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

Overclocking ATI’s Radeon HD 5970

Although ATI felt the pressure to keep its Radeon HD 5970 under 300W for the sake of those folks with 750 and 850W power supplies, the card was originally designed to hit 5870 frequencies and deal with the corresponding thermal load that would have created. Thus, you have hardware on-board well-suited for overclocking, yet technically overkill for the 5970’s stock specifications.

There’s the 400W-capable vapor chamber-based cooler, for example. ATI also uses a programmable PWM fan controller able to monitor 12 different points on the board. Screened ASICs, higher-binned memory chips, and beefier digital VRMs are all part of the effort to infuse extra headroom “similar to what you get on a Black Edition Phenom II,” AMD says. That last part is a bit ironic; anyone willing to spend $600 on graphics should be looking to an overclocked Core i7 to help balance it out.

Secondary GPU's regulatorsSecondary GPU's regulatorsPrimary GPU's regulatorsPrimary GPU's regulators

Complementing the purportedly more-scalable hardware is a bit of special software. The voltage tweaking utility comes first. ATI’s reference example took our GPU from 1.05V to 1.1625V and our memory from 1.1V to 1.15V. We’re curious to see if third-party board vendors choose any voltage levels above or below those levels. Second, ATI caps the core and memory clocks much higher, letting you choose up to 1,000/1,500 MHz frequencies. We were able to get our sample stable at 925/1,300MHz.

I’m not a huge fan of running overclocking numbers on vendor-supplied launch samples for fairly obvious reasons. However, overclocking is supposed to be a big part of what makes this board unique, so without further ado…

All of our numbers here are at 1920x1200 (or 1900x1200 in the case of Crysis), with game-specific details listed on the y-axis. As you can see, in some cases, overclocking has a profound effect on performance—from between 30%+ in Far Cry 2 to just under 2% in the very CPU-bound Left 4 Dead.

Unfortunately, hitting Radeon HD 5870 frequencies (850/1,200 MHz) requires upping the 5970’s voltages in order to achieve stability.

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    Top Comments
  • cyberkuberiah
    today's a great day for graphics , as the bar's been raised again !
  • 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 :)
  • Anonymous
    In your face Gt240 =P
  • Other Comments
  • 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 ?
  • Anonymous
    In your face Gt240 =P
  • Anonymous
    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 competition

    There 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.
  • shubham1401
    GT 240 has found a competitor in HD5890!
  • keefasuz
    1,600-shader Cypress found in its Radeon HD 5870.
    2) Drop clock rates a bit in order to keep power and thermals under control.
    3) ???
    4) Profit

    Oh my goodness, Chris, you apparently saw the Southpark episode with the underpants gnomes! Very funny for those of us who got the joke.
  • liquidsnake718
    Thus.... the shattered dreams of Nvidia and its GT210, 220, 240... haha.
    What a time to release such low end dead end variants... the last life of the 200series chips can now be engulfed by the HD5970... THis card looks like it would smash through the GTX295 easily and is DX11 plus plus blah blah Nvidia is sweating it out as they have lost a lump of market share as they did not ride the Christmas wave... Ive said it again and again don't you guys think Nvidia should discount their cards heavily already?!?

    I hope fermi can even compare to this dual gpu... Deep down I now doubt Nvidias GTX380 or whatever can even compare to this dual GPU, they would have to compare it now with a dual GTX300 series in my opinion at the rate that ATi has vastly improved from their previous 4850-90s, to the x2's...
  • duckmanx88
    wow look at the difference in crysis and far cry 2. the 5890 just bitch slapped the gtx 295.
  • FoShizzleDizzle
    I'm sort of at a loss for words so I will pull on a quote from The Cable Guy: this would make George Lucas cream in his pants.
  • skora
    Oh no, now I have PCB envy :(
  • megamanx00
    OMFG!! It's so F**ING HUGE!!

    I think I would want one, if I could afford a new PSU and huge case to go with it :D.
  • jj463rd
    I just completed a new build however I was short funds and had to get a $50 graphics card just to see it work.I'm glad though that I selected a 850 watt power supply.
    The Radeon 5970 sounds like the perfect card for me in January 2010.I'm getting it.
    alswome card but pricey but i guess the specs make up for it. id go for the 5850 myself if i could. maybe they'll have a giveaway for this bad boy
  • javidchaos
    I think i gotta sell my kidney and liver for one of these !!!