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.
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.
According to the latest rumors, Nvidia is likely to delay its next-gen DirectX 11 GPU, codenamed Fermi, to March 2010. That's disappointing news for a hyped up chip originally scheduled to launch back in November 2009 before being pushed back to CES in January.
Nvidia hasn't said anything officially, but market rumors suggest the original release was pushed back because of defects, and it would appear the graphics chip maker still has a few bugs to iron out of its Fermi architecture. Assuming smooth sailing from here on out, Nvidia is expected to launch its 40nm Fermi-GF100 GPU in March, followed by the high-end GF104 in the second quarter.
While Nvidia fixes Fermi, AMD is gearing up to launch 40nm Radeon HD 5670, 5570, and 5450 GPUs sometime between the end of January and February 2010.
MSI is giddy as all get-out that one if its videocards -- MSI R5870-PM2D1G -- set the record for the highest 3DMark Vantage Performance score on the planet achieved by a single-GPU graphics card. The score to beat is now 24,486.
Benchmarking that high on a single-GPU videocard doesn't come easy. Renowned overclocker "Deanzo" from New Zealand on hwbot.org used a healthy dose of LN2 to cool down the card to -180C. He was then able to supercharge the GPU to 1,380MHz, or 62.4 percent higher than reference clocks.
As for the software, MSI says Deanzo used the company's Afterburner overclocking utility, which supports GPU, Shader, and memory clockspeed adjustments on both ATI and Nvidia videocards. The utility also makes it possible to increase the voltage and adjust the fan speed.
AMD’s recent release of its RV870 GPU line makes the company the undisputed graphics performance leader. The Radeon HD 5870 is the fastest single-GPU graphics card on the market currently. But at roughly $380, it’s not inexpensive, so AMD has also rolled out the Radeon HD 5850, 5770, and 5750 cards. All are DirectX 11–capable, at lower price points than the flagship HD 5870.
The HD 5850 uses the same RV870 GPU as the 5870, but with a couple of functional units disabled. Priced at around $260, the 5850 occupies the lower tier of the high-end cards. The recently released 5770/5750 cards use a different chip. Based on the same DirectX 11 architecture as their big brothers, the 5770/5750 are built with 1.04 billion transistors—just slightly more than the 956 million used in the previous-generation Radeon HD 4870/4890 products. Contrast these numbers with the 2.15 billion transistors in the Radeon HD 5870. Current prices for 5770s are roughly the same as older 4870s, around $150–$160. So the 5770 is firmly positioned as a midrange graphics card.
We put eight cards to the test, from six companies: three Radeon HD 5870s, three HD 5850s, one HD 5770, and a factory-overclocked Nvidia GTX 260 from Gigabyte, our token Nvidia card in the mix. Read on to see which one is the best for your budget!
AMD has wasted no time bringing its DirectX 11 GPU architecture to a more affordable, mainstream-class GPU in the HD 5770. HIS is one of the first manufacturers to bring the HD 5770 to market.
At around $160, the card is priced similarly to existing Radeon HD 4870 cards. It’s the lowest-cost card in the roundup, and given the 180mm2 die size (that’s incredibly tiny for a GPU), prices are likely to eventually come down even further.
As with Sapphire’s Radeon HD 5870, the company’s HD 5850 card ships with coupons for two games: Dirt 2 and Battlestations: Pacific. Sapphire’s HD 5850 delivers a stock Radeon HD 5850, with its 1,440 stream processors, 72 texture units, and DirectX 11 support.
In our power-usage testing, Sapphire’s power draw was about average for an HD 5850. Our system power averaged 140W at idle, while pushing 260W at full throttle. Fan noise was fairly loud at full bore, but that was generally true of all the cards. At idle, overall noise levels were low enough to blend into the background of CPU, power supply, and case cooling.
We admit to mixed feelings about Diamond’s Radeon HD 5850. On one hand, it offers the same strong performance as other Radeon HD 5850 cards—second only to their big-brother HD 5870 cards. But unlike other manufacturers, you don’t get a coupon for Dirt 2 in the box. Instead, you need to register the card at Diamond’s website to get the perk. You also won’t get the two-year warranty unless you register the card.
All of the Radeon cards tested in our review round-up are based on AMD’s reference design, including this Asus card. However, Asus includes Smart Doctor software, which allows you to easily overclock its card.
You can use the app to auto-tune the clock speeds, though this typically gives you a conservative up-clock that results in a relatively modest performance gain. When we used the auto-overclock feature, we saw gains of 8 percent in 3DMark Vantage, and a couple of frames per second in STALKER and Far Cry 2. If you have the patience, you can tweak voltage settings, core clocks, and memory clocks manually, which could boost performance more substantially.