You know, whenever new hardware arrives that I'm really excited about I always try to find some sort of catchphrase or one-liner to capture the moment and position the product; and just when writing this conclusion, The Doors pops into my mind -- Riders on the Storm. One line in that songs says it all, "There's a killer on the road... His brain is squirmin' like a toad".
While that euphemism might be a little nasty, the reality is that the Radeon HD 5870 is dark, majestic and most definitely a killer. Brute force is what you'll receive with this product. We had a blast for sure testing this product. So as always we need to break things down. I'll try and keep this conclusion short, as really, there's nothing negative to report.
Performance -- Well it's grand really. Some titles like Fallout 3 I expected to see a little better scaling but the generic consensus is that the Radeon HD 5870 is MUCH faster than the current leading flagship, the GeForce GTX 285. In fact on occasion it's even faster here and there than a GeForce GTX 295. See this is not a measly small upgrade, no Sir. ATI doubled up everything on the Radeon HD 5870 making sure you will get a grand gaming experience. And oh my gawd, I just realized what a beast the 5870 X2 will be.
Anyway, the results speak for themselves, and the good news is... we used an early beta driver for testing. Why is that good news you ask? Well, overall performance will only get better with future driver updates. If history has taught us one lesson, that is it.
So we established that the Radeon HD 5870 performance is grand. What about its feature set then? Well, let's face it... that's brilliant as well. ATI is the first to launch a high performance product that is DirectX 11 ready. And while I so wish we already had some DX11 titles to test... it's good to know that if you buy this product, you'll be future proof, as when DX11 games kick in, you will be good and ready to go. Don't forget that DirectCompute will be integrated into Windows 7. Example: if you drop a video file in your iPOD it will be transcoded automatically over the GPU. Yes the GPU will merge much more into the operating system in the years to come. Something new and refreshing is happening here for sure.
Talking about transcoding, it surely didn't suck to see how fast the transcoding process was handled by the Radeon HD 5870, leading performance and nothing less.
Of course we have to mention Eyefinity - the capability to utilize more than two monitors is a very clever idea. And sure, 99% of you will never use that feature. But the 1% that does so, is the avid Guru3D visitor. You guys know we've reviewed the Matrox TripleHead2Go series where you need to drop 250 USD to get a fairly limited three screen display. The implementation of Eyefinity certainly is a blow to the face of Matrox and you guys get to have this feature nearly for free. I don't know about you guys, but I like features; a lot. As Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story would say, "To Eyefinity and beyond... ".
As you can see, I'm trying to keep my conclusion short and somewhat less complex for a change and while writing this line already realize that I will utterly fail at it.
Image quality - We haven't touched on this deeply in the actual review but we did do some comparisons behind the scenes here. Image quality in anti-aliasing is just top notch, yet more importantly, ATI has improved anisotropic filtering with the Radeon HD 5000 series. It's no longer angle dependant and is nearly perfect. So while ATI's image quality already was really excellent... they've upped it a small notch again as well.
What's the last point we need to discuss you might ask? Well, pricing of course (!)
Price/performance wise the product might be slightly higher priced at the 399 USD bracket, opposed to the 299 USD you needed to chuck on the table at the Radeon HD 4870 launch. But let's be honest here, 399 USD is a decent price for a very fair and honest product. Just look at what you are receiving, there are just so many features and so much value to be found in it. A DX11 class product with massive performance and multi-display desktop/gaming support. We feel that a high-end product of this class may cost 399 USD as it's really worth that kind of money.
Bottom line: we really like the Radeon HD 5870 for what it brings to the market. And that is leading Single-GPU performance, a massive feature set and a fair price. We ask you - what's not to like here?
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