HD 5670 Launch Review

Author: Kevin Spiess
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Wednesday, January 13th, 2010
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/s/hd5670launch/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

Whether you are a fan of ATI video cards or not, you have to hand it to the company for delivering new entry after new entry of the HD 5000 series, exactly as they said they would. Like clockwork, since the release of the HD 5870 and HD 5850, AMD has been releasing each new model with a scheduled regularity, that has seen us quickly going down the line-up, from fastest to slightly less fast, to fairly fast to -- and now -- the mid-range.

Today we will be looking at the HD 5670. While it is the $300 USD+ cards that get much of the exposure in the press, and not to mention, in hardware forums all over, it is the mid-range cards that move the most product for ATI and Nvidia. More folks have about $100-$150 budget for a video card than do folks who are willing to plunk down over $200. The HD 5670 will be selling for about $100 USD, and should be hitting stores in volume this week. So, unlike the HD 5800 parts in most markets, you'll actually have a pretty good chance of finding one around if you are so inclined. 

While the HD 5670 may seem like a sure-fire bet, just with the full, affordable feature set of the HD 5000 series, as always, it is a tough market out there. Especially around the $100 mark there is a ton of competition -- just a price change of $10 can make or break your product. Much of the HD 5670's competition will actually be coming from ATI's own line-up, what with the HD 5750 and HD 5770 out, and older models selling for cheap from the last generation as well.

One difference in the ATI line-up though, from this generation compared to the last generation, is that currently, no HD 5650 has been unveiled. Last time around, the HD 4670 came out in 1GB and 512MB flavors, and a HD 4650 was around as well. This time, we have the 1GB and 512MB options, but no HD 5750. However there will be a HD 5300 and a HD 5450 card soon, to cover the lower-end options.

So let's see what we see with this new HD 5670.

Impressions

 

The HD 5670 has not followed one big trend found in the higher-end cards of the HD 5000 series: which is to say the HD 5670 is a normal size card, not a monster-sized one. In fact the HD 5670 has a similar appearance and cooler design as the HD 4670 -- though the PCB is certainly a different design, with different component placement. Coming in at 6.5" the HD 5670 isn't going to be hiding any SATA ports, or hanging off the end of even your mATX motherboard. 

First thing you might notice when seeing the video card for the first time is that there is no PCIE power connector. Again, not too surprising, as this was the case with the last generation. Nonetheless it is still great to see that some DX11-capable gaming power can be accomplished without having to worry about the drain to your PSU too much -- especially for those folks with non-gaming, perhaps lower-end systems, which generally only have power supplies commonly offering about 400W, or in that ballpark. According to ATI, the idle board power is a lowly 14W, and when used for the more demanding graphics, the HD 5670 does fine only sapping about 60W of power. With the 40nm processor, and 'only' about 627 million transistors, this video card certainly won't be denting your monthly utilities bill. 


HD 5670 size comparison against HD 4670 and HD 5770

Partly due to that low power need, the HD 5670 does not require any excessive cooling measures. As we will see, relative to the higher-end cards, the HD 5670 Redwood GPU has significantly lower general horsepower, so the small cooler is enough to do the job. Using the same cooler as on the HD 4670, we have a 40mm, 13 vane fan on the lower-right of the card, pushing air, and not making much noise when doing so. The air is pushed along about 2.5" of heat fins, while a heat plate covers the GDDR5 memory chips, keeping them cool. 

HD 5670 versus HD 5870 and GT 240

With a DisplayPort, HDMI, and DVI output connectors on the HD 5670, you'll be able to use up to three displays -- or have three different options for just using one. This kind of flexibility is great to see, and is not offered on most Nvidia parts at the same price point. Furthermore ATI says that a HD 5670 which can handle 4 simulatenous displays will be available from a few board partners sometime relatively soon in the future.

The HD 5670 is also CrossFireX capable, allowing you to connect it with up to three other ATI cards. Effectively though, there isn't much point to this: if gaming power is what you are after you'd be better going for a HD 5700 or HD 5800 series video card, instead of multiple HD 5670's. But actually, we spoke to soon -- if you needed more than 3/4 displays for some scenario, than the CrossFire option could be handy. Furthermore, we suppose if you upgraded from the HD 5670 to something further down the road, you could mix-and-match the new card with the old, so maybe having a CrossFire option on a $100 video card isn't that bad of an option after all.

Specifications

Nvidia is still nowhere to be seen with their next generation of chips, so for the time being, ATI is boasting an unmatched feature-set. Most notably, being the only video card maker offering DirectX 11 compatibility at the moment. Whether or not DirectX 11 will be much of factor in gaming (we suspect that perhaps it will not be, just due to the shrinking of PC game exclusives, with the ever-growing dominance of consoles), it is nice to be prepared for the upcoming DX11 titles that will be arriving this year and beyond.

Besides the DirectX 11, PCI Express 2.0,  and Shader Model 5.0 support, you get the Eyefinity technology, which allows for three displays to be used with each HD 5670. On top of that you'll also get the UVD video engine, which helps with HD video content, and ATI Stream, which amongst other uses in supported applications, supports the speed-up of Adobe Flash content (such as YouTube videos).

