XFX Radeon HD 5870 Black Edition Graphics Card Review
Manufacturer:XFX UK Price (as reviewed): £330 (inc VAT) MSRP US Price (as reviewed): Unknown
The Nvidia GeForce GTX 480 recently usurped the ATI Radeon HD 5870 as the fastest single-GPU card available to buy. Not one to allow such a blatant challenge to go unanswered, XFX has released its limited Black Edition HD 5870, which claims to use only the best of the best Cypress GPUs. The hyperbolic claims don’t stop there though, with XFX claiming Black Edition cards to be its ‘Family Jewels’ - a marketing claim that made us slightly hesitant when it came to opening the box.
Fortunately, the box contained no genitalia but it did house a graphics card, along with a number of extras such as sticker sheets and an Aliens versus Predator digital download coupon. Also included was a geeky ‘Do not disturb - I’m gaming’ door handle hanger which is absolutely guaranteed to net you some points with your girlfriend/wife/mum. Or possibly not.
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The card itself is built around a stylish black custom PCB which houses the 40nm GPU and 1GB of GDDR5. The GPU is overclocked from 850MHz to 900MHz, which represents a relatively meagre 6 per cent bump, given that we’ve seen cards with a 100MHz (12 per cent) overclock on them. The memory is overclocked by the same 50MHz, meaning it zips along at 1.25GHz (5GHz effective).
To tame the extra heat generated by pushing the components of the card past its default speeds, the Black Edition comes fitted with a dual slot cooler, which is a custom design that bizarrely seems to have been modelled to look like the stock cooler. It’s black and has the familiar red stripe down the middle and the red-trimmed vents at the rear. If it wasn’t for the odd placement of the fan, we’d have thought it was just a reference cooler. We know that the stock cooler for the 5870 is great, but companies usually use a custom cooler to differentiate their cards, not camouflage them.
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The fins of the cooler are clustered around five chunky copper heatpipes - one more than the stock cooler – and these heatpipes run through a copper contact plate. We also found a dedicated heatsink for the MOSFETs when we removed the cooler, and the Dr MOS units themselves are neat and look robust. The chokes of the 3+1-phase power delivery look fairly basic, with their exposed ferrite cores, while there’s a bank of ten capacitors to smooth the power between choke and GPU.
The card requires two 6-pin PCI-E power connectors which are located at the end of the PCB. This is the traditional spot for them, but we prefer them mounted on the side edge of the card, as this reduces the risk of the connectors clashing with your hard disks.