ASUS Radeon EAH5870 V2 Video Card E-mail
Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards
Written by Bruce Normann   
Sunday, 13 June 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
ASUS Radeon EAH5870 V2 Video Card
Radeon HD 5870 GPU Features
ASUS EAH5870 V2 Features
ASUS EAH5870/2DIS/1GD5/V2 Specifications
Closer Look: ASUS Radeon HD5870 V2
Detailed Features: ASUS EAH5870 V2
Video Card Testing Methodology
3DMark Vantage Benchmarks
Crysis Benchmark Results
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Benchmark Results
Devil May Cry 4 Benchmark
Aliens Vs. Predator DX11 Benchmark Results
Far Cry 2 Benchmarks
Resident Evil 5 Benchmarks
Unigine - Heaven Benchmarks
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat Benchmarks
ASUS EAH5870 V2 Temperature
VGA Power Consumption
Radeon HD 5870 Final Thoughts
ASUS EAH5870 V2 Conclusion

ASUS EAH5870/2DIS/1GD5/V2 Features

Above and beyond the features that come with every graphics card based on an ATI HD 5870 GPU, there are several hardware and software features that ASUS brings to the table with the EAH5870 V2. First, let's look at the special hardware features that come along with the latest ASUS design initiative, called "Extreme Design". You have to look close, because there's no big sticker on the box and it's not mentioned on the product's web page, but the features are there, nonetheless.

ASUS_EAH5870v2_Video_Card_Extreme_Design_02.jpg

OCP with Redundant Fuses

It's been awhile since I saw fuses on low-voltage electronics assemblies. In most applications, power requirements have been going down steadily and most designs rely on the current limiting features built into commonly available voltage regulators to do the job. High power graphics cards are another matter, where 25A is not an unusual load. If you're already pulling that kind of current, a voltage spike can dump a lot of power into the board and cause serious damage. Most manufacturers do some failure analysis on returned products, and I'm sure ASUS has seen its share of burnt components caused by power surges generated upstream. So, it's in their best interest and yours if adding a small, cheap fuse can prevent a catastrophic board failure.

ASUS_EAH5870v2_Video_Card_Fuses.jpg

These are one-time fuses, not the resettable versions that have become popular recently. To avoid a one-strike-you're-out situation, ASUS installed redundant fuses, so you have not one, but two chances to blow the fuse before sending the board back with an RMA.

Bonding of GPU substrate to the main PCB

How many times have you cranked down on the mounting hardware for a monster CPU cooler and wondered if you were bending the motherboard. Of course, you were....even if it was slight. Now, add cyclic thermal stress and you have a potential for failure. The same applies to your GPU, although I haven't seen a TRUE hanging off a video card, yet. Without a socket to add some structural integrity to the area around the GPU, there's a greater opportunity for stress and strain on the GPU and the hundreds of tiny components soldered close in. The typical mounting system for GPUs relies on an intermediate substrate as the interface between the actual GPU and the main PCB.

ASUS_EAH5870v2_Video_Card_amd_gpu_substrate_Backfill.jpg

You can see in the image above that it's common to fill in the gap between the die and the substrate with an underfill, but the gap between the substrate and the main PCB is wide open. ASUS decided to extend the underfill concept to the bottom of the substrate and increase the strength and rigidity in this critical area. I wouldn't have thought this could be a significant problem, but back in 2008 it cost NVIDIA about $200 million to replace a bunch of mobile GPUs with failed solder connections. Better to be proactive about it, I think, and the additional cost is probably minimal. A little bit of glue in the right place, and you're golden. I suspect that the additional layer of underfill is not really protecting the solder balls in the lower gap, but by making the entire area less flexible, they are doing a better job of protecting the solder bumps between the GPU die and the substrate.

Labyrinth seal for fan hub

Fans move air. Air contains dirt. More air = more dirt. Fans rotate on bearings. Bearings + dirt = FAIL.

