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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 Closer Look

During the 2009 business year we've seen dozens of great video games released on the PC platform, but very few of them demand any more graphical processing power than games demanded back in 2006. Video cards certainly got bigger and faster, but video games has lacked fresh development. DirectX 10 helped the industry, but every step forward received two steps back because of the Windows Vista O/S. Introduced with Windows 7 (and also now available on Windows Vista with an update), enthusiasts now have DirectX 11 detail and special effects in their video games.

DirectX 11 is that software development leap we've been waiting for. Screen Space Ambient Occlusion (SSAO) is given emphasis in DX11, allowing some of the most detailed computer textures gamers have ever seen. Realistic cracks in mud with definable depth and splintered tree bark make the game more realistic, but they also make new demands on the graphics hardware. ATI offers the Radeon HD 5970 Hemlock video card for enthusiast gamers wanting nothing but the best graphics experience.

ATI_Radeon_HD-5970_Hemlock_GPU_Video_Card_Top.jpg

The ATI Radeon HD 5970 is one of the longest graphics cards ever produced by AMD, measuring 12.1" long from end to end. This profile relegates the HD5970 to full-size ATX cases with plenty of breathing room. ATI produces and directly supplies every Radeon HD 5970 that operates at reference specification, with add-in card/add-in board partner artwork applied wherever necessary.

ATI_Radeon_HD-5970_Hemlock_GPU_Video_Card_Side.jpg

In terms of overall design, the Radeon HD5970 looks like a stretched version of the HD5870 or HD5850. The biggest difference between the Radeon 5970 and the 5800 series is the lacking native HDMI 1.3 port, and the replacement of a DisplayPort-A connection for the smaller DisplayPort-B input. Two DVI digital video outputs are connected to monitors for dual-view, or a third monitor can be added via DisplayPort to enable ATI Eyefinity technology.

ATI_Radeon_HD-5970_Hemlock_GPU_Video_Card_Angle.jpg

Unlike the other cards in the Radeon HD 5000-series, namely the HD5850/5870, the Hemlock HD5970 exhausts the heated air outside of the computer case. This is critically important, considering that the reference-speed Radeon HD 5970 we received for testing often passed 90°C in a 20°C room. The heated air coming out of the graphics card was hot, but nothing compared to the backside of the Radeon HD 5970. The 'Hemlock' graphics card pairs two Cypress-XT GPUs, and under load the retention brackets were measured to exceed 80°C - enough to scorch the hand that touches it.

ATI_Radeon_HD-5970_Hemlock_GPU_Video_Card_Bottom.jpg

The exposed view below illustrates the compact layout of electronic components which build the Radeon HD 5970. ATI intentionally reduced the clock speeds of the two Cypress-XT GPUs and GDDR5 vRAM to reduce TDP to under 300 watts at full load. ATI's uses the revamped PLX ExpressLane CrossFire bridge (good for 96-lanes of PCI-Express 2.1 bandwidth), which enables a new feature they call 'CrossFire Ultra-low Power State'. This new feature shuts down one of the GPU's and places it into a suspend power state when the video card doesn't require the graphics processing power. The end-result is an extremely efficient graphics card at idle.

Although designed for under 300W, the 6+8-pin power connections are good for up to 400W on demand and the cooling unit also offers more thermal control than necessary. AMD uses digital programmable Volterra regulators, Japanese pure ceramic SuperCapacitors, and 5.0 Gbps rated Qimonda GDDR5 to allow additional overclocking headroom. Doing this has enabled ATI to offer a quasi-Black Edition video card so that overclockers can have their way with it. ATI in-house tests pushed a Radeon HD 5970 up to 970MHz on each GPU, but individual results will vary depending on manufacturer and chip binning.

ATI_Radeon_HD-5970_Hemlock_GPU_Bare_PCB.jpg

Considering the Cypress-XT GPU die size is a rather large 334 mm2, and fits 2154 million transistors, the overall heat dissipation is spread over a suitable landscape. The double-height cooler does a very good job of cooling two GPUs, but there is still a tremendous amount of heat that builds up on backside of the PCB. If you plan to overclock, I recommend that special attention be paid to the alloy plate mounted to the backside of the PCB of this video card.

In next several sections, Benchmark Reviews details our methodology for testing video cards followed by a performance comparison against many of the most popular graphics accelerators available. The Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 5970 competes against the dual-GT200 GPU NVIDIA GeForce GTX 295, so of course we'll be keeping a close eye on comparative performance.



 

Comments 

 
# 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: benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=194
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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