ASUS ROG Matrix 5870 Platinum Video Card Review

ASUS is launching its new Radeon HD 5870 GPU based video card, the ASUS ROG Matrix 5870 Platinum Edition. ASUS has completely re-designed its 5870 to appeal to hardware enthusiasts and gamers alike, providing an incredible feature set with unprecedented control and customization.

Introduction

It is increasingly difficult for a video card Add-In-Board partner to separate itself from its competition. AMD and NVIDIA already provide robust reference heatsink and fan cooling units and sport an impressive array of features. Fewer and fewer AIB partners change things up by including a custom designed heatsink and fan unit that promise to improve temperatures and possible overclocking abilities. However, more and more AIBs include custom tweaking applications for overclock and overvolting your video card to allow you to reach the video card's maximum performance potential.

Rarely do we see an AIB go all out and re-design the video card adding into it new features and hardware to not only make it unique but actually provide useful features to hardware enthusiasts wanting to squeeze every little bit of performance from their video card. ASUS has done exactly that with its new ROG Matrix branded video card! It is launching the ASUS ROG Matrix 5870 Platinum Edition which carries a price tag of $489-$499 and is not yet available in retail, but offers a lot of unique features.

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ASUS ROG Matrix 5870 Platinum Edition

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The official ASUS product literature is posted above and gives you a run-down of what the ASUS ROG Matrix 5870 Platinum Edition brings to the table.

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There is a custom "SuperHybridEngine" chipset installed on the PCB that does several things. ASUS is able to use this chip for real-time hardware detection and adjustment, plus full information monitoring. The SuperHybridEngine uses a 8+2+2 phase power with automatic switching that ASUS claims reduces GPU power noise by 54%.

There is a Super ML Cap on the PCB as well that comes with high capacitance low ESR and low physical height which in turn allows better overclocking stability and a larger overclocking margin. There are even connections on the back of the PCB to check Voltages with a meter easily!

Uniquely, the top of the video card sports the ASUS Matrix branding which is backlit and changes color to show you real-time GPU loading.

iTracker 2 is the software tuning application that allows all these features to be accessed, and we will talk about that later in this evaluation. The heatsink and fan have also been changed to allow better airflow and therefore better cooling.

Most notably, the ASUS ROG Matrix 5870 Platinum Edition comes with 2GB of GDDR5 on board, versus the 1GB found on standard Radeon HD 5870 video cards. We will find out if this higher memory capacity really makes a difference or not.

Out of the box the ASUS ROG Matrix 5870 Platinum Edition comes with the GPU clocked 44MHz higher than a standard Radeon HD 5870, so we don’t expect it to be much faster than a standard 5870 out of the box. While iTracker 2 does allow you to boost that to 900MHz with a predefined "Gamer" profile, even that is not much of an overclock and won’t really show much real world gaming improvement. The memory is not overclocked, so that is a bit disappointing. We will have to see if overclocking will make this card shine.

Other than that, the specifications are exactly the same as a Radeon HD 5870. So, without using any of the other special features the two main differences compared to a standard Radeon HD 5870 is 2GB of RAM and a 44MHz higher GPU clock frequency.

ASUS ROG Matrix 5870 Platinum Edition Pictures

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The box stands tall and displays the Republic of Gamers logo and the slogan "I Rule My Game."

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The video card is the exact same length as a standard Radeon HD 5870. The cover is a bit taller however since the "ASUS Matrix" LED load "meter" extends out a bit further than what we are used to with normal sized high end PCIe video cards.

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Note that there is only ONE DVI connection on the ASUS ROG Matrix 5870 Platinum Edition as opposed to two connections on a standard Radeon HD 5870. This was done to make way for a full length vent on the back to allow more air to be exhausted. There is still the standard DisplayPort and HDMI port. Of course you can support two DVI displays with this configuration with an HDMI to DVI adapter which we assume will be included with the full retail packaging. This packaging was not available at the time of publishing this review, but we are checking on this.

You will also find a "Safe Mode" button located on the back. This is in case you overclock the video card too high or burn a frequency into the BIOS that is unstable and you cannot boot the video card. By pressing this button it will set the video card into a safe mode back to default frequencies so you can boot it up and change it. This is a very welcomed feature for hardware enthusiasts, think of it like the "Clear CMOS" on a motherboard.

Uniquely, since this video card is dedicated to stability and overclocking potential, it utilizes two 8-pin auxiliary power connectors. The shroud completely encloses the video card and it looks quite stylish and very stable with the solid aluminum back brace.

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Here you can see the colored Matrix LED in action. When it is greener in color there is a light load, as it turns darker from blue to purple to more reddish that shows the load is increasing. The light doesn’t just change to these colors, there is a gradual blend and ramp of the colors, and they all smoothly blend from green to red and back again. This action is real-time and happens on the fly while you are gaming so it is quite fun to watch the video card as you are gaming to see the load on the video card.