Review: The cheapest DirectX 11 card up to date
This article is also available in German.
Nvidia is working around the clock to launch Fermi, but AMD keeps gaining ground with its Evergreen series of DirectX 11 graphics cards. Unfortunately for AMD and ATI, although Nvidia doesn’t have DirectX 11 hardware, the current availability of Radeons isn’t quite bringing in truckloads of cash to the red team. Being certain that the availability is slowly improving, AMD decided to launch another DirectX 11 card dubbed Radeon HD 5670 and this time the company is aiming for lower-end mainstream segments of the market. Sapphire HD 5670 sample we’ve received runs at 775MHz GPU and 1000MHz (4000MHz effectively) for GDDR5 memory.
Radeon HD 5670 is based on RV830 40nm chip codenamed Redwood. This card is currently the Evergreen family’s slowest offering and the fact that it requires no additional power connectors serves as proof to that. Faster cards usually require additional power connectors, whereas HD5670 draws its power from the PCI-Express slot.
AMD is also planning cards based on entry level Cedar DirectX 11 chips, which means that our today’s card won’t remain the slowest offering. Like all chips, Redwood is planned in two versions. Redwood XT – the card we’re testing today is the faster one and you can expect it to be priced at €70-100. The card is set to replace the HD 4770 and 46x0 series.
Redwood XT chip features only a quarter of available 1600 stream processors. It’s well worth noting that further up the offer is AMD’s Juniper chip which powers the HD 5770 and features 800 stream processors. AMD’s fastest offering is called Cypress and it ticks in Radeon HD 5870 with full blown shader count of 1600. This comparison clearly shows where the HD 5670 will be positioned among DirectX 11 cards and AMD’s intent to nicely fill in its offer and include something for every part of the market. Lets also notice that Redwood XT chip is much smaller than either Juniper or Cypress (Hill ed.).
Apart from 400 stream processors, Radeon HD 5670 features 8 raster operation units (ROPs), 20 texture mapping units and, just like Juniper cards, comes with GDDR5 memory on a 128-bit memory interface. Our test sample features 1GB of memory but the cards will also come in 512MB flavors. We must admit that although it is the slowest Evergreen card to date, the HD 5670 still packs enough punch to allow for pleasant gaming at 1280x1024 or even at 1680x1050.
Sapphire HD 5670 might prove to be ideal for many users as it comes with low consumption, a bunch of different video connectors (Dual-DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort) and Eyefinity support. That’s not all though as it also features 7.1 audio, Dolby True HD, DTS Master Audio, DirectX 11 support for less than €100, a silent nonreference cooling solution from Arctic Cooling and CrossFireX support.
In idle mode, the card consumes only 14W whereas maximum consumption will hit up to 61W. Such low idle consumption is a direct result of automatic downclocking where the GPU downclocks from 775MHz in 3D mode to only 157MHz and the memory from 1000MHz in 3D mode to mere 300MHz.
Sapphire always had cool packaging with the accompanying assortment of standard connectors and cables but they often throw in a nice gaming surprise. Apart from excellent content, Sapphire’s packaging usually comes with cool artwork, and this time it’s no exception.
One of the most interesting features on the box is Arctic Cooling’s logo, meaning that Sapphire went a step further and replaced reference cooling with what the box calls a “Cool and Silent” cooler. We’ve already mentioned the HD 5670’s chip and capabilities but let us recap – the card has ATI Eyefinity technology, onboard DisplayPort and HDMI, CrossfireX support, ATI Stream GPU processing support, 1GB of GDDR5, PCI Express 2.0 and DirectX 11 with Shader model 5.
The box is made of recycled paper and is pretty sturdy. The following picture shows the contents – Crossfire connector, driver CD, Sapphire sticker, ArcSoft SimdHD plug-in for IM (which can unfortunately only be used if you install ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre app), short user’s manual, DVI-to-VGA adapter, the HD 5670 graphics card and the HDMI-to-DVI cable. So, Sapphire made sure you’re pretty much set for any scenario that might occur.
