Review: Silent and fast
Our today’s treat is Club3D’s Radeon HD 5870 Overclocked Edition. You might remember our review of our recent Club3D HD 5850 OC Edition graphics card review, and the card impressed us with silent operation. Good news is that it uses the same cooling solution we’ve seen on the HD 5850 OC card. As the name suggests, the card is overclocked and Club3D pushed the card from reference 850MHz to 875MHz for the GPU and the memory from 4800MHz to 4900MHz. Naturally, overclocking will help the card score better compared to reference but we were a bit disappointed with the factory overclock of only 25MHz, as the card is easily capable of running at even higher clocks.
Note that the reference HD 5870’s cooler is pretty good, unless of course you’re planning on overclocking the card; in that case the cooling can get pretty loud while trying to cool the GPU. That’s why Club3D chose to use non-reference cooling with heatpipe technology (4 heatpipes and aluminum heatsink). If that isn’t enough for you, know that Club3D used a different PCB that’s shorter than the reference. We found out that the PCB is actually the same one like on the Club3D HD 5850 OC Edition.
The HD 5870’s ticker is the powerful Cypress XT graphics processor with 1600 stream processor. The GPU packs 2.15 billion transistors on 334mm2 and is built in 40nm. It packs 32 ROPs and 80 texture units and its 1024MB of GDDR5 runs on a 256-bit memory interface.
Before we show you the card, it’s important to note that the chosen Club3D graphics cards, among which you’ll find out today’s test sample, come with a coupon for a free Dirt2 game, which can be installed via Steam.
The box is small but sturdy and clearly emphasizes the “Overclocked Edition” sign. In fact, it looks just like the Club3D HD 5850 OC Edition’s box, and both games come with free Dirt2 coupon.
The box contains pretty much everything you need – CrossFire bridge, DVI-to-VGA connector, driver CD, a short installation manual, the Dirt2 coupon and of course, the card.
Club3D Radeon HD 5870 Overclocked Edition comes with dual-slot cooling, which is the case with the reference HD 5870 as well but the cooling solution is different.
The first time we unwrapped the card we noticed that the card is unusually short for an HD 5870. The picture below shows just how much shorter Club3D HD 5870 OC Edition is compared to the reference HD 5870.
Note that reference Radeon HD 5850 is 24.1cm long (9.5 inches); Radeon HD 5870 is about 28cm long (11 inches) whereas Club3D’s HD 5870 OC Edition (as well as Club3D’s HD 5850 OC Edition) is 25.7cm long (10.1 inches).
Four large heatpipes could not be hidden behind the hood so they’re in plain sight. The card is about 13.5cm tall (with heatpipes). It turns out that Club3D HD 5870 OC Edition’s cooling is not the same one used on Club3D’s HD 5850 OC Edition (picture below).
In order to efficiently transfer heat from the GPU to the HD 5870 OC Edition’s heatsink, the cooling uses two thicker, 8mm heatpipes combined with two thinner, 6mm heatpipes. Note that HD 5850 OC Edition’s cooler uses four 6mm heatpipes.
Unlike reference cooling, where the fan is located towards the end of the card and blows through the car, Club3D opted on a central fan on its HD 5870 OC. As a result, some of the heat might be released inside the case so you might want to make sure your in-case airflow is adequate.
The efficiency of Club3D HD 5870 OC Edition’s cooling solution isn’t open to discussion as we measured more than 10°C lower temperatures compared to the reference card. Still, that only tells half the story as the cooling does all that while remaining silent in 3D.
The fan is a part of the plastic hood which covers the card. The same hood also improves the looks and directs the air from the fan towards the heatsink.
The heatsink has a cooper base with four heatpipes. As you can see from the following picture, only the GPU is in direct contact with the base and the heatsink.
Samsung’s K4G10325FE-HC04 (0.40ns 5.0Gbps) memory is cooled by the air passing through the heatsink.
Just like the reference HD 5870, Club3D HD 5870 OC Edition card is powered via two 6-pin PCI-E power connectors. Unlike the reference card, whose connectors are placed on top of the card, Club3D decided to place the connectors at the end of the card. Although the card is shorter than the reference one, we’d rather have the connectors placed like on the reference card because this might pose a problem in smaller cases.
