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PowerColor Radeon HD 5870 LCS: The GHz Limit, Broken

Under The Hood And The Bundle

The Radeon HD 5870 LCS is Powercolor's top-model single-GPU Radeon card. It comes with an overclocked 875 MHz core and 1,250 MHz memory speeds, which is a moderate increase over reference speeds of 25 and 50 MHz, respectively.

The included bundle covers the basics with a CrossFire connector, a DVI-to-VGA dongle, and a quick installation card. As a bonus, the package includes a full version of Dirt 2, probably the first major game title that will come to retail with DirectX 11 features. The game requires Steam to download and install, and is scheduled to be unlocked December 4th. Our only complaint about this is that the installation card doesn't address the special issues related to the liquid-cooling block. For example, we could not determine which port was the inlet and which was the outlet just by looking at them. Also included are 1/2" and 3/8" fittings for the water block in addition to the appropriate hose clamps.

On the hardware side of things, PowerColor's LCS card appears to be a standard-model Radeon HD 5870, but with a customized EK water block attached. The design is simple but effective, and darn good looking, too.

Let's take off the block to check out what's underneath:

Notice how the block covers not only the GPU and memory, but the important-for-overclocking VRM. This is a good thing. The block is substantial and weighs just over a pound all by itself. Digging a little deeper, we'll take the cover off of the block and look inside.

The cover is composed of acetal (a thermoplastic), while the block is nickel-plated copper. Note how the small channels force the coolant to move in a wavy path, increasing the cooling surface and turbulence to theoretically maximize cooling performance.

With the water block removed, the card looks strangely paper-thin for a board we know as being so large.

The GDDR5 memory chips are difficult to read, but they are Samsung K4G10325FE-HC04 components rated for 1,250 MHz operation. Since this is exactly the speed at which the memory is clocked on the card, we're not expecting a lot of headroom for pushing it higher.

Unfortunately, the I/O bezel prevents the Powercolor HD 5870 LCS from being a true single-slot card. As you can see, that second DVI output requires a double-wide slot, even though the card's cooler can easily fit in a single-slot space. Pity.