XFX, one of Nvidia’s longest serving allies, moved to the Dark Side when ATi launched its ultra-successful 4800 series. In the time since, the firm has become an important Radeon partner, often beating longer established competitors to the punch when it comes to launch dates, stock allocation and pricing.
The card we have in the labs today is no exception; it’s the first 1GB Radeon 5670 card we have seen and at £83 it is reasonably priced for a card with so much GDDR installed. The question remains, however, whether all of that extra memory can actually be put to good use by a mid-range card.
Compared to its 4670 predecessor the 5670 offers much better performance, but it’s still eclipsed by the previous generation’s price-to-performance champ, the Radeon 4850. With stocks of that card starting to dwindle it will soon be a moot comparison, but until that happens the 4850 remains the card to beat in this important price category.
In terms of the design, XFX has done nothing to differentiate itself from the reference card. Unlike the HIS 5670 (also recently reviewed) there is no fancy cooler and little in the way of a bundle to entice you. Short of the ubiquitous manual and driver disk all you get is a slightly embarrassing door hang warning potential intruders against interrupting your gaming time.
Even a DVI-VGA adaptor has fallen by the wayside, a puzzling omission given the card’s all-digital native outputs and the likelihood of analogue display ownership by the 5670′s target audience. Nevertheless, we are all for a move to all-digital displays and with native DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort the XFX has all bases covered. This also makes the card suitable for a triple desktop Eyefinity display, though its use will be restricted to desktop duties rather than gaming with a GPU of this performance.
Those excited by the thought of three screens need to be aware of some caveats. One of the three screens must be a native DisplayPort model otherwise an expensive adaptor will need to be used to convert an existing DVI screen. These must be of the active variety, drawing power from either the mains or a spare USB port.
Nevertheless we were impressed with this card’s performance running three displays in 2D. It managed to drive three 24-inch full-HD monitors without perceptible lag and we are pretty sure the extra memory helps when running the Aero desktop across such a large resolution display. The 5670 is also a power efficient card, drawing around 24W when idle. This is comparable to the excellent results provided by the rest of the 5xx0 series.
When it comes to gaming performance the XFX performed as expected, delivering frame rates almost identical to its 512MB-equipped sibling. With that said, games that are particularly heavy on texture use such as Grand Theft Auto IV were less prone to brief dips in frame rate, although these games are few and far between. At the highest resolutions and image quality settings where FSAA and AF have been maxed out, the 1GB card certainly pulls ahead of the 512MB variant. Unfortunately, at these settings neither card was actually capable of a usable frame rate, so the gains are essentially useless.
Compared to the GeForce GT240, the card’s direct competitor from Nvidia, the 5670 has already proved itself an easy victor. Compared to the 4850 512MB which can be picked up for less than this version, however, it falls well short. The older card may lack support for DirectX 11, but in raw gaming grunt it was consistently faster than the 5670 regardless of memory allotment. Until those cards become unavailable they therefore remain our mid-range card of choice for gamers on a budget. Other less fussy users will be just as well served by the cheaper 512MB model of this card, making a recommendation tough to justify.
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