PowerColor Radeon 5870 PCS+ Video Card Review

http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:PjMYjnRmXa0OdM:http://xtreview.com/images/powercolor%2520PCS%2520plus.jpgThere are a lot of cards on the market these days, and there are also more board partners kicking around then I have ever seen. What does it take to separate yourself from the rest? PowerColor launched its PCS series awhile back and now the new PCS+ has put PowerColor on the map for PC gaming. The new cooling systems are not just impressive but also very aesthetically pleasing. The heatpipe technology used on a GPU may seem like over kill but in all honesty it works and it looks incredible. Let’s take a good look at this card and put it through the paces to see how well it performs:

Provided by: PowerColor

Price: $419

Closer Look:




Specifications and Features:


Graphics Engine RADEON HD5870
Video Memory 1GB GDDR5
Engine Clock 875MHz
Memory Clock 1225MHz (4.9Gbps)
Memory Interface 256bit
DirectX Support 11
Bus Standard PCIE 2.1
Standard Display Connecors DL-DVI/DL-DVI/HDMI/DisplayPort
Feature Support
DirectX Support 11
OpenGL Support
CrossFireX Technology Support
ATI Stream Technology Support
ATI Eyefinity Technology Support
ATI Hypermemory Technology
Display Support
VGA Output Via Adapter
DVI Output Dual Link DVI-I x2
DisplayPort On Board
HDMI On Board
TV Output
HDTV Output
HDCP Support Support
Maximum Resolution
VGA 2048×1536
DVI 2560×1600
DisplayPort 2560×1600
HDMI 1920×1200
Power Specs + Board Dimensions
Board Dimensions 257mmx111mmx38mm
Minimum System Power requirement (W) 500W
Extention Power Connector Two 6-Pin PCI Express Power connectors



  • 2.15 billion 40nm transistors
  •  TeraScale 2 Unified Processing Architecture
  • 1600 Stream Processing Units
  • 80 Texture Units
  • 128 Z/Stencil ROP Units
      • 32 Color ROP Units
  • 256-bit GDDR5 memory interface
  •  PCI Express 2.1 x16 bus interface
  • DirectX® 11 support
  • Shader Model 5.0
  • DirectCompute 11
  • Programmable hardware tessellation unit
  • Accelerated multi-threading
  • HDR texture compression
  • Order-independent transparency
  • OpenGL 3.2 support1
  • Image quality enhancement technology
  • Up to 24x multi-sample and super-sample anti-aliasing modes
  • Adaptive anti-aliasing
  • 16x angle independent anisotropic texture filtering
  • 128-bit floating point HDR rendering
  •  ATI Eyefinity multi-display technology2,3
  • Three independent display controllers
  • Drive three displays simultaneously with independent resolutions, refresh rates, color controls, and video overlays 
  • Display grouping
  • Combine multiple displays to behave like a single large display
  • ATI Eyefinity Technology requires a Display Port out of three outputs
  • ATI Stream acceleration technology
  • OpenCL 1.0 compliant
  • DirectCompute 11
  • Double precision floating point processing support
  • Accelerated video encoding, transcoding, and upscaling4,5
  • Native support for common video encoding instructions
  • ATI CrossFireX™ multi-GPU technology6
  • Dual, triple, and quad GPU scaling
  • Dual-channel bridge interconnect
  • ATI Avivo HD Video & Display technology7
  • UVD 2 dedicated video playback accelerator
  • Advanced post-processing and scaling8
  • Dynamic contrast enhancement and color correction
  • Brighter whites processing (blue stretch)
  • Independent video gamma control
  • Dynamic video range control
  • Support for H.264, VC-1, and MPEG-2
  • Dual-stream 1080p playback support9,10
  • DXVA 1.0 & 2.0 support
  • Integrated dual-link DVI output with HDCP11
    • Max resolution: 2560×160012
  • Integrated DisplayPort output
    • Max resolution: 2560×160012
  • Integrated HDMI 1.3 output with Deep Color, xvYCC wide gamut support, and high bit-rate audio
    • Max resolution: 1920×120012
  • Integrated VGA output
    • Max resolution: 2048×153612
  • Integrated HD audio controller
    • Output protected high bit rate 7.1 channel surround sound over HDMI with no additional cables required
    • Supports AC-3, AAC, Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio format
  • ATI PowerPlay™ power management technology7
  • Dynamic power management with low power idle state
  • Ultra-low power state support for multi-GPU configurations
  • Certified drivers for Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP

