Sapphire – HD 5670 512MB review

budget DirectX 11 graphics card
Photo of Sapphire – HD 5670 512MB
£74

Radeon HD 5670 is the latest member of ATi’s Radeon HD 5000 family of DirectX 11 graphics chips that are fabricated using 40nm technology. We’re reviewing a 512MB version of the HD 5670 from Sapphire, however it is representative of the HD 5670s that you will find on sale under a number of different brands.

ATi could have developed the HD 5670 as a slower and cheaper version of HD 5750, but instead it has taken a slightly different approach. The other members of the HD 5000 family range from the HD 5750, with its loaded power draw figure of 86W, all the way up to the double-GPU HD 5970 that pulls 294W under load. These cards all use a double-slot design and require either one or two PCI Express power connectors.

With HD 5670 the emphasis has been placed on reducing the power consumption below the specified 75W figure that can be supplied by the PCI Express graphics connector, without any need for an extra feed from your power supply.

As a result of this thinking ATi has decided that the relatively cheap HD 5670 should have 400 Unified Shaders, which means it is essentially one quarter of the high-end HD 5870 or one half of the mid-range HD 5770.

The 775MHz core clock speed falls between the HD 5750 and 5770, while the effective memory speed of 4000MHz is somewhat lower than their respective figures of 4600MHz and 4800MHz. Despite the low price of HD 5670, ATi has stuck to specifying GDDR5 memory and hasn’t let things slip by opting for slower GDDR3 instead. The memory controller is the same 128-bits wide as the one used in HD 5750 and HD 5770.

At launch Sapphire offers three versions of the HD 5670 that have an idle power draw of 14W and a full power figure of 61W. They are single-slot cards, however Sapphire has replaced the small reference cooler with a larger, taller cooler that occupies a second slot inside the PC case.

The first Sapphire model is an odd-ball that has 512MB of memory with VGA, HDMI and DVI outputs on the bracket. That probably sounds like a mainstream selection of connectors but ATi is pushing its Eyefinity technology, whereby a single graphics card supports triple displays. Eyefinity requires the use of at least one DisplayPort connection which means that this particular HD 5670 does not support this feature.

The Sapphire HD 5670 we are reviewing has one DVI port, one DisplayPort and one HDMI port along with 512MB of memory. Neither of the 512MB models has a CrossFire connector, however the third model with 1GB of memory does have CrossFire, which seems like a recipe for confusion.

Memory currently costs a small fortune so the 1GB version of HD 5670 costs £90 while the 512MB costs £70-£75. When you consider that the HD 5750 costs £100 and the HD 5770 costs £125 it is hard to imagine that the 1GB HD 5670 has much appeal at £90. The 512MB card looks far more tempting at £74.

We tested the Sapphire using an Intel Core i7 920 system with an Intel DX58SO motherboard, 3GB of DDR3-1066 memory, an Intel SSD and Windows 7 Professional.

Our Radeon HD 5750 scored 14,706 in 3DMark06 and 8,776 in 3DMark Vantage, while the HD 5670 scored 11,407 and 6,178 respectively. We can see from these figures that HD 5670 has three quarters of the performance of HD 5750.

In Far Cry 2, using DirectX 10 settings with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080, the HD 5750 achieves an average frame rate of 44.8fps with Ultra High Image Quality, which rises to 51.6fps when the settings are reduced to Very High Image Quality.

The HD 5670 manages 31.3fps and 36.6fps using these settings, which is significant as the HD 5750 is barely up to the job of playing modern games using HD settings, while the HD 5670 really isn’t up to the task. This means that the headline feature of support for DirectX 11 is less important than it might sound.

Company: Sapphire

Contact: 01793 423830


Verdict
We wouldn't recommend the HD 5670 as an upgrade for gamers, but if you're looking for a low power graphics card that can handle multiple displays and HD movie decoding, this is a fine place to start.