Although graphics chip makers usually launch their new ranges of graphic processors with the high-end, superfast flagship models and lots of razzmatazz, these cards are really loss-leaders, as once the dust has settled the companies train their eyes on the real prize, the lower value end of the market where the real money is to be made.
Having launched the Radeon HD5970 (ultra high-end), HD5870 and HD5850 (high-end) and 5750 & 5770 (mainstream) models, it comes as no real surprise to find the latest member of AMD’s 40nm DX11 architecture HD5x family of cards, the Radeon HD5670, pitched at this bread and butter market segment.
The new GPU, codenamed Redwood, or to be more precise Redwood XT, is as you might expect a cut-down model of the processor that preceded it, in this case the HD5770. It has half the stream processors (400), texture units (20) and ROPs (8) of the HD5770 but has the same 128-bit memory interface. It’s the first member of the HD5x family to have a transistor count below a billion, but at 627 million it’s still pretty impressive when you realise that the core measures a mere 104mm².
The core and stream processor engines run at 775MHz while the memory is clocked at 1GHz, which, as it’s GDDR5 memory, means it has an effective clock of 4GHz. Currently there are two versions available with either 512MB or 1GB of memory.
With such a small die size comes another benefit in the form of power saving. The card has a maximum TDP of just 61 Watts which means it can be powered by the PCI-E slot alone without the need for any additional power connectors on the card; handy if you are building a compact PC.
HIS’s HD5670 IceQ 512MB, despite the large, impressive IceQ cooler, is clocked at the reference speeds, and with its Hynix H5GQ1H24AFR-T0C memory chips rated at 4GHz there’s not much you can do to tweak the memory to run much faster.
The card is dominated by the Arctic Cooling designed IceQ heatsink which does turn the card into a two-slot solution rather than the reference design’s single-slot one, but on the other hand the cooler is famous for cooling cards effectively and quietly.
Also changed from the reference design is the backplate. Gone is the Displayport, and in its place sits a standard VGA port which makes far more sense on a card in this price bracket. That is joined by single DVI and HDMI ports.
AMD has left the implementation of Crossfire technology down to the individual board vendors; some have the standard connectors on the top of the card while others, like HIS on this 512MB version, rely on Crossfire working via software through the PCI-E bus on the motherboard.
Performance-wise it’s very much as you might expect from a board in this price bracket, giving a mere 23fps in Crysis Warhead at a 1,680 x 1,050 resolution, with all the in-game details set to maximum. Once you add some filtering the frame rate drops to just 17fps.