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Radeon HD 5870 or HD 5970?

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July 1, 2010 3:52:08 AM

I have all the parts to build my new system except the GPU, operating system, and AV software.

My setup is the following.

Core i7 930
6GB DDR3 1333 MHz RAM
ASUS P6T SE X58 motherboard
Corsair TX850 850W PSU (enough for a single HD 5970?)
CM HAF 932 full tower case
2TB Hitachi 7200RPM HDD
DVD-ROM

Let's just say I'm coming into about $3,500 or so in the next few weeks, and was willing to use half of that to complete my computer. I was planning on buying a better X58 motherboard, and maybe some 1600MHz DDR3 RAM, as well as my GPU, OS, and AV.

Though nowhere near as hot as the GTX 480's, the HD 5970's are known for overheating, and loud fan noise. Despite being "a beast" and the fastest GPU money can currently buy, and will remain so because the dual-GPU Fermi, or GTX 495 will be made from either Two GTX 465 or 470 cores. The HD 5870 outperforms both of those.

So what if I have a little excess heat and fan sound, it will be compensated by raw graphical computing horsepower and very high frame rates on all of my games.

What are the typical idle/load temperatures for the HD 5970, what temperatures was the card engineered to withstand without taking damage? Would between 80-90 *C significantly reduce the card's lifespan? Most of today's GPU's are designed with high temperatures in mind.

The GTX 480's average load temperature is 96 *C :ouch:  :pfff:  and can exceed 100 *C in cases with poor airflow.

Any suggestions for a high-performance X58 motherboard other than my ASUS P6T SE for around the $200-300 range, and is also a good, solid upgrade?

I've spent about $1,000 on my current hardware, the HD 5970 costs $700, the OS is around $200, AV is $50, and a better motherboard is around $300. I'd also like a 1600MHz DDR3 6GB tri-channel kit. I can get a store credit if I exchange the memory kit I have, and it would cost me under $100 more.

I'm guessing it would cost $1,400-1,500 more to finish my build. Totaling around $2,500.

More about : radeon 5870 5970

a b U Graphics card
July 1, 2010 4:32:27 AM

That's pretty expensive OS. A suggestion, assuming you are going to get Windows 7 Ultimate, ask one of your friends if they work at Microsoft. Employees get A HUGE Discount. Ult. costs 50$ Home 30$ and Pro 40$ for them, which is a lot cheaper. Just if you want to save more in case.

Memory-wise go with the Dominators for sure, by Corsair.

They PSU you have currently is definitely enough to power a 5970.

The hard drive, not to say its a terrible decision. But for what I know the Samsung F3 series is a very good way to go as to performance of large sized drives. The price compared isn't as cheap but the F3 series has a great reputation and is a fast series as it uses the 500gb platter.

For your mobo, I don't want to give you a bad mobo as I really don't build intel. But seeing as your mobo doesn't have 6 gb/s sata and USB 3.0, it wouldnt be in your best interest to buy one that does. As this is a high-end system, you should think of future proofing peripherals as well.

AV software, I love avast. Avast is light weight, downloads aren't too big either. BUT it is buggy, it is still in "beta" its released but it's not 100%. Vipre is another good software for 50$ It's likght weight recommended by microsoft. It's tech support is top rated. Also light weight and rated most improved and is pretty recommended as top software. Though still some are unsure bout it as its quite frankly pretty new.

For the 5970 temps, this is a good summary of it all http://www.anandtech.com/show/3590 . It gets pretty hot so, some people do put aftermarket coolers for it. If you do, I'd recommend the Artic Cooling series for the cooler. Try not to get it though until it's temps are too hot for you. As it'll void your warenty. Still The temps it reaches is way lower than the 480gtx.

Hope that helped.
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July 1, 2010 5:03:36 AM

aznshinobi said:
That's pretty expensive OS. A suggestion, assuming you are going to get Windows 7 Ultimate, ask one of your friends if they work at Microsoft. Employees get A HUGE Discount. Ult. costs 50$ Home 30$ and Pro 40$ for them, which is a lot cheaper. Just if you want to save more in case.

Memory-wise go with the Dominators for sure, by Corsair.

They PSU you have currently is definitely enough to power a 5970.

The hard drive, not to say its a terrible decision. But for what I know the Samsung F3 series is a very good way to go as to performance of large sized drives. The price compared isn't as cheap but the F3 series has a great reputation and is a fast series as it uses the 500gb platter.

For your mobo, I don't want to give you a bad mobo as I really don't build intel. But seeing as your mobo doesn't have 6 gb/s sata and USB 3.0, it wouldnt be in your best interest to buy one that does. As this is a high-end system, you should think of future proofing peripherals as well.