As for the specs, the HD 5670 comes with 400 stream processors -- which is half of the SP's found in the lower-higher end gaming card, the HD 5770. And most of the other GPU specification's are roughly half of what is found in the HD 5870: we have 20 texture units, 32 Z/Stencil ROP units, and 8 color ROPs. This board has a 128-bit memory interface -- which generally leads to poor performance -- but is helped out greatly by the inclusion of fast GDDR5 memory which should keep the performance levels above water. 

Keep in mind in the chart below that due to architectural differences, you can't really compare the shader processor / core count between Nvidia and ATI parts; this number is more useful for comparing video cards of the same family.

 

   GTX 285 GTS 250 9800 GT GT 240 HD 5670 HD 4850 HD 5750 HD 5770 HD 5870

Processing Cores

240 128 112 96 400 800 720 800 1600

Core Clock

648 738 600 550 775 625 700 850 850

Shader Clock

1476 1836 1500 1360 775 625 700 850 850

Memory Clock (effective) 

2484 2200 1800 3400 4000 1986 4600 4800 4800

Memory Interface

512 bit 256 bit 256 bit 128 bit 128 bit 256 bit 128 bit 128 bit 256 bit

Memory Type

1024MB GDDR3

512MB GDDR3

512MB GDDR3 512MB GDDR5 512MB GDDR5 512MB GDDR3 512MB GDDR5 512MB GDDR4 1024MB GDDR5

Fabrication Process

55nm 55nm 65nm 40nm 40nm 55nm 40nm 40nm 40nm

Overclocking

The clock speeds are already fairly high for this model, but there still seems like there would be some good room to overclock the potential. As it turned out, the video card had no problem sustaining a 846 MHz (core), 1049 MHz (memory) overclock. This isn't much of a overclock -- but one big catch: this seems to be the software-locked overclocking limit at present, for the HD 5670. With our available overclocking tools that was the max speed we could reach. There should be more headroom, but it seems the likely story here is that ATI has but a OC-limit here, so that super-charged HD 5670's don't offer the levels of performance that might bite into higher-end parts, like the HD 5750. In the sub $150 price range, every little bit of performance, and every +/- $5 price-point can make a big difference. 

There will probably be future tools to push the limit of this card further however. We'll test it then if these tools do come available. Until then, you are looking at 8% improvement fully overclocked, which is nothing to complain about it.

Hardware

Video cards used in the benchmarks include a PowerColor HD 5770, a VisionTek HD 4850, a VisionTek HD 5750,  a VisionTek HD 4870, a Gigabyte GT 240, and a Sapphire HD 4870.

Software

For the drivers, all the ATI cards used the Catalyst 9.10 drivers except for the HD 5670, which used unreleased Beta drives,  and all the Nvidia cards used Forceware 190.17 drivers.

We have updated our benchmarks. Here are the new ones:

Batman: Arkham Asylum: Gotham's Greatest Detective makes for a good benchmark. We used the in-game bench, running at 2560x1600, with the highest quality settings possible. We chose to only test without AA as there has been some controversy that AA is unnecessarily handicapped in this game for some video cards.

FTL_Blunderbuss: This is a demoscene demo by the group Fairlight, which came in second in competition in October 2009. It makes very heavy use of particles, and is a good GPU workout.  We used FRAPS to measure the average framerates of a run through the program, running at 1680x1050, with 4xAA, and 'high' detail.

Resident Evil V: Capcom's latest zombie smasher has a great 'Fixed' in-game benchmark. We ran it at top quality at 2560x1600 in DX10 mode, with and without AA . 

In addition, we test with:

Bioshock: For this benchmark, all of the Detail settings were set to 'High'. All of the graphic option switches were set to 'On', with the exception of the following three settings: Vsync, Windowed mode, and Force Global Lighting. We used FRAPS to measure frame rate performance. The FRAPS run was 138 seconds, triggered from pulling the switch in the sub at game's beginning. The sub's dive involves many big models moving around, which should strain the GPUs and be a good measure of the game's engine.

Crysis: Warhead: Games don't get much more demanding than Crysis. We used the 'Gamer' pre-set level of details, which is the middle level setting out of 5 options. We ran the benchmark on the 'avalanche' map, using the FrameBuffer Crysis benchmarking tool, version 0.29, in DX10 mode.

Enemy Territory: Quake Wars: We use this id FPS benchmark to test out higher resolutions. We used the highest possible detail settings. We tested the resolutions at 4x AA as well as at 8x AA. 16x AF was also used.  

Far Cry 2: This open-world FPS is great looking game that really puts the strain on a gaming rig. We used the built-in benchmarking tool, and the overall 'Very High' quality setting was used.

Furmark: This intensive, synthetic benchmark models a ring of fur. We benched at 1680x1050.

Street Fighter IV: You have probably heard of this famous fighting game. It has 3D graphics, but generally does not require much GPU horsepower to run well. We used Capcom's stand-alone PC benchmarking tool for our tests, and ran everything at its highest possible settings, using 4xAA, and the 'Watercolor' setting.

