Sapphire HD 5770 FLEX Review

Author: Chris Barry
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Thursday, August 12th, 2010
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/Reviews/sapphire_5770_flex/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

Introduction

The ATI 5XXX series is nothing new, yet one could say that the 5XXX series currently contains some of the most popular videocards available. One reason that makes these cards so popular, other then performance, is the EyeFinity feature. The power to drive multiple monitors without needing to add another videocard is very appealing to many users. That being said, in order to power three monitors with EyeFinity, the monitors will need to sport the DisplayPort connection, at least until we come across this offering from Sapphire.

Sapphire has decided that you should be able to power three DVI monitors on a single Radeon HD 5XXX card. They've proved this by releasing the HD 5770 FLEX. The FLEX is the very first 5XXX series card with the ability to power three DVI monitors right out of the packaging. Not only that, but you'll also be able to run a fourth monitor. The fourth monitor, does however, need to have DisplayPort support.

Will this new vision of the HD 5770 be worth it's price tag? I intend to find out!

Specifications:

SKU
11163-13
GPU
Radeon HD 5770
Bus Interface
PCI-E x16 (PCI-E 2.10)
Memory
1024MB / 128-bit GDDR5
Clock Speed
850 MHz Eclk / Effective 4800 MHz Mclk
Cooling System
Dual slot Fan with auto fan control
Bracket
Full Height
Display Support
DL-DVI-I
SL-DVI-D (HDCP not supported)
Display Port
HDMI
VGA (Via adapter)
HDCP
Yes
Crossfire Support
Native Hardware Crossfire
External Power PCIe Graphic External 1 x 6 pin
Board Power
108 Watt (Maximum)
18 Watt (Idle)
Bundled
Accessories
  Crossfire Interconnect Cable x 1
DVI to VGA Adapter x 1
HDMI to DVI adapter x 1
6 PIN to 4 PIN Power Cable x 1

The Box:

The Sapphire HD 5770 FLEX comes in a packaging that uses a nice blue and black theme. Featured on the box is, of course, Ruby. However, Ruby appears as though she's been given an upgrade. Instead of the usual sword wielding red head we see her in an odd stance wearing an interesting looking suit. Not only that, but she's got guns! I'm serious, right next to her hands are holstered guns. As usual both the inner and outer packaging of Sapphires card are eco-friendly, which is always a plus.

The Bundle:

Included with the Sapphire HD 5770 FLEX are the usual suspects. You'll receive a user guide, a driver CD, a CrossFire bridge, a DVI to VGA adapter, a Molex to 6pin adapter, and an HDMI to DVI adapter. You'll also receive a mini pamphlet telling you about the Sapphire Select Club. Once you join the Sapphire Select Club and register a product you'll be able to download free promotions which include games, and enter contests.

Closer Look:

At a first glance I noticed the Sapphire HD 5770 FLEX's extremely glossy cooler. However, it actually isn't glossy. The black color and the giant sticker give it the glossy appearance without the worry of fingerprints. Turning the card over reveals four Samsung memory modules. These four modules make up a 512MB of the HD 5770 FLEX's 1GB total of GDDR5 memory.

Like most highend videocards the Sapphire HD 5770 FLEX will not be able to pull enough power from the PCIe slot alone. However it isn't all bad, because it can pull all the power it needs from a 6pin power cable. As for the cards connectivity, you'll be able to utilize two DVI ports, an HDMI port, and a DisplayPort. If you happen to have three DVI monitors and a monitor with DisplayPort support, you'll be able to power all four at the same time with the cards EyeFinity support.

As far as interfaces go, the Sapphire HD 5770 FLEX uses the now standard PCIe X 16 2.0 interface. For those CrossFire gurus out there, yes, you'll be able pair this guy with up to three similar cards.

Now let's pull off the HSF and do some overclocking!

Closer Look:

The Sapphire HD 5770 FLEX's cooler uses dual copper heatpipes as well as dust resisting sealed ball bearings in order to keep the card nice and cool. The part of the cooler that actually comes into contact with the Juniper core is the ever friendly copper. From there heat will be carried through the heatpipes into an array of finned aluminum. The cooler looks as though it can dissipate a large amount of heat, but I do have one complaint about it. The cooler seemed to be blowing air, not out of the expansion bracket, but out of the back. In other words, the cooler was releasing all of the hot air back into the case. With the cooler removed we can clearly see the Juniper core. This baby is stock clocked at 850Mhz, but should still offer a great amount of performance. Surrounding the Juniper core are the remaining four Samsung memory modules.