AV software, I love avast. Avast is light weight, downloads aren't too big either. BUT it is buggy, it is still in "beta" its released but it's not 100%. Vipre is another good software for 50$ It's likght weight recommended by microsoft. It's tech support is top rated. Also light weight and rated most improved and is pretty recommended as top software. Though still some are unsure bout it as its quite frankly pretty new.

For the 5970 temps, this is a good summary of it all http://www.anandtech.com/show/3590 . It gets pretty hot so, some people do put aftermarket coolers for it. If you do, I'd recommend the Artic Cooling series for the cooler. Try not to get it though until it's temps are too hot for you. As it'll void your warenty. Still The temps it reaches is way lower than the 480gtx.

Hope that helped.


The Windows 7 home premium 64-bit (full version, not the Vista upgrade) is upwards for $100, usually 150, but I've seen it for less. The OEM version is slightly under $100. I use NAV 2010 because it uses less system resources than McAfee.

The HD 5970 can get hot, but FAR below the GTX 480 temperatures (96+ *C). Is the HD 5970 made from Two HD 5870 cores, or Two HD 5850 cores?

This EVGA X58 motherboard definitely caught my eye. Can I use 1600 MHz DDR3 RAM tri-channel without changing any of the timings or voltages?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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a b U Graphics card
July 1, 2010 7:30:39 AM

Oh the 30$ i'm talking about is actually a full install for 1, one being the key, computer. It's for microsoft employees. And the 5970 is basically two 5870 gpus in one card. Imagine the GTX 295 but with the top of the line ATI chips instead.

EDIT: Its two underclocked 5870s but in the end although the 5850 CF is performs a little above the 5970, you can OC the 5970 much further.
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July 1, 2010 8:45:19 AM

aznshinobi said:
Oh the 30$ i'm talking about is actually a full install for 1, one being the key, computer. It's for microsoft employees. And the 5970 is basically two 5870 gpus in one card. Imagine the GTX 295 but with the top of the line ATI chips instead.

EDIT: Its two underclocked 5870s but in the end although the 5850 CF is performs a little above the 5970, you can OC the 5970 much further.


Whats the highest playable settings a single HD 5970 can run Crysis at? I heard that Two of them in crossfire, especially the Sapphire "toxic" 4GB models, can utterly max it out.
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a b U Graphics card
July 1, 2010 9:47:01 AM

For that I'm pretty sure the 5970 can run with everything at Highest quality be it Crysis or anything. And when you say toxic, you mean 5850 toxics? Or the Vapor-X for the 5870? And the two 5870's probably can, not sure bout the 5850s but most likely able to run it, just not max it.
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July 1, 2010 11:43:27 AM

aznshinobi said:
For that I'm pretty sure the 5970 can run with everything at Highest quality be it Crysis or anything. And when you say toxic, you mean 5850 toxics? Or the Vapor-X for the 5870? And the two 5870's probably can, not sure bout the 5850s but most likely able to run it, just not max it.


No, I meant this.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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a b U Graphics card
July 1, 2010 6:06:56 PM

Haha Oh, well I suppose. I mean 1 can already play it on the max settings.
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July 1, 2010 10:40:43 PM

aznshinobi said:
Haha Oh, well I suppose. I mean 1 can already play it on the max settings.


What framerate should I bet getting on Crysis and Crysis Warhead on all very high/enthusiast spec, 1024x768 resolution, 0x AA and motion blur disabled, using an HD 5970?
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July 2, 2010 2:36:44 AM

aznshinobi said:
For that I'd look at 5970 benchmarks. Tomshardware did one, This one http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-hd-5970,2474...

There really are very little testing now though for 1024x768 resolutions :p  because most current monitors are 1680x1080. or around those lines.


If it gives 60FPS at 1680x1050, on all "very high" settings, I should be seeing probably upwards for 80-90FPS at 1024x768.

1024x768 is a somewhat low resolution in today's terms.
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a b U Graphics card
July 2, 2010 3:29:29 AM

Oh if your not looking towards water cooling for the CPU, use/get the Venomous X from Thermalright, IT BEATS THE PROLIMATECH MEGAHALEMS! But if you do get it, be sure to get get fans for it, or get a good fan for it. Pick your best answer :p 
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July 2, 2010 7:46:17 AM

aznshinobi said:
Oh if your not looking towards water cooling for the CPU, use/get the Venomous X from Thermalright, IT BEATS THE PROLIMATECH MEGAHALEMS! But if you do get it, be sure to get get fans for it, or get a good fan for it. Pick your best answer :p 


Water cooling is expensive, can by a hassle to maintain, and can leak.

