Meet The 5970

To cool the beast, AMD has stepped up the cooler from a solid copper block to a vapor chamber design, which offers slightly better performance for large surface area needs. Vapor chambers (which are effectively flat heatpipes) have largely been popularized by Sapphire, who uses them on their Vapor-X and other high-end series cards. This is the first time we’ve seen a vapor chamber cooler on a stock card. AMD tells us this cooler is design to keep up with 400W of thermal dissipation.

With the need for such a cooler, AMD has finally parted with their standard 5000 series port configuration in order to afford a full slot to vent hot air. In place of the 2xDVI + HDMI + DisplayPort configuration, we have 2xDVI + MiniDisplayPort, all on one slot. MDP was just approved by the VESA last week, and is identical to DisplayPort in features, the only difference is that it’s smaller. This allows AMD to continue offering Eyefinity support, and it also conviently solves any questions of how to plug 3 monitors in, as there are now only as many DVI-type ports as there are available TMDS encoder pairs.

Finally, as dual-GPU cards are always bigger than their single-GPU brethren, and the 5970 is no exception to this rule. However the 5970 really drives this point home, being the largest video card we’ve ever tested. The PCB is 11.5” long, and with the overhang of the cooling shroud, that becomes 12.16” (309mm). This puts it well past our previous record holder, the 5870, and even father ahead of dual-GPU designs like the 4870X2 and GTX 295, both of which were 10.5”. The only way to describe the 5970 is “ridiculously long”.

With such a long card, there are going to be some definite fitting issues on smaller cases. For our testing we use a Thermaltake Speedo case, which is itself an oversized case. We ended up having to remove the adjustable fan used to cool the PCIe slots in order to make the 5970 fit. On a smaller and more popular case like the Antec P182, we had to remove the upper hard drive cage completely in order to fit the card.

In both cases we were able to fit the card, but it required some modification to get there, and this we suspect is going to be a common story. AMD tells us that the full ATX spec calls for 13.3” of room for PCIe cards, and while we haven’t been able to find written confirmation of this, this seems to be correct. Full size towers should be able to accept the card, and some mid size towers should too depending on what’s behind the PEG slot. However – and it’s going to be impossible to stress this enough – if you’re in the market for this card, check your case


GTX 295, 5970, 5870, 5850, 5770

On a final note, while the ATX spec may call for 13.3”, we hope that we don’t see cards this big; in fact we’d like to not see cards this big. Such a length is long enough that it precludes running a fan immediately behind the video card on many cases, and quite frankly at a 294W TDP, this card is hot enough that we’d feel a lot better if we had a fan there to better feed air to the card.

Index 40nm Supply Redux
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  • tcube - Monday, March 01, 2010 - link

    Well my thought is that if amd would release this card on SOI/HK-MG in 32/28nm MCM config at 4 GHz it would leave nvidia wondering what it did to deserve it. And I wonder ... why the heck not? These cards would be business-grade-able and with a decent silicon they could ask for enormous prices. Plus they could probably stick the entire thing in dual config on one single card (possibly within the 300 W pcie v2 limit)... that would be a 40-50 Tflops card and with the new GDDR5(5ghz +) it should qualify as a damn monster. I would also expect a ~2-3k$ per such beast but I think its worth it. 50Tf/card, 6cards/server... 3Pflop/cabinet... hrm... well...it wouldn't be fair to compair it to general purpose supercomputers... buuut you could deffinatelly ray trace render avatar directly into HD4x 3d in realtime and probably make it look even better in the process... Reply
  • srikar115 - Sunday, December 06, 2009 - link

    i agree with this reveiw ,here a complete summary i found is also intresting
    http://pcgamersera.com/2009/12/ati-radeon-5970-rev...">http://pcgamersera.com/2009/12/ati-radeon-5970-rev...
    Reply
  • srikar115 - Tuesday, April 20, 2010 - link

    http://pcgamersera.com/ati-radeon-5970-review-suma... Reply
  • xpclient - Friday, November 27, 2009 - link

    What no test to check video performance/DXVA? DirectX 11/WDDM 1.1 introduced DXVA HD (Accelerated HD/Blu-Ray playback). Reply
  • cmdrdredd - Sunday, November 22, 2009 - link

    Clearly nobody buying this card is going to put Crysis on "Gamer Quality" They'll put it on the max it can go. Why is AT still the only tech site in the whole world who is using "Gamer quality" with a card that has enough power to run a small town? Reply
  • AnnonymousCoward - Sunday, November 22, 2009 - link

    Why does the 5970 get <= 5850 CF performance, when it has 3200 Stream Processors vs 2880? Reply
  • araczynski - Saturday, November 21, 2009 - link

    i look forward to buying this, in a few years. Reply
  • JonnyDough - Friday, November 20, 2009 - link

    why they didn't just call it the 5880. Reply
  • Paladin1211 - Friday, November 20, 2009 - link

    Ryan,

    I'm a professional L4D player, and I know the Source engine gives out very high frame rate on today cards. The test become silly because there is no different at all from 60 to 300+ fps. So, it all comes down to min fps.

    I suggest that you record a demo in map 5 Dead Air, with 4 Survivors defend with their back onto the limit line of the position of the first crashed plane. The main player for the record will be vomitted on by boomer, another throws pipe bomb near him, another throws molotov near him also. Full force of zombies (only 30), 2 hunters, 1 smoker, 1 tank attacking. (When a player become a tank, the boss he's controlling become a bot, and still attacking the survivors).

    This is the heaviest practical scene in L4D, and it just makes sense for the benchmark. You dont really need 8 players to arrange the scene, I think using cheats is much easier.

    I know it will take time to re-benchmark all of those cards for the new scene, but I think it wont be too much. Even if you cant do this, please reply me.

    Thank you :)
    Reply
  • SunSamurai - Friday, November 20, 2009 - link

    You're not professional FPS player if you think there is no difference between 60 and 300fps. Reply

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