ATI today released its entry-level Radeon HD 5450 videocard, proving you don't need to spend anywhere near $100 (let alone several hundred) to buy into DirectX 11.
Then again, if you're serious about DirectX 11, you'll probably want to shell out for a meatier graphics card, but for what it's worth, the $60 HD 5450 has it on the spec sheet. Other features include Eyefinity multi-display support, a 512MB frame buffer on a 64-bit memory bus, 80 stream processors, 650MHz GPU (reference), 800MHz memory clockspeed (reference), and other low-power odds and ends.
The low-profile design further cements the HD 5450 as an HTPC-oriented videocard, as does the HDMI 1.3a and Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio support.
The Radeon 5xxx series of graphics cards look pretty tempting, both from a specifications and a price perspective. But you might want to hold off on taking the plunge while some recently problems are sorted out. Tom’s Hardware is reporting that “a significant amount of ATI users have taken to the AMD user to user forums to complain about grey screens, crashes and colored-striped hangups.”
Jane McEntegart writes that these reports are appearing in a number of forums, but that AMD's is the best populated, with 40 pages of reports, accompanied with possible solutions. Ultimately, it’s not clear what’s behind all these issues, but the problems seem confined to the HD 5xxxx series (although there are a few mentions of 4xxx cards).
AMD’s response to one user complaint was pretty standard. First, the problem was blamed on a Windows 7 update. Second, ATI is working on the problem. And third, perform a clean reinstall of your graphics drivers. Posters to the forums aren’t convinced, as the problems seem to occur with XP and Vista. Others are suggesting it’s a motherboard issue, possibly related to RAM settings, a voltage problem, or maybe “bad system alchemy.”
In an update McEntegart says: “we're seeing the following model numbers crop up again and again: 4770, 4850, 4870, 5770, 5850 and 5870. The cards seem to be coming from all different companies; the following are the ones we've seen crop up more than a few times from different users: XFX, Sapphire, Diamond, ASUS and HIS.”
All-in-all a little patience for card owners might be in order. AMD's last word on the topic: "As with any issue of this kind, we are testing to determine under what conditions the issue manifests itself, at which point we will be able to determine how to fix the problem if it is related to the graphics card or driver." Translation: stop your whining, we'll get it fixed when we get it fixed.
UPDATE: ATI contacted us today with the following message regarding a fix: “In some instances, systems with ATI Radeon™ HD 5800 and 5700 series graphics may intermittently display a grey screen or vertical banding. We are aware of the issue and have documented it in the ATI Catalyst™ 10.1 release notes. Initial tests indicate that a driver hotfix resolves the issue. We expect to make the hotfix available shortly.”
AMD this week released the first of twelve scheduled Catalyst launches this year, the first of which brings the driver suite up to version 10.1.
The new driver package offers a pinch of performance improvements, including up to a 3 percent boost in Left for Dead 2 on ATI Radeon HD 5700 and 5800 series videocards, as well as boosts Crysis framerates by up to 3 percent on ATI Radeon HD 5700 cards and up to 4 percent on 5800 hardware.
There are a bunch of bug fixes, many of them Windows 7 specific, and all of which you can read in the release notes (PDF). But the big news for Linux fans is the introduction of production support for Ubuntu 9.10, otherwise known as Karmic Koala. Available for both x86 and x86_64 distros, the latest Catalyst package resolves a bunch of open-source issues, including:
X.Org no longer crashes on an Ubuntu 9.10 system, if multiple Xinerama-enabled X.org server generations are executed.
Switching between virtual desktops no longer breaks the OS.
Single mode is now shown properly in the "Display Manager Properties" tab of the ATI Catalyst Control Center, instead of multiple modes, if the "big desktop" mode is enabled
The system no longer crashes if an HDMI monitor is hot-plugged, or if the users toggle between HDMI and LCD.
Fixed an issue on Ret Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4 32-bit systems, when the "Detect Displays" button was selected in ATI Catalyst Control Center, and an HDMI display was hot-plugged.
ATI's Linux driver supports Red Hat Enterprise, Novel SUSE Enterprise, openSUSE, and Ubuntu.
According to news and rumor site DigiTimes, AMD at the last minute uncovered a manufacturing defect during the validation of its ATI Radeon HD 5830 reference boards. This, DigiTimes says, is the reason why the card didn't launch last Monday as originally planned.
Sources who claim to be in the know say the flaw has to do with circuits on the board. For whatever reason, the circuits are coming up bad on AMD's software testing platforms, prompting the chip maker to grab related boards for more testing.
Naturally, AMD had no comment on the reported issue, but the company did say there is no issue whatsoever with any AMD-based videocards already on the market.
So when will the HD 5830 ship? Card makers are predicting no sooner than an early February launch.
