Can you get great gaming performance for $99? That’s the burning question we wanted to answer when the XFX Radeon HD 5670 arrived. The version we tested, with 512MB of GDDR5, can be found for just under a hundred buckazoids on the web. The other question: How well does it stack up against a similarly priced Nvidia card?
Like other Radeon 5000 series GPUs, the 5670 chip is built on a 40nm manufacturing process. For those still trying to wrap their heads around the huge size of the Radeon HD 5970, the 5670 is a mere 6.5 inches long, occupies just a single PCI-E slot, and has no requirements for a power connector. The two cards, of course, are not in the same class.
The HD 5670 has half the stream processors, texture units, and ROPs of the Radeon HD 5770. The GPU core is also clocked lower, as is the GDDR5 memory. With these specs, we expected something to give when running games. Sure enough, when we tried running modern games at 1680x1050 at high detail, the frame rates were unacceptable. Antialiasing? No way.
The hottest rumor on the Web right now is that BFG might go play for the red team and start producing ATI Radeon videocards. Could this possibly be true?
"The rumor we are hearing today is that BFG is going RED!," HardOCP.com founder Kyle Bennett posted on Thursday. "Totally unconfirmed, but given the history heard over the last few years...yes years...this does not sound implausible. I am waiting for a response from BFG's CEO, but none is forthcoming."
If this turns out to be true, it would be quite the score for AMD, who in late 2008 managed to pry XFX from Nvidia's exclusivity grip. Like XFX, BFG is one of just a small handful of GPU vendors who offer lifetime warranties on their parts, EVGA being the other.
While this wouldn't be the end of the world for Nvidia, it does seem as though the GPU maker can't catch a break. Everything from failed parts to losing the performance crown have been thorns in Nvidia's side, and it remains to be seen what kind of cure-all Fermi can provide.
The recipe: Take two of the fastest GPUs on the planet capable of running DirectX 11, specially chosen for their low voltage leakage. Toss in two gigabytes of high-speed GDDR5 memory. Mix all ingredients into a card with high-end Japanese solid capacitors and a souped-up thermal dissipation system. The result: the XFX Radeon HD 5970—a GPU so yummy, you may even go back for seconds.
While the product name doesn’t hint at the card’s dual-GPU nature, there’s no mistaking the presence of two graphics chips when you check out the back of the board. Then there’s the sheer size of it: At more than 12 inches, you’ll need a high-end PC case that’s deep enough to handle this monster. You’ll need a beefy power supply, too, since the HD 5970 burns 294W at full throttle—and that’s if you don’t overclock it. The good news is the card consumes just 42W at idle, less than double the idle power of a single HD 5870, thanks to an enhanced deep-sleep mode for the slave GPU.
I have two older systems: an Asus A8V-VM board with an Athlon X2 4800+ at 2.5GHz, 4GB of OCZ Platinum DDR/400 RAM, and a GeForce 6200 in a PCI-E x16 slot; and an old OEM eMachines board with an Athlon X2 6000+ at 3.0GHz, 4GB of OCZ Platinum DDR2/800, and onboard GeForce 6100 graphics, with an empty PCI-E x8 slot.
I want to upgrade one of them with a Radeon 5000 series to hold me over until I can put together a Lynnfield system. My concern is that both of these boards only have a PCI-E 1.0a slot. Would I notice any real performance difference between the Radeon HD 5750 vs. the 5970? Or would I just be wasting my money on the higher-end card?
You can forgive AMD for stealing a line from Nvidia’s playbook. From the name and marketing materials, it’s not obvious that this card is a dual GPU card. One AMD chart even refers to the card as the “ATI Radeon HD 5970 GPU,” much like Nvidia’s 295 GTX is a dual GPU card that’s sold as if it were a normal graphics card.
We first take a quick look at the speeds and feeds of the new card, and then discuss additional features. We’ll compare them to the Radeon HD 5870 single GPU card; there are differences in core and memory clock speeds. Then, we jump into the benchmarks, comparing the Radeon HD 5970 to four other videocards in high-resolution gaming.
And if those numbers don't impress you, wait until you see how this beast performs in Crossfire for a total of four GPUs.
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.
It’s easy to be seduced by the latest and greatest graphics cards, but you can sometimes find excellent deals in older-generation cards that can still keep up with today’s shader-heavy PC games. Gigabyte’s 260 GTX SuperOC is a good example.
To make the cards, Gigabyte starts with cherry-picked 260 GTX chips from the factory. Then it clocks the GPUs at 680MHz, more than 100MHz faster than the standard 576MHz. Similarly, the SuperOC pushes the shader clock to 1,466MHz, instead of the stock 1,350MHz. Rounding off the performance push is 896MB of GDDR3 running at 1.25GHz instead of 1GHz. Gigabyte delivers these rarefied clock rates at slightly less than $200.
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.