|ASUS Radeon EAH5870 V2 Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Bruce Normann|
|Sunday, 13 June 2010|
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ASUS EAH5870/2DIS/1GD5/V2 Conclusion
The ASUS EAH5870 V2 easily met or improved on the basic performance levels set by the reference cards. The availability of software voltage control allowed an easy 18% increase in clock rates, with no loss of stability or extreme temperatures. Users of the reference designs have commonly been able to hit the 1 GHz mark, but there was a Catch-22. The software-controlled VRM that enabled the overclock had a bad tendency to overheat, itself. The V2 version from ASUS retains the performance enhancing capability of software voltage control, but does it with more straightforward, robust VRM hardware. Bottom line: with a 1GHz core and 1250 MHz memory clock, this card eats up the landscape in convincing fashion. The new all-copper cooler keeps temps in check and reduces fan speed, which is already a bit lower due to the increased fan size.
The appearance of the ASUS EAH5870 V2 video card is quite good. The larger fan works well with the full shroud and ASUS highlights it with the red trim around the inlet of the blower wheel. The red "V" accents draw attention to the airflow pattern and also remind me that this is the Voltage Tweak model. Other than a small "ASUS" name molded into the shroud, there are no real graphics included in the design. What a change from a few years ago, when every high-end card had an Asian Warrior Girl painted on the face of the cooler. While not a subtle design, the V2 avoids the garish themes that often show up on products marketed at gamers. Now the cover art on the box, that's another story.
The build quality of the EAH5870 V2 was excellent. Everything is well put together, the overall assembly of the card was rock solid, and the packaging was also first rate. I was especially impressed by the full length cast aluminum frame that ties the various components together. It's similar to the one on the ATI reference design, but it secures the I/O plate to the frame, which makes it even more solid. The weak point of the 5870 reference design has been eliminated, with a new power section that's just as sturdy as the physical construction. The Extreme Design features also contribute to the robustness of the card: redundant over-current protection, adhesive bonding of the GPU module to the PCB, and dust sealing of the fan motor all help keep the card running under potentially abusive conditions.
The features of the HD 5870 may seem slightly less amazing, now that we've been using them on a whole host of Radeon 5xxx cards since last September. Still, no one else has an equivalent combination of features that compete fully with DirectX 11, Full ATI Eyefinity Support, ATI Stream Technology Support, DirectCompute 11, OpenCL Support, HDMI 1.3 with Dolby True HD and DTS Master Audio. We've barely scratched the surface of all the features in this review, focusing almost exclusively on gaming performance, but the card excels at other uses as well. This is an area that will change eventually, as NVIDIA ramps up the feature set of their product line with new capabilities. They just got their first working products out the door, now they can expand on some features as they release new driver packages.
As of June 2010, the price for the ASUS EAH5870/2DIS/1GD5/V2 is $429.99 minus a $20 MIR at NewEgg. This is a little bit higher than the lowest price Radeon HD 5870 video cards, but still way below the high prices that some of the factory overclocked cards are fetching. With the software voltage control this board offers, you can zip right past those cards, making this second Voltage Tweak edition an excellent value in my book. The MSI R5870 Lightning card with Afterburner software is its closest competition, and its $50 higher. The PowerColor PCS++ is available at the same price with a 950 MHz core right out of the box, but you can't roll your own voltage settings. They're all worthwhile contenders, and depending on your personal priorities, one will probably stand out to you.
The ASUS EAH5870 V2 earns a Gold Tachometer by focusing on the key design aspects that improve performance, and delivering very high quality, reliable solutions for those elements. The power supply may use ordinary component choices in a classic VRM design, but it offers 50% more PWM phases than some competitors and it's bulletproof. The cooling solution is more compact than most of the non-reference designs, its all-copper construction pulls heat away from the GPU quicker, and most of the heat is expelled outside the case where it belongs. With the use of software voltage control, ASUS greatly improved the stock performance of what was already a high performance model to begin with. Even without it, the slightly higher default GPU voltage allowed me to run a 950 MHz core clock right out of the box. The only real downfall I see is the ironic fact that the iTracker2 monitor & control software from ASUS is a much better product than SmartDoctor, and you can't mix and match software across product lines. SmartDoctor is more of an annoyance than a hindrance, though. All this good stuff is available in ASUS' lowest cost 5870 product, making it a leader in value for the Radeon HD 5870 group. Well done.
+ Robust, 6+1 phase power supply runs cool
- SmartDoctor software inferior to ASUS iTracker2
Final Score: 9.25 out of 10.
Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.
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