HD5870_Stalker_intro2.jpgImageAlthough we were positive that we'd already seen every possible version of Radeon HD 5870, ASUS has surprised us with a new "premium" model. EAX5870 V2 is an improved version that should appear in sufficient quantities on the market, unlike the limited edition Matrix version that we've spoken about in the news back in April.

The new EAX5870 isn't drastically different from the aforementioned Matrix. In comparison with the referent model, you'll see that this one also has a somewhat shortened PCB, a different cooling system, revised voltage section and factory-increased default clock settings. The presence of 6-pin and 8-pin connectors also suggests good overclock, since the original AMD model only had two 6-pin connectors. Other than the card itself and the cooler, another obvious difference is the number of connectors, only one DVI is present, rather than AMD's referent two, while DisplayPort and HDMI outputs have remained untouched.

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The new cooler doesn't have glowing letters and similar eye-candy seen on Matrix, but its functionality is top-notch. The cradle and motor of the fan are placed into a separate chamber, in order to prevent dust accumulation on this spotm, which would cause the cooler to get noisier as time passes and eventually start "squealing". Aware of the length of the strongest cards and the bending the PCB has to sustain because of massive coolers, ASUS has decided to strengthen the PCB additionally, so that conductor lines don't get damaged even in the case of an even heavier and bigger cooler being installed. Finally, ASUS has resigned from using digital voltage controllers with automatic voltage regulation depending on the workload, which means that standard MOSFET transistors and coils are used this time around.

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The card comes with the latest S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game as a bundled gift, but not in the standard DVD edition; in order to prevent reviewers for game magazines and websites, as well as neighbours of the card owner from getting the game for naught (or maybe to cut production costs?), ASUS has included only a coupon for activating and downloading the game on Steam. Steam, as you may already know, binds any games activated by a product key to a specific user account, which means that only one person can actually play the game. As far as the rest of the software is concerned, the most significant bit is ASUS SmartDoctor, which, while not as attractive as iTweaker2, bundled with HD 5870 Matrix, still presents a valuable and functional addition, the main difference between the two being the lack of the memory voltage control option.

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SmartDoctor enables the GPU voltage to be increased up to 1.35 V. We increased the voltage and fan RPM to the max, and managed to achieve a stable 1040 MHz for the GPU and 1230 (effectively 4920) MHz for the memory, which is an impressive result to get on common air cooling. This pretty much seems to be the maximum you can get from a Radeon HD 5870 on air cooling, despite analog voltage control compared to more advanced electronics installed on, say, Matrix card. One should have in mind that the fan is way too noisy and unpleasant at 100% power, though, so an optimal combination of noise levels, voltage and clocks will require some time to experiment with.

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Test Setup
Processor Intel Core i5-750 @ 4.0 GHz
Motherboard MSI P55-GD65 (Intel P55 Express)
RAM memory 2 x 2 GB Kingston HyperX 2 GHz
Hard drive Western Digital Caviar Blue 500 GB
PSU Cooler Master Ultimate 1250 W
Software Windows 7 64-bit, ATI Catalyst 10.6

Temperature Idle 3DMark Vantage max
Default (fan @ auto) 49°C 79°C
OC (fan @ 100%) 45°C 69°C

Unlike the Matrix model, which is practically unobtainable, this model is interesting because of its set retail price and availability. This price is admittedly almost 100 euros higher than an ordinary HD 5870, but if you're looking for one of the strongest available single-GPU cards with excellent overclock potential, and you aren't digging the idea of an energy-devouring Fermi inside your enclosure, EAX5870 V2 imposes itself as quite the logical option.

GPU codename AMD Cypress XT
Steam processors 1,600
GPU frequency 868 MHz
Memory type / qty. / bus GDDR5 / 1 GB / 256-bit
Memory freq. / effective 1,200 / 4,800 MHz
Price 410 €
Contact www.asus.com