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ATI Radeon HD 5870 Architecture Analysis

Radeon HD 5870 reference card

In many ways, the Radeon HD 5870 card's reference design is a controversial one - and not because the scoops on the front look like something from your favourite superhero's runabout. Instead, it's due to the length of the card.

With the cooler attached, the Radeon HD 5870 measures just shy of 11 inches (my ruler claims it's 275mm, which Google tells me is 10.8in). This is longer than just about any other high-end graphics card worth remembering with any fondness. It's not anywhere near as long as the GeForce 7900 GX2, though.

The PCB of the HD 5870 itself measures just 10.5 inches, so it's that fancy decor which may cause problems in cases that aren't particularly deep. It's best to check that the card will fit in the space before you buy, otherwise you'll have the difficult choice of either taking the hacksaw to the end of the card or ripping out driver bays if the cards doesn't fit. As for which you choose to butcher, we'll let you decide.

ATI Radeon HD 5870 Architecture Analysis ATI Radeon HD 5870 Reference Card

Of course, AMD could have not included the scoops on the front of the heatsink shroud because, as far as we can tell, they do very little when it comes to aiding airflow. Apart from paying homage to Adam West, we’re not entirely sure why this card has Gotham, to be honest. Either way, removing the red-lined scoops would be Robin us of a few jokes. It'd also prevent you from having some fun with the batknife.

Enough Batman jokes? OK, I'll grab my cape.

ATI Radeon HD 5870 Architecture Analysis ATI Radeon HD 5870 Reference Card ATI Radeon HD 5870 Architecture Analysis ATI Radeon HD 5870 Reference Card

Overall, the design of the is particularly stylish, and probably the best-looking ATI graphics card we've seen for quite some time. However, it is worth pointing out that it does look like a cross between the Batmobile and the A-Team van. Our only real complaint about the design is that the embossed "ATI Radeon" branding along the side of the card is in a different font to the other branding on the card, making it look a little out of place. We had thought that this branding was merely a placeholder on our reference card, but all the retail cards so far have it too – we’d have expected manufacturer-specific logos or stickers instead.

The PCI bracket combines an impressive selection of display output options. There is a pair of dual-link, HDCP-compliant DVI connectors, an HDMI socket and a DisplayPort connector too. Although the GPU supports up to six concurrent display outputs (we'll get to this later), you can only use three of the outputs concurrently. If you require more than this, you're going to need to wait for the Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity Edition, which will follow later.