I have absolutely ZERO experience in overclocking. My Core i7 930, as well as my GPU and RAM will remain at their stock clock speeds for a while. Overclocking of any kind whatsoever instantly voids the component's warranty, or in some cases, the whole computer if you have a store warranty, like from best buy for example. It can also very easily damage or destroy your computer hardware if you don't know what you're doing, (like me).

If you break something trying to overclock it, you're going to have to pay a lot of $$$ it to be replaced. Imagine having to spend $1,050 replacing a fried 980X.

How much performance loss will the CPU bottleneck posed by Core i7 930 @ 2.8 GHz have with a single HD 5970?

I heard that you cannot fully remove the bottleneck of an HD 5970 unless you can get your CPU to 4.4 GHz.
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a b U Graphics card
July 2, 2010 8:25:57 AM

0 The i7's will rarely bottleneck with the 5970. And most of the high end, meaning 955-965 or 1055T-1090T, AMD cpus wont bottle neck with a 5970. Who ever told you that is wrong :p 
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July 2, 2010 9:42:08 AM

aznshinobi said:
0 The i7's will rarely bottleneck with the 5970. And most of the high end, meaning 955-965 or 1055T-1090T, AMD cpus wont bottle neck with a 5970. Who ever told you that is wrong :p 


Were the i7's designed by Intel engineers to alleviate some/most of the bottlenecks posed by very powerful, enthusiast GPU's that the Core 2 processors had problems with?
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a b U Graphics card
July 2, 2010 10:36:11 AM

The CPU does geometry and other post processing calculations which the GPU needs before it can do work. It all depends on the applications you are trying to run really. Its not like there always will be a bottleneck or always not be.

Crysis for example has very little CPU post processing and thus the GPU can crunch all the numbers it wants and there won't be any CPU bottleneck even on stock speeds. Then there is starcraft 2 which uses DX9 which is weak graphically but very CPU demanding tracking all the units and particles, an i7 930 won't get max frame rates even at medium resolutions like 1680x1050 or 1920x1080.

Then again, for most games the i7 930 at stock would do just fine.
Overclocking is very easy, and a minor overclock is very safe.

Even if you are extremely skeptical, overclock only at stock voltages because overclocking can't possibly damage a processor, overvolting does that.
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July 2, 2010 10:59:12 AM

rofl_my_waffle said:
The CPU does geometry and other post processing calculations which the GPU needs before it can do work. It all depends on the applications you are trying to run really. Its not like there always will be a bottleneck or always not be.

Crysis for example has very little CPU post processing and thus the GPU can crunch all the numbers it wants and there won't be any CPU bottleneck even on stock speeds. Then there is starcraft 2 which uses DX9 which is weak graphically but very CPU demanding tracking all the units and particles, an i7 930 won't get max frame rates even at medium resolutions like 1680x1050 or 1920x1080.

Then again, for most games the i7 930 at stock would do just fine.
Overclocking is very easy, and a minor overclock is very safe.

Even if you are extremely skeptical, overclock only at stock voltages because overclocking can't possibly damage a processor, overvolting does that.


A humble 3.2 or 3.4 GHz shouldn't be too hard to achieve with my ZALMAN CNPS9900 CPU cooler? Some BIOS allow you to set the voltage to "automatic" so it sets the vcore to the proper amount automatically, to stabilize your overclock.

The Core i7 has turboboost technology, which automatically overclocks your the CPU if it needs an extra kick under heavy CPU loads.

I heard that this feature often increases the vcore too far, resulting in excessive heat.

Is it true that you can only overclock at a few Hundred MHz at a time, and if you try something like a 1GHz overclock during a single BIOS visit, your CPU will be toast after you click "accept settings"?

Most games are GPU bound nowadays. Having a fast processor helps, but you will notice more gaming performance out of having a fast and powerful GPU than anything else.

What is the most CPU-intensive PC game currently? I heard it was GTA4.
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a b U Graphics card
July 2, 2010 2:09:15 PM

You can overclock as much as you want during a single visit

Auto does increase voltage by more than you need.

The intel i7s are rated for 0.8v - 1.35v operation. Though an average chip should be at 1.1v default or so. So there is room for overclock for every chip unless you get a really bad one.

If you feed your processor too little voltage, and get a blue screen it won't harm your processor. Only extra voltage would cause damage. If you do overclock, don't use more than 1.35v if you are worried.

I recommend you do something like boost your BCLK to 160, memory multiplier to 10, and keep your CPU multiplier to 22 which would yield a 3.5ghz overclock. You can probably do that with something really low like 1.13v which is practically stock voltage. At 3.5ghz you probably won't see any bottleneck in games.

I won't say most games are GPU bound. There are situation that can become CPU intensive and can drop in frame rates. BFBC2 for example uses CPU bases physics, on average you would get max frame rates but for minimum frame rates, you could get quite low if there is a lot of explosions throwing objects everywhere.

