Sapphire Radeon HD 5970 OC
Quite simply, the Sapphire HD 5970 OC is the fastest graphics card on the planet, offering shock-inducing performance that cannot be touched by any single or dual-GPU card out there. And with the ability to tweak the voltages to overclock this card even further, we’re left both shaking our heads in disbelief and grinning from ear to ear. Though we were unable to test the overclocking capabilities, we don’t expect to see massive overclocks, but it is nice to know that voltage tweaks are availabel for diehard enthusiasts. This becomes particularly critical if you put the 5970 on liquid nitrogen and shoot for world records; you need those adjustments that this Sapphire card offers.
The temperatures are impressive at idle with the vapor chamber technology, and although the load temps aren’t stellar, they are respectable given the horsepower under the hood here and packed onto one board. The resulting noise levels are suitably quiet, even under load, and are far removed from the nasty reference ones that have traditionally plagued ATI cards.
In terms of competition from the Nvidia side of things, there really isn’t any. The 5970 OC’s closest competitor is the GTX 295, a card that is also very fast but cannot match this DX11 monster except in Crysis Warhead where we noted essentially equal results. However, the one advantage of the GTX 295 is that it brings CUDA-enabled acceleration to the table, so if you’re a Folding@Home disciple then the choice is not difficult and you’re in the Nvidia camp.
In terms of price, I suppose it’s a bit like going shopping for a Ferrari: if you have to ask about the price then you can’t afford one. For those who really do care, the Sapphire 5970 OC is expected to launch around $600 USD, though Sapphire cannot confirm pricing at this point. Needless to say, awesome performance comes at a stiff price, so the 5970 OC is likely something that mere mortals can only dream of owning. But for those with deep pockets and an even deeper thirst for top performance, then the Sapphire HD 5970 OC will satisfy even the most parched enthusiast. Toss in a couple free games worth about $100 and you’ve got yourself some gaming value on top of that graphic ecstasy as well, making the hit in the bank account just a wee bit less painful.
The other problem here is that with any dual-GPU card, you will have driver and compatibility issues, and we ran into our fair share. In fact, we ran into a brick wall in a few instances and simply could not do all the testing we wanted (and our apologies for that). Further, finding any 5800 cards in stock is a problem, so you can bet that the 5970 will be even more difficult to locate and order. The bleeding edge is always fraught with cuts and bruises along the way, so the money you spend will not cover the headaches here, so keep that in mind. Beyond that, there really isn’t much to detract here, other than the obvious fact that you need an awfully leet system to harness the 5970 OC. A flagship AMD or Intel quad core CPU is a given, overclocking is encouraged, and a monitor that’s 1920 or 2560 resolution is recommended; if you can’t run with the big dogs here, stay on the porch.
The Sapphire Radeon 5970 OC is an excellent graphics card, posting the best GPU results we’ve ever seen. While few people will have the deep pockets to afford this card, those that do are probably diehard enthusiasts; if you’re someone who craves top performance and doesn’t mind putting up with some hassle along the way, then the Sapphire HD 5970 OC is for you.
Sapphire Radeon HD 5970 OC
Our thanks go to Sapphire for providing the 5970 OC for this review.