  • Driver support scheduled for release in 2010
  • Driver version 8.66 (Catalyst 9.10) or above is required to support ATI Eyefinity technology and to enable a third display you require one panel with a DisplayPort connector
  • ATI Eyefinity technology works with games that support non-standard aspect ratios which is required for panning across three displays
  • Requires application support for ATI Stream technology
  • Digital rights management restrictions may apply
  • ATI CrossFireX™ technology requires an ATI CrossFireX Ready motherboard, an ATI CrossFireX™ Bridge Interconnect (for each additional graphics card)and may require a specialized power supply
  • ATI PowerPlay™, ATI Avivo™ and ATI Stream are technology platforms that include a broad set of capabilities offered by certain ATI Radeon™ HD GPUs. Not all products have all features and full enablement of some capabilities and may require complementary products
  • Upscaling subject to available monitor resolution
  • Blu-ray or HD DVD drive and HD monitor required
  • Requires Blu-ray movie disc supporting dual 1080p streams
  • Playing HDCP content requires additional HDCP ready components, including but not limited to an HDCP ready monitor, Blu-ray or HD DVD disc drive,multimedia application and computer operating system.
  • Some custom resolutions require user configuration



Testing Rigs:




I had mentioned in the Closer Look video that we would be running sli performance of the 5570 against the PowerColor 5870 PCS+ but due to some technical difficulties with my back up server I lost all of our benchmarking files and hand to start from scratch. As such I decided to nix the 5570 in favor of multiplatform and budget versus enthusiast testing. So the result is this I tested the 5870 on both an 1156 and 1366 test bed and I put it up against a Budget Nvidia based card so you can see the difference shelling out more can get you. I will have future reviews that include the 5570 sli on the new benches but I just wanted to get this review out for you all to have a look at sooner rather than later. So here are the results:



Well a few things I have to admit: the card performed above and beyond, but, and this for me is a big deal, I wasn’t able to get any stable overclock on this card. Does that mean you won’t? No, in fact I have seen several excellent overclocks on this particular card. I tried 100% fan speed, variable, fresh format install, nothing would work. Not to say it is a lemon because in stock settings this card performed like a dream no crashes no pixilation nothing. So my experience was not  bad by any means gaming was a dream with this card.

The support for  expansion to use eyefinity was AWESOME. Also including games like Modern Warefare 2 or DIRT 2 make it a nice little extra and if you already own the game selling it on ebay is easy because it is a Steam code, not that you would ever sell something that says not for resale or anything. Sarcasms aside this is a great card and seriously boosts your PC’s performance above and beyond $400 in hardware changes anywhere else would.

Would I recommend this card? No, but the exact same card yes; confused? Don’t be, what I mean is I haven’t heard of anyone else having OC problems, so my card I would not recommend but the line of PowerColor 5870 PCS+’s? Yes, great cards for under $500 with considerable boost in performance system wide, if you are looking for a new card and the 5970 is out of reach get one of these heck get two…


  • Although $400+ Price Tag Seems Scary, This Card is Worth Every Penny
  • Great Performance
  • Awesome Display Expansion Choices
  • Looks Awesome With the Heat Pipe Cooler Choice
  • Beautiful Gaming Experience


  • Could Not get a Stable OC on Mine 🙁
 Even with the OC bump in the road this card still deserves this:


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