It becomes hard to review the same card over and over again. We have companies who make the effort to send their product so of course we make the effort to review it. At a launch, however, we've got many companies who want the coverage, but 90% of the time the only difference between the cards is a sticker and sometimes a game in the bundle.
When it comes to performance, with the cards following the same clock speeds there isn't really going to be much of a change when it comes to the numbers. Apart from a little bit of fluctuation, there's not going to be a whole lot of difference.
What we need to do when it comes to looking at the performance of the card is to mix it up in how we compare it. We've already had a look at how the card compares to the main competitors. We've then had a closer look at how it compares to its previous generation sibling, the HD 4870.
Today we'll be seeing how it compares directly to its NVIDIA counterparts. Its main competition is the GTX 285 which is NVIDIAs fastest single GPU graphics card. We're also adding in the GTX 295 for good measure to see just how far behind this new single GPU graphics card from ATI sits against the dual GPU beast that is the GTX 295.
While I knew that HIS were sending over the HD 5870, when I saw the parcel I thought that the company had decided not to send us a full retail package card. This was mainly due to the fact that the shape of the package was quite thin. Opening up the package and having a look at the box for the first time, we can see why it looked so thin. HIS has opted for a new box design and you initially get the feeling that it seems more orientated towards a low-end card than the new high end model from ATI.
While the box might look small, we've got all the information we really need. Across the top we have the HIS logo and moving down we have the ATI Vision logo and below that the Dirt 2 one. We've then got a picture of a sword and below that the model mentioned along with some of the main features like 1GB of GDDR5, HDMI and more.
Turning the box over, we've got the brand and model across the top. Moving down, we have a bit of a blurb on the card and below that we've got some of the main features that the new GPU offers.
Getting stuck into the package, we can see that in the paperwork department we've got this nice little folder that we saw in the HD 4890 we looked at recently. Inside that is our driver CD, an installation guide and a little sticker. We've also got the same Dirt 2 coupon that we've seen before which gives you the ability to download the DX 11 game when it's released later this year.
As far as cables we go, we've got two molex to 6-Pin PCI-E connectors, a DVI to VGA adapter and a CrossFire bridge. As far as extras go, we've got the little HIS tool that has a built in screwdriver, LED and a few other things. HIS has let us know that at launch this is available to NewEgg.com buyers only, but they have also said that they're working with other e-tailers to include the little extra.
Having a look at the card now, we can see that HIS has of course added their own sticker to the card to let us know what brand and model it is. Across the middle we've got a red strip with the fan on the right side where HIS has again added their own sticker.
At the back of the card we have our two vents which have quickly become known as the batman vents which resemble the vents of the front of the original batmobile. I've actually heard a few people say that these don't do anything for airflow, but the numbers we got from the second card when running CrossFire X tends to make us think they're helping the card in some way.
Above these vents we have our two power connectors which come in the form of two 6-Pin PCI Express power connectors. Staying across the top and moving closer to the front we have our two CrossFire connectors which give us the ability to run up to three cards in CrossFire X, which is something we'll be looking at soon enough.
Looking at the front of the card, we have a little vent in the top half of the card. Next to that we have a Dual-Link DVI connector while below that we have another of the same connector. Moving to the left, we have a native HDMI port and next to that we have a DisplayPort connector to finish off the I/O side of things.
As we've mentioned before, the card carries with it the reference clock setup. What this means is the core comes in at 850MHz while the 1GB of GDDR5 comes in at that whopping 4800MHz QDR clock which can be seen below.
Test System Setup and 3DMark Vantage
Test System Setup
Processor(s): Intel Core i7 920 @ 3.8GHz (190MHz x 20)
Cooling: Noctua NH-U12P (Supplied by Noctua)
Motherboard(s): GIGABYTE EX58-UD5 (Supplied by GIGABYTE)
Memory: 3 X 2GB OCZ Technology PC-12800 DDR-3 8-8-8-24 (OCZ3G1600LV6GK)
Hard Disk(s): Western Digital 300GB Velicorapter (Supplied by Western Digital)
Operating System: Windows Vista SP1 64-bit
Drivers: ATI Catalyst Cypress Driver, ForceWare 190.62,
As we mentioned already, we will be having a look at the HD 5870 from HIS today against the two top NVIDIA cards and the main competition. We'll see just how exactly the HIS HD 5870 performs against the GTX 285 which is NVIDIAs fastest single GPU video card on the market, while also seeing how it performs against the current fastest single graphics card on the market, the dual GPU wielding GTX 295.
Let's get started!
