It is no secret that all ATI Radeon HD 58xx series cards available today are nothing but clones of the two reference designs: Radeon HD 5870 and HD 5850. After a while, there will of course be versions with modified PCBs, faster memory chips (on the HD 5850) or alternative cooling systems but at the current moment AMD does not allow any liberty on the partners’ side and produces identical products. Therefore we called this review "Attach of the Clones" as it covers CrossFireX tandems built out of Radeon HD 5870 and Radeon HD 5850 cards discussed in detail in our previous article.
Although the technology for uniting multiple Radeon cards into one graphics subsystem has been around for quite a while already, under the names of CrossFire and, later, CrossFireX, such configurations are still considered a luxury. You can find one in a system of a wealthy gamer or hardware enthusiast. Besides the need to pay for two rather than one graphics card, the popularity of CrossFireX is restrained by its persistent problems. CrossFireX does not work on some game engines and the AFR rendering mode does not always ensure comfortable gameplay.
Anyway, this won’t prevent me from checking out the performance benefits you can get by joining two Radeon HD 58xx series cards into a single graphics subsystem. I will also compare them with dual-processor graphics cards and tandems and will perform some power consumption measurements as well. First, I will give you a brief description of two graphics cards from HIS.