PowerColor Radeon HD 5870 LCS: The GHz Limit, Broken

Test System And Benchmarks

We're not going to waste our time benchmarking 1280x1024 or 1680x1050. If you buy this class of card, you're going to play at 1920x1200 or 2560x1600. To that end, we'll test those high resolutions with and without anti-aliasing (AA) and anisotropic filtering (AF) enabled.

Graphic Test System

Intel Core i7-920 (Nehalem), 2.67 GHz, QPI-4200, 8MB Cache
Overclocked to 3.06 GHz @ 153 MHz Bclk


ASRock X58 Supercomputer
Intel X58, BIOS P1.90

Onboard Realtek Gigabit LAN controller

Kingston PC3-10700
3 x 1,024MB, DDR3-1225, CL 9-9-9-22-1T


Powercolor Radeon HD 5870 LCS
875 MHz Core, 1250 MHz Memory, 1GB GDDR5
2 x HIS Radeon HD 4890 in CrossFire
850 MHz Core, 975 MHz Memory, 1GB GDDR5

Hard Drive

Western Digital Caviar WD50 00AAJS-00YFA, 500GB, 7,200 RPM, 8MB cache, SATA 3.0Gb/s


Thermaltake Toughpower 1,200W
1,200W, ATX 12V 2.2, EPS 12v 2.91

Software and Drivers
Operating System
Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit 6.0.6001, SP1
DirectX versionDirectX 10
Graphics Drivers

AMD Catalyst 9.10

Benchmark Configuration

3D Games


Patch 1.2.1, DirectX 9, 64-bit executable, benchmark tool
Low Quality, Medium Textures, Shadows, Physics, Shaders, Water, and Sound, No AA

Far Cry 2

Patch 1.02, in-game benchmark
Medium Quality, No AA

World In Conflict:
Soviet Assault

Patch 1.11, DirectX 9, timedemo
Medium Details, No AA/No AF

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

Patch 1.02, DirectX 10 & 10.1, in-game benchmark
Low Shadows, Sun Shafts
Medium View Distance, Environment, SSAO
High Forest, Textures
HDR, Engine Heat, and DOE On, No AA

Left 4 Dead

Version, Custom THG Benchmark
Run 1: High Settings, no AA, no AF
Run 2: High Settings, Medium Shaders, 4x AA, 8x AF

Resident Evil 5

Resident Evil 5 Benchmark Version
High Shadows and Textures, Medium Overall Detail, Motion Blur On, no AA, no AF

Fallout 3

Patch, Custom THG Benchmark
High Quality, No AA, No AF

Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings

3DMark Vantage

Version: 1.02, PhysX Off, 3DMark scores

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  • tacoslave

    oh and you too powercolor. mmmmmmmmm waterblock...
  • CoryInJapan
    Wow...is ATI leading again...O wait they are.
    Nice to see ATI back on top. Would be nice to have that card.
  • tacoslave
    so much potential lost for shame...

    sorry for double posting but i got cut off.
  • jimmysmitty
    Enjoy it while it lasts ATI.

    Unless nV screws G300 up (rebranding G200) then it may be a nice time but wont last forever.

    If only they could get a damn seperate shader clock. With 1600 SPs running at 1.7GHz they could blow nV out of the water....
  • anamaniac
    It's dissapointing to hear the memory had to be put so low...
    Though I'd love to liquid cool my i7, then add a 5870 and liquid cool that also. I got a radiator at work that can likely handle a 10 kilowatt system, add to that it's constantly cooled by sub zero temperatures (during winter atleast), with a 5 barrel resevoir, and dual 24" fans (used to cool 3000psi hydraulics).

    Even more dissapointing to see it can't keep up with it's dual 4xxx series cousin.
    Also, GPU waterblocks just look so inneficient...
  • micky_lund
    can i has one to sell? then buy dual 5850s
  • 7amood
    WOOOOOOOW extremely low temperatures... but not worth the 500W draw.
    I think now am interested in water cooled video cards.

    but honestly, i thought the gain will be 20% at least... disappointing.
  • liquidsnake718
    You made a mistake on the test and benchmark page on the Crysis Bench config. It states you tested it at low quality. This would mean at least 100-150FPS....

    Nice work but I also wish you guys tested Crysis at Very High settings.... its always great to see Crysis tested at its maximum threshhold.
  • shubham1401
    Being a single card 5870 performs very impressively...
    And the power usage is impressive too(Only on stock).

    This is the best card for now and with a lil price dip it'll be fav. of all high end gamers.
  • IzzyCraft
    I love the draw on their oc 1 gpu is greater then 2 older gen gpus draw that's just hilariously bad results. Still with the waterblock set up maybe you can afford the 1000 dollar electric bill with you're fastest possible machine. Sorry but as far as ATI venders powercolor is low on the list of ones i trust. Poor 5870 gpu wasted on excess and ya can't waste those things, hard to come by with tsmc doing jack in the yields department.
  • Netherwind
    Great article, but I'm still debating between a second 4890 and selling my 4890 for a 5850/70.
  • shubham1401
    ^See the power consumption for 2 4890's. Adding second one may not be a good option.
    For now single 4890 is plenty for most of us.Buy when prices fall.
  • annihilator-x-
    I have convinced myself watercooling is a must for GPUs.

    I am running a watercooling setup on my CPU alone at the moment. Despite majority of heat gone from internal case, my HD4850 card would barely escape overheat in room temperature of 23deg C in UK winter. I once tried moving my soundcard closer leaving 2 inch clearance from HD4850 and it crashes every single time when I run Mass Effect. Now it crashes once in a while and I am 100% sure it's due to overheating of the GPU. Load temperature reaches 106 deg C. The card crashes at 110 deg C.
  • idoln95
    If there is a limit how did they manage to hit a 1380MHZ here:

    That deanzo guy is crazy....
  • uh_no

    but can it run pacman?
  • BartG
    so i`m 1 of the few people who was not surprised by the outcome!? 2 4890`s packs a decent punch, the fact 1 5780 can keep up with that is not bad, I did not expect anything different...

    Keen to find out if DX 11 will make a difference once its mature...
  • abhilash
    The Radeon HD 5870 also sports a memory bandwidth advantage

    what rubbish?
  • JohnnyLucky
    Interesting article with some surprising results and conclusions.
  • hmolleta
    Remove the WC from this PowerColor and put it on a Asus 5870 and overclock it until it burn!!!!!!!!!!
  • idisarmu
    I don't understand how the 5870 can be slower than a 4870x2/2x4890. Aren't the specs EXACTLY the same, except for the 5870's HIGHER clocks and that the 5870 has all those specs in ONE gpu die rather than two?