Planned long before the hardware was ready, today’s article was intended to highlight the performance advances of AMD's latest mobile graphics processor. In that vein, let’s begin the final analysis with a game-performance summary.
The Mobility Radeon HD 5870 device wins as expected, trumping the G92-based GeForce GTX 285M by over 8% when using the G92's older DirectX limitation. Congratulations go to AMD for beating what is essentially an efficiency-enhanced GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB, but AMD's new mobile flagship still looks strangely weak when compared to the "lower model" desktop part. It might make sense for an underclocked version of the Radeon HD 5770 to have 56% of the Radeon HD 5850’s performance, but we weren't expecting the Mobility Radeon HD 5870 to be an underclocked Radeon HD 5770 when it was announced last winter.
The Mobility Radeon HD 5870 handily outpaces the GeForce GTX 285M's older architecture, but that should be possible even with a modern $150 desktop card. A $150 desktop card’s GPU and RAM are what mainly compose the $400 Mobility Radeon HD 5870. If we thought Nvidia’s naming scheme was a scam, what more can we say when AMD follows the same path?
The notebooks we tested today are state-of-the-art, with unsurpassed build quality backed by an assembly firm with a solid reputation. It’s not really fair for AVADirect, which set us up with the latest technology, to take any abuse on behalf of AMD and Nvidia, and so we’d like to take a minute to express our sincerest gratitude to the builder for allowing us the opportunity to compare these mobile graphics architectures using its well-built systems. These two configurations are the pinnacle of notebook graphics technology, so the only question left for us to answer is what buyers who think they need more should do.
As it stands, buyers who need something more powerful than what a GeForce 8800 GTS or Radeon HD 5770 can deliver are forced to reconsider desktop PC form factors. It’s nice to know that AVADirect is just as expert at configuring those, but anyone whose portability needs are at odds with their performance needs must put some serious thought into compromising at least one of those two competing goals.