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When we last visited our six panel Eyefinity setup, we had it up and running with games at a full 5680x2160 pixel resolution.
Now it’s time to talk performance and practicality. What kind of gaming performance will you get with three or six panels? To understand what kind of performance to expect, we need to take a closer look at the card itself.
The Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity edition ships with the same core clock as the standard HD 5870: 850MHz. However, it ships with 2GB of 1200MHz GDDR5 memory, as opposed to the 1GB on the standard 5870. The extra memory means the board consumes a little more power. System idle power on our Core i7 975 test system was 138W with Eyefinity and 284W at full throttle, as compared to 134W and 268W for the stock HD 5870.
According to AMD, cards will be available from add-in board partners, at a targeted price point of $479 USD. As we noted in our setup article, some adapters will be included: 2 mini-DisplayPort to DispalyPort adapters, 2 passive mini DisplayPort to single link DVI connectors and a passive mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter. So if you want to go for the full six panel setup, you’ll need to buy additional adapters.
We’ve already heard from Sapphire Technology, who will be one of the first companies shipping the Eyefinity edition card shortly after the official launch.
Note that Eyefinity is flexible about the number of displays. With a 3 x 1 pattern, you can have a surround gaming display, while with 6 x 2, you get the “video wall” effect. But you can also have a 5 x 1 group, and really submerge yourself in the game.
Game support is still evolving. For example, while Dragon Age: Origins supports Eyefinity, another Bioware title, Mass Effect 2 doesn’t. AMD is establishing an Eyefinity certification program to assist game developers in building more robust Eyefinity support into their titles. Also, AMD is announcing the AMD Display Library (ADL) SDK update which will allow app developers to properly enumerate multiple monitors running in Eyefinity mode, including bezel compensated modes and various monitor topologies.
We tested a Radeon Eyefinity Edition reference board, using an expanded set of tests. We used our standard PC graphics test platform:
The driver used for our testing is an updated version of Catalyst 10.3, which has additional Eyefinity functionality rolled in.
As with standard GPUs, we tested at 1920x1200 (4x AA); we also benchmarked at 2560x1600 (4x AA) using a 30-inch Dell 3008WFP. The one exception was Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising, where we used the single, in-game AA setting.
Finally, we benchmarked two Eyefinity configurations: a 3 panel, 5160x1080 setup and a 6 panel, 5160x2160, 3x2 arrangement. Eyefinity testing was performed with AA off. Since we have no other Eyefinity benchmarks, we’ll report those without comparing to another card.
We benchmarked with the following suite of titles:
First, let’s look at performance in single display mode. We’re comparing here to a stock Radeon HD 5870.
|1920x1200 4x AA||Stock Radeon HD 5870||Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity|
|Unigine Heaven 2.0||17||17|
|S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat||36||37|
|Far Cry 2 (Long)||76||76|
|Far Cry 2 (Action)||63||62|
|Tom Clancy's HAWX||88||88|
|Dawn of War 2: Chaos Rising||74||72|
At 1920x1200, 4xAA, we’re seeing essentially no difference in performance. That’s not a big surprise, as the clocks are the same; only the memory quantities vary. The DiRT 2 number looks more substantial than it really is, at a little over 4% better.