Overclocking:

Overclocking is one of those things that once you start, you'll never be able to stop. So of course we'll have to see how well the Sapphire HD 5770 FLEX overclocks. I started off by just working the card's core clock. I was soon able to hit 960, which is the max in the CCC. MSI's Afterburner wouldn't let me push any further then 960, so I was forced to stop. Using a different program would, however, allow you to continue. I then began working on the memory. I was, unfortunately unable to max out the Sapphire HD 5770 FLEX's memory. In fact, at 1395MHz I started seeing artifacts in my stress test. I then began lowering the clock speed by increments of 1MHz until I could successfully run MSI's Afterburner for 15 minutes without any instabilities. This came out to a memory clock of 1392MHz, which isn't to shabby. So in the end we were able to get a 110MHz overclock on the Core, and a 192MHz overclock on the memory, not bad.

Hardware Configuration:

Software:

All the ATI cards used the Catalyst 10.6 drivers, while the NVIDIA cards used Forceware 257.21 drivers.

Benchmarks DX11:

Benchmarks DX10:

All benchmarks were performed at resolutions of 1280x1024, 1680x1050, 1920x1200, and 2560x1600. Vsync is disabled in the control panel and all games will be benchmarked with mainstream settings and no AA or AF.

Usage:

To gauge the power requirement and temperature of the graphics card, MSI's Kombuster will be used. The program applies a very heavy load to the GPU and as such will push the card beyond that of a game or benchmark. For minimum temperature and power consumption the system will be left in an idle state for 15 minutes, and for load testing Kombuster will be left on for 15 minutes.

Comparison Specifications:

 

 
Sapphire HD 5770 FLEX
ATI HD 5750
ATI HD 5770
ATI HD 5830
ATI HD 5870
ASUS ARES HD 5970
Nvidia GTX 295 Nvidia GTX 480
 
Processing cores
800 720 800 1120 1600 1600x2 240x2 480
 
Core Clock
850MHz
700MHz
850MHz
800MHz
850MHz
850MHz
576MHz 700MHz
 
Memory Clock
1200MHz
1150MHz
1200MHz
1150MHz
1200MHz
1200MHz
999MHz 924MHz
 
Memory Interface
128-bit
128-bit
128-bit
256-bit
256-bit
256-bit
448-bit 384-bit
 
Memory Type
1GB GDDR5
1GB GDDR5
1GB GDDR5
1GB GDDR5
1GB GDDR5
4GB GDDR5
896MB DDR3 1.5GB GDDR5
 
Fabrication process
40nm
40nm
40nm
40nm
40nm
40nm
55nm 40nm

3DMark Vantage is the stunning sequel to 3DMark 06. Futuremark's benchmarking programs have always been at the center of every bragging match. The best way to show that you've got the greatest gaming rig, is to show that you've got the highest 3DMark score. Vantage does just that. It puts your system through a series of strenuous tests, and provides you with a score to brag about!

We saw the Sapphire HD 5770 FLEX perform right where it should on our charts. After the card was overclocked we were offered a very respectable performance gain.

Street Fighter 4 doesn’t necessarily push a graphics card to the limits, but it is a good benchmark to gauge the overall performance. This test is run at default settings to show the best scaling possible.

Once again the Sapphire HD 5770 FLEX performed as we expected, which means very playable framerates. After the overclock we saw a decent increase in FPS at each resolution.

Aliens vs Predators is a DX11 Benchmark that runs though a scene straight out of the classic 80’s movie, Aliens. Since it uses DX11, it can often be more than a graphics card can handle.

The overclock brought us a little closer to the HD 5830, but not quite to the same performance level.

Unigine Heaven became very popular very fast, because it was one of the first major DirectX 11 benchmarks. It makes great use of tesselation to create a visually stunning...heaven.

With the overclock the card was almost able to give the HD 5830 a run for its money, but we still fell just a few FPS short.