Here at Maximum PC, we love Windows 7. Its snappy, riddled with handy new features, and is the most stable version of the OS to ever come out of Redmond. Regardless of how much fame and positive press it racks up however, we know it will take years for the majority of consumers and businesses to fully make the switch. Overall market share numbers pegged the OS at around 3.6% in November, with a slow but steady climb to around 6% in December.
We know these numbers will continue their march upwards over the next few years at a fairly health rate, but one demographic is breaking the adoption mold, that group is PC Gamers. According to the December Steam hardware survey, Windows 7 accounts for nearly 23% of all Steam users when you add up both the 32 & 64 bit varieties. Vista by comparison sits at around 31%, but that gap is pretty small when you consider that it has a three year head start over Windows 7. As for trusty ole Windows XP, it continues to hold the lead with a commanding 45% share, but is losing ground even faster than Vista.
If you haven't checked out the Steam hardware stats before, it gives a really interesting insight into the PC Gaming hardware landscape, and is definitely worth checking out. For example, a quick glance at the spread shows the average processer speed is 2.5Ghz, and despite ATI's commanding price/performance lead, Nvidia holds over 65% of the market share compared to ATI's 30%. Its a quick and easy way to see where your system ranks against your fellow gamers.
As Nvidia struggles to get its first Fermi based graphics card, code-named GF100, AMD just keeps rolling out new versions. With the Radeon HD 5670, AMD pushes into $100 territory.
Classically, cards in this price range offered capable 2D graphics, high quality video and very limited 3D gaming performance. Let’s start by comparing the feature sets of the various AMD DX11 cards, which should give us some idea as to capabilities.
While all the talk today is on Nvidia's Fermi architecture and the company's upcoming GF100 GPU, there's still the entry-level and lower mid-range market that needs catering to, and AMD plans to do that by releasing a pair of low-end videocards in February.
First up is the HD 5450, which AMD will look to replace last-gen's ATI HD 4650, 4550, and 4350 videocards. Official specs haven't yet been announced, but this one is said to be using GDDR3 memory and, like all current-gen ATI cards, will boast full DirectX 11 support.
Sitting slightly higher on the performance chain will be the HD 5570, a part that will poke its head out of the entry-level and inch into the mid-range market. Once again, no specs have been released, but according to some early reports, the 5570 will likely sport 1GB of GDDR3 memory clocked at 1.8GHz on a 128-bit bus, while the GPU will run at 650MHz.
Don't have $150+ to spend on a DirectX 11 videocard? No problem - AMD today unveiled its entry-level Radeon HD 5670 graphics card, which the chip maker intends to position in the sub-$100 sector.
"AMD recently celebrated the shipment of its two millionth DirectX 11 graphics chip. AMD has already enabled DirectX 11 support for the majority of the PC market and today's introduction of the ATI Radeon HD 5670 graphics card is yet another clear indication of AMD's commitment to address the strong market demand for DirectX 11-capable graphics cards," said Matt Skynner, vice president and general manager, AMD Graphics Group.
No, this one's not going to come close to the performance offered by AMD's flagship HD 5970, but it does pack a respectable jab. Like the rest of the HD 5xxx lineup, the 5670 serves up support for Eyefinity. The 40nm part comes packed with 627 million transistors, 400 stream processors, up to 1GB of GDDR5 clocked at 1GHz, and a 775MHz GPU. At full bore, the budget card consumes 64W, and just 15W at idle.
As PC games continue their eternal march onward, many a laptop is left in the dust shockingly fast. What’s usually holding them back is the poor graphics solution. Even laptops with dedicated cards find themselves unable to run newer games inside of a year. A new AMD product called ATI XGP could solve all that. The AMD 5000 Series Mobility External GPU would provide the power for a real 3D gaming experience.
The new cards will require a full PCI-e pinout, which isn’t currently standard. However, the existence of MiniPCI-e means this shouldn’t be too much of a problem. The new system was demoed on an old Acer Ferrari running a Radeon X1270. The difference was quite clear. The external GPU was able to run Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. on a triple monitor system using the Eyefinity system.
The external box itself has one DVI connector, one HDMI, three display port, two USB 2.0 ports, and a 35W power adapter. No word yet on when you’ll be able to get a laptop that supports ATI XGP, but keep an eye out.
Nvidia has been largely silent on their upcoming Fermi GPUs. Now we’re hearing that the new line of consumer DirectX 11 graphics processors will be going into production around the third week of February. Apparently, “low quantities” will be available in mid-March.
Nvidia has fallen behind GPU rival AMD/ATI since the latter released their first DirectX 11 part last September. The Fermi chips were originally slated for a November release. The delays led some to speculate that Nvidia was shifting their business away from consumer level desktop graphics cards, and toward mobile and enterprise solutions.
When the new chip goes into production, yields are expected to be low. They are, however, expected to be higher than current Radeon 5800 yields, which hover around 4%. With all the delays, hopefully Nvidia can at least get it right and really knock our socks off in the performance department.