ATI Radeon HD 5970 2GB: The World's Fastest Graphics Card

Power, Noise, And Heat

Given the 5870’s 188W board power (and even the Radeon HD 5850’s 151W rating), ATI had to pay particular attention to power consumption with this product. Voltages, clock rates, and on-board components were all taken into consideration.  

To begin, there are the 5850-class frequencies, which facilitate lower voltages, and thus, lower board power (294W). The same power-saving technologies that allow other 5000-series cards to drop to remarkably-low idle consumption also apply here. Multi-level clock gating, voltage scaling, and engine/memory clock scaling all work effectively. In fact, we observed the same 157/300 MHz idle clocks seen on other cards from this same generation.

The Radeon HD 5970 adds a board-level feature that applies an ACPI S1 sleep state to the secondary GPU, effectively halving its idle power consumption, according to ATI. As a result, the Radeon HD 5970 is rated for a 42W idle board power—less than half that of a single-GPU Radeon HD 4870 (90W)!

In theory, then, there should be 15W separating a Radeon HD 5870 and 5970 at idle. Our measurements were a little higher at 27W between the two. Moreover, the Radeon HD 5970 actually seemed to use just a little more idle power than a pair of Radeon HD 5870s in CrossFire, suggesting the second GPU might not be dropping into S1 with our beta drivers.

So too is the 5970’s load consumption slightly higher than a pair of Radeon HD 5850s in CrossFire—though not far off the mark. Out of curiosity, we bumped up the voltages on our Radeon HD 5970 and pushed the clock rates to 5870 speeds (850/1,200 MHz). Seemingly not a fan of our FurMark test, the board quickly spiked to 99 degrees Celsius and then froze.

A single Radeon HD 5970 is slightly louder under load and slightly quieter at idle than two Radeon HD 5870s in CrossFire. The good news is that, on the Windows desktop, you’ll completely forget that there’s a foot-long dual-GPU monster under the hood. When it comes time to game, though, this card certainly makes its presence known.

Chris Angelini
Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.
  • cyberkuberiah
    today's a great day for graphics , as the bar's been raised again !
  • IzzyCraft
    bawhaha i was waiting for this
    5970 picture of it in size comparison is priceless to me it's freaking huge card.

    But really how are they going to get 2 chips for 5970 when they can't even get 1 for 5870 :)
  • notty22
    Wonder if this would get the same framerates as a 5870 in a AMD 965 system ?
  • In your face Gt240 =P
  • I'm getting more concerned with Nvidia these days. They keep playing with these low-end cards and haven't made anything all that great in almost a year. Hopefully Fermi doesn't turn into Itanic II.
  • amdgamer666
    Sweet, another amazing card to drool at, too bad I can't afford it. Thanks for including CF'ed 5870's, that's what I wanted to compare it to the most. The release seems to coincide with the driver update. Everybody make sure to update your drivers to 9.11 :)
    Also, because 9.11 is out, you can also try out Adobe's Flash 10.1 prelease to try out GPU-accelerated flash
    Exciting times
  • commodore64
    Wooww...4.3 billion transistors, low idle power, it's pricey but this baby has lots of potential :)

    I think ATI driven NVIDIA into a corner this time, i love the competition :)
  • christop
    Sweet but can't see spending 600 on a card...
  • 7amood
    commodore64i love the competitionThere is no competition yet >_< prices are way up there!!!
  • Honis
    Good article!

    I'll wait for a price drop since there are 0 DX 11 games out currently. Hope this forces further drops in the 4870s.