Thanks to AMD’s PowerPlay technology, the HD 5870 (just like the HD 5850) consumes only 27W in idle mode and up to 188W in 3D. In comparison, HD 5850 draws up to 151W in 3D mode; the reasons of course hide behind lower operating clocks and 160 stream processors less than on the HD 5870.
Club3D HD 5870 Overclocked Edition card features the same set of outs as the reference card – two dual-link DVIs, HDMI and DisplayPort. Thanks to the advanced display output logic, the card has six TMDS signals at its disposal. The aforementioned signals can be combined in various ways where one dual-link DVI requires two TMDS lines.
HD 5870 allows for using three outs simultaneously, as long as one of the three used outs is DisplayPort. Otherwise you’re limited to two monitors by using two DVIs or DVI-HDMI combination. ATI Eyefinity allows for combining output signals in order to get a high-resolution picture spanning over three displays. You can choose whether you want bezel correction, which basically means removing the picture hidden by the monitor’s frame. If you use more monitors placed next to each other, the part of the picture behind the frame will not shift to the next monitor but rather be omitted. This will be handy only in certain games or special apps, but you can forget about it during office work.
All the memory is placed on the front of the card and unlike the reference HD 5870, there’s no metal backplate on the card.
Motherboard: EVGA 3xSLI
CPU: Core i7 965 XE (3.6 GHz / 1.270 Volts, Intel EIST and Vdrop enabled)
Memory: 6GB Corsair Dominator 12800 7-7-7-24
Power Supply: CoolerMaster Ultimate 1100W
Case: Corsair Obsidian 800D
Fan Controler: Kaze Master Pro 5.25"
Operating System: Win7 64-bit
In Vantage benchmarks, Gainward GTX 480 wins hands down. The advantage melts from 10.5% in Performance to 6.2% in High and ends up at about 3% in Vantage Extreme, but it still manages to beat the HD 5870 in every single test, albeit with a rather tight margin. Club3D HD 5870 OC Edition couldn’t beat the GTX 480, but it does get dangerously close at Extreme settings. The same test reports about 2% better results than reference HD 5870, which turns into a trend throughout our test but the HD 5870 gets very close at Extreme settings. This will, as you’ll see for yourself, carry on in throughout our gaming tests.
Club3D HD 5870 OC Edition card scores only slightly better than the reference HD 5870, which can be attributed to the card’s 875MHz clock (reference clock is 850MHz). Nvidia’s new high-end card is especially fast in FarCry 2 and the reference Radeon HD 5870 lags behind by as much as 50% when 8xAA is turned on. The advantage ducks to 36% with 4xAA and to about 16% with no AA at 2560x1600 and at 1920x1200 the advantage stands at 26%.
In this case, Gainward GTX 480 is on par with the reference Radeon HD 5870, whereas Club3D is about 2% faster.
Batman Arkham Asylum
Batman Arkham Asylum is one of the games that features PhysX effects, but if you’re playing it on one of the Radeon cards, you’ll have to turn them off. Naturally, Batman is Nvidia’s preferred game so it’s no wonder that gaming with AA is better done with the GTX 480.
An antialiasing performance comparison at 1920x1200 shows that turning AA off results in 23% better performance with the GTX 480. The same test seems to not favor the HD 5870 as turning AA off boost performance by as much as 71%.
Switching to 2560x1600 leaves more trace on the HD 5870, as the AA performance comparison sees the HD 5870 performance improve by 82% when AA is turned off. The same test sees the GTX 480 perform only 25% slower when AA is turned on.
There’s not much to complain about Radeon HD 5870’s performance in Batman, as both 5870 cards score about 60fps at 2560x1600 with AA. The same cards perform the same as the GTX 480 with no AA. Unfortunately, PhysX is still reserved for Geforce cards only.
In HAWX, which is on the list of AMD games, the difference between the HD 5870 and GTX 480 when AA is turned on is nowhere near what Batman reported, especially considering the results on the highest tested resolution.
At 1920x1200 and no antialiasing, Gainward GTX 480 beats the reference HD 5870 by about 16%; with AA turned on the difference is 20%. At 2560x1600, Gainward GTX 480’s advantage over the reference HD 5870 melts to 4% (without AA) and 12% (with AA).