GTA4 isn't CPU hungry at all. It is just a graphics memory hog, if you have less than 1GB onboard graphics memory, it can get a bit slow. The most CPU hungry games are RTS's since they track many more units than shooters. Sure the graphics in RTSs aren't as pretty but as far as the CPU is concerned, a unit is a unit and it needs to track movement, health, energy, dice rolls, and perhaps many other things. Starcraft 2 is pretty CPU hungry.
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a b U Graphics card
July 2, 2010 2:17:51 PM

An i7 at stock speeds will not "bottleneck" any single card currently on the market. There is no need at all to OC an i7 with only one videocard (even if it is a dual GPU card, as the xfire is performed on board). Intel's real advantage is for multi-card setups.

http://benchmarkextreme.com/Articles//GTX%20480%20%20Ra...
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July 2, 2010 10:58:15 PM

Does having Two, Three, or Four graphics processing units in SLI/CrossfireX mean that they are all working as One, meaning 2-4 times the graphical performance and computing horsepower as opposed to a single GPU? Or are they used in a slightly different manner?

I heard that there really isn't any substantial performance gain after having Two GPU's.
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a b U Graphics card
July 3, 2010 12:49:54 AM

75% scaling from a dual card setup (175% performance compared to a single card) is generally considered decent scaling, with excellent being in 90+ range. There is systematic overhead in the running of multiple cards in conjunction with eachother, thus why 100% scaling doesn't really ever happen, and to get even close one would have to be looking at a title that is very GPU-dependent.

The more cards you are running, the more work it takes to keep them running together, as well as driver support thins out as you break into more than dual card setups, as it is a very small % of the market that actually utilizes that level of hardware.

As for substantial gains after two GPUs, it is all relative. The jump from 1 GPU to 2 can be very significant, 2 to 3 less so if only for the relative gain (much smaller) and even more so when going to 4 cards. Not to mention the system resources required to keep them all running right grows steadily as you ad more hardware, while the scaling % drops, leading to very small gains in the end as you head into quad-gpu setups. Even if cards did scale perfectly to 100%, the forth card would only be an improvement of 33% over a triple setup.

EDIT:
Also important to note, is that data on multi-card setups is mirrored on each gpu's memory. This means that while the total video memory is multiplied physically, the effective memory is only that of one card. If one wanted to find a true multiplication of power, each card would be able to use its memory as part of the pool, and all cards would be able to access each other's memory at the same rate the card can access it's own. Interconnectivity is not that advanced though, so the multiple cards are relegated to taking turns rendering frames, with the bridge carrying those frames back to the lead card into which the display is connected.
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July 3, 2010 4:30:11 AM

JofaMang said:
75% scaling from a dual card setup (175% performance compared to a single card) is generally considered decent scaling, with excellent being in 90+ range. There is systematic overhead in the running of multiple cards in conjunction with eachother, thus why 100% scaling doesn't really ever happen, and to get even close one would have to be looking at a title that is very GPU-dependent.

The more cards you are running, the more work it takes to keep them running together, as well as driver support thins out as you break into more than dual card setups, as it is a very small % of the market that actually utilizes that level of hardware.

As for substantial gains after two GPUs, it is all relative. The jump from 1 GPU to 2 can be very significant, 2 to 3 less so if only for the relative gain (much smaller) and even more so when going to 4 cards. Not to mention the system resources required to keep them all running right grows steadily as you ad more hardware, while the scaling % drops, leading to very small gains in the end as you head into quad-gpu setups. Even if cards did scale perfectly to 100%, the forth card would only be an improvement of 33% over a triple setup.

EDIT:
Also important to note, is that data on multi-card setups is mirrored on each gpu's memory. This means that while the total video memory is multiplied physically, the effective memory is only that of one card. If one wanted to find a true multiplication of power, each card would be able to use its memory as part of the pool, and all cards would be able to access each other's memory at the same rate the card can access it's own. Interconnectivity is not that advanced though, so the multiple cards are relegated to taking turns rendering frames, with the bridge carrying those frames back to the lead card into which the display is connected.


Nevertheless, I should see a very noticeable increase in gaming performance with Two HD 5870 cores as opposed to One?
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a b U Graphics card
July 3, 2010 11:29:26 AM

Yes, two cards still kicks ass.
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July 4, 2010 2:17:30 AM

JofaMang said:
Yes, two cards still kicks ass.


A single HD 5970 should be able to smoothly max out games like Fallout 3, Far Cry 2, BFBC2, STALKER CS and CoP, as well as many others, with the exception of a few extremely GPU intensive games like Crysis, Crysis Warhead, and Metro 2033. But still be able to play them at high settings, just not their maximum.

How do you think the HD 5970 will handle Crysis 2?
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