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It looks like we’ve got a new star in the world of 3D gaming hardware. It is the Radeon HD 5970 graphics card. Its arrival has been highly anticipated and it actually goes the same path as its forerunner Radeon HD 4870 X2. And like the latter, the Radeon HD 5970 brings an unprecedented level of performance to all gamers. At the current moment, there is no other gaming graphics solution that can match the new product from AMD.

The Radeon HD 5970 is alike to the Radeon HD 4870 X2 technically, but uses new-generation RV870 Cypress processors. It does not use the side port technology that has been found useless. Otherwise, it is a classic CrossFireX solution implemented on a single PCB. It supports all modern graphics standards including DirectX 11 but has the typical drawback of earlier CrossFire systems. This drawback is also typical for Nvidia’s SLI technology. We mean that such graphics subsystems can only yield their maximum performance if the multi-GPU technology is explicitly supported by the graphics driver and the game engine. The results of the new card in Need for Speed: Shift are an example.

Now let’s have a look at the performance summary diagrams.

Such advanced graphics cards as the Radeon HD 5970 are not bought for playing at a resolution of 1280x1024, yet we can see it beat every opponent here anyway. The only exceptions are Wolfenstein and Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. The former of these games uses OpenGL in multiplayer mode and the latter traditionally prefers Nvidia’s solutions. We reran these tests and tried different graphics quality settings but to the same effect. The gap is actually a mere 3% in Wolfenstein. And in the second game, the Radeon HD 5970 yields 90fps, which is more than enough for comfortable play even at the highest graphics quality settings. Our attempt to overclock our Radeon HD 5970 using software tools for controlling GPU and graphics memory voltages helped boost the graphics card’s speed by up to 20%, depending on the specific game.

This resolution is far more popular on the PC platform, being in fact the most popular today. The Radeon HD 5970 behaves in the same way. It is still unrivalled in every test save for the above-mentioned two games. The only difference is that the gap from the GeForce GTX 295 is now 15% in Wolfenstein but you should not be worried as the new card delivers a comfortable 95fps. Overclocking is less rewarding at this resolution, increasing the frame rate by up to 13%. It is in the post-apocalyptic S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat that the performance growth of the overclocked card is the biggest.

The resolution of 1920x1200 is the main one for top-end graphics cards because 2560x1600 is only supported by the most expensive monitors and is rather rarely used. The Radeon HD 5970 shows its best here, enjoying an average advantage of 36% and 26% over the Radeon HD 5870 and GeForce GTX 295, respectively. It is still no winner in Wolfenstein and Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. but the gap from the GeForce GTX 295 has shrunk to 5% in the former of these two games. The maximum overclocking gain is 25%, in Crysis Warhead. It is in that game that the Radeon HD 5970 delivers a comfortable performance – something that no other graphics card has been unable to achieve.

The resolution of 2560x1600 is the pinnacle of all gaming and the Radeon HD 5970 leaves all its opponents behind here. It even catches up with the GeForce GTX 295 in Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. Moreover, the maximum gap from the previous-generation solutions ranges from 100% (in comparison with the Radeon HD 4870 X2) to 200% (compared with the GeForce GTX 295). This biggest gap could be observed in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat where the new card delivered a playable frame rate at the highest graphics quality settings. Overclocking is not as rewarding as at 1920x1200: the maximum performance growth was 19% and we saw it in Far Cry 2.

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