ASUS_EAH5870v2_Video_Card_FAN.png

Pretty simple; if you don't want your fan to fail, keep dirt out of the bearings. Traditional contact sealing methods, using rubber or felt to close off gaps, generate friction, heat, and airborne particles. None of these sound like things you want in a video card, and to top it off, it uses up energy to create all those things we don't want. ASUS has adopted a better method, commonly called a labyrinth seal, which is a non-contact solution. It's quite effective in an open-air situation, and has none of the issues I mentioned above. They're not recommended for sealing off submarine propeller shafts, but you probably figured that out already. Just like the glue above and the fuses, this is a simple, cheap fix that addresses a real reliability issue. Sure, it's all just good engineering design practice, but if your company is using better design standards than the other guy, why not let the customer know about it?

Bundled Software

In addition to the hardware tweaks, ASUS is bundling a few software utilities with this Voltage Tweak edition. Key among them is the SmartDoctor program, which allows software control of the GPU voltage and is the key to getting a serious overclock on the Radeon HD 5870. At its most basic, SmartDoctor starts up with this default screen, and if you want to manually overclock the GPU and memory this is all the further you need to go. Voltage adjustments are limited to a maximum of 1.35 VDC, which is considered a safe number, at least for air cooling. For most of my review this is what I used, as I like manual controls for benchmarking, but there are other options if you want to explore.

ASUS_EAH5870v2_Video_Card_SmartDoctor-Startup-Sc.png

ASUS SmartCooling - Dynamic fan speed controller for a quiet work environment

SmartCooling is an ASUS exclusive technology that effectively reduces the fan noise under normal use, and dissipates the heat when the GPU loading is high. SmartCooling only works on specially designed ASUS graphics cards with monitor chip that can detect and adjust the board temperature and fan speed.

ASUS_EAH5870v2_Video_Card_smartcooling.png

When activated, SmartCooling allows you to set five (5) GPU temperature thresholds and the fan speed dynamically changes according to this temperature threshold. When the the GPU temperature is below the lowest threshold, SmartCooling automatically reduces the fan speed to the lowest fan speed level to reduce noise and save energy. Moreover, when the GPU temperature passes over the threshold, SmartCooling automatically increases the fan speed for better heat dissipation.

ASUS HyperDrive - Exclusive dynamic overclocking features
  • 3D Game Mode:Recommended for game enthusiasts. In 3D Game mode, HyperDrive detects whether there are 3D applications running on the system and automatically increases the GPU core clock to provide smoother motions and better performance.
  • CPU Usage Mode:This mode adjusts the GPU speed according to the working load of the CPU. If HyperDrive finds the CPU loading high, it automatically increases the GPU speed to share the load, hence providing better system performance.
  • Temperature Mode:In this mode, HyperDrive monitors and adjusts the working speed of the GPU according to the GPU temperature. To cool down the system, HyperDrive decreases the GPU speed if the temperature gets too high

ASUS_EAH5870v2_Video_Card_hyperdrive.png

There is another small piece of software included, that serves as a companion to SmartDoctor, and it's called GamerOSD.

  • 3D Display Setting: In this page, you can keep track of benchmarks and GPU overclocking, adjust the gamma, brightness, and contrast values even when playing PC games.
  • Video Capturing: Capture videos of your gameplay into smooth video files. You can even turn your gaming PC into a broadcasting server to let your friends watch your videos in real time!
  • Screenshots: Capture single or multiple images; or even animated GIF files with GamerOSD. You can now easily share your gaming experiences on game blogs, forums or websites.

I like to keep things simple when I can, so most utility software doesn't do much for me, but I can see using some of the more advanced features of SmartDoctor and GamerOSD. The custom fan speed profiles are useful for me, because I like to run my GPU a little cooler than the factory defaults, but I don't necessarily want it running at 80% all the time. On-the-fly changes of clock settings sounds like too much work, especially when you are supposed to be paying attention to the game, but I can see where it's useful during rest periods. Sometimes you can't exit the game without losing your progress, and you still want to throttle the GPU back while you're off getting a cup of coffee.