Metro 2033 puts you right in the middle of post apocalyptic Moscow, battling Mutants, rivals and ratio-active fallout. The game is very graphics intensive and utilizes DX11 technology, making it a good measure of how the latest generation of graphics cards performs under the new standard.

I was a little saddened to see that we didn't gain much with the overclock. That being said, at least we didn't lose FPS.

Crysis Warhead is one of the most graphically intensive games on the mainstream market. It's graphically breathtaking, and can bring any system crashing to it's knees.

When overclocked the card was actually able to perform the same as the HD 5830 in our highest resolution. However, 17FPS really isn't all that playable, so users probably won't want to be playing at high settings with this card.

Call of Duty is one of the most successful game franchises of all time and Modern Warfare 2 is the latest iteration in the series. The games combine modern-day settings and locations with jaw-dropping graphics and explosions.

At stock settings the HD 5770 FLEX performed in the same spot it's been performing. However, once overclocked the card was finally able to outperform the HD 5830!

Darkest of Days puts the player in historic battles to ensure the survival of key figures from the past. It is a very interesting concept and the use of real life conflicts keeps the title engaging. The in-game options does not allow PhysX to be disabled, so it can often favor NVIDIA graphics cards over those from ATI.

Despite the cards victory in our last benchmark, it's right back to performing where it should at stock and giving us a decent performance gain with the overclock.

Bioshock 2 is the sequel to the extremely popular Bioshock game, which was released back in 2007. The game uses the graphics friendly Unreal Engine.

At stock settings the Sapphire HD 5770 FLEX performed great. At our overclocked settings it was able to outperform the GTX 480 at the 1920x1200 resolution, and the HD 5830 at our highest resolution.

Resident Evil V is the newest installment of the Resident Evil series. The game comes with a built in benchmark that features a bunch of zombies walking around the center of a village. Believe it or not this seemingly simple benchmark can push video cards way out of their comfort zone!

Once overclocked the Sapphire HD 5770 FLEX literally performed just two FPS under the HD 5830 in each resolution.

Just Cause 2 places you in Panau, Southeast Asia as Agent Rico Rodriguez. The game is a third-person shooter that pits you against countless enemies with the opportunity for plenty of environment destruction. With explosions and gun fire galore, this game is perfect for testing out the latest hardware.

We once again see the HD 5770 FLEX perform the same as it's been performing in almost all of our benchmarks, which really isn't all that bad.

Temperature:

To measure core GPU temperature, MSI's Kombustor was used. The idle temperature was taken after leaving nothing running for up to 15 minutes. The load temperature was taken 15 minutes after starting Kombuster for Multi-Core graphics cards.

Despite the Sapphire HD 5770 FLEX's cooler blowing hot air back into the case, it did manage to perform very well. In fact it kept our card cooler than all of the comparison cards.

Power Usage:

To measure power usage, a Kill A Watt P4400 power meter was used. Note that the above numbers represent the power drain for the entire benchmarking system, not just the video cards themselves. For the 'idle' readings we measured the power drain from the desktop, with no applications running; for the 'load' situation, we took the sustained peak power drain readings at the end of a 30 minute Kombustor run.

The Sapphire HD 5770 FLEX also managed to consume the least amount of power at stock settings. When overclocked it came in just above the HD 5750.

Conclusion:

After seeing how this card performs in our benchmarks we can see that it's more or less your ordinary HD 5770. It does, however, have a rather extraordinary feature. This is of course the ability to run three DVI monitors right out of the box. For this reason the Sapphire HD 5770 FLEX will be favored by users looking to affordably mess around with an EyeFinity setup. The really good thing is you don't need the DP to activate the 3rd monitor a huge plus in my book.

Performance wise the HD 5770 FLEX performed exactly the same as a standard HD 5770. Overclocking the card gave us a very decent amount of performance increase, but the cards overclocking wasn't the greatest. We've seen other cards overclock much farther than the HD 5770 FLEX, granted I was limited in the core clock category by my software.

The card had a low power consumption and it's cooler performed great. I would rather the cooler pushed the hot air out of the case rather then into it, but its performance doesn't disappoint. So now down to the recommendations. Unfortunately I don't currently know exactly how much this card will cost. It should be priced around the same amount as any other 5770, which would make it a great card for any gamer. As I stated before, the card should also be very appealing to users looking to power three monitors without having to go to much trouble.

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