Unreal Tournament 3: We tested the game using a fly-through of the vehicle capture-the-flag map 'Suspense.'ShangriLa (map) running for 90 seconds. Details were set to 'High', and a AF setting of 16x was used.

World In Conflict: We used the built-in benchmark of the demo version of this game. We ran the benchmark in DX9 rendering mode, with a 'High' level of quality. For the AA testing, we used a setting of 4x, and a setting of 16x for AF.

If you would like any further information about our benchmark settings, feel free to ask us in the forums.

The HD 5670 has a bit more oomph compared to the GT 240, which sells for about the same price. We will have to see if that holds up in the games though to make any judgments. On the feature tests, the new GPU does well, beating out some of the last generation of ATI parts.

Considering the demands of Far Cry 2 at high settings, the HD 5670 does not too badly, providing a thoroughly playable experience.

Not a bad showing here, considering a 128-bit memory interface, in this demanding rendering of a big ring of fur.

The HD 5670 performs pretty well here -- this test is with high settings, and 2xAA. You should be able to play this game without the AA engaged, and a few of the more demanding video options set to a medium setting.

Again, most gamers should be happy with the performance of this video card in this game. Running at less extreme resolution, such as 1680x1050, should provide a good time gaming here.

Street Fighter IV runs well as well. The HD 5670 has a full 50% performance advantage over the GT 240, with AA at 4x. 

This particular title is getting a bit long in tooth, but the engine certainly is not. And HD 5670 would allow to compete against any plasma-gun wielding folks running superior hardware.

Here the GT 240 wins one for the gipper, edging out the HD 5670. Nonetheless WW III is still on, with the HD 5670.

The HD 5670 hits the magic 30 fps boundary here, but GT 240 takes the cake when comparing the two.

Here the GT 240 and HD 5670 come up tied, pretty much.

The HD 5670 seems to be able to get the job done, for sure -- not more, not less. But a reasonable amount.

Fairlight is a bit too much for the 400 stream processors of the HD 5670 to keep up with, but it shows a reasonable performance here, for a $100.

The memory bandwidth is overwhelmed here, at the max resolution, but that can not be considered a black mark against the card. For the most demanding games out there, especially DX11 titles in this coming year,  the HD 5670 might not have what it takes to keep things flowing when things are maxed out. But again, that is to be expected for a card of this price.

Operating Tempartures

For these results, we used the program OCCT to reach 'load' temperatures, taking a measurement once 200 seconds elapsed.

The load temperatures for the HD 5670 were a bit higher than we would have guessed. We could conjecture that perhaps the clock speed is relatively very high for 400 cores to handle. Perhaps the overclocking potential for this video card is not much greater than what the Catalyst Control Centre currently locks at -- until, of course, board partners fix up a HD 5670 with a different, more robust cooler...maybe then it'd be a different story.

Power Usage

For these results, we used a Kill-o-Watt measuring device in conjunction with the program OCCT to measure 'load' temperatures once 200 seconds elapsed.

For the gaming performance offered, the HD 5670's power usage is pretty good. This video card would play nice with a power supply as low as 400W, we'd gather. This is what ATI recommends officially. If you were really wanting to push things -- and we don't recommend this at all -- but you might even be able to get by on something lower, like a 350W, as this card does not require a PCIE power connector.

With so many folks out there using Dell and Compaq computers, or other pre-built computers which typically have weak power supplies, it is good to see that there are some options available for them.

Conclusion

Overall, we are left with good impressions of the HD 5670.

The HD 5670 performs well against the GT 240, and has what it takes to sastify the price point of about a $100. With low power requirements, and a small size, the HD 5670 should make for a good option for the gamers with either: a budget under $125 USD, or desire to get the full feature set of the HD 5000 series, without the expectations of being able to handle any and everything, at top visual quality settings.

As reasonable as the HD 5670 is, we are left with a slight disappointment that it perhaps does not perform just a little bit better. It seems that the HD 5670 offers about half the performance of the HD 5870 -- there is nothing wrong with this, the card offers great performance considering the specs. But you have to wonder if there was some more competition at this price point, that there might have been just another bit of performance coming from this Redwood GPU. We can expect that this card will be a great offering for board partners who want to throw a bit more robust cooler on, and get those clocks raised a notch, to offer to the market.  

In fact, the greatest competition that the HD 5670 will face for the time being is older generation, higher-end models. Most notably the HD 4850, which often sells for about the same price, and generally offers an additional level of performance. For sheer framerate moving in DX9 -- which will continue to be the standard for a while to come -- the 9800 GT, powered by the workhouse G92, continues to be in game. On the other hand, the HD 5670 offers the great feature-set of the family it came from, most notably DirectX 11 support, and Eyefinity. Being able to run games fairly well, and three monitors at the same time, on a $100 investment shines favorably on the HD 5670.

We expect that the HD 5670 will become a solid seller for ATI, offering a balance between power, price, and features. While it is not a video card that we demand you go out and buy this weekend, for many gamers, they will be sastified with all that the HD 5670 brings to the table. We also have to compliment ATI here on being able to deliver a product line-up, from top that bottom, that continues to hit all the key price-points with solid offerings.

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