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Why buy a standard model when you can get the top-of-the-line? Treat yourself to the good stuff! We take three premium graphics cards for a spin to see just what kind of optional extras you can get when purchasing a factory-tweaked non-reference board.
The most powerful graphics card available today is the Radeon HD 5970, but it's an expensive and power-hungry beast that tends to run hot (after all, it does sport two high-end GPUs on a single PCB). On top of this, the card relies on its drivers to make sure both of the graphics processors play nice together. This means that the Radeon HD 5970's performance isn't quite as consistent as a graphics card equipped with a single GPU, since you have to take CrossFire scaling into account, as transparent as the technology might be. In fact, any multi-GPU setup will perform inconsistently compared to a single card.
If you find these compromises too unpleasant to accept, or if you simply don't want to spend $600 bucks on a graphics card, you can still get serious graphics performance out of AMD’s and Nvidia's single-GPU flagships, the Radeon HD 5870 and the GeForce GTX 480. And for those of you who are looking for a little more out of your hardware than what the standard reference models provide, there are some premium factory-overclocked products available.
Today, we look at three of these premium cards to see just what benefits they offer compared to the reference models. The three cards we're looking at are Gigabyte's GV-R587SO-1GD Super Clocked, Hightech Information System’s (HIS) HD 5870 iCooler V Turbo X, and Zotac's GeForce GTX 480 AMP! Edition.
Let's see what sets these premium models apart from the pack.