The difference between the two high-end cards is lower at 2560x1600 than at 1980x1200, but it’s evident that the GTX 480 takes the cake when AA is turned on. The GTX 480’s performance difference between AA and no AA scenarios amounts to 17%, whereas the HD 5870 difference is at 25% (at 1920x1200, the difference is 14% and 18%, respectively).
Club3D’s HD 5870 OC Edition outperforms the reference HD 5870 card by up to 2.7%.
Dirt 2 is one of the games which use DirectX 11 capabilities to some extent. At 1920x1200, the GTX 480 beats Radeon HD 5870 by about 20%, whereas 2560x1600 sees the difference melt to 7%, both with and without AA. Club3D HD 5870 Overclocked Edition again outperforms the reference card by about 2%. Although this advantage isn’t enough to secure you bragging rights, note that Club3D card was much quieter than the rest of the pack. In fact – compared to the other two cards on our test it ran virtually silent.
Metro 2033 is post-apocalyptic game developed by 4A Game and implements a number of advanced DX11 features with the latest generation of DX11 graphics cards. The GTX 480 takes the cake but the difference between the cards is not that large. At 1680x1050 and 1920x1200, the GTX 480 wins by about 18%. The Club3D HD 5870 OC Edition scores only slightly higher than the reference card.
We performed our overclocking directly from ATI’s Overdrive tool; we didn’t meddle with voltages. ATI Overdrive allows for overclocking the GPU up to 1GHz, which is a pretty tough feat to perform on most HD 5870s without meddling with GPU voltages. Our Club3D HD 5870 OC Edition card performed pretty well with 940MHz for the GPU, and our hat is off to Club3D as the card took all this in stride and still remained silent.
Club3D used a non-reference fan which performs its job admirably. We initially performed our overclocking with the fan set at maximum RPM, but the fan got pretty loud. After we reached stable 940MHz for the GPU we lowered the RPM and have seen that the card will run stable with the fan at 60% RPM. This resulted in 82°C GPU temperatures and almost inaudible cooling.
The following table shows a few different setups and temperatures we measured after stressing the GPU with FurMark build 1.8 test.
|FAN RPM 100% (OC)||GPU Temp 72°
|FAN RPM 90% (OC)||GPU Temp 74°|
|FAN RPM 80% (OC)||GPU Temp 76°|
|FAN RPM 70% (OC)||GPU Temp 78°|
|FAN RPM 60% (OC)||GPU Temp 72°|
|FAN RPM 100% (OC)||GPU Temp 82°|
|FAN RPM 50% (OC)||Failure|
|FAN AUTO RPM (OC)||GPU Temp 77°|
|FAN AUTO RPM (NO OC) - Load
||GPU Temp 74°|
|FAN AUTO RPM (NO OC) - Idle
||GPU Temp 35°|
As you can see for yourself, the cooler does its job with no trouble whatsoever. Maximum GPU temperatures without overclocking amounted to 74°C, which is 12°C less than on the reference HD 5870. Idle mode shows temperatures identical to the reference cooling and both coolers ran very quiet in this case.
Overclocking brought only 5% better results in FarCry2 with consumption increasing by the same amount.
Club3D HD 5870 Overclocked Edition is one of the quietest HD 5870 on the market, and it will surely go a long way towards making it one of the top choices among HD 5870 cards.
The card is overclocked from reference 850MHz to 875MHz, which is not much and is not enough to justify Club3D HD 5870 OC Edition’s price of €390. This is some €50 higher than the most affordable HD 5870. With efficient and quiet cooling, which will remain quiet and efficient even after overclocking the card further, and with free Dirt 2 game, additional funds needed to purchase Club3D HD 5870 Overclocked Edition are justified.
On the other side of the graphics fence, Nvidia’s GTX 470 is priced similarly to the reference HD 5870, but Club3D HD 5870 OC Edition offers better gaming performance and, of course, silent operation.
We recommend Club3D’s HD 5870 OC Edition to anyone looking for a powerful yet quiet high-end graphics card. If, on the other hand, silence is not something you care about, you might want to check out Club3D’s HD 5870 reference card which is priced lower.
You can find the card here.