Radeon 5870 Eyefinity 6 Edition First Impressions
Besides DirectX 11, the Radeon 5000 series GPUs second-most groundbreaking feature is without a doubt Eyefinity.
Eyefinity, as you no doubt know by now, is ATI’s multi-display technology. With it, Radeon 5000 series graphics cards like the 5870 and 5770 can support up to three displays simultaneously. While the GPU itself could technically drive more than three displays, ATI hasn’t released a card capable of doing this – until now that is. Today ATI is pulling the wraps off the Radeon 5870 Eyefinity 6 Edition.
Previously codenamed “Trillian”, the Radeon 5870 Eyefinity 6 Edition card doubles the number of supported displays from three to six.
At first glance, the board’s most distinguishing feature when compared against the regular Radeon 5870 is its back plate. Instead of shipping with dual DVIs plus DisplayPort and HDMI outputs like the standard Radeon 5870, the backplate of the Radeon 5870 Eyefinity 6 Edition board is equipped with six mini DisplayPort outputs. Here you can also see that ATI has integrated a full-size exhaust vent on the 5870 Eyefinity Edition instead of the half-length vent used on the standard Radeon 5870.
The other major addition to the Radeon 5870 Eyefinity 6 Edition is 2GB of memory. With the card capable of pushing more than 1 billion pixels/second (max resolution support is 6x 2560x1600), a 1GB frame buffer just isn’t large enough to keep the GPU fed with data at the resolutions this card is capable of rendering, so ATI doubles the graphics memory to 2GB.
With the added memory comes higher power draw, with the Eyefinity 6 board’s max TDP increasing to 228W, that’s 40W more than the original Radeon 5870 1GB (idle board power is up 7 watts, to 34W). Due to the increased power consumption, an 8-pin PCIe power connector is needed in addition to a 6-pin PCIe connector – the standard Radeon 5870 gets by with two 6-pin PCIe power connectors.
Other than these changes, there are no differences between the Radeon 5870 and the 5870 Eyefinity 6 Edition. Both cards are clocked at 850MHz core/1200MHz memory, and both share the same length (just shy of 11”) with dual-slot cooling.
Of course, with 2GB of memory onboard, the Radeon 5870 Eyefinity 6 instantly becomes ATI’s second fastest card behind the Radeon 5970. In high-res (2560x1600) situations with AA and all the graphics settings cranked up, the 5870 1GB can begin to chug in some newer titles like Metro 2033, leading to lower minimum frame rates. The Eyefinity board won’t have that problem.
ATI says that the Radeon 5870 Eyefinity 6 will carry an MSRP of $479.
Connecting displays to the 5870 Eyefinity 6
Even amongst early adopters, mini-DP isn’t a common display type, and ATI realizes this. As a result, all Radeon 5870 Eyefinity 6 Edition cards ship with five adapters inside the box: 2 mini-DisplayPort-to-DisplayPort adapters, 2 passive mini DisplayPort-to-DVI (single-link) dongles, and a passive mini DisplayPort-to-HDMI dongle.
The Radeon 5870 Eyefinity 6 Edition card can also natively support up to two DVI/HDMI/VGA displays connected by the included passive DisplayPort adapters. The remaining four DisplayPort connectors must then be connected directly from the card to the monitor, or you’ll have to use an active DisplayPort adapter, which are more expensive. ATI maintains a list of Eyefinity certified adapters and dongles right here.
Unfortunately, there’s no way around the display requirements. Once you do get your hands on six DP monitors, or a mixture of DP and DVI/HDMI/VGA displays, setting everything up can be a real pain too. To get our Eyefinity 6 Edition displays up and running AMD sent over PR spokesman Peter Amos. Armed with the monitors, sticky tape, and stands needed to arrange a 3x2 (two rows of three monitors) Eyefinity configuration, Peter proceeded to set everything up. After a little over two hours Peter had meticulously connected six Dell P2210H 22” 1920x1080 Displays and two stands giving us the final result: