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Will ATI's new "world-beating" graphics card fit inside PCs?

  • The ATI Radeon HD 5970 - one of the biggest graphics cards we've ever seen
  • The ATI Radeon HD 5970's dual GPUs
  • ATI Radeon HD 5970

By Mike Jennings

Posted on 18 Nov 2009 at 09:08

ATI has bolstered its range of graphics cards with the new Radeon HD 5970, a dual-GPU product that the firm claims is the “fastest in the world”. But there are doubts whether the giant card will even fit inside PCs.

Speaking during a conference call to launch the new product, Sasa Marinkovic, senior manager of EMEA marketing, described the HD 5970 as "the most technologically advanced dual-GPU card in the world".

The new card boasts twin 40nm GPUs with a combined 3,200 stream processors and 4.3 billion transistors. Both cores, believed to be based on the impressive Radeon HD 5850, are clocked at 725MHz, and the card includes 2GB of 1,000MHz GDDR5 memory.

We had one goal in mind, which was the best gaming performance

ATI claims that the HD 5970 will be a "must-have for enthusiasts" thanks to its "mind-blowing" performance, which includes the ability to play games at resolutions of up to 5,670 x 1,200 thanks to new EyeFinity technology. DirectX 11 is also included as standard.

However, there are concerns that people will be forced to buy new PC cases just to accommodate the card, which measures a massive 13in in length. Marinkovic claimed that "any ATX case should be able to fit [the HD 5970]," although we remain sceptical.

Focused on gaming

Marinkovic also used the conference call to take a swipe at rival Nvidia, which has been criticised recently for concentrating on GPGPU rather than games performance. "We had one goal in mind, which was the best gaming performance," said Marinkovic, just weeks after Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang called his firm's new Fermi cards "completely revolutionary".

ATI also responded to accusations that previous launches have been marred by short supply, with product manager David Baumann assuring eager punters that "we are ramping up [production] as quickly as possible" and that, of the thousands of cards already shipped, "most have gone to Europe". The card will retail in the US at $599 and £465 exc VAT in the UK.

Nvidia, meanwhile, is preparing to unveil its Fermi GPUs in the coming weeks, with several high-end cards reportedly being prepared for launch - even if pre-release models shown off at a recent keynote were mock-ups.

Read our review of the new Radeon HD 5970, where we discover if it really is the "fastest GPU in the world" - and if you'll have to buy a new case to use it.

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User comments

Divergent worlds

While card makers plough ahead making faster (and vastly expensive) graphics cards, GAMES DEVELOPERS are making fewer PC titles and making them lower quality, frequently offering a botched console conversion only or long after the console version is released (HALO 2).

No recent game has taxed my HD3870 graphics card, although a few have been slow because they were shoddy and unoptimised code.

Look at Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 - A runaway console success, the game has been massively slated by PC gamers for the lack of dedicated sever support and forceable installation of Steam (even if you buy it from Direct2Drive or retail). As a result most PC gamers are avoiding it.

Soon, if ATI want to sell groundbreaking, hardcore gaming cards, they'll need to write some groundbreaking hardcore games as well, or they'll be no reason to buy them.

By cheysuli on 18 Nov 2009

PC Gaming is Dying

As cheysuli said, the number of PC titles is dwindling. Why spend a fortune on a graphics card when you will be lucky to find 2 or 3 new games that will actually tax it. The last PC game I bought was purchased in June and I can't see anything of interest until around February. I want to be able to play good games, but they simply aren't being produced.

By Deadly on 18 Nov 2009

no problems of fitting in my case it a 1200 and it huge

not sure to go to X-fire

By mprltd on 18 Nov 2009

Sod Console Gaming

To be honest it took me ages to find a PC copy of COD MW2. I didn't know about the forced steam install but since I already had an account from when I had last set up HalfLife 2 it wasn't too bad.... Certainly I'll resort back to the previous image once I've completed it a few times.

Anyway although people say PC gaming is dead, this is probably true for PC only games. But I'd much rather spend the £200 that I would spend on a console (that I'll have to replace when the next version comes out) on something that increases the performance of my PC so that I get better performance for more than just games.

