After a successful run with the GPU family, code-named R700, originally released as the Radeon HD 4000 series in June 2008, AMD is releasing the highly anticipated R800. As the ATI Radeon HD 5000 series, we have a reference HD 5870 graphics card on our test bench today, which packs around 2150 million transistors and was manufactured in a 40 nm process.
The new Radeon HD 5000 series is said to offer about twice as much performance as Radeon cards of the previous generation and for the first time offers desktops DirectX 11 support. Even if Nvidia downplays the latter, AMD sees this as a great advantage and expects DX11-capable games to be shipped before the end of the year.
Nvidia will of course also support DirectX 11 on future hardware, but it looks like we'll have to wait a few more months for the answer to the new Radeon HD line to arrive.
AMD's pricing strategy with the Radeon HD 5000 series will also be very interesting, as the company will try to take the top performance from Nvidia for the first time in a long time. Previous generation ATI graphics cards couldn't keep up with the fastest Nvidia solutions, forcing AMD to heavily scale down their products to get better value.
In the end, the Radeon HD 4850 competed with the much older GeForce 9800 GTX, while the Radeon HD 4870 ran somewhat unhindered at $ 299. At this price point, the 4870 delivered an impressive level of performance, though it was overshadowed by upgraded GeForce GTX graphics cards for the next 12 months.
The new Radeon HD 5870 is in a completely different position, however. This time around, it looks like AMD won't be forced into a price war that easily – at least not yet. Currently, the HD 5870 debuts at an MSRP of $ 380, while the Radeon HD 5850 is also available today at around $ 260.
This makes the Radeon HD 5870 around 120 US dollars cheaper than today's undisputed performance champion, the GeForce GTX 295. However, it is also almost twice as expensive as the Radeon HD 4890, which begs the question: is the Radeon HD 5870 really that much faster? ? Today we can finally find out as we are going to be comparing AMD's latest and greatest to every single high-end graphics card released over the last year.