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ASUS Radeon HD 5870 1GB V2 Review

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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8x MSAA Testing (Dragon Age / Far Cry 2)

8x MSAA Testing (Dragon Age / Far Cry 2)


In this section we take a number of games we have tested previously in this review and bring things to the next level by pushing the in-game MSAA up to 8x. All other methodologies remain the same.

Dragon Age: Origins (DX9)

HD5870V2-56.jpg


Far Cry 2 (DX10)

HD5870V2-69.jpg
 

SKYMTL

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Core Temperature & Acoustics / Power Consumption

Core Temperature & Acoustics


For all temperature testing, the cards were placed on an open test bench with a single 120mm 1200RPM fan placed ~8” away from the heatsink. The ambient temperature was kept at a constant 22°C (+/- 0.5°C). If the ambient temperatures rose above 23°C at any time throughout the test, all benchmarking was stopped. For this test we use the 3DMark Batch Size test at it highest triangle count with 4xAA and 16xAF enabled and looped it for one hour to determine the peak load temperature as measured by GPU-Z.

For Idle tests, we let the system idle at the Vista desktop for 15 minutes and recorded the peak temperature.


HD5870V2-75.jpg

As promised, ASUS’ revised heatsink does indeed give us some extremely good temperatures when compared to the reference cooler. The only issue we see here is that a stock HD 5870 isn’t exactly a hot running card to begin with.

What actually disappointed us was the V2’s acoustical profile which has the tendency to vary wildly from one application to another depending on how much load is placed on the core. In most games we saw the fan speed ramp up to about 2100 RPMs which is quite high for any 80mm fan and naturally, it causes quite a bit of noise. It isn’t annoying in the least but if you don’t play games at higher volumes, you WILL hear this card over your typical in-case fan setup. Basically, it seems like ASUS sacrificed noise for cooling performance here.


System Power Consumption


For this test we hooked up our power supply to a UPM power meter that will log the power consumption of the whole system twice every second. In order to stress the GPU as much as possible we once again use the Batch Render test in 3DMark06 and let it run for 30 minutes to determine the peak power consumption while letting the card sit at a stable Windows desktop for 30 minutes to determine the peak idle power consumption. We have also included several other tests as well.

Please note that after extensive testing, we have found that simply plugging in a power meter to a wall outlet or UPS will NOT give you accurate power consumption numbers due to slight changes in the input voltage. Thus we use a Tripp-Lite 1800W line conditioner between the 120V outlet and the power meter.

HD5870V2-73.jpg

Power consumption for this card isn’t anything out of the ordinary but it did display slightly higher numbers than the reference card at both idle and load. This is likely due to component choices on ASUS’ part but a mere 13W isn’t anything to be worried about.
 

SKYMTL

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Overclocking Results

Overclocking Results



Usually we just list the clock speeds we were able to generate when overclocking and testing for stability but things are going to be done a bit differently here. Below you will see a chart listing almost all of our overclocking results with a variety of HD 5870 cards from past reviews and even some we didn’t overclock for the review itself. The only one missing is Gigabyte’s HD 5870 Super Overclock.

As you can see, the ASUS HD 5870 V2 sample we received exhibited atrocious overclocking potential. The Voltage Tweak (VT) software did help matters a bit but even with the software’s maximum allowable voltage coursing its way through the card, the V2 was still at the bottom of the pack. Memory overclocking on the other hand was exactly what we have come to expect from this card.

It should be mentioned that every card behaves differently when you try to push its clock speeds and it is very likely we received one of those freak cores that just hates overclocking. As such, we can’t really hold these results against the HD 5870 V2.

HD5870V2-82.jpg
 
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SKYMTL

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Conclusion

Conclusion


In the current graphics card market, innovation isn’t something we see very often so we love it when companies go out on a limb and release a product that breaks with a given norm. At the same time, messing with a good thing like the reference HD 5870 is risky to say the least considering it is a card that sets the benchmark in areas like efficiency and performance per watt. ASUS decided to do just that when they took a leap into uncharted territory by completely replacing their reference-based SKU with the “V2” model. Did they succeed? We believe so but that doesn’t mean there aren’t bumps along the road to perfection.

The HD 5870 V2 isn’t what we would call a technological tour de force by any stretch of the imagination since it sticks with reference clock speeds but it does add ASUS' Xtreme Design elements. However, ASUS wasn’t aiming this card at overclockers or users who demand the best of the best. The V2’s aim is to simply replace the reference HD 5870 within ASUS’ lineup with something that will entice buyers who want something a bit more unique. If anything, its sexy figure provides a healthy dose of eye-candy in an otherwise drab environment.

The greatest accomplishment in our books is the ability of ASUS’ new HD 5870 to beat a reference card senseless in the temperatures department while still exhausting most of the hot air outside of a user’s case. There have been far too many times where a company will install an amazing heatsink only to have it increase the ambient temperatures within an enclosure. ASUS did avoid the venting issue but the ugly old lady called noise kept on rearing her head again and again with the 80mm fan spinning up far too high for our liking.

There is just enough here to single out ASUS from their competition but from what we have seen, stock of these cards is extremely hard to come by at some retailers. Whether this is due to popularity or some other factor is anyone’s guess but we were still hoping to see much better availability at this point in the HD 5870’s life. That being said, if you know where to look (ZipZoomFly south of the border for example) then finding this product becomes a lot easier.

For the most part, ASUS replaced the bone-stock HD 5870 with a version that packs nothing more but a flashy design, some "Xtreme" design features and a revised yet louder heatsink. Yes, people are more than willing to pay for increased cooling performance and a $20 premium isn’t much to ask but the increased noise isn’t something which isn’t easily swallowed. Nonetheless, we applaud ASUS for thinking outside the box. They have released a visually stunning card that should satisfy most people’s needs while adding some features that will (supposedly) increase its longevity. If you are looking for a HD 5870, this one warrants your attention.


Pros:

- Great looking design
- Revised heatsink provides good temperatures
- Voltage Tweak Software works if you want to push overclocks
- ASUS Xtreme Design means this card is a cut above a reference product


Cons:

- Louder than the stock heatsink when playing games
- Slightly higher power consumption than a reference card
- Location of power connectors means card will actuall end up being longer than a stock HD 5870



 
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