Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from viewing as part of this site because it has been replaced by a new generation of graphics card. You can still read our original review below, but TopTenREVIEWS is no longer updating this product’s information.
The flagship of the AMD Radeon 5000 series is the AMD Radeon HD 5970. Even with the release of the 6000 series, this card is still quite the performance beast. Many have benchmarked this card alongside other top performers and it reigns supreme. We rated this card higher than most others because of its overall graphics computing power. It wasn't until the release of Nvidia’s latest GTX 500 series card that this graphics card was out performed. This is our TopTenREVIEWS Bronze Award winner.
The Radeon HD 5970 is a dual core graphics card like Nvidia’s GTX 295. It’s a fairly new idea, but seems to be well received, and may even be the future for all graphics cards. You could out perform this card with a pair of 5870s or GTX 480s, but the cost is prohibitive.
Having a dual core graphics card essentially means that you have a CrossfireX (dual card) system, but in this case, like the GTX 295, it’s all in one card. With this one card, almost every attribute is doubled. A good example of this is the core clock speed, which is 725 x 2MHz, theoretically giving you 1450MHz. For this reason the 5970 has quite an impressive set of GPU and memory specs.
There are a total of 3200 stream processors in this card, which gives it an acceleration edge over the competition. With a setup like this, you have fill rates of 46.4GPs (gigapixels) and 116GTs (gigatexels or texture pixels) to help get your FPS (frames per second) up, giving you a smooth gaming and video rendering experience.
The 5970 has the latest in video memory, GDDR5. In the stock configuration, they run at an impressive frequency of 1.0GHz x 4, however, they are rated for 1.25GHz operation, which gives you room to overclock. The reason it is underclocked is because it is pushing the PCIe 300 watt limit already, sitting maxed at 294 watts.
There is a 2GB capacity on this card, which should ease your RAM usage and provide some extra speed. More and more, less RAM is necessary on the motherboard if you have a good graphics card. If that's the case, then it'll probably be more than gamers and video rendering employees who get the nice graphics cards like the Radeon HD 5970.
The AMD Radeon HD 5970 uses their standard Stream parallel computing technology. For offloading video decoding from the CPU, they have what they call Avivo HD. AMD released their new HD3D with this graphics card, which was designed to counter Nvidia's 3D Vision technology. Last but not least, AMD's Eyefinity comes with this card and can allow you to use up to 6 monitors simultaneously.
Among The Radeon HD 5000 series graphics cards' best features is the presence of DirectX 11 support. With the release of Windows 7 came DirectX 11, and AMD jumped on board quickly. Until the recent release of the GTX 400 series, Nvidia didn't have anything to rival these cards. It's true that there isn't much in the way of content for DX 11 yet, but that still put the 5000 series ahead of the game and ready to move forward. Although the current Nvidia flagship, the GTX 480, doesn't have the power of the Radeon HD 5970, it still put them back in contention with the rest of the ATI graphics cards.
The ATI Radeon HD 5970 can support a maximum resolution of 2560 x 1600 on not one, but rather, three monitors. This ability is due to AMD's Eyefinity technology. Although the other 5000 series cards have the same technology available, the 5970 has real potential in this area. In fact, to really test the capacity of the 5970, it has been suggested that you'd have to run it on three 2560 x 1600 resolution monitors. That's some serious power. There are even some dual 5970 CrossFireX systems that can do far greater resolutions across 6 monitors. That's probably overkill for the average consumer, but it's fun knowing that you have that ability.
This graphics card is really quite large, even when compared to other dual GPU cards. It is over 12 inches long, nearly 4 inches wide and about an inch and a half tall. The size obviously suggests some weight, and sitting at around 3.5 pounds, it's one of the heaviest graphics cards on the market.
Sitting on the GPUs is a large aluminum heat sink made up of 36 fins. It is roughly half the size of the card. The heat sink helps cool not only the GPUs but also the built-in memory. It's designed this way for efficiency, especially with the help of the highly heat-conductive copper plate on the bottom.
The 75x20mm fan draws the heat off the heat sink and pushes it out through the back of the card. The fan operates relatively quietly with a low 42 watt idle consumption rate. While gaming, the fan will pick up the pace and can use up to 294 watts, but even at full rotation, it doesn't put out any kind of intolerable jet-engine sounds. Some other cards have had issues with load noise while under a load, but that shouldn't be a big deal with the 5970.
Concealing the heat sink, fan and the rest of the graphics card is the recognizable Radeon HD 5870 design. AMD probably went with this setup because it helps protect the card very well. It is fairly similar to the housing that Nvidia has been using for a while now.
The 5970 is a beefy graphics card and requires a fair amount of energy. To power it, AMD added a 6-pin and 8-pin pair of PCI Express power connectors. Previous dual-GPU graphics cards have used the same setup. Dual 6-pin connectors have been the most common standard for single GPUs, but it seems the additional GPU requires a little more. It's important to know this so you make sure to get a compatible power supply.
Plain and simply the ATI Radeon HD 5970 is a monster in the world of graphics cards. Even paired against Nvidia's GTX 480 it still has a commanding performance edge. The competition between these two parties has a history. They are continuously fighting for that top spot even though it is mostly a niche product that only enthusiasts go after. The battle between these two manufacturers is ongoing but it seems that the tides have turned in favor of AMD for the time being.
The 4640 GFLOPs of computing performance is impressive.
This is a very pricey graphics card.
Although this card is now taking a backseat to AMD's 6000 series, it still is one of the best graphics card on today's market.