The HIS card is supplied in a tall box with a picture of a sword on the front – I guess the same kind of sword King Arthur might have wielded when spending his spare time playing Left4Dead over LAN with The Knights of the round table in Camelot.
The outer covering slides off to reveal a brown inner box which is quite delicately understated. The card is exactly the same as the PowerColor 5970 we reviewed a few days ago, but HIS have a sticker of their sword on the front.
The card comes with a voucher for Dirt 2 when it is released next month and there is also a Crossfire connector, video adapter, 8 pin to 6 pin power convertor and a minidisplayport to displayport adapter. Additionally HIS include a branded "7 in 1" Toolkit which is a practical addition for some enthusiast users – it will certainly help you fit the card in your system if you have no toolkit handy.
Looking at the top edge of the product we can see the two power inputs, six and eight pin connectors. Further along is a single CrossFireX connector which can be used to connect another 5890, 5870 or 5850. Also worth noting is that there are a large number of vents along the top of the heatsink shroud which were not present on the single GPU models.
ATI apply a large Vapor chamber heatsink to the dual GPU’s which is designed to cool up to 400w and passing air across it is a ‘famous’ red ATI fan, similar in design to the one used on most high end ATI cards. It is good to see a vapor chamber cooler on a reference card and the impressive components continue with the inclusion of multi-point programmable fan controller (SMSC EMC2103), digital programmable voltage regulators and Japanese ceramic capacitors.
Getting a screengrab from GPUz 0.3.6 caused hardlocks initially but Wizzard over at Techpowerup was kind enough to give us a ‘work in progress’ beta just for this review – version 0.3.7 is out just as we went to press so this issue is already resolved. As you can see in the image above the card is clocked at the reference figures.
For the main specifications of the card, other than the second generation PLX PCIe 2.0 bridge we have a real mix of 5870 and 5850. This card uses the core and memory speeds of the 5850 which are 725MHz core and 1000MHz on the 2GB of Hynix GDDR5 (1Gb per 40nm GPU). From the 5870 specification we get 1600 stream processors per GPU. The ROP count and memory bus of 256bit was the same as the 5870 and 5850 so it is no surprise to see the same bus here along with 2×32 ROPs. Texture units are taken from the 5870 however which means we have 80 per GPU.
When fully loaded the 5970 has a power rating of 294 watts which compares well with the 5850s 170w and the 188w drawn by the 5870. Idle board power is very impressive using a maximum of 42w … well below 2x the 5800s which were both 27w.
As stated earlier this card supports DirectX 11 and as a result this means Shader Model 5 and ComputeShader/DirectCompute 11. Additionally like other recent cards the 5970 supports PCI-Express 2 and as well as Blu-Ray acceleration via ATI Avivo.