ATI's latest graphics card is the largest we've ever seen. It dwarfs our test motherboard at 32cm in length and weighs a massive 1.2kg.
The card's specifications continue to raise eyebrows. It features two GPUs based on the impressive Radeon HD 5870, boasts a combined 3200 stream processors and 4.3 billion transistors, and the 725MHz core clock generates 4.65TFLOPS of computing power - far more than the 1.78TFLOPs of Nvidia's flagship GeForce GTX 295, or the 2.72TFLOPs of the HD 5870.
Elsewhere, the new 40nm cores are partnered with 2GB of 1000MHz GDDR5 memory, while the RAM's 256GB/sec of bandwidth is the highest we've ever encountered on a graphics card.
This mouth-watering spec delivered, as expected, the best benchmark results we've ever seen.
When placed in our test rig, which consists of an Intel Core i7-920 processor, MSI X58 Platinum motherboard and 2GB of DDR3 RAM, the HD 5970 blew away our standard Crysis benchmarks, delivering an average of 48fps in our 1920 x 1200 very high test, and remaining playable at 31fps when upped to 2560 x 1600.
The HD 5970's world-beating performance, though, comes with several major caveats. The first is the card's size, which will be overwhelming for many PCs.
We also found it both hot and loud - despite its large cooler, the two GPUs ran at 90°C after mere minutes of benchmarking, and the fan proved distracting even at 25% of its 4000rpm maximum speed. And that was in our air-conditioned labs. We wouldn't fancy being accompanied by its constant whine in the average study.
And, while ATI is keen to boast about the HD 5970's green credentials when idle, it's still pretty hungry when pushed hard. Our rig idled at 143W, which isn't bad for a card this powerful, but those power demands shot up to 322W at peak performance - 70W more than the ATI HD 5870.
But the main problem is the price. At $850 it's almost twice the price of an HD 5870, our A-List champion (see page 32), and it's difficult to justify such an outlay when ATI's latest single-GPU card will cope effortlessly with any game you care to throw at it.