Sapphire Radeon HD 5970 2GB OC Edition Review

by Michael "SKYMTL" Hoenig     |     November 17, 2009

Sapphire Radeon HD 5970 2GB OC Review

Product Number: 21156-01-50R
Price: $600USD / $675CAD
Warranty: 2-years

ATI is on a roll. There is no doubting it or denying the fact that the boys in red have managed to hammer a successive number of nails into NVIDIA’s DX11 aspirations by being first to market with not one but a whole series of brand new, segment-leading DX11 cards. The HD 5800-series was first on the scene and proved that these new cards could compete with the best of the best from the previous generation and then some. However, in many people’s opinions, there was one thing missing: ATI firmly marking their turf by laying claim to the fastest graphics card in the world. That’s where the HD 5970 2GB comes into the picture.

At its most basic, the new HD 5970 is a dual GPU card that makes use of an on-board PLX bridge chip to handle the communication between the two cores. Each GPU core is able to address a whopping 1GB of GDDR5 memory which will hopefully make the bandwidth issues of the HD5800-series of cards a thing of the past. From a pure performance standpoint, this card’s potential is simply out of this world.

We all remember the HD 4870 X2 and the older yet no less significant HD 3870 X2 dual GPU cards so some of you may be wondering where the “X2” moniker went. Well, ATI has decided to do away with old naming conventions for one reason or another and believe it or not, we welcome this change. It cements the HD 5900-series as the current high performance cards in ATI’s lineup while keeping a clear distinction between all of their product ranges.

In this review we will be looking something unique: a pre-overclocked ATI card being released right alongside the reference-clocked version. That’s right, at launch there will be two different HD 5970 cards being released by the likes of Sapphire, XFX and other ATI board partners: one with standard speeds and another with some increased performance potential. Along with this somewhat shocking revelation, there are several other things that make the HD 5970 a cut above but we will go into those a bit later in this review.

Our introduction wouldn’t be complete without some speculation about the HD 5970’s pricing and availability and on both fronts, it isn’t pretty. We should be looking at an initial “launch” price of about $600USD or $675CAD which will make it the most expensive card on the market by a long shot. However, this price is likely to skyrocket in the days following launch since we hear it will be be next to impossible to find. The retailers we have spoken to are all expecting less than 10 cards in total at launch which makes this a paper launch that we are sure will be passed off as a hard launch.

With NVIDIA’s Fermi cards firmly behind the iron curtain somewhere in Santa Clara, ATI has a clear path to complete market domination with their HD 5970. Let’s hope they make the most out of it.


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