AMD's ATI Radeon HD 5870 Video Card Review

AMD’s ATI Radeon HD 5800 series debuts today and the new ATI Radeon HD 5870 is now available. We will give you all the gritty details of the HD 5800 Series, and show you just how well the new flagship ATI Radeon HD 5870 accelerates games. Can you say, “I like twice as much performance in the same power envelope.”

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Crysis: Warhead

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We are using the full version of Crysis: Warhead. We will be playing Warhead with the latest patches installed in 64-bit. We are playing the entire "Train" level. Our run-through starts off with us getting on the train, manning the gun turrets, and blowing up everything along the way as the train progresses down the tracks. We stop at the tower, perform the mission there, and continue on until the end.


Highest Playable Settings

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Ah yes, Crysis, we certainly had to give you a spin. We didn’t get an as phenomenal experience out of Crysis as we would have hoped, but hey, this is Crysis! Nothing can seem to blow it out of the water. At any rate, the Radeon HD 5870 did provide the best gameplay experience out of any single-GPU video card we have seen, and thoroughly beat the GTX 285 and HD 4890.

In our forums, we have had an ongoing discussion for quite a while now about what it will take to run Crysis Warhead at 1920x1200 4XAA/16X AF at Enthusiast Settings at a constant 60 FPS. Well, the Radeon HD 5870 is not it, but it does deliver an almost playable gameplay experience at those same exact settings. When it comes down to it though, we ended up finding 2X AA as the playable AA setting at 1920x1200, but, at all "Enthusiast" settings. Up until now only dual-GPU video cards were able to pull this off, but now the single-GPU Radeon HD 5870 is able to do this.

By comparison, the GTX 285 and HD 4890 were playable at all "Gamer" settings with 2X AA at 1920x1200. There is quite a big difference between "Gamer" and "Enthusiast" settings in this game as you can see. The one setting which is really a burden on performance is the Shaders Quality option, which enables Parallax Mapping and many more light sources into the world. The Radeon HD 5870 was able to have all of these settings at the absolute highest setting, so we are experiencing the game as the developer intended in the best possible way.


Apples to Apples

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In our apples-to-apples testing we set all video cards to that magical 1920x1200 4XAA/16X AF "Enthusiast" setting to see what would happen.

The Radeon HD 5870 is clearly much faster, and for this game that delta in performance is quite large. You can see the HD 5870 is nowhere near 60 FPS at these settings. However, maybe dual or triple CrossFireX HD 5870 will be? We aim to find out in a follow-up evaluation.