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ATI RADEON HD 5970 Graphics Card

The most powerful gaming solution today.

December 17, 2009



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Today we shall examine the dual-GPU card of the new generation based on two RADEON HD 5870 (Cypress) GPUs, supporting DirectX 11 and other innovations. We have already described the Cypress GPU in detail. Today's solution differs by having core and memory clock rates reduced down to the ones of HD 5850 while the cores themselves are full-fledged.

Obviously, if HD 5870 could become the leader, outperforming even GeForce GTX 295 at times, HD 5970 is just bound to be the first. In other words, today we shall review the most powerful single-PCB graphics card, as of the late 2009.

Thanks to multi-processor technologies, we already have to categorize cards as single-GPU, multi-GPU single-PCB, and multi-GPU multi-PCB. The latter is just two or more cards working in the CrossFire (AMD) or SLI (NVIDIA) mode.

Returning to the cards under review, I can say that all of them copy the reference design. I mentioned repeatedly that newest, very expensive solutions are always made at the same factory by order of the GPU manufacturer (i.e. AMD or NVIDIA), while partners only purchase ready cards and just label them with their respective logos. Only when a certain period of time has passed, they begin customizing existing solutions. For this reason, today we have a few identical HD 5970 cards, the only difference being the partner logos, bundles, boxes, and prices.

Card design


Gigabyte RADEON HD 5970 2x1024MB
  • GPU: 2x RADEON HD 5870 (Hemlock)
  • Interface: PCI Express x16
  • GPU clock rate (ROPs/Shaders): 725/725 MHz
  • Memory clock rate, physical (effective): 1000 (4000) MHz
  • Memory bus: 2x256-bit
  • Vertex processors: -
  • Pixel processors: -
  • Unified processors: 2x1600
  • Texture processors: 2x80 (BLF/TLF)
  • ROPs: 2x32
  • Dimensions: 305x100x33 mm
  • PCB color: black
  • RAMDACs/TDMS: integrated into GPU
  • Outputs: 2 x DVI (Dual-Link/HDMI), Mini DisplayPort
  • VIVO: n/a
  • TV-out: n/a
  • Multi-GPU support: Hardware CrossFire, external CrossFire with another 5970
HIS RADEON HD 5970 2x1024MB
  • GPU: 2x RADEON HD 5870 (Hemlock)
  • Interface: PCI Express x16
  • GPU clock rate (ROPs/Shaders): 725/725 MHz
  • Memory clock rate, physical (effective): 1000 (4000) MHz
  • Memory bus: 2x256-bit
  • Vertex processors: -
  • Pixel processors: -
  • Unified processors: 2x1600
  • Texture processors: 2x80 (BLF/TLF)
  • ROPs: 2x32
  • Dimensions: 305x100x33 mm
  • PCB color: black
  • RAMDACs/TDMS: integrated into GPU
  • Outputs: 2 x DVI (Dual-Link/HDMI), Mini DisplayPort
  • VIVO: n/a
  • TV-out: n/a
  • Multi-GPU support: Hardware CrossFire, external CrossFire with another 5970
Sapphire RADEON HD 5970 Overclocked 2x1024MB
  • GPU: 2x RADEON HD 5870 (Hemlock)
  • Interface: PCI Express x16
  • GPU clock rate (ROPs/Shaders): 735/735 MHz (nominal 725/725 MHz)
  • Memory clock rate, physical (effective): 1100 (4400) MHz (nominal 1000 (4000) MHz)
  • Memory bus: 2x256-bit
  • Vertex processors: -
  • Pixel processors: -
  • Unified processors: 2x1600
  • Texture processors: 2x80 (BLF/TLF)
  • ROPs: 2x32
  • Dimensions: 305x100x33 mm
  • PCB color: black
  • RAMDACs/TDMS: integrated into GPU
  • Outputs: 2 x DVI (Dual-Link/HDMI), Mini DisplayPort
  • VIVO: n/a
  • TV-out: n/a
  • Multi-GPU support: Hardware CrossFire, external CrossFire with another 5970


Gigabyte RADEON HD 5970 2x1024MB
HIS RADEON HD 5970 2x1024MB
Sapphire RADEON HD 5970 Overclocked 2x1024MB

Each card has 2x1024MB GDDR5 SDRAM in 16 Samsung memory chips on both PCB sides, the peak clock rate being 1250 (5000) MHz.



Comparison with the reference design, front view
Reference card ATI RADEON HD 5970 2x1024MB Reference card ATI RADEON HD 4870 X2
HIS RADEON HD 5970 2x1024MB
Gigabyte RADEON HD 5970 2x1024MB
Sapphire RADEON HD 5970 Overclocked 2x1024MB


Comparison with the reference design, rear view
Reference card ATI RADEON HD 5970 2x1024MB Reference card ATI RADEON HD 4870 X2
HIS RADEON HD 5970 2x1024MB
Gigabyte RADEON HD 5970 2x1024MB
Sapphire RADEON HD 5970 Overclocked 2x1024MB

I believe the similarity is obvious. However, compared to 4870 X2, the PCBs are different due to the new power supply requirements and faster memory.

First of all, the PCB is 305mm long which is quite a number! We used to ooh and aah over HD 5870 last month which had grown to 285mm versus the usual 270mm, but this one is just huge. So before you purchase such a card, make sure your PC enclosure can hold it. Also note that the card occupies two slots, thanks to the cooler, so there must be no high motherboard parts behind the PCI-E x16 and the adjacent slot.

These graphics cards feature audio codecs, so nothing else it required to transmit audio to HDMI.

Note that these cards have two connectors for external power supply: a 6-pin and an 8-pin. Make sure you have the necessary adapter.

Also note that such cards have Mini DisplayPort connectors, so make sure you have the necessary adapters as well.

Another important feature is that the new cards can work with 3 monitors simultaneously.

Maximum resolutions and frequencies:

  • 240 Hz maximum refresh rate
  • 2048 x 1536 x 32bit @ 85Hz Max -- analog interface
  • 2560 x 1600 @ 60Hz Max -- digital interface (Dual-Link DVI/HDMI)

As for the HDTV support, a review is available here.


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Article navigation:

Page 1: Introduction, design

Page 2: Cooling, bundles, boxes

Page 3: Performance in games



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