|ATI Radeon HD 5970 Hemlock Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Wednesday, 18 November 2009|
Page 17 of 17
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.
+ Fastest DirectX 11 compatible graphics accelerator available
- 12.1" Long graphics card may not fit some cases
Final Score: 9.0 out of 10.
Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.
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