ATI Radeon HD 5870: DirectX 11, Eyefinity, And Serious Speed

Power Consumption

Remember when Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 200-series cards were so energy efficient at idle that the company decided to completely drop its HybridPower technology after just one generation of use? So what’s up with our power consumption measurements?

We’ve seen Windows Vista-based results that show Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 285 and GTX 260 Core 216 using 20W or so less than ATI’s Radeon HD 4870 1GB. However, in these Windows 7 tests, the Nvidia cards seem to be using as much as 15W more than the older ATI cards.

Now, we haven’t run the numbers comparing GeForce cards in Windows Vista versus 7 (that’s coming), but we do know from our Intel Core i5 and Core i7 launch coverage that Windows 7 does exhibit very different power consumption behavior than Vista, and it’s possible that 7’s more complex desktop is taking the Nvidia boards to a greater extent than Vista’s did, and the ATI cards aren’t seeing the same sort of power hit. Incidentally, a few days before this launch Nvidia sent over a beta of its latest drivers, which were said to fix potential idle power issues. We tried them and saw the same results, so it's safe to say this isn't a driver issue.

Either way, the more significant news is that the Radeon HD 5870’s idle consumption drops an astounding 42W from last year’s Radeon HD 4870. Moreover, adding a second Radeon HD 5870 card only adds an additional 24W of consumption at idle (and those two boards even idle below a single Radeon HD 4870).

Firing up FurMark shows that, even at 40nm, 2.15 billion transistors still use up a lot of juice. A single Radeon HD 5870 still uses about 25W more than a Radeon HD 4890 under load. And adding a second board in CrossFire mode increases consumption by another 207W, bringing the total to 561W. Incidentally, that’s 71W more than a Radeon HD 4870 X2 and 79W less than a GeForce GTX 295. The worst power offender is a pair of GeForce GTX 285s in SLI though, which take system power up to 620W.

Making It More Efficient

So just how did ATI drop the Radeon HD 5870’s idle power to 27W, following up the 90W Radeon HD 4870? The most obvious improvement is a reduction in idle clocks. Sitting on the Windows 7 desktop, our 5870 sample dropped to 157 MHz core and 300 MHz memory clock rates. In comparison, the Radeon HD 4870 only dropped to 500/900MHz.

Reference Graphics Card
Idle Clocks (Core/Memory)
3D Clocks (Core/Memory)
ATI Radeon HD 5870
157/300
850/1,200
ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2
507/500
750/900
ATI Radeon HD 4890
240/975
850/975
ATI Radeon HD 4870
520/900
750/975
Nvidia GeForce GTX 295
300/100 (600 MHz Shader)
576/999 (1,242 MHz Shader)
Nvidia GeForce GTX 285
300/100 (600 MHz Shader)
648/1,242 (1,476 MHz Shader)


At the other end of the spectrum, Cypress does have a higher maximum board power than its predecessor. However, ATI has implemented direct communication between the VRM and the GPU to signal an over-current state, triggering the processor to throttle down until the board is back within its power spec. We’ll discuss this more on the following page, but running two 5870s in CrossFire, we were able to trigger this dynamic protection.

Speaking of CrossFire, when you have two 5870s running concurrently at idle, ATI says that secondary board will drop into an ultra-low power state (purportedly sub-20W). We measured a 25W increase with a second board at idle, which is still not bad at all when you consider a pair of 4870s would be rated at 180W.

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  • Anonymous
    anyone seen these in the uk?
    1
  • jimishtar
    now this is someting. cant wait to see what nvidia will come up with.
    1
  • jimishtar
    does this mean that the prices of existing 48xx cards will go down?
    1
  • siunit
    They are scheduled for release on the 25th in the UK according to major online retailers expected stock date.
    0
  • cyber_jockey
    My god the 4870x2 finally got a rival
    1
  • Anonymous
    Smooth gaming again!?!? YAY
    0
  • plasmastorm
    available for pre order on scan.co.uk now £320
    0
  • ainarssems
    All those connectors are nice but first thing I thought when I first saw pictures was there is not enough vents on the backto cool that card properly. Hopefully some board partners will come up with versions with full PCI slot cooling. Eyfinity looks better, but all I need is two DVI connectors one for monitor and other for projector.

    Now lets see what Nvidia brings out, lets hope something competitive in performance and price. I hope prices drop by Cristhmas to £200-259 for 5870
    0
  • ainarssems
    At guru3d they overclocked to 925 core/ 5400 memory could not go further because of temp problems. I wonder what would they do with better cooling. 1GHZ/6GHz?...Now that would be sweet.Link: http://www.guru3d.com/article/radeon-hd-5870-review-test/26
    0
  • atomdrift
    ainarssemsAll those connectors are nice but first thing I thought when I first saw pictures was there is not enough vents on the backto cool that card properly. Hopefully some board partners will come up with versions with full PCI slot cooling.


    Anandtech addressed this concern in their review: "As far as the 5870 is concerned, this is solid proof that the half-slot exhaust vent isn’t going to cause any issues with cooling."
    http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3643
    0
  • atomdrift
    Here's the source link to the above quotation.

    http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3643
    0
  • ainarssems
    I have seen Anandtech's article, however they did hit 100C and started to throtle in /crossfire on Toms review and Guru3d temps limited overclocking so there is room for improvement in cooling.

    Also I wonder if 2GB version would perform better at high resolutions with AA
    0
  • jcwbnimble
    No Crossfire? Really? What was ATI thinking releasing a top of the line video card that can't support a major feature set? One of the major selling points is that you can run 3 displays off this one card, yet you need to Crossfire two of these to get playable frame rates. Problem, you can't Crossfire these cards (yet?).

    They should have dispensed with the third video connection in favor of extra ventilation, which it sounds like this card needs. If users are so gung ho about running 3 or more dispays, then wait for the Eyefinity card.

    Glad to see ATI releasing a product that puts a boot up Nvidia's arse, but they shouldn't have released it without solving the Crossfire issue.
    -5
  • ainarssems
    Must be mistake. Check benchmarks, they include crossfire results so it is working. They probably had the cards for some while for testing and started writing article and drivers did not support crossfire at the start and does support now. They just forgot to edit part of the article where it says that it does not support crossfire.
    0
  • shrex
    any word on when the 5670 is gonna come out
    0
  • deepblue69uk
    Yes, try www.overclockers.co.uk
    -1
  • chockimon
    £320 ouch, what a rip off and no Physx. I think this time round Nvidia's mid range card, the GTX360 will trounce all over this card from a great height.
    -4
  • wikkus
    chockimon£320 ouch, what a rip off and no Physx. I think this time round Nvidia's mid range card, the GTX360 will trounce all over this card from a great height.


    Wow, 8 minutes before the first fanboi commentard...

    As someone who holds allegiance with neither vendor -- both have a place in our house -- this looks great from a stirring-up the market perspective.

    R.
    0