GIGABYTE HD 5870 Super Overclock Edition Review

Say hello to GIGABYTE’s new HD 5870 Super Overclock Edition video card that packs a stock 950MHz core frequency and a stock 5GHz memory frequency to give you the best performance in your games. This is Gigabyte's first foray into a heavily overclocked HD 5870. So how does it stand up to the GTX 480 at the same price?


We’ve been testing some very exciting Radeon HD 5870 GPU based video cards lately. We’ve seen customization in the past, but lately it seems that add-in-board partners are really taking things to the next level with current generation AMD GPU based video cards, specifically in the high-end performance markets.

We recently evaluated an ASUS ROG Matrix Platinum Edition video card that provided us with an amazing tweakability factor and 2GB of memory on board. However, the one area we were disappointed about with the video card was the out-of-box clock speeds it was shipped at.

The ASUS ROG MATRIX Platinum Edition came with the core set at a paltry 44MHz faster than standard Radeon HD 5870 clock speeds, and no difference with the memory clock speeds. This meant that its out-of-box experience, with no tweaking, was exactly the same as a standard Radeon HD 5870. Sure, it eventually was capable of providing us the best Radeon HD 5870 performance we have ever seen once we overclocked it, but out-of-the-box, without any changes, it did not impress us.

GIGABYTE however is taking a difference stance with their new custom designed GV-R587SO-1GD HD 5870 Super Overclock Edition video card. GIGABYTE is providing an avenue for overclocking and overvolting if you wish to modify things yourself, but they have also put a lot of attention and focus on the out-of-box experience. Meaning, you can take this video card right out of the box and with no tweaking at all experience some of the best Radeon HD 5870 performance there is. GIGABYTE has done this by re-designing the video card, applying tight quality controls to components, and designing a video card that can achieve high clock speeds both on GPU frequency and memory so that it can guarantee those speeds out of the box.

All of this won't exactly come cheap though, with MSRP set at $499. That price puts it on par with the GeForce GTX 480 pricing.

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GIGABYTE HD 5870 SOC Edition

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The second slide above gives you a run-down of what this video card is all about. (Ignore the watermark, this is not confidential information anymore.) There is a custom cooling fan that we will talk about below, and the GPU runs at 950MHz versus the standard 850MHz. The memory frequency has thankfully been increased as well, up to 5GHz versus 4.8GHz standard. There is 1GB of RAM on board. These high clock speeds should ensure that it is much faster than a standard Radeon HD 5870 and should be great competition for the GeForce GTX 480.

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The seven slides above give you information about what makes this video card unique, that being the components GIGABYTE has selected plus the quality controls put in place to ensure "cherry picked" components.

There is something quite unique on this video card, and that is the use of NEC Proadlizer Quintuple chips which we will show you on the back side of the video card. These are said to improve ESL/ESR noise and provide a cleaner power signal to the GPU and the memory.

GIGABYTE generously uses five units of NEC Proadlizerآ®, also known as film capacitor, to provide amazing current capacity up to 5000uF and extremely low ESL/ESR for super overclocking ability. Five times the regular capacitance indicates the amount of electric energy stored is fivefold. By placing five proadlizers around GPU, electric currents are able to be charged and discharged rapidly to support super overclocking activity. The quintupled proadlizers transmit more stable power even during heavy loading.

GIGABYTE’s famous 2oz Copper PCB is in play here, as we are used to seeing on their motherboard line. GIGABYTE uses the best cherry picked Samsung and Hynix memory chips, remember the memory is also overclocked so this is important. Solid capacitors are used as well as Ferrite core chokes and Low RDS MOSFETs. All of these high-end components also mean that typical buzz sounds heard from lower-end components on some video cards should not be a problem here, there should be no buzzing parts here as all the components are of the highest quality.

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All of these components are under GIGABYTE’s "Ultra Durable VGA Promise" and its GPU Gauntlet Sorting process. GIGABYTE has pre-defined standards for hardware that the components must meet in their labs, if those fail they are not used on the Super Overclock series. What this means to you is that when you receive your Super Overclock series video card you can rest assured that it will run at the indicated frequencies out of the box, which are typically higher than other video cards. It also means there should be some room for overclocking if you wish to push it further. We actually see a problem already looking at this video card that gives us some concern for overclocking ability, but we’ll talk about that below and in the conclusion.

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GIGABYTE has employed what they call an "Anti-Turbulence Inclined dual Fan." What this means is that there are first of all two very large fans over the heatsink, second they are tilted inward to increase cooling ability and to reduce vibration. It is of course a heatpiped system, and we found that it does work very well as you’ll see in our temperature testing.

GIGABYTE HD 5870 SOC Edition Pictures

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The GIGABYTE HD 5870 SOC Edition is the same length as a Radeon HD 5870 at 10.5 inches. It feels lighter though, thanks to the reduction in the overall packaging. There is simply an aluminum heatsink with copper heatpipes extending from the GPU plate and two very large fans. As you can see it does not exhaust out the back, but rather is very open and thus exhausts into your case. CrossFireX and EyeFinity are fully supported.

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The GIGABYTE HD 5870 SOC Edition uses two 6-pin auxiliary power connectors, unlike the ASUS ROG Matrix which used two 8-pin adapters. This fact gives us a concern about the overall video cards ability to overclock stably at high frequencies past 1GHz. We will test overclocking of course, but as it stands, GIGABYTE is confident with two 6-pin connectors being all that is required to run it at its out-of-box frequencies of 950MHz GPU and 5GHz memory.

The memory modules on the video card are on the GPU side of the card and do not come into contact with the heatsink. They are completely open to the air. You will find the standard Dual-DVI connections, DisplayPort and HDMI.

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These are the NEC/Tokin Proadlizer Quintuple chips described earlier. They look like memory modules but are not.