ATI Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 Performance Review

While the ATI Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 Edition supports up to 6 displays, we are going to be performance testing in the more popular 3x1 configuration. We are going to get a the heart of the video card and see if the 2GB of memory on Eyefinity 6 is really beneficial in Eyefinity resolutions with single GPU as well as CrossFireX.

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Metro 2033

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Metro 2033 is a brand new game, just released, from developer 4A Games and published by THQ. This game runs on the in-house 4A Engine and supports DirectX 11 features. Notably, you will find Tessellation and Advanced Depth of Field supported under DX11. Also, you will find many advanced graphical features supported as well controlled by the global quality setting. For our evaluation, we have played through the entire game on all video cards and have settled on the Chapter 4 آ– War "Outpost" level to use as our run-through.


Highest Playable Settings

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Without a doubt, Metro 2033 is murder on these graphics cards at high Eyefinity resolutions. We found bottlenecks even on Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 CrossFireX and the Radeon HD 5970. There were two major quality options that caused severe performance decreases at these high resolutions, the "High" quality option and 4X MSAA. When we enabled "High" quality on Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 CrossFireX or Radeon HD 5970, even at a lower resolution of 5040x1050, we found performance to suffer greatly and the game was unplayable. We also found that even at "Normal" quality setting at 5040x1050 we could also not enable 4X MSAA on either configuration, the performance drop was too severe. It was in fact even more severe on the Radeon HD 5970 with single digits just in the menu system.

We therefore had to settle on "Normal" quality for being playable on Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 CrossFireX and ATI Radeon HD 5970. However, we found that "Normal" was playable at two totally different resolutions. It seems that Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 CrossFireX was much faster than Radeon HD 5970 and allowed us to run at the native Eyefinity resolution of 5760x1200! The Radeon HD 5970 was playable at "Normal" as well, but we had to drop down one level to 5040x1050 to receive acceptable gameplay performance. Even at this lower resolution, performance was still slightly below Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 CrossFireX performance levels.

On the single-GPU side of things, we also had to leave both video cards at the "Normal" quality option. There was no way that anything higher than "Normal" was going to be playable at Eyefinity resolutions. In this case, we also had to lower the resolution down to 5040x1050 on both video cards to receive a playable experience. The minimum framerates did drop below 30FPS at times, but we were still able to maintain control of the game and shoot exactly what targets we needed to.

You will notice that the average framerates are lower than the multi-GPU configurations; this is because with the multi-GPU video cards we felt that we needed to achieve higher framerates to make this game feel smooth enough to enjoy. Our level of framerate playability felt different with the multi-GPU configuration than it did with the single-GPU video cards. We also found this to be true in Bad Company 2 which you will see on the next page.


Apples-to-Apples

Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 CrossFireX vs. Radeon HD 5970

In this apples-to-apples test we are running E6 CrossFireX vs. HD 5970.

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We indeed do see a difference in Metro 2033 at 5760x1200 even in just "Normal" quality in this test. ATI Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 CrossFireX is leading in performance well over the ATI Radeon HD 5970. This test shows why it is quite clear that we had to drop settings on the Radeon HD 5970 in order to achieve playable framerates.

Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 2GB vs. Radeon HD 5870 1GB

In this apples-to-apples test we are running E6 2GB vs. HD 5870 1GB.

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In this single-GPU test we appear to not be seeing any difference in performance between Eyefinity 6 vs. HD 5870. The average framerate and minimum framerate are dead on.