. NewEgg offers listings of the HD5970 from Sapphire, Diamond, PowerColor, and ASUS; and they're all priced around $679. The single-GPU Radeon HD 5870 still sells at NewEgg for $409.99 (and similar elsewhere) which makes it possible for hardware-savvy gamers who might consider buying two individual cards and putting them in a CrossFire set for similar performance and price.

In summary, there's a long future ahead for the entire Radeon HD 5000 series; and overclocking enthusiasts will be just as pleased with the Radeon HD 5970 as gamers will be, DirectX 11 is the future of gaming, whether the competition likes it or not, and ATI has a huge head-start on absorbing an early market share. Eyefinity is a nice touch and it certainly adds to the gaming experience, but there's such an incredibly small portion of potential users for the technology that shear graphics power is a better sales pitch. The ATI Radeon HD 5970 is perfect for high-performance gamers interested in unparalleled frame rates, and multi-monitor power users wanting triple-panel diversity. Overclockers can push this 'unlocked' Hemlock video card well beyond it's specifications, mainly because that's what it was designed for. The HD5970 is the 'Black Edition' of ATI's Radeon series, and the closest competing product is more than 40% behind.

AMD Warranty Statement: AMD's product warranty does not cover damages caused by overclocking, even when overclocking in enabled via AMD software. Unlike previous generations of ATI Radeon graphics cards, the overclocking potential of the ATI Radeon HD 5970 graphics card has been left uncapped. You can control the amount of overclocked to which you subject your graphics card. Please use discretion and caution when overclocking this video card.

Pros:Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award

+ Fastest DirectX 11 compatible graphics accelerator available
+ Consumes 48W at idle and 299W under full load
+ Eyefinity Technology through DisplayPort and DVI (x2)
+ Outstanding performance for ultra high-end games
+ Fan exhausts all heated air outside of case
+ 3200 GPU cores (total) at 725 MHz
+ 2 GB of 1000 MHz 256-bit GDDR5 vRAM
+ Highly overclockable Hemlock GPUs
+ Very-quiet cooling fan under loaded operation
+ Supports CrossFireX functionality


- 12.1" Long graphics card may not fit some cases
- Maximum post-processing Anti Aliasing is limited to 8x
- Very expensive premium-level product


  • Performance: 10.0
  • Appearance: 9.00
  • Construction: 9.75
  • Functionality: 9.50
  • Value: 6.75

Final Score: 9.0 out of 10.

Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.

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# the diffrenceJeff 2010-03-24 07:12
In my opinion. the diffrence between ATI and NVidia when it comes to gameing, is that NVidia seems to have alot of technical problems and games seem to crash every so often. With ATI the video card drivers and software can be more user friendly. the cards are outstanding in the performance and there are no problems when it comes to games, movies, etc. The best part of ATI, is Eye Finity.... Hopefully they can come up with a card that can hold the 3 screens, but dont have to order a dual link to DVI adapter off the internet... which seems to be the biggest problem for most people....
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# Drivers Blow !!!Mike 2010-03-26 17:01
ATI's drivers are horrendous!! I have had nothing but problems with them. Tons of in game glitches and outright crashes and they are never optimized when a new game is released. It takes forever for them to address individual game issues ( see Batman Arkham Asylum and AA ). They might release a driver a month but I think all they do is change the version number and kick it out the door. If you really want bad drivers just run any of their 2x gpu cards then it gets even worse...

Jeff sounds like ATI employee at the very least.
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# ... So Does Mike ;)EetMe 2010-04-10 09:59
ATI is clearly the "hardware" king-o-graphics/GPU's right now. Mike sounds like a poor-loser nv-fanboy. tough eh ?
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# Fanboy at the LEASTRj 2010-04-13 07:17
Yes, fanboy at the least, or some dumbass that doens't know how to use a GPU lololol
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# RE: ATI Radeon HD 5970 Hemlock Video CardFrostbite 2010-05-03 15:53
I still don't get why people complain about ATI's drivers. I keep up to date monthly and sometimes much longer periods before I do update, and I haven't had a single issue. Yeah, the games have crashed but hell, they did that to me back in 95. Learn how to keep your drivers in shape newbies, as I've yet to experience anything overly frustrating in this many years of ATI.
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# ATI and NVIDIA both have issues.Olin Coles 2010-05-03 16:07
I've already pointed out problems with NVIDIA drivers here:
What I haven't pointed out is how NVIDIA drivers lack 60Hz support, and instead offers a lower 59Hz option. On the other hand, ATI delivers the full 60Hz experience, and Battlefield Bad Company 2 loads levels in only 10 seconds and not 62 like the latest Forceware driver. As I see it right now, ATI has an edge over NVIDIA drivers.
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# IT guyDave 2010-05-07 07:48
I'm unsure if Mike understands how to correctly install the drivers for his GPU. The only time I've ever had issues with my 5970 is when USER error was involved. Yes I am human too. haha. If you are switching from Nvidia or if you wish to have a clean install use a product like Driver Sweep. Download the newest drivers from ATI first. Run Driver Sweep and remove the ATI drivers. For an extra layer of assurance uninstall your video drivers/hardware in safe mode as well, re boot and install the new drivers!! Easy cheesy! :-)
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# Not 1 single problemRecon 2010-08-06 10:19
I have buy this card. And i love nv (always buy Nividia). But i was afread bugged drivers because i have see so many bad reviews its like the trying to rip off ati, however a friend buy this card. And i was like OMFG this can not be happening, Well see that beast in action i can not belive wat that thing can do. So i buy this card. So far not even 1 single crash. Perhaps people need to chill down and buy this card. Realy the love it when the have this card. If ati stay that way i will follow.
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# RE: ATI Radeon HD 5970 Hemlock Video Cardmike 2010-08-22 21:12
Uh well my HIS HD4870 has major problems. Actually, I have two of them and they both exhibit the same problems. I can't even run MOH:AA without cat A.I. on at least low. Took me about 2 years to figure this out, so I went 2 years without playing one of all time favorite classic games. No one had an answer, including ATI. I also can't play the game with Vsync on, or my mouse becomes erratic. This does not happen on ANY other video card I've had, but does with both HD4870s. Add to this numerous other glitches and I've pulled all of my hair out over it the past couple of years. I don't know if this is a hardware issue with this particular model of card, or a driver issue, or both. I just hope, really hope that if I spend another 400 dollars on my next ATI card that I do not have these glaring issues.
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# Ati Vs NvidiaRoy 2010-10-08 13:35
i always used to have an Nvidia card, but now it was time to change to an Ati card.
Ati has the best ones at this moment in my eyes.
i just bought an Sapphire Hd 5850 Toxic, it runs great, silence and it doesnt gets hot.

If you wanna buy an new graphics cards, then buy an ati, there the best now.
(ati is the cheapest and it wont use as much power as an nvidia as well atm)
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