So what do we have to say? It would seem that ATi are on the road to success with their new Radeon HD 5870 graphics cards. With two Radeon HD 4890 graphics cards performing similarly to a single HD 5870, the ideal pattern of GPU progression seems quite apparent. What's more is that with the exception of the heavily CPU bound Microsoft FSX game, ATi's CrossfireX technology seems to scale very well in all of the games tested. They are far from impractical too, thanks to low idle power consumption as well as respectable load power consumption, which has resulted in low noise levels. You will naturally require a quick processor to complement the pairing and if you're the oddball that plays Flight Simulator X, I think you'll find that elaborate CrossfireX setups will do you no favours.
While it's fair to say that the vast majority of games really do not command so much GPU power in most situations, we have at least established that two HD 5870's still scale admirably well. Such power however is acquired at a considerable price too. Around 600-620 of your finest pound sterling to be exact, so it stands to reason that you will certainly have to think quite hard before biting the bullet. Whether, one can justify the cost is another matter as it will naturally depend on the rest of your system configuration and as previously mentioned, whether one plans on following the multiple monitor route. Till then, you could even buy one HD 5870 and consider the purchase of another at a later stage as the prices of these products can only drop...that is when nVidia pulls a finger out and unleash their supposed monster.
Speaking of competition, I'd like to return to ATi's “sweetspot” strategy, which usually entails the release of three graphics card ranges within the first quarter of a new generation release. In the case of the “5” series, it commenced with the “Cypress” range of graphics cards, consisting of the £200 and £300 HD 5850/5870's. Next and most recently was the arrival of “Juniper”, dubbed the HD 5750 and 5770 range which sits at a more pallatable £115-135. What about #3? Well, you may have been looking at it...ish. The third graphics card of the RV8xx core iteration is infact a dual GPU, “X2” style graphics card and assuming it's core and memory clocks are similar, it should perform very much like our CrossfireX setup. The near future is indeed looking rather interesting and from what we have gathered, the future is also looking rather speedy. Is it worth waiting for HD 5870 CrossfireX performance in a single package? It's debatable as of course, it will depend on pricing and what implications it may have on how much a single gpu variant will cost in the near future but for now, it's hard to say that you would go terribly wrong by emptying your wallet on these.
All in all, the Gigabyte HD 5870 CrossfireX has achieved exactly what previous Multi GPU offerings have in the past. Unbeatable performance at a just as unbeatable pricetag, As the configuration worked without hassle, delivered within games and did not turn the test machine into a GE90-115B
powerplant, there isn't a lot that's going against opting for such a pairing. Really, so long as money permits, it appears to be a very good proposition. What the likes of upcoming DX11 hits have to say about it however remains to be seen.
- Unbeatable performance at the time of writing
- Quiet Operation
- Triple Monitor Support
- Reasonable Power Consumption
- Relatively Hassle Free Configuration
- Pricing due to a lack of competition
We would like to thank Gigabyte for supplying their Radeon HD 5870 1GB GDDR5 for review. You can discuss your thoughts about this system in our forums