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Graphic Details

AVADirect's W860CU: Mobility Radeon HD 5870 Vs. GeForce GTX 285M

Though the Clevo W860CU is a nice desktop replacement notebook and AVADirect expertly configured our samples, the actual technology behind the graphics cards is completely out of the hands of those companies. Specifically, the graphics processors are not at all what buyers might expect them to be.

Desktop vs. Mobility Radeon Graphics
 Desktop Radeon
HD 5870
Desktop Radeon
HD 5770
Mobility Radeon
HD 5870
Transistors2.15 billion1.04 billion1.04 billion
Engine Clock850 MHz850 MHz700 MHz
Shader (ALUs)1,600800800
Texture Units804040
Z/Stencil Units1286464
Compute Performance2.72 TFLOPS1.36 TFLOPS1.12 TFLOPS
DRAM TypeGDDR5-4800GDDR5-4800GDDR5-4000
DRAM Interface256-bits128-bits128-bits
Memory Bandwidth153.6 GB/s76.8 GB/s64.0 GB/s

In response to last summer’s exposé
, Nvidia told us that its highest-model notebook GPU gets a similar name as its highest-model desktop GPU simply so people would understand that both cards represent the highest model of each market. Representatives of the firm vigorously denied that the naming similarity inferred a similar performance level, though we contend that this is the type of assumption Nvidia hopes buyers will make. In the case linked above, it’s easy to see that the GeForce GTX 285M bears no relation to the GeForce GTX 285, that these use completely different architectures, and that the GeForce GTX 285M architecture is taken directly from the old GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB GPU. Beyond basic underclocking, several updates used in the transformation from GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB to a GeForce GTX 285M make the newer version cheaper to produce and more energy efficient.

Nvidia stood alone in last summer in using an inferior core for its “premium” mobile offering, but it appears that AMD is learning its rival’s tricks. That is to say, while last summer’s Mobility Radeon products were simply underclocked variations of similarly-named desktop models, the company’s latest “premium” mobile model is nothing more than half of its desktop namesake.

Radeon HD 5870: CypressRadeon HD 5870: CypressMobility Radeon HD 5870: JuniperMobility Radeon HD 5870: Juniper

Recognizing these images from our previous Radeon HD 5770 launch article, some readers will undoubtedly think we got our pictures mixed up. The “high end” Mobility Radeon HD 5870 can’t be based on the mid-market desktop Radeon HD 5770, can it?

Desktop vs. Mobile GeForce Graphics
 Desktop GeForce
GTX 285
Desktop GeForce
8800 GTS 512MB
GTX 285M
Transistors2.15 billion754 million754 million
Engine Clock648 MHz650 MHz576 MHz
Texture Units806464
ROP Units322424
Compute Performance1.06 TFLOPS624 GFLOPS576 GFLOPS
DRAM TypeGDDR3-2484GDDR3-1940GDDR3-2040
DRAM Interface512-bits256-bits256-bits
Memory Bandwidth159 GB/s64 GB/s65.3 GB/s

Our Radeon HD 5870, Radeon HD 5770, and Mobility Radeon HD 5870 statistics come directly from the AMD Web site. The Mobility Radeon HD 5870 is not just any Radeon HD 5770, however. Instead, it’s actually an underclocked Radeon HD 5770 and is likely programmed to further enhance its power-savings capabilities.

In other words, the Mobility Radeon HD 5870 is the Radeon HD 5770’s slower, less-energetic younger brother. Yet, shoppers who can track down the mobile module will find it costs three times as much as the desktop part, even though it does not include a cooling fan, heat sink, or display outputs.

The biggest question for us is, which graphics company deserves your ire the most? While we let the readers decide the fates of AMD and Nvidia, our only hope is that their clearly-deceptive naming practices don't adversely affect honest, hard-working builders like AVADirect.

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