Today we’re taking a look at one of the highest end cards from ASUS’s ATI offerings, the Matrix 5870 Platinum graphics card. It comes with a slight factory overclock GPU at 894MHz Core (compared to 850MHz reference) clock speed. Everything else remains the same; except that the Matrix 5870 Platinum also comes with 2GB GDDR5 instead of the standard 1GB memory on other HD 5870 cards in the market.
Due to these additional bells and whistles, the ASUS Matrix 5870 Platinum retails at AED 2150 ($ 527) which is a little higher than other 2GB variants of the HD 5870 cards out there.
As with most of ASUS’s graphics card, the packaging is simple and minimal. Along with the drivers is included the iTracker2 overclocking utility, two 8-pin to 6-pin splitter cables, two HDMI to DVI and DVI to VGA connectors and a Crossfire cable. The Matrix 5870 Platinum forgoes the secondary DVI port, instead coming with an HDMI (v1.3) and native Display Port. Also, note the Safe Mode button at the back. Think of it as CMOS Clear button which will basically reset any ambitious overclocked settings on the card, bringing it back to factory default speeds so that the PC can easily boot up.
Another interesting feature of the Matrix 5870 Platinum is the GPU load lighting system on the card itself. Under different levels of stress, the colours will keep on changing. So, for instance, under normal to light load, the colours will hover between dark and light blue. Running the Just Cause 2 benchmark turned the lights to purple, while some parts of 3DMARK Vantage were giving off a red glow.
Moving on to the real meat of the review, let’s look at our testbed comprises of an Intel 965 EE Quadcore CPU @ 3.2GHz with 3GB Corsair DDR3-1333 RAM on the Gigabyte X58A-UD9 motherboard. ATI’s latest driver, Catalyst 10.7 was used for testing the ASUS Matrix 5870 Platinum.
As usual, all the games below have been set at the highest texture and effect settings, with the same resolution throughout. The Anisotropic Filtering has been set to maximum wherever available, but Anti-Aliasing settings have been switched.
You may notice the odd score in 3dmark Vantage, but that’s because our CPU score came out to be 6624, while the GPU score was a healthy 17010. This is probably due to the lack of Nvidia’s PhysX.
Beyond the standard tests, we have recently started benchmarking StarCraft II, but that’s something that we’re still building on. At 1900x1200 with all settings at Ultra and no AA (ATI drivers don’t force AA in SC II yet), we were getting an average of 44fps as we used FRAPS to monitor a particularly intense fight between Terrans and Zergs during a multiplayer match replay.
When it came to overclocking, the Matrix 5870 Platinum left us disappointed. In any case, our review piece could hardly run over 900MHz Core clock and 1220MHz Memory speeds (as opposed to 894MHz and 1200MHz factory speeds). Even with a lot voltage tweaking, thanks to the simple UI of iTracker, our Matrix 5870 Platinum would fail immediately after launching 3dmark Vantage. Other games, such as StarCraft II wouldn’t even get past the initial loading screen. The ASUS Matrix 5870 sure has some decent overclocking potential; sadly our review unit wasn’t up to par. The fan noise is what you would expect from such a high-end card, subdued during normal operations, and noticeably loud during very heavy load. Nothing unbearable mind you.
All said and done, the ASUS Matrix 5870 Platinum is one of the better cards in the HD 5870 crowd, with nice power management and better than average performance. The activity light is a nice touch and the iTracker2 utility is one of the more easier to use overclocking software out there. These additions also mean a higher than average price point, which is only justifiable if you think you will be making use of these extra features. Brand loyalty also comes into play, but at a premium.