 

Comments 

 
# Excellent reviewAdos 2010-06-16 09:05
Excellent review, one of the best I have ever red on a graphics card. Perfectly examined power section, built quality, overclockability. Do you think will I be able to run this card overclocked in my system? I think it would be ok, but maybe wee bit close to maximum for my powersuply. I run QX9650 at 3.5 GHZ (10.5 x 333 on Gigabyte mATX G31 ESL2 board, 2x2GB DDR2 corsair DHX, and the most important - PSU Enermax MODU82+ II 525W with 3x12V 25 amps on each but 40 amps maximum combined. Thank you for your opinion. And once more what a GREAT REVIEW!!!
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# Thanks.Bruce Normann 2010-06-16 11:32
Thanks for the positives...it's always appreciated. Your Enermax is an excellent PSU, and it should do the job. My only concern is if you are doing Folding or Benchmarks all the time. Even then, the total PSU load will probably stay under 400W.

BTW, I was reading that one of the 12V rails is dedicated to a single PCI-E connector, while the other two are sharing the current between PCI-e and the MOLEX and SATA connectors, so verify that and use the dedicated connection if you can.
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# Also....Bruce Normann 2010-06-16 14:12
The ASUS EAH5870 V2 comes with an adapter cable to convert two 6-pin PCI-e cable to one 8-pin connector. If you use this adapter, you will be spreading the load on all three rails.
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# Thank you!Ados 2010-06-16 18:03
Thank you very much for quick reply and advice. Much appreciate it. Just to clarify things, here is a picture of 12V rails layout - ##anandtech.com/show/2487/6 - so considering that I have two graphics sockets connectors on the PSU and two cables to connect them to of which one of the cable has only one 6+2 pin connector and the other cable has 2x 6+2 pin connectors I should plug the 6+2 pin connector to outer one dedicated graphics power socket on the PSU and the second cable with 2x 6+2 pin connectors to the inner graphics power socket and then spread that output by using and included adapter to convert those 2x 6+2 pin cable to 1x8 pin cable to spread the load properly, right? But I wont be probably spreading the output on all three rails anyway because one 12V rail according to the pictures in the link is probably dedicated to CPU only. Am I correct? Thank you for your seamless advice and help.
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# Or the otherwayAdos 2010-06-16 18:31
When I looked at that picture with power distribution on 12V rails again ( ##anandtech.com/show/2487/6 ) I think all what is needed is actually connect that 2x 6+2 pin cable to inner graphics power sockets on the PSU because I think its obvious that that one combines both 12V2 and 12V3 rails and then just plug that 2x 6+2 pin cable to the graphics card. What do you think?
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# Looked CloserBruce Normann 2010-06-16 20:36
Your right, each red connector on the PSU has both rails contained in it. 12V2 is dedicated to the grphics cards only. It's the one with the yellow sleeve on the internal wiring, and when you plug the connector in, on the outside of the unit, it will be the set of wires closest to the edge. I would use that for the 8-pin connection, and the other set (12V3) for the 6-pin.
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# re: Looked CloserAdos 2010-06-16 22:49
I think only the inner red connector has both 12V2 and 12V3 rails and to that one I will plug that cable which splits into two 6+2 pin PIC-e cables. Enermax did a good job marking the wires on that cable so its obvious which one of two 6+2 pin connectors will use the 12V2 and which 12V3 and as you said I will use the 6+2 pin on 12V2 to power the 8pin on the card and the another 6+2 pin will use 12V3 and I will plug it to 6pin on the card. BTW: I am going to use this card in this mATX case - ##tomshardware.com/reviews/4-barebone-cases-compared,1901-5.html - its so smartly designed that it can take even such a long card even with connector placed where they are on that card. Sorry for any confusions and thank you very much for your time and effort as well as for prompt replies and advices. Thanks to the discussion with you I understand it now and have the correct idea how to plug that card into my PSU in the best way possible. Wish you all the best in whatever you do! :-]
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# RE: ASUS Radeon EAH5870 V2 Video CardxGreg 2010-06-16 18:59
Bruce Excellent review.

I just bought this card (After reading your review), but now I'm VERY worried about if my power supply (Corsair VX550W) can handle this card...

