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Sapphire Radeon HD 5570 HDMI review

David Ludlow
11 Feb 2010
ATI HD 5570
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
77
inc VAT

If you really need a low-profile card that's capable of playing games, it's a good choice, but there are better-value gaming and media centre cards out there.

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With the Radeon HD 5450 low-profile graphics card only just out, it's hard to get excited by the low-profile HD 5570, particularly as it costs almost twice as much. However, this is a significantly different card under the surface.

While the HD 5450 is basically a very slow graphics card, designed for decoding video and transmitting HD audio, the 5570 is a considerably more powerful beast. You can tell this immediately, as the 5570 requires a fan to keep it cool, while the 5450 is passively cooled. Fortunately, the fan's not overly noisy and, unless you have particularly quiet CPU and system fans, you're unlikely to hear the 5570 above the general noise of your case.

The main difference between the two cards is the amount of stream processors each has. The 5470 has just 80, while the 5570 has 400 of them. In addition, the 5570 has twice the RAM, with 1GB of GDDR3. These improvements strike a few advantages, most noticeably in games. So, while the 5450 struggled through our games tests, the 5570 did much better.

Its frame rate of 29.7fps in Call of Duty 4 provides smooth enough motion for gaming, while dropping the resolution down to 1,440x900 bumped the frame rate up to 37.1fps. The card struggled with our more demanding Crysis test at 1,680x1,050, managing 21.5fps; however, dropping the resolution to 1,440x900 improved frame rates to a playable 27.2fps. This card means that you can have a PC that takes low-profile cards and enjoy some light gaming.

Even so, the main use of this card is likely to be for home theatre use. Here, the extra stream processors can be of use, if you're running software that uses the graphics card (GPGPU) to upscale DVD, such as Arcsoft's SimHD plug-in for TotalMedia Theatre 3.

With the 5450, SimHD is only capable of upscaling DVDs to a 720p resolution; with the 5570 it can upscale to 1080p. In turn, it should mean that other applications that use GPGPU, such as Roxio Creator 2010's video encoder, will run faster on this graphics card than with the 5450.

As with all of ATI's 5000-series graphics cards, the 5570 is fully PAP compliant and can transport full Blu-ray HD audio (Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD MA) to a suitable amplifier. It will also speed up the decoding of Blu-ray video, keeping processor utilisation to a minimum.

The Sapphire card we reviewed came with DVI, HDMI and VGA outputs on a full-size bracket; however, two slim-line brackets are provided in the box. The first holds the DVI and HDMI ports; the second holds the VGA output, but is optional as this output can be unplugged from the card. Sapphire also makes a version of this card with a DisplayPort rather than HDMI output, although we don't recommend buying this for home use currently.

We can't help but feel that these improvements are very minor and not quite worth the increase in price. If you're building a media centre PC for Blu-ray and aren't worried about DVD upscaling (or at least, don't mind upscaling to 720p), the HD 5450 is much better value - just make sure you buy the version with an HDMI port built-in for convenience.

That said, if you do use your media centre for the occasional bout of gaming, the 5570 is the only slim-line graphics card that will give you decent 3D performance. If you don't need a low-profile card, though, and want to play games, we recommend stretching your budget that bit further and buying Sapphire's Radeon HD 5770.

Basic Specifications

Price£77
Rating***
Detailswww.sapphiretech.com
InterfacePCI Express x16
Crossfire/SLICrossFireX
Slots taken up1
BrandATI
Graphics ProcessorATI Radeon HD5570
Memory1GB DDR3
GPU clock speed650MHz
Memory speed900MHz

Features

Architecture400 stream processors

Connectors

DVI outputs1
VGA outputs1
S-video outputno
S-Video inputno
Composite outputsno
Composite inputsno
Component outputsno
HDMI outputs1
Power leads requirednone

Benchmark Results

3DMark Vantage 16802,232
Call of Duty 4 1680 4xAA29.7fps
Call of Duty 4 1440 4xAA37.1fps
Crysis 1680 High 4xAA21.5fps
Crysis 1440 High 4xAA27.2fps

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB
Price£77
Supplierhttp://www.awd-it.co.uk
Detailswww.sapphiretech.com

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