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Written by Bruce Normann   
Monday, 19 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

Crysis Benchmark Results

Crysis uses a new graphics engine: the CryENGINE2, which is the successor to Far Cry's CryENGINE. CryENGINE2 is among the first engines to use the Direct3D 10 (DirectX 10) framework, but can also run using DirectX 9, on Vista, Windows XP and the new Windows 7. As we'll see, there are significant frame rate reductions when running Crysis in DX10. It's not an operating system issue, DX9 works fine in WIN7, but DX10 knocks the frame rates in half.

Roy Taylor, Vice President of Content Relations at NVIDIA, has spoken on the subject of the engine's complexity, stating that Crysis has over a million lines of code, 1GB of texture data, and 85,000 shaders. To get the most out of modern multicore processor architectures, CPU intensive subsystems of CryENGINE 2 such as physics, networking and sound, have been re-written to support multi-threading.

Crysis offers an in-game benchmark tool, which is similar to World in Conflict. This short test does place some high amounts of stress on a graphics card, since there are so many landscape features rendered. For benchmarking purposes, Crysis can mean trouble as it places a high demand on both GPU and CPU resources. Benchmark Reviews uses the Crysis Benchmark Tool by Mad Boris to test frame rates in batches, which allows the results of many tests to be averaged.

Low-resolution testing allows the graphics processor to plateau its maximum output performance, and shifts demand onto the other system components. At the lower resolutions Crysis will reflect the GPU's top-end speed in the composite score, indicating full-throttle performance with little load. This makes for a less GPU-dependant test environment, but it is sometimes helpful in creating a baseline for measuring maximum output performance. At the 1280x1024 resolution used by 17" and 19" monitors, the CPU and memory have too much influence on the results to be used in a video card test. At the widescreen resolutions of 1680x1050 and 1900x1200, the performance differences between video cards under test are mostly down to the cards.

PowerColor_PCS+_AX5870_Video_Card_Crysis_NoAA_1680.jpg

With medium screen resolution and no AA dialed in, the PowerColor PCS+ 5870 card continues to have a field day. Remember all the test results in this article are with maximum allowable image quality settings, plus all the performance numbers in Crysis took a major hit when Benchmark Reviews switched over to the DirectX 10 API for all our testing. Considering all that, the 5870 hits the sweet spot for Crysis, with no lag detectable in game play.

PowerColor_PCS+_AX5870_Video_Card_Crysis_NoAA_1920.jpg

At 1900 x 1200 resolution, everything looks the same; even the 512MB card is still hanging in there. Those old HD4850 cards were really good performers in Crysis with DX9, but they can't compete in DX10 with today's powerhouses. Both the HD5870 cards take about a 7FPS hit when moving up to 1920x1200, but they're still comfortably above the 30 FPS mark.

PowerColor_PCS+_AX5870_Video_Card_Crysis_4xAA_1680.jpg

Now let's turn up the heat a bit, and add some Anti-Aliasing. With 4x MSAA cranked in, the PCS+ AX5870 backs off slightly, only making 42 FPS when overclocked to 925 MHz. Of course this result demolishes all the GTX cards again.

PowerColor_PCS+_AX5870_Video_Card_Crysis_4xAA_1920.jpg

This is one of our toughest tests, at 1900 x 1200, maximum quality levels, and 4x AA. Only one GPU gets above 30 FPS in this test, and until recently it was the fastest single-GPU card on the planet, the Radeon HD 5870. The PowerColor PCS+ gains a little ground on its stock counterpart, and gains even more when pushed to a 9% overclock. The scaling in Crysis is almost as linear as a synthetic benchmark, I think that's one of the reasons it has stayed relevant all this time. In the middle ranges, the HD 5850 holds on to its spot as the value proposition to beat. Even with its low stock clocks, it beats the GTX285 by 29%.

Product Series

Stream Processors

Core Clock (MHz)

Shader Clock (MHz)

Memory Clock (MHz)

Memory Amount

Memory Interface

ASUS Radeon HD4850 (EAH4850 TOP)

800

680

N/A

1050

512MB GDDR3

256-bit

ATI Radeon HD5770 (Engineering Sample)

800

850

N/A

1200

1.0GB GDDR5

128-bit

XFX Radeon HD5830 (HD-583X-ZNFV)

1120

800

N/A

1000

1.0GB GDDR5

256-bit

ASUS GeForce GTX 260 (ENGTX260 MATRIX)

216

576

1242

999

896MB GDDR3

448-bit

XFX Radeon HD5850 (21162-00-50R)

1440

725

N/A

1000

1.0GB GDDR5

256-bit

MSI GeForce GTX 275 (N275GTX Twin Frozr OC)

240

666

1476

1161

896MB GDDR3

448-bit

ASUS GeForce GTX 285 (GTX285 MATRIX)

240

662

1476

1242

1.0GB GDDR3

512-bit

XFX Radeon HD5870 (HD-587X-ZNFC)

1600

850

N/A

1200

1.0GB GDDR5

256-bit

PowerColor AX5870 (1GBD5-PPDHG2)

1600

875

N/A

1250

1.0GB GDDR5

256-bit

PowerColor AX5870 (1GBD5-PPDHG2)

1600

925 OC

N/A

1300 OC

1.0GB GDDR5

256-bit

In our next section, Benchmark Reviews tests with Devil May Cry 4 Benchmark. Read on to see how a blended high-demand GPU test with low video frame buffer demand will impact our test products.



 

Comments 

 
# 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
Rod,

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.
BTDT
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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.

Thanks!
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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. benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=595&Itemid=62

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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