Sapphire HD 5670 comes with Arctic Cooling’s solution which we’ve seen before and quite liked it. This proves that Sapphire put enough thought in building the card and the cooler is silent and cool, regardless of whether it’s in idle mode or is running games. The only flaw to this cooler, if there is one, would be the dual-slot width.
The following photo shows that the cooler is higher than the card’s I/O panel. Sapphire offers 1x dual-DVI, 1xHDMI and 1xDisplayPort, but Sapphire thought of users who need a VGA out as well and included a DVI-to-VGA converter in the package.
Eyefinity technology allows for using three monitors on one card simultaneously, although we doubt many will use this feature. The card offers one dual-link DVI and one HDMI connector (which thanks to Sapphire can be used as DVI as well), and it basically means that connecting two monitors will be a breeze. Unfortunately, if you want to connect the third monitor and don’t own one of currently very expensive DisplayPort-supporting monitors, you’ll have to find some kind of a DisplayPort-DVI/HDMI converter.
The PCB is Sapphire’s typical blue, but it seems that Sapphire stuck to reference PCB design. In fact, you can see the guidelines for the reference single-slot cooling. The card won’t require any connectors and the power from PCI-Express will be enough to feed the card in all scenarios. AMD claims maximum consumption of 61W whereas idle consumption stands at mere 14W.
Sapphire opted on CrossFire connectors as well, which is a bit strange because the same technology can be implemented via the PCI-E bus. Still, Sapphire’s card will be better than the reference HD 5670 in CrossFire setups on motherboards lacking PCI Express (2x) x8 lane or higher.
Sapphire HD 5670 card is about 16.5cm long, some 2cm shorter than the HD 5750. Just like on our recently tested HD 5750, the HD 5670 comes with Hynix GDDR5.
The card features 1GB of memory – 512MB on each side. The following picture shows that the memory on the front is partially cooled by the fan and while that’s not the case on the back of the card, memory temperatures aren’t that high to begin with and thus it doesn’t really require cooling.
Fan speed can be monitored and regulated via CCC Overdrive. We must admit that the fan was silent in auto mode, so we really had no need to tinker with it.
Core temperatures in idle mode hang around 28°C whereas stressing the card with FurMark results in temperatures up to 55°C (with room temperature at about 22°C).
Motherboard: Elitegroup X58B-A (provided by Elitegroup)
Processor: Intel Core i7 965 (provided by Intel)
Memory: 6GB Corsair Dominator 12800 7-7-7-24 (provided by Corsair)
HDD: WD VelociRaptor 300G (provided by Western Digital)
Driver: ForceWare 195.50, Catalyst 9.12
Futuremark proves that HD 5670 isn’t a card that will beat Geforce 9800GT but it does outrun Geforce GT240. We split the tables in two parts with convenience in mind – the first part shows faster cards’ results whereas the second part shows results scored by cards priced similarly to the HD5670.
Sapphire HD 5670 scores well even in Vantage Extreme; more than 2K points is proof enough that the card does pack some nice punch.
We’ll begin with Sapphire HD 5670’s results at 1680x1050 – it scored 35.56fps and it’s good enough for pleasant gaming. As you can see from the following table, this is not a card that will run on par with stronger gaming cards but will do great for lower-end mainstream segment where users are mostly occasional gamers and don’t require high-resolution and high detail settings. Sapphire strapped the HD 5670 card with 1GB of GDDR5 memory so the card will do well in newer games where large frame buffers make a difference.
Radeon HD 4770 outruns Radeon HD 5670 at 1680x1050 by 19% whereas turning antialiasing on results in this number ducking to 10%. The results are similar when comparing the HD 5670 with 9800GT.