My System:

Q9650 Stock
Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P
2x2GB DDR2 1066MHZ OCZ Reaper Series
Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB
Western Digital Caviar Green 500GB
Western Digital Caviar Green 2TB
Zalman 9700NT
Antec 900 (4 Fans 120mm, 1 Fan 200mm)

Thank you for your consideration of this matter.
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# I wouldn't worryBruce Normann 2010-06-16 20:40
I actually own one of these, and it is rock solid. Even theough it is not modular, it has the exact cables you need for this graphics card, one 6-pin and one 6+2 pin. Check out the review on jonnyguru.
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# RE: I wouldn't worryxGreg 2010-06-17 23:52
Thank you for you answer.

You said maximum power draw of this card is 265 (395-130) watts when running full out. What do you mean with 395 watts? Total System Power Consumption?

Maybe the power supply will work too forced? Or Maybe will work too forced if I overclock my CPU and Graphic Card?

Perhaps it will reduce the life of the power supply? I've been told when used heavily or over an extended period of time (1+ years) a power supply will slowly lose some of its initial wattage capacity.

My PSU is two years old, and I use it 24/7.

Thank you for your consideration of this matter.
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# Total System PowerBruce Normann 2010-06-18 06:46
The entire system used a total 395 watts of power from the wall receptacle while running FurMark. This is an extreme load for the video card, and you would not see that kind of sustained load while gaming.

What are you running on the PC during the 24/7? Is it just idling most of the time, or are you running applications that put a significant load on the PC?

At 80% load, your PSU will probably only last 10 years.....just a guess.
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# RE: Total System PowerxGreg 2010-06-18 16:37
Hello again Bruce, and thank you for your answer. I really appreciate it.

And Yes, Is it just idling most of the time. However, I play games almost every night and weekends. Very Demanding games like Bad Company 2 for example.

I have another question about your review. Does the CPU is also in full load? Or is it just the graphics card?

I've been thinking, and I think my supply might not be sufficient in the near future, when I change my current processor for an i7 or add a sound card, etc.. Am I right?

I dont know whether to buy a new psu or stay with the one I have.

What would you do if you were in my situation??
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# Your Upgrade PathBruce Normann 2010-06-19 22:01
Well, if I was on an upgrade path like what you describe, I would probably start looking for a good deal on a Corsair HX 850. In the mean time, why don't you buy one of the KILL A WATT power meters, and try stressing your system with Furmark and OCCT? They are only about $25... Then you will KNOW what your VX550 is up against. OCCT will print graphs of all the major system voltages (12V, 5V, 3.3V...) and you will see for yourself if it is holding up at the highest possible loads for YOUR system, not someone else's.

You can recoup some of your costs by selling the VX550, as it has a very good reputation.
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# RE: Your Upgrade PathxGreg 2010-06-20 19:17
Hello again Bruce.

I'n going to buy a new PSU, and will be a Corsair HX750 from Amazon. I think a Corsair HX850 is too much (Power and Price lol), unless I get $ 20 extra.

Thank you for everything ;)
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# Alternative PSUBruce Normann 2010-06-16 20:55
BTW, for anyone who absolutely cannot power this, or any other powerful card (Fermi, Cough Cough!).... Thermaltake makes a neat PCI-e only (12V DC) power supply that fits in two 5.25" bays and provides 650 watts just to the graphics card(s): ****thermaltakeusa.com/Product.aspx?C=1265&ID=1544 It has modular connections, so cable management is good, too. Folks mainly use it for building dedicated folding machines, where they run quad-SLI.
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# Will this card support 3 MonitorLAMCS 2010-12-19 14:11
Will this card supported 3 monitor???

EAH5870/2DIS/1GD5/V2

what does it meant of 2DIS-----> is that meant will just support 2 monitor???
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# RE: Will this card support 3 MonitorOlin Coles 2010-12-19 14:20
If they are all DisplayPort models, you can connect three monitors. Otherwise, this video card will not support three DVI monitors.
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# good upgrade?douwe 2010-12-30 03:33
hey guys i just have to ask what you guys think

atm i am running my system with a eah4870/512mb dk edition

wil it show a good increase in performance??
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# RE: good upgrade?Olin Coles 2011-01-01 10:09
The 5870 will show a tremendous increase in performance over the 4870... but if you read the reviews you would already know that.
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