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Written by Bruce Normann   
Tuesday, 20 April 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
PowerColor PCS+ AX5870 1GBD5-PPDHG2
PowerColor PCS AX5870 Features
PowerColor PCS AX5870 Specifications
Closer Look: PowerColor PCS AX5870
Detailed Features: PowerColor PCS AX5870
Video Card Testing Methodology
3DMark Vantage Benchmarks
Crysis Benchmark Results
Devil May Cry 4 Benchmark
Far Cry 2 Benchmarks
Resident Evil 5 Benchmarks
Unigine - Heaven Benchmarks
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat Benchmarks
PowerColor PCS AX5870 Temperature
VGA Power Consumption
Radeon HD 5870 Final Thoughts
PowerColor PCS AX5870 Conclusion

PowerColor PCS+ AX5870 Video Card Review

It's been some time since the launch of the ATI Radeon HD 5870, over six months from September of 2009. In that time, the graphics card world has not stood still, yet the HD 5870 reigned supreme for the entire time as the world's fastest (single) GPU. Now that Fermi has finally launched, that title belongs to the GTX480, but the 5870 has matured since its launch and it's time to take a look at where it's at today. Development has continued on both the hardware side and the software side. Driver updates have been a constant source of improvement and anguish, nothing unusual there. It seems like ATI and NVIDIA typically produce only one set of drivers in any given year that gets universal acclaim from the user community.


The PowerColor PCS+ AX5870 is one of several new HD 58xx series cards released by ATI AIB partners in the last few months that follow a new design pattern. Advances in power-semiconductor packaging have allowed for a simpler VRM implementation that also consumes much less real estate on the board. At the same time, the use of a down-flow HSF arrangement eliminates the dead spots found below and behind the blower wheel on the reference design. The combination makes for a smaller, more efficient, and more reliable card that's less costly to produce. I call that progress, but there are others who bemoan the process of removing cost from a design, commonly known as Value Engineering. I can understand the angst if functions and features are being removed, but finding a cheaper way to deliver the same performance is a good thing, unless you need to establish and maintain snob appeal for your product.

Benchmark Reviews has tested a couple of ATI Radeon HD 5870 video cards already, so the performance and features of the GPU are hardly news, but with a number of second-generation cards appearing in the marketplace, we thought it was time to sample one and see how the basic design has matured. Please follow along as we give you a detailed look at one of the latest high-end Radeons from PowerColor.

About the company: PowerColorpowercolor_logo_300px.png

PowerColor, established by Tul Corporation in 1997, is a graphics industry leading brand name now and well known for its outstanding performance and innovative technology. As a leading provider of graphics card, PowerColor offers powerful, reliable and cost-effective solutions to customers worldwide.

PowerColor is the platform of choice for avid PC gamers and video prosumers looking to get the best possible performance out of the latest graphics processors from ATI. PowerColor graphics cards deliver every-last-drop of super-charged performance from ATI's most advanced visual processing units (VPU). Running a PowerColor graphics card, today's gamers are able to unleash the 3D graphics performance of their favorite game playing it the way it was meant to be played.



# I'm not sure about good soldering qualityRod 2010-04-19 15:59
The solder drip you can see on the 3rd image down isn't from wave soldering, its in the wrong direction, it would be more likely from the rework station.

The solder joint on R639, tho may be intact, but I would hesitate to guess that given a bit more time, and temperature cycling that you'll have a dry joint on the upper left.

C658 & C660 seem to not have a good flow on the upper pad to the component, this should have been picked up in rework/inspection before it went in to the tester.

Though you say that even knowing those caps are on a 1mm grid, they are still HUGE components compared to whats out there and what I have worked with, 1mm gridding is still quite a large grid to work with.
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# ThanksBruceBruce 2010-04-19 16:21

Care to see the hi-res photos?
BTW, what component pitch is considered SOTA today?

Thanks for the feedback. FWIW, it's tough for the average person to even see this stuff. I have a 10X loupe, and it doesn't cut it. I have to go 2.5X with my Micro-Nikkor on a DSLR to see it properly.
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# soldering qualityHap 2010-04-19 16:27
Most of the inspection is now done using a Automated Optical Inspection System, and it's up to the programmer what is caught as bad solder joints or min passing, as in the Landrex AOI Unit.
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# Thanks to the reviewer!Greg 2010-09-27 10:47
I really appreciate a well-written, and in depth review. I had recently purchased the ASUS EAH5870, and am sad to say that it is junk by my standards. Poor cooling, and came well-equipped to fail and cause artifacting due to a bad memory chip. As I am now on the quest to RMA, I am considering this card. Your review was extremely helpful in my decision, and I will be interested in ANY other hardware reviews you write.

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# AppreciatedBruceBruce 2010-09-27 17:25
Hi Greg, Glad you found the review helpful. Although I complained about the cleaning solution residue, this card has been providing good service since the day I got it. I recently tried an aftermarket cooler on it, and the performance was only slightly better, really just lower noise.

I am a little surprised by your experience with the ASUS model, they have been good cards for me...but nobody's perfect ALL the time.
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