ATI Radeon HD 5970 Overview: Twin-GPU Graphics

ATI unveiled its latest generation Radeon 5000 family of graphics last September when we had the chance to test the ATI Radeon HD 5870 and what a treat it was.

In some tests, the Radeon HD 5870 single GPU was able to outperform the mighty GeForce GTX 295, while in most cases it managed to match or improve on the Radeon HD 4870 X2. As you probably know, both products have dual GPUs which have a number of implications, not to mention higher prices.

Looking ahead, we knew Nvidia wouldn't have an immediate response to the new Radeons while ATI wasn't done releasing its entire lineup. We then looked at two more products that should outperform the flagship HD 5870: the slightly scaled-down Radeon HD 5850 and the mainstream HD 5770.

Left to right: Radeon HD 5770, HD 5850, HD 5870, and HD 5970.

But as we discussed in our preliminary Radeon 5870 review, there was also a sequel to the Radeon HD 4870 X2, code-named "Hemlock XT," which would essentially put a pair of Radeon HD 5870 GPUs together on a single circuit board .

Today, AMD officially unveils the Hemlock as the new ATI Radeon HD 5970 in hopes of building on its current dominance in single GPU performance with the fastest single-slot graphics card on the market – a title that continues to use Nvidia's dual- Graphics card was reserved. GPU GeForce GTX 295.

The Radeon HD 5970 seems to be well suited for this job. The GPUs used on this card use the exact same configuration as the Radeon HD 5870, while the core and memory frequencies are the same as those of the Radeon HD 5850. This gives the HD 5970 an unmatched memory bandwidth of 256 GB / s.

All of that horsepower comes at a high price, as AMD expects to charge up to $ 600 for it. This is a bit hard to swallow, but all in all, it's about where we expected it to be among the other high-end graphics offerings.

Full exposure: A "naked" Radeon HD 5970 graphics card.

The $ 400 Radeon HD 5870 is still sold out virtually everywhere due to extreme shortages. The Radeon HD 5850 version is still $ 300, which means a pair will cost as much as a single Radeon HD 5970, and we don't expect the performance to be anywhere near as good. On the other hand, the GeForce GTX 295, Nvidia's top performer, sells for around $ 500.

From our point of view, only extreme users looking for the best possible gaming experience – or the boastful rights associated with the label – will find the Radeon HD 5970 absolutely useful.

Knowing that this is the intended market for the 5970, AMD put a large "unlocked" label on the card in our press kit. With the Radeon HD 5970, you can set core and memory frequencies as high as you want, or at least as high as possible without affecting stability. This in itself is anything but exciting, as software has been around for ages that makes just that possible.

The most interesting part should be the ability to adjust the voltages and thereby increase the card's overclocking space. We'll examine this in detail next.

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