By GhillieDhu on 18 Nov 2009


I have an almost 3 year old Nvidia 320GB Geforce 8800 GTS this card runs Crysis smoothly in medium detail at 1440x900 with AA on and cost me £170. As far as I'm aware there hasn't been a game released that requires more power than Crysis so everything I've tried since its release has also ran smoothly. You might say this is another nail in the coffin for PC gaming, to me it's just good value! I was sick of replacing a card every year. As for console gaming being better, well I have a PS3 and I own Tekken6, GT5 Prologue, Infamous, Motorstorm, Terminator, Batman and a few others and although they're good, if someone was to put a gun to my head and say choose PC or Console I would always say PC. Why!?!? Keyboard and Mouse control system is still unrivalled, graphics are better, yes consoles can be played on a large HDTV's (but so can PC’s) however playing on a 22" monitor that's in your face is a much more intimate and all round better experience. Plus all your old PC games work right back to the one's made in 1980 (well except for some in Vista... haha) As for the £500 price of this card I agree it's insane, always go mid range and spend £150-£200 on a card, it will serve you well for a couple of years and by that time the £500 card will have lost 80% of its value anyway.

One more thing Sony and Xbox have said they won't be bringing their next consoles out till at least 2012 and the graphics on a PS3 already look dated even compared to the PC I built almost 3 years ago.

So what am I trying to say?!?! I’m saying if you want high quality gaming over the next 2-3 years watch the PC scene. Just look at the pre-order list on Games website, Sims, Battlefield Bad Company, Left 4 Dead, Assassins Creed, Star Wars, Mass Effect 2, Warhammar, StarCraft2 (can’t wait), Colin McRae Dirt 2, Bioshock 2 (awesome) along with 30 others I can’t be bothered listing here...

If you only have £200 to spend on either a console or PC spend it wisely on the PC!! A console to me is just an additional form of entertainment.

By anthonysjones on 18 Nov 2009

My that's a big one

I have the 4870(x) 2 gig card and it's enormous, my poor PC probably couldn't take this new one (ooh errr missus!)

My PC was constructed out of components that ought to last me a good 5 years without becoming too outdated. I have no plans to upgrade it during that period. Heaven knows what the PC gaming market will be like by the time I buy my next computer.

By Lacrobat on 18 Nov 2009

PC Gaming is not, has never been, and will never be, dead.

To quote cheysuli...

"No recent game has taxed my HD3870 graphics card, although a few have been slow because they were shoddy and unoptimised code."

You have got to be kidding. Apparently by "no recent game" you mean Half Life 1 and Leisure Suit Larry for DOS? Give me a break.

3 Months ago I built a new i7-based system with an Nvidia GTX 275. Because I hadn't had a good gaming rig in 2 years I needed to catch up on the latest games. I've bought 10+ games on Steam in those 3 months and I have been absolutely BLOW AWAY at how taxing these games are. No recent games tax your 3870??? There may not have been many blockbuster PC games in the last few months but who are you to talk? You're video card would disintegrate if you tried to play even 1-3 year old games (Far Cry 2, Crysis, to name a couple). I find it hard to believe that you can play these games just fine on your 3870 when my $250 GTX 275 only gets 30fps w/ Anti-Aliasing turned up. BTW, 20fps @ 800x600 with all settings set to 'low' or 'off' does not mean your 3870 is not being taxed cos it still is. :P

PC gaming is not dead, was never dead, and will never be dead. While all you Chicken Littles squawk around the Internet proclaiming doom I will be happily gaming away, heavily taxing even the most expensive video cards and enjoying the greatest graphics quality and game play ever known to gaming on any medium.

So eat it.

By devhen on 18 Nov 2009

I don't think PC gaming will ever die - but games do take a little longer than before to reach the PC platform.

Xbox's, PS's and Wii's they tend to come and go and you can't tweak their hardware as easily as a PC. PC's are cheaper and easier to upgrade so PC gaming will remain forever :P

By nicomo on 18 Nov 2009

ATX is a really big form factor

Apparently this will fit into any ATX case and that's probably true just because of the sheer size of ATX. The standard requires a motherboard which is 12 x 9.6 inches in size - if the card is 13 inches long that should fit into the larger still case pretty comfortably.

I don't actually believe that many people have full ATX sized cases though.

By steviesteveo on 18 Nov 2009

Way too big

No way on earth would this fit in my case, so I don't care how fast it is

By Steve9800 on 18 Nov 2009

Balanced Performance

I occasionally play a game or too.I have recently played Far Cry 2 on my Vista machine.It runs an overclocked 2600XT graphics card.Using nthe latest drivers which represent at least a 10% perfomance advantage over early Vista Drivers i have been able to run it at playable rates of 1920x1200 on medium settings with no AA .The machine has a modest overclocked E6600 Dual Core processor.You can play games on cheaper cards provided you do not need all of the eye candy switched on.Oh yes and another thing.70W-80W power consumption at full tilt !

By Jaberwocky on 19 Nov 2009

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