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmarkvantage/
Buy It Here
3DMark Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware.
3DMark Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.
Straight away we see the HD 5870 offer some good performance when compared to the GTX 285. The best gains are seen in the X preset which of course tests the card with higher IQ settings at a higher resolution. Let's see if the gains continue to be as positive as we hit real world games.
Benchmarks - PT Boats: Knights of the Sea
PT Boats: Knights of the Sea
Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Developer Homepage: http://en.akella.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.pt-boats.net/
PT Boats: Knights of the Sea is a naval action simulator that places gamers in charge of a mosquito fleet of the Allied Forces, Russia or Germany during the height of World War II.
Using the latest Direct X 10 technology PT Boards - Knights of the Sea manages to apply a lot of stress to the components of today which in turn gives us quite an intensive benchmark.
Performance is a bit all over the place here for the GTX 285 and HD 5870. At the highest resolution we can see that the HD 5870 is able to pull out a win, while at the lower resolutions there is really noting between the two.
Benchmarks - CINEBENCH R10
Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10
Developer Homepage: http://www.maxon.net/
Product Homepage: http://www.maxon.net
CINEBENCH is a real-world test suite that assesses your computer's performace capabilities. MAXON CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software, CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.
MAXON CINEBENCH runs several tests on your computer to measure the performance of the main processor and the graphics card under real world circumstances. The benchmark application makes use of up to 16 CPUs or CPU cores and is available for Windows (32-bit and 64-Bit) and Macintosh (PPC and Intel-based).
ATI have been doing well under CINEBENCH and here is no different. We can see the HIS HD 5870 is able to perform very strong, beating out both NVIDA offerings.
Benchmarks - World in Conflict
World in Conflict
Version and / or Patch Used: 188.8.131.52
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.massive.se
Product Homepage: http://www.worldinconflict.com
World in Conflict is a real-time strategy video game by Massive Entertainment and to be published by Sierra Entertainment for Windows (DX9 and DX10).
The game is set in 1989 where economic troubles cripple the Soviet Union and threaten to dissolve it. However, the title pursues a "what if" scenario where, in this case, the Soviet Union does not collapse and instead pursues a course of war to remain in power. It is an intensive new game is sure to put plenty of stress on even the latest graphics cards and we use the built-in benchmarking for our testing.
Across the board we can see the HD 5870 is performing strong and beating out the GTX 285 at all resolutions. Compared to the GTX 295 there isn't much between them. In the minimum department there's a maximum of only 2 FPS separating the cards.
Benchmarks - Crysis Warhead
Version and / or Patch Used: Unpatched
Timedemo or Level Used: Airfield
Developer Homepage: http://www.crytek.com
Product Homepage: http://crysiswarhead.ea.com/
Buy It Here
Crysis Warhead updates and refines the gameplay of the original game through a sidestory plot involving Psycho, one of previous protagonist Nomad's allies. The game is a parallel story that follows Sergeant Michael "Psycho" Sykes, a character from the original Crysis, as he faces his own trials and challenges on the other side of the island during the time period of the first game.
It also showcases a new, enhanced and optimized version of CryEngine 2 using full DX10 extensions and is the first game developed by Crytek's Budapest studio.
The HD 5870 offers some decent performance against the GTX 285 at 1920 x 1200. At the other resolutions there isn't much of a difference. With that said, though, it does manage to pull out a win against the NVIDIA card. Compared to the GTX 295, however, the HD 5870 does fall a fair bit behind here.
Benchmarks - Far Cry 2
Far Cry 2
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01
Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long
Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.farcry2.com/
Buy It Here
The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.
Against the GTX 285 the HD 5870 performs exceptionally well with a 10 FPS difference at 2560 x 1600 which equates to a gain of over 30%. Against the GTX 295 we see the HD 5870 sits a bit behind. The good news is that the extra performance the GTX 295 offers isn't going to make your gaming experience any better. At 2560 x 1600 41 FPS vs 54 FPS in the minimum department isn't going to be noticeable.
Benchmarks - S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Clear Sky
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Clear Sky
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.5.07
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer Homepage: http://www.gsc-game.com/
Product Homepage: http://cs.stalker-game.com/en/
Buy It Here
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky, is the stand-alone prequel for S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, a first-person shooter computer game by Ukrainian developer GSC Game World. The game consists of a roughly 50/50 mix of new areas and old, remodeled areas from the previous game. The X-ray graphics engine has been updated to version 1.5 and includes DirectX 10 support (later patch 1.5.06 included DirectX 10.1). Additionally, the AI received an overhaul to accommodate the new faction wars feature.
