Update: Reviews from Anandtech, HardOCP, HotHardware, MaximumPC, and PC Perspective are all live. Nvidia's dual-chip GeForce GTX 295 card outperforms the Radeon HD 5870 on most tests by a noticeable margin, so AMD can't claim that the Radeon HD 5870 is the fastest single-card solution. The good news is that new Radeon does outperform Nvidia's best single-chip card, the GeForce GTX 285. The dual-chip GTX 295 is also a $499 card with no DirectX 11 support. The Radeon HD 5870 goes for a more reasonable $379.
AMD introduced its ATI Radeon HD 5870 and Radeon HD 5850 desktop graphics cards Tuesday evening, beating rival Nvidia to the marketplace with the first DirectX 11-capable products. As DirectX 11 is the Windows 7 version of Microsoft's code for linking up hardware with, among other things, 3D game software, winning the race to launch is a significant boon to AMD's efforts to market its new cards. It also ensures that even if few games will actually use DirectX 11 at launch, Microsoft can claim that the graphics hardware is ready to support one of the major new features of its new OS.
Expect a whole family of Radeon HD 5000 series cards to come to market over the next few months, but for now we get two cards, the $399 Radeon HD 5870 and the $250 Radeon HD 5850. AMD says it plans to ship 500,000 chips in the fourth quarter, but it also anticipates high demand will strain retail supplies during the first few weeks after launch. On the system builder side, AMD said that one large OEM has claimed the majority of the first round of Radeon 5800s, so the cards will also be scarce from other system builders, at least early on.
Dropping its chip manufacturing process from 55 nanometers to 40 nanometers in the Radeon HD 5800 series has let AMD ramp up the speeds and feeds of its new chips impressively over those of the Radeon HD 4800 series. The transistor count in particular has jumped from 956 million on the old design to 2.15 billion in the new model. AMD also claims an uptick from 1.2 teraflops of processing power to between 2.09 and 2.72 in the each of the new cards.… Read more