PROS / High single-core clock speed.
CONS / It could use more memory bus width.
VERDICT / Great card for what you pay for, with no real debilitating hardware attributes.
Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from viewing as part of this site because it has been replaced by a new generation of graphics card. You can still read our original review below, but TopTenREVIEWS is no longer updating this product’s information.
The ATI Radeon HD 5870 ruled the roost for quite some time and has only as of late fallen down the charts. It was the elite of the first graphics card series to support DirectX 11. Although it gave way to its big brother, it still is an excellent graphics card. The highest card in the GTX 400 series offers about a 15% performance increase over this card but is about a hundred dollars more. For those reasons the HD 5870 is still a very popular card. Its main competition seems to be the lower end GTX 400 series card and the fight is over which one gives you "the most bang for your buck". They're both close and it's a tough call. Based on specifications and performance ratings alone though, the 5870 wins the overall battle. Go to our graphic cards review site to check out and compare these two cards and others.
As mentioned, it is a single-core processor that has only recently been out-done. Even with that, it's only in certain areas, and overall performance in games. The 5870 technically has the faster core speed, more stream processors and puts out double the GFLOPs, all with less wattage and heat. Why? Perhaps architecture is to thank for that, since it has a lot to do with the GTX 400 series offloading the CPU more than other graphics cards. Undeniably though, it has the more impressive set of GPU specs. In fact, the Radeon HD 5870 GPU is second to only its older brother, the 5970.
A few things stand out when you compare this card to some of the higher end ones on the market. One of the most eye catching, is the lack of memory clock speed. While it does have more than our number one product, it is still far below the average of most Nvidia cards. The size, bus width and bandwidth could all be improved, but for the most part they have no problem keeping up with the high demand games just now coming out.
The Radeon HD 5870, along with its little brother, has the best set of connections to accommodate the majority of monitors. It has 2 dual-channel DVI ports, which is the most common and versatile connection right now. Dual-channel DVI can be used for the regular single channel DVI link, but also allows for the same high resolution that HDMI and DisplayPort gives us. Speaking of which, this display interface includes one HDMI and one DisplayPort connection, just in case your monitor doesn't do DVI. Most other graphics cards seem to have one or the other or a "mini" variation. This one makes it nice to hook up whatever you want, with less need for adapters—a major plus in our book.
After DirectX 11 came out as part of Windows 7, the first DirectX 11 flagship graphics card was the ATI Radeon HD 5870. It's true that the next step up was soon to follow, but it costs about twice as much, and still does today. With that kind of a gap, you have average-to-serious AMD gamers getting the 5870 and only the most extreme dishing out for the higher end card.
It didn't take too long for a few games to come out that had the option of DirectX 11 settings, which enhanced graphics by quite a lot. It also was quickly integrated into benchmarking programs, since it was the new standard. With nothing from Nvidia, that left cards like this one to dominate. Luckily for Nvidia, AMD released these DirectX 11 cards with a limited supply, which limited the number of people who made the upgrade. It's a little late, but now there are plenty of choices for those looking for an elite graphics rendering experience with a lower cost.
Like other AMD cards, this graphics card comes with Eyefinity which allows for multiple displays. This is a great technology because of the multitasking abilities it provides. Across three screens, you can have all the essentials visible at the same time without having to switch between them. For instance, on one screen you can have your music streaming and be able to switch, download and adjust to accommodate whatever you're in the mood for. On your second screen you can have your favorite game up to play and still maintain your song surfing. On the third screen you can be checking up on and chatting with your friends through your local online community like Facebook. Keep each other up-to-date on your game progress as you race to be the first one to beat the game.
The ATI Radeon HD 5870 uses a 6 pin /6 pin connector which is not the most common but will not be hard to find a connection for. It can support up to 4 GPUs which is a little overkill but has always been AMD's standard for the hardcore gamers out there. It is about the same size as most cards on the market today and will generally take up two slots on your motherboard.
It may not be the most powerful graphics card on the market, but you get plenty of performance out of the ATI Radeon HD 5870. If it runs smoothly at max settings, do you really need to go to the next level for bragging rights? Some may say yes but others with a budget won't care, especially when more expensive cards don't offer any significant advantages in gaming. That isn't the case for developers and graphics rendering apps but for gaming it is. This is especially true when it comes to online gaming since the bottleneck with advanced gaming systems isn't the machine itself, but the internet bandwidth. The world's biggest super computer can't load up a web page any faster with the same GB/s internet connection.