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ATI Radeon HD 5870: DirectX 11, Eyefinity, And Serious Speed

Benchmark Results: Crysis

Venerable Crysis—the game we suspect nobody really plays any more, yet everyone looks to for performance evaluation, even today. A single Radeon HD 5870 easily bests Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 285 here, and again in a CrossFire configuration versus two GTX 285s. However, SLI scales better than CrossFire, and two GTX 285s quite nearly catch the pair of Radeon HD 5870s.

Perhaps more interesting is the comparison within ATI’s own product stack. The Radeon HD 5870 beats the Radeon HD 4870 X2 in all three resolutions—suggesting to us that the anti-aliased results are going to be even more dramatic.

If you were a user of ATI’s fastest single-GPU card, the Radeon HD 4890, a single 5870 will give you a substantial performance boost. However, it’s not quite sufficient enough to make Very High detail settings perfectly smooth, even at 1680x1050. For that, you’d certainly need to go CrossFire.

Although S.T.A.L.K.E.R. only supports up to 4x anti-aliasing, we took the opportunity to push our other benchmarks a little harder. Thus, Crysis is now being tested with 8x MSAA.

We were actually hoping for a bigger gain going from 4870 X2 to 5870. But the newest card remains fastest, overall, so it’s all good for ATI here. Again, we see a nice boost from single-GPU 4890 to single-GPU 5870, but the gain isn’t large enough to make 1680x1050 any more fluid than it was without AA. For that, you’ll still want to look to CrossFire, where a pair of 5870s is able to average more than 50 frames per second.

A single GeForce GTX 285 is bested by ATI’s Radeon HD 4890, so it’s hardly a surprise that the 5870 easily takes Nvidia’s fastest single-GPU graphics card. You’re even looking at decent performance at 1680x1050 and 1920x1200 with two 5870s in CrossFire.

Notice the missing result for Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 295 at 2560x1600 with 8xAA? That’s due to the card not having ample on-board memory to run that configuration (and the game not knowing any better than to keep it from trying). Grand Theft Auto gets around this by simply making resolutions unavailable if a graphics card doesn’t have a large enough frame buffer. Crysis crashes instead.

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.