NVIDIA might have hoped for otherwise, but even after the GTX 480′s launch, AMD’s Radeon HD 5870 still proves to be an excellent choice for the price-point. We’re taking a look at PowerColor’s PCS+ version here, which includes a robust cooler, quieter operation, a slight overclock, and a complete copy of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.
One thing is for certain… it’s hard to write a conclusion for a graphics card that’s not much different than a model you’ve taken a look at before. Despite the fact that I took a look at the reference HD 5870 last fall, I still couldn’t help but be interested in taking PowerColor’s PCS+ for a spin, and it’s mainly for the reasons that I’ve mentioned before, over and over.
AMD has a great thing going with the HD 5000 series, and in some regards, NVIDIA seems to be light-years behind the company in terms of power consumption and temperatures… two things that happen to mean a lot to me (few people will opt for a GPU that draws an additional 100W, after all). The room I do all my testing in is less-than-ideal temperature-wise, so when I use hardware that’s overly hot, it’s impossible to ignore.
Like the GTX 480, the HD 5000 series as a whole fully supports DirectX 11 and Eyefinity, and the main lacking feature compared to NVIDIA’s offerings is PhysX, which is understandable as NVIDIA doesn’t license it out to AMD (it claims that it could or would, but nothing’s certain).
Personally, I like PhysX, but it’s not something I’d weigh too heavily in a purchasing decision. I have a couple of friends as mentioned earlier who are the opposite, and despite the heat and power, both opted for NVIDIA’s latest offerings just to secure that support.
I still love the HD 5870, and if I had to purchase a card today, I’d have no hesitation in picking up this model. It’s a tad expensive, at $400, but at that point, it’s still $100 less expensive than the GTX 480, and offers nearly the same performance (the GTX 480 is ~5 – 10% faster). But for me, I appreciate AMD’s extremely effective power efficiency and lower temperatures. You may weigh these two factors far different than me, however.
If you opt for PowerColor’s PCS+ version, you’ll be paying +$20 more than most of the others. Is it worth it? I’d have to say it is, as long as you A) appreciate a slightly quieter cooler and improved temperatures and B) want a copy of Modern Warfare 2. Sapphire’s HD 5870 Vapor-X costs $20 more than the PCS+, so overall, PowerColor’s card looks to be quite a good deal when all aspects are taken into consideration.
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