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AMD Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 Edition: One Card, Six Screens

AMD Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 Edition: One Card, Six Screens
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Last week was a mad rush to get Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 480 and 470 tested in sufficient depth to draw some very real conclusions about how the new cards perform in today’s games, how they might fare in the future, and the power they’ll be sucking down in the meantime.

All the while, I knew AMD would be pulling back the curtain on its Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 Edition today. This card stands in stark contrast to the GeForce GTX 480 as the worst-kept secret ever. AMD was showing it off back in September when it announced the first Radeon HD 5870. Company reps flew around the country last month, dropping six-display setups on tech press like high-res 5760x2160 pixel bombs. Pictures and videos of these jaw-dropping arrangements made their way online, and we got our first taste of what it’d be like to stack LCDs vertically, rather than just spanning horizontally, like most of us multi-monitor proponents do today.

There's a certain hotness to 5760x2160...There's a certain hotness to 5760x2160...

The only thing embargoed up until now was performance data. Over the course of the past six months, AMD’s driver team has been working on the software backing Eyefinity 6. And while all of the kinks still aren’t worked out, setting up and using intricate display configurations is much easier now than it was a month ago when the first Catalyst build landed in our lab.

Eyefinity 6 Lands In The Lab

AMD’s PR team arrived at our SoCal test facility with not one, but two 2GB Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 Edition boards.

If you're using six DisplayPort monitors, this is what you'll see.If you're using six DisplayPort monitors, this is what you'll see.

At 11” long, the Eyefinity 6 card is the exact same length as AMD’s reference Radeon HD 5870 1GB. Because it sports a second gigabyte of GDDR5 memory, however, it requires one eight-pin and one six-pin auxiliary power connector (in comparison, the 1GB Radeon HD 5870 employs two six-pin connectors). Idle power creeps up from 27W on the 1GB card to 34W on the 2GB card (according to AMD), and maximum board power ramps up from 188W to 228W—a somewhat-surprising 40W increase.

Why the larger frame buffer? Well, as you likely already know, the Eyefinity 6 card sports six display outputs in the form of Mini DisplayPort connectors. Each output accommodates a resolution up to 2560x1600. Sling six of those together and you’re looking at a 7680x3200 surface—large enough to bring any 1GB card to its knees (and indeed, realistically big enough to drop even this 2GB board below the point of playability).


Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 Edition 2GB
Radeon HD 5870 1GB
GPU; Process
Cypress; 40nm
Cypress; 40nm
Engine Clock
850 MHz
850 MHz
Stream Processors
1,600
1,600
Memory Type
GDDR5
GDDR5
Memory Clock / Data Rate
1,200 MHz / 4,800 Mb/s
1,200 MHz / 4,800 Mb/s
Memory Capacity
2GB
1GB
Memory Bandwidth
153.6 GB/s
153.6 GB/s
Maximum Board Power
228W
188W
Idle Board Power
34W
27W


However, our test setup consists of six 1920x1080 22” Dell P2210H LCDs, adding up to 5760x2160—a more plausible 12.5 million pixels. And we’re going to tax it in several different ways, exploring the difference between a 1GB Radeon HD 5870 and the 2GB Eyefinity 6 Edition card, whether one 2GB card is ample to play across six 22” LCDs, and how much of a boost you might see by running two Eyefinity 6 Edition cards in CrossFire mode.

Sounds like a boatload of “sweet,” right? Dude. Totally. But there are also a handful of caveats to bear in mind. Let’s begin by getting the unpleasant business out of the way first.

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Top Comments
  • 27 Hide
    phantomtrooper , March 31, 2010 4:11 AM
    I would hate playing with that much black area between screens. I will stick with my 1080p monitor thank you.
  • 26 Hide
    mtyermom , March 31, 2010 5:33 AM
    This begs the question: how long until we have zero-bezel displays?
  • 20 Hide
    magicbullet , March 31, 2010 4:47 AM
    wow......i feel so poor.
Other Comments
  • 27 Hide
    phantomtrooper , March 31, 2010 4:11 AM
    I would hate playing with that much black area between screens. I will stick with my 1080p monitor thank you.
  • 11 Hide
    megamanx00 , March 31, 2010 4:22 AM
    :o  They got two of those cards!! Lucky punks.
  • 2 Hide
    megamanx00 , March 31, 2010 4:38 AM
    Glad they compared the 1GB and 2GB cards in a 3x1 setup. Glad I got my 5870 instead of waiting for a 2GB card :D . Even so, I want some thin bezel monitors before I hook up three of them. The bezel on my HP LCD is just to think so I'm not keen on buying another two.
  • 2 Hide
    duk3 , March 31, 2010 4:40 AM
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814125322&cm_re=5870-_-14-125-322-_-Product
    Immediate availability? Yes.
    Even in stock! (When linked :p  )
  • 20 Hide
    magicbullet , March 31, 2010 4:47 AM
    wow......i feel so poor.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , March 31, 2010 4:52 AM
    Should have just made the 5970 the eyefinity edition
  • 0 Hide
    ltcommander_data , March 31, 2010 5:27 AM
    So I guess Apple's miniDP connector is quite useful after-all and is now seeing adoption outside of Macs.

    It's too bad you didn't test GTA IV like you used to do. I believe GTA IV at max settings exceeds 1GB of VRAM usage so perhaps 2GB graphics cards may be of some use assuming the game isn't still CPU limited despite 12 threads with the Core i7 980X. At the very least, I'm guessing Liberty City at 6048x2276 would be amazing.
  • 26 Hide
    mtyermom , March 31, 2010 5:33 AM
    This begs the question: how long until we have zero-bezel displays?
  • 8 Hide
    oldscotch , March 31, 2010 5:47 AM
    Obviously, the best solution is a 3x3 grid of displays to make sure your centre focus is not interfered with.

    Lesse, that'd be 5760 x 3240.
    No sweat ;) 
  • 5 Hide
    Anonymous , March 31, 2010 5:52 AM
    So, I guess if you already have a 1GB 5870 and 3x1 Eyefinity setup, the only advantage of the 2GB version is being able to pile on the AA/AF effects and still have a playable frame rate.
  • -4 Hide
    N.Broekhuijsen , March 31, 2010 5:58 AM
    you made my FullHD 22inch screen look like nothing.... I did not know such a thing was possible.... :( 
  • -3 Hide
    SpadeM , March 31, 2010 6:36 AM
    On a personal note, i'd buy Alienware's curved lcd .. maybe 2 of them .. i mean it's not the same resolution output but still, less bezel problems and it looks, in my opinion, way cooler.
  • 4 Hide
    husker , March 31, 2010 6:45 AM
    Does the card require the configuration of 6 displays in landscape? I'm thinking maybe 5 displays side-by-side rotated in portrait would make a better option to avoid the center bezel. This would give a resolution of something like 5864 x 1920 (allowing for bezel correction). The ratio of width to height would then be about 3 to 1, which would be close to ideal, imo. Then use the other single monitor for live chats, twitter, etc.

    This would also avoid the requirement for the specialized hardware to hold the monitors, assuming they have the capability of being rotated 90 degrees on their standard base.

    Great article, thanks.
  • 8 Hide
    welshmousepk , March 31, 2010 6:48 AM
    6x 1080p projectors would be nice.

    now i just need to win the lottery.
  • 5 Hide
    lutel , March 31, 2010 7:03 AM
    now it is time for bezelless LCDs
  • 2 Hide
    cangelini , March 31, 2010 7:09 AM
    huskerDoes the card require the configuration of 6 displays in landscape? I'm thinking maybe 5 displays side-by-side rotated in a portrait would make a better option to avoid the center bezel. Then use the other single monitor for live chats, twitter, etc.This would also avoid the requirement for the specialized hardware to hold the monitors.Great article, thanks.


    Nope, you can move them around, if you have the physical mounting hardware to support your desired config. The actual display groups do need to be in arrays of some sort, though.
  • 1 Hide
    anamaniac , March 31, 2010 7:26 AM
    Excellent article Chris.
    What sexy cards. I think the GTX 480/470 look ugly, and believe that reference ATi cards always win for looks. =D

    huskerDoes the card require the configuration of 6 displays in landscape? I'm thinking maybe 5 displays side-by-side rotated in a portrait would make a better option to avoid the center bezel. Then use the other single monitor for live chats, twitter, etc.This would also avoid the requirement for the specialized hardware to hold the monitors.Great article, thanks.

    I run a 3x1 setup with all monitors in portrait mode. I couldn't stand in the insane stretching at the edge of every monitor due to the insane aspect ratio.
    welshmousepk6x 1080p projectors would be nice. now i just need to win the lottery.

    I considered a 5x1 projector setup, but I eventually gave up on the thought realizing at some point I need to buy a car...

    I honestly believe a 5x1 all portrait oriented setup would be superior. This also gives you a reasonable aspect ratio (as games don't do well with insane aspect ratios).
    The only problem with running monitors in portait mode is the viewing angle. If you're like me and use cheappy TN panels, it can be horrible if you move your head even just a few inches.

    The active DP to DVI adaptors cost $150 in Canada. =(
    I tried using a passive (which still cost $50), and it worked (2048x1152), for 15 minutes. After that, it decided to no longer work, and so I dropped way too much money for the active (which had its own issues).
    Why not miniDVI or miniHDMI instead? (other than the ridiculous HDMI licensing fees, but really, we're paying $200+ for these cards, deal with it).

    At 3456x2048 a 5770 1GB is more than enough for most games still, and I can add a little AA to a few.
    Now only if all games natively supported any resolution and were hort+. I can only use my triple display configuration on about half of my library. I shouldn't have to be doing .ini, registry and hex hacks.
    ATi should give us some software equivalent to one Matrox gave it's TH2G/DH2G users (instantly modified game .ini's etc.). Or at least include the address http://widescreengamingforum.com/ with the card...

    What about a triple slot card? There was a 2GB 4870x2 (Gainward Rampage700 2048MB) triple slot card, and it was a beast, while offering a extra display output. I would be comfortable with a triple slot 5970 or 5990 (5890x2 or whatever they want to call it, IF they ever make it).
    How about some 3GB (6GB for x2) cards?
    A 5970 8GB (with a 384bit bus) triple slot with six miniDP (with 6 RAMDACS and includes 6 miniDP to DVI and HDMI adaptors) with a massive air cooled copper block and both GPU's are handpicked is something easily worth well over $1000. Run three 4K projectors on that (in all portrait, running at 6480x3840 @ 24.9MP) watch as people go change their pants. =D
    Anyone remember the Asus Mars GTX 285x2 4GB that almost soldout on preorders alone? There is a market for it.
  • 1 Hide
    anamaniac , March 31, 2010 7:28 AM
    cangeliniNope, you can move them around, if you have the physical mounting hardware to support your desired config. The actual display groups do need to be in arrays of some sort, though.

    I used a hardware store for my needs. I bought a hammer, a bag of nails, and five feet of wood. No way in hell was I going to spend hundreds on proper mounts, when $25 would achieve the same result, albeit ugly as hell.
  • 17 Hide
    gti88 , March 31, 2010 7:41 AM
    I don't think I could enjoy a game with these black bezels.
  • -3 Hide
    yyk71200 , March 31, 2010 8:19 AM
    Me want to play Crysis at 7680x3200 max quality, AA, and AF.
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