What are the highs and lows of the ASUS Matrix 5870 graphics card we have tested today? This version of Radeon HD 5870 is not actually the fastest we have seen. The Gigabyte Radeon HD 5870 SO we discussed in an earlier review was pre-overclocked more than the ASUS card, for example. It is also neither the quietest, nor the most economical nor the coldest version of Radeon HD 5870 as we know of better models in each of these parameters. What makes the ASUS Matrix 5870 unique is that it offers broad opportunities for overclocking and controlling its own parameters. Using them, we easily overclocked our card’s GPU to 1 GHz without any additional software or hardware tools: everything, including the iTracker 2 software, was already included into the Matrix 5870 box.
And now let’s see what practical benefits such overclocking can bring about. We will be discussing the card’s performance at the overclocked GPU frequency and increased GPU voltage since this is the first time in our practice that a Radeon HD 5870 passes the full cycle of tests at a GPU frequency of 1 GHz.
Compared to the reference Radeon HD 5870, our overclocked Matrix 5870 is 7 to 40% faster depending on the particular game. The average performance increase is a substantial 18%. However, it is not in all tests that the overclocked Matrix 5870 could match the GeForce GTX 480. Nvidia’s Fermi architecture does not yet feel a lack of texture-mapping resources at that resolution, but can benefit from its higher performance when processing geometrical data. The resulting score is 7 to 12, Nvidia wins. The Radeon HD 5970 is ahead of the overclocked Matrix 5870 everywhere save for two tests, Just Cause 2 and Final Fantasy XIV Official Benchmark (the Radeon HD 5970 fails in the latter benchmark due to the lack of software optimizations for CrossFire mode).
At a resolution of 1920x1080 the average performance growth over the reference Radeon HD 5870 is 21%, yet the GeForce GTX 480 still wins with a score of 10 to 9. We guess this score indicates that the potential of the RV870 core is not yet exhausted.
When it comes to 2560x1600, the overclocked Matrix 5870 is only an average 13% ahead of its reference counterpart because there are other limiting factors here, besides GPU frequency. We mean the card’s TMU and RBE subsystems, for example. The ASUS card still wins the same number of tests in its competition with the GeForce GTX 480. We want to note that our overclocking of the Matrix 5870 to a GPU frequency of 1 GHz helped make the gameplay more comfortable in such games as Mass Effect 2 and StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty.
Now what about the double amount of graphics memory? We must confess that the ASUS Matrix 5870 does not benefit much from having 2 gigabytes of onboard memory. The single exception is Crysis Warhead but the card’s performance was too low anyway for the difference to have any practical value. It seems that you really need more than 1 gigabytes of onboard memory to achieve a faster frame rate in games based on the Crysis Warhead engine, but you also need a much faster GPU.
Asus Matrix 5870 Summary
Summing everything up, the ASUS Matrix 5870 looks like the best choice for an overclocker or enthusiast as it offers such control over the graphics card’s parameters as no other manufacturer can offer. The LED highlighting will look nice in a system case with a side window. But if you are an ordinary gamer and want a Radeon HD 5870, we wouldn’t recommend this version to you. It is rather noisy and its power consumption is comparable to the faster Radeon HD 5970 while its price is going to be higher than that of most other Radeon HD 5870 variants. If you want a graphics card for gaming and nothing more, you may prefer the Gigabyte GV-R587SO-1GD or even any Radeon HD 5870 with reference cooler.
- High performance in contemporary games;
- Can compete with GeForce GTX 480;
- Higher GPU clock frequency;
- Wide range of supported FSAA modes;
- Best Edge-detect CFAA in the industry;
- Best anisotropic filtering in the industry;
- Supports up to three monitors;
- Fully-fledged hardware HD video decoding;
- High-quality HD video post-processing with scalability;
- Integrated sound core with HD support;
- Sound over HDMI;
- Unique design;
- GPU and memory voltage adjustment via software;
- Manual adjustment of the memory timings;
- BIOS can be reflashed with user settings profile;
- Protection against incorrect BIOS reflashing;
- Good overclocking potential;
- Visual monitoring of the GPU utilization;
- Rich accessories bundle;
- High manufacture quality.
- High power consumption;
- High noise level;
- Issues with the cooling system design;
- No PhysX and CUDA support;
- Low performance with tessellation;
- High price.