After seeing how Sapphire HD 5670 does reasonably well and manages to find its place among faster cards, you can refer to the following tables and see what you can expect from this card at lower resolutions and how it compares to similarly priced cards. Although Sapphire HD 5670 can’t handle HD 4770 in FarCry 2, note that it outruns Nvidia’s Geforce GT 240.
High resolutions aren’t really HD 5670’s deal and this is evident from the following results. Still, it’s interesting to see how Sapphire HD 5670’s large frame buffer helps when running against HD 4770 with 512MB of GDDR5.
Left 4 Dead
Sapphire HD 5670 scores pretty good in Left 4 Dead and it manages to churn out over 50fps at 1680x1050 with antialiasing on. We even managed to play at 2560x1600.
As you can see from the results, the HD4770 and Geforce 9800GT have proven to be too elusive for the HD5670 to catch up with them.
World in Conflict
World in Conflict didn’t do much to affect the HD 5670’s score – the card packs enough punch to provide decent gaming although users won’t be able to use very high resolutions or detail settings. The card does well at 1680x1050, but note that some games will allow for even higher resolutions.
HAWX is a DX 10.1 game, but don't forget that Nvidia's GT 240/220 cards feature DX10.1 support. Radeon HD5670 and Geforce GT 240 cards are running pretty much on par. Good news is that the HD5670 will allow for gaming even at 1920x1200.
We overclocked Sapphire’s HD5670 via Catalyst Control Center Overdrive tool, which allows for overclocking the core up to 850MHz and the memory up to 1050MHz, which are at the same time maximum adjustable values in Overdrive.
The overclock resulted in up to 8% better results in Far Cry 2.
Sapphire’s card remained silent after overclocking. The temperatures went up from 55°C to 58°C during gaming whereas idle temperatures were pretty much the same as before overclocking.
These last couple of months ATI has been busy filling out its DirectX 11 offer, so as of today we have a new Radeon DX11 card on the market – the HD 5670. This card should nicely fit in lower-end segments of the market currently populated by DirectX 10 cards. Radeon HD 5670 card is based on Redwood graphics processors built in TSMC’s 40nm process and note that this is the first DirectX 11 card without the power connector.
As far as performance goes, the card packs enough punch to provide comfortable gaming at 1280x1024 or even at 1680x1050, but we’re not so happy about the pricing. Depending on whether you want a model with 512MB or 1024MB of GDDR5, the card will set you back from €75 to €100. Unfortunately, the similarly priced HD 4770 scores more than 30% better in majority of tests.
We’ve seen that Sapphire is the only partner that has its cards on the shelves. You can find out more on the pricing here, where you can choose between 6 different versions of the HD5670. You might want to make it quick though as some cards have been sold while we were writing this review.
Our today’s Sapphire HD5670 card features 1GB of GDDR5 memory running at 1000MHz (4000MHz effectively) and the GPU running at 775MHz. Sapphire didn’t tinker with reference clocks but they did use non-reference cooling, which has proven to be a great touch as Arctic Cooling’s dual-slot solution was quiet throughout our testing.
Apart from DirectX 11, Sapphire HD5670 1GB card brings many a new technology. Perhaps the most important ones would be Eyefinity and improved audio device with HDMI 1.3a support including Dolby True HD and DTS Master audio with 7.1 channel audio. The card consumes very little and features plenty of outs on the I/O panel (Dual-DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort). Sapphire’s card comes with native HDMI and DisplayPort connector, making it one of the best equipped HD5670 cards we’ve seen so far. Furthermore, Sapphire features dual-DVI and the company ships DVI-to-VGA and HDMI-to-DVI adapters.
It’s well worth noting that Sapphire’s HD5670 1GB is the first card to bring DirectX 11 support under €100, and the card’s non-reference cooling solution makes this an even sweeter deal.
Sapphire did a great job on the HD5670 1GB and the card itself is a nice card with basically only one flaw – the price. With hope that ATI will introduce pricecuts sooner than later, we recommend this card to anyone who craves cheap DX11 with enough gaming potential not to regret splashing out on more expensive cards.