Clear Sky has always been a winner for ATI and here's no different with the HD 5870 getting good numbers across the board. While the NVIDIA cards don't break the 30 FPS minimum we want at any resolution, we can see the HD 5870 is able to at both 1680 x 1050 and 1920 x 1200.
Benchmarks - Left 4 Dead
Left 4 Dead
Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer Homepage: http://www.valvesoftware.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.l4d.com/
Buy It Here
Left 4 Dead uses the latest version of Valve's Source engine, with improvements such as multi-core processor support and physics-based animation to more realistically portray hair and clothing, and to improve physics interaction with enemies when shot or shoved in different body parts. Animation was also improved to allow characters to lean realistically when moving in curved paths.
Rendering and artificial intelligence were scaled up to allow for greater number of enemies who can navigate the world in better ways, such as climbing, jumping or breaking obstacles. Lighting has been enhanced with new self-shadowing normal mapping and advanced shadow rendering that is important to convey information about the environment and player actions.
We continue to see the HD 5870 score strong against the GTX 285 with the best gains being seen at the highest resolution. It again falls a bit behind the GTX 295 at all resolutions with the biggest differences being seen at the highest resolution.
Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF
High Quality AA and AF
Our high quality tests let us separate the men from the boys and the ladies from the girls. If the cards weren't struggling before they will start to now.
Far Cry 2
While doing well in our normal Far Cry 2 tests, like the HD 4890 when we crank up the AA in the game it does fall to the back of the pack a fair bit. Compared to the GTX 285, though, we can see it sits under that important 30 FPS minimum we want to see.
World In Conflict
The HIS HD 5870 manages to do a good job of sitting right in the middle of the two NVIDIA offerings here. We can see that we've got an extra few FPS over the GTX 285 in the minimum department; sitting at just over 30, those extra few FPS are handy.
Left 4 Dead
We again see the HD 5870 perform strongly against the GTX 285 in L4D. Compared to the GTX 295, though, there's really only a very minor difference with these HQ settings.
Temperature and Sound Tests
With the TES 1326 Infrared Thermometer literally in hand we found ourselves getting real-world temperatures from the products we test at load (3D clock speeds).
There are two places we pull temperature from - the back of the card directly behind the core and if the card is dual slot and has an exhaust point we also pull a temperate from there, as seen in the picture.
Heat levels between all three cards aren't too different. The HD 5870 pretty much lines up with the GTX 285 here.
Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.
After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).
As for noise levels, we can see the HD 5870 sits between the GTX 295 and GTX 285.
Power Consumption Tests
Using our new PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01 or "Power Thingy" as it has become quickly known as to our readers, we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated graphics cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).
There are a few important notes to remember though; while our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10% more. We test at the exact same stage every time; therefore tests should be very consistent and accurate.
The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a 7,200RPM SATA-II single hard drive is used without CD ROM or many cooling fans.
So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.
At idle the HD 5870 does a good job of keeping power draw down. At load we can see it jumps up a fair bit. Compared to the GTX 285 it manages to draw only a few more watts and is still a whole lot more efficient than the GTX 295.
When it comes to performance the first thing we have to say is that the only time the GTX 285 is able to get a leg up on the HD 5870 is in Far Cry 2 with 8x AA on. Now, what is worth noting is that the numbers that we see out of the GTX 285 are still lower than the 30 FPS minimum that we need to see. The only card able to get over 30 FPS there was the GTX 295.
On the topic of the GTX 295, for the most part it's able to outperform the HD 5870 in just about every test; the only times it doesn't get a win is under CINEBENCH which for a lot of people won't matter. The other time we see it come out ahead is Clear Sky which has always favored the ATI offerings.
The bundle is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to the HIS offering. We like the fact that they've chosen to include the cool little 7-in-1 mini tool kit, but we're annoyed that at the moment it's exclusive to Newegg.com customers only. With that said, though, we did ask HIS about it and they said they're working with more retailers and e-tailers to get it included in the bundle which we're happy about.
The HIS HD 5870 for the most part performs as you would expect a HD 5870 with stock clocks to perform; very well. If the HIS HD 5870 is the only HD 5870 you're able to get a hold of, there's nothing wrong with it and bar an extra game or something similar you're not going to be missing out on much.
What we're looking forward to is HIS taking the HD 5870 to the drawing board and giving us a Turbo or iCooler model that moves away from the norm. The HD 5870 is only going to get better and we have faith that HIS is one company that is going to make it better in the coming months.
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