Sapphire HD 5770 Review

Author: Kevin Spiess
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Wednesday, November 4th, 2009
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/Reviews/sapphire_hd5770/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

Today we will be looking at the Sapphire HD 5770. Selling for $175 USD (or $160 USD without the included Dirt 2 game), the HD 5770 is in an enviable position of being a next-gen, sub $200 USD video card, with Nvidia rumored to still be at
least a month away away from launching the latest they have been working on.

Like the HD 4770 before it, the HD 5770 only has a 128-bit memory interface, but is not hampered too much by this, thanks to the GDDR5 memory under the hood helping things move along. As our prior experiences with the HD 5770 have shown, it is certainly able to keep up with even the more recent demanding titles.

A 40nm design, the HD 5000 series brought in a number of attractive features to improve the Radeon feature-set. Probably the two most noteworthy for most are Eyefinity and DirectX 11 support. Eyefinity allows for up to three displays to be used with each HD 5000 series cards (before, two was the maximum per each), and it also allows for greater control over how these displays are used. If you like -- and have enough displays at your disposal -- you can connect up to 12 displays if you had four HD 5770's, either creating a meta-display, or using them as independent displays.

Let's take a closer look at the Sapphire HD 5770.

Impressions

You can tell the HD 5770 is from the same series as the HD 5870 with just a glance. They both have a similar look to them; including the very recognizable orange-red air vents at the end of the card. The Sapphire HD 5770 follows ATI's reference design for the HD 5770.

Each generation, video cards have bigger and bigger, even while the manufacturing process of the silicon has been getting smaller and smaller. This mid-range HD 5770 video card is about the same length as a the high-end cards of 2 generations back (the 8800 GT or HD 3870), coming in at a length of about 8 inches, and has a double width cooler.


While the HD 5750 sports a cooler vaguely similar to the HD 4770, the HD 5770's cooler is the same as the one found on the HD 5870, but just build on a smaller scale. You have the same many-vaned fan running on the right end of the card, and a similar design of the copper base on top of the GPU. The HD 5770 makes use of significantly less metal than does the HD 5870 though; not as heat fins are needed here, or heat pipes. But like the HD 5870, the memory also has passive heat sinks on one side of the GDDR5.


The Sapphire HD 5770 requires on PCI-E power connector. You should be okay with a 450W PSU for this card.

Like the other HD 5770's we have seen, this one has no back-plate, and has two DVI ports, a HDMI port, and a DisplayPort (keep in mind though, you can only use a maximum of three displays with the card.)

Specifications

The HD 5770 has a sizable horsepower advantage over the HD 5750, but it is still a long shot away from the HD 5870, featuring only half of the total amount of shader processors.


As said earlier, the main things to be aware of in the case of the HD 5770 is that it uses the smallest-going 40nm manufacturing process, is DirectX 11 capable, and enjoys the rest of the full feature set of the HD 5000 series, such as Eyefinity, improved tessellation, the UVD engine for HD video playback, OpenGL 3.2 support, a PCI Express 2.1 x16 bus interface, ATI Powerplay for reduced power usage, and ATI Stream acceleration technology.

Like all recent ATI cards, the HD 5770 is CrossFireX capable, so with the right motherboard, you can connect the HD 5770 with up to three other recent (HD 3000+ series) video cards.

The HD 5770 also has 10 SIMD banks, 40 texture units, 64 Z/Stencil ROPs, and 16 color ROP units, in addition to the following specifications:

 

 

GTX 260

 GTX 285

GTX 295

HD 4850

 HD 4870  HD 4890  HD 5750 HD 5770 HD 5870

Processing Cores

216

240

480*

800

800 800 720 800 1600

Core Clock

576

648

576

625

750 850
700
850 850

Shader Clock

1350

1476

1242

625

750 850
700
850 850

Memory Clock (effective) 

1998 2484

1998

1986

3600 3900
4600
4800 4800

Memory Interface

448 bit

512 bit

896 bit*

256 bit

256 bit 256 bit 128 bit 128 bit 256 bit

Memory Type

896MB GDDR3

1024MB GDDR3

1792MB GDDR3*

512MB GDDR3

512MB GDDR5 1024MB GDDR5 512MB GDDR5 1024MB GDDR5 1024MB GDDR5

Fabrication Process

55nm

55nm 55nm

55nm

55nm 55nm 40nm 40nm 40nm

 * denotes cumulative effective efforts coming from 2 GPU's (i.e GTX 295: two GPUs with 240 cores equal 480)

Box and bundle

 

The Sapphire HD 5770 comes in red and black box with a sword-wielding chick on the front of the box, and an eye-catching sticker proclaiming Dirt 2 in the box.

Besides the coupon for the Dirt 2 racing game -- which will use some DirectX 11 features, and will be available for download in the first week of December, the Sapphire HD 5770 comes with the following stuff: a DVI(M)-VGA(F) adapter , a molex-to-PCI-E power adapter, a CrossFire bridge, a manual, and a drive CD. 

Overclocking

Judging from experiences with past HD 5770's, we knew right where to start our overclocking adventures:at the end. While our last HD 5770 tested was able to run at the CCC max of 960 MHz, this time around, the card stumbled after a while running at this setting. It wasn't until we brought it down to 950 MHz that things smoothly, with the fan blowing at 100%. As for the memory, we were hesitant to push the chips over a 1300 MHz clock.

With a default clock of 850 for the core, and 1200 for the memory, this is a nice overclock reached with the Sapphire HD 5770.

Hardware

Video cards used in the benchmarks include a Sapphire HD 5870 Vapour-X, a VisionTek HD 4870, a BFG GTX 295, and a LeadTek GTX 260 Extreme+ .

Software

For the drivers, all the ATI cards used the Catalyst 9.10 drivers,  and all the Nvidia cards used Forceware 190.17 drivers.

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

ARMA II: This battlefield simulator is a very demanding game, on both video cards and soldiers. We uesd the in-game bench, running at 1680x1050, with quality preference set to 'very high', everything else set to 'high', and AA on 'normal'. 

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 . 

And here is our older benchmarks still used:

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.

Devil May Cry 4: This Capcom action game runs well on most systems; but at 'Super High' detail settings, even the fastest systems get taxed. This is built-in benchmark.

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.

Our first time using this demo shows that Blunderbuss, like many demos, doesn't take advantage of multiple GPUs. The HD 5770 beats out the two Nvidia options here, and comes in with about half the performance of the HD 5870, which makes sense here, as it has exactly half the shader processors.

The HD 4870 always seems to get overwhelmed at the max resolution -- yet the HD 5770 does not have this problem. It puts in some good numbers but comes in behind the GTX 260.

 

Like the HD 5870, the HD 5770 doesn't lose much ground in this title when the AA is engaged. The HD 5770's performance level comes in a step below the HD 4870's here, but doesn't do too badly.

Here in Far Cry 2, the GTX 260, HD 5770, and HD 4870 put in very similar numbers.

The HD 5770 beats out the two Nvidia cards here, but comes in well short of the HD 5870's level of performance.

The HD 5770 can keep up with the HD 4870 here, and has enough firepower to stay in the skies in H.A.W.X

The HD 5770 can keep up with things but lags a bit behind the HD 4870 and GTX 260 here.

While not exactly 'slow' by any means, again the HD 5770 is a step behind the upper-mid-range of the last generation.

The HD 5770 is able to keep up with the HD 4870 here, even beating it in one resolution, but Nvidia's GTX 260 puts in the better numbers here.

While Batman doesn't seem to be able to handle more than one GPU, the HD 5870 kills this game, while the HD 5770 does well to keep the game running over 50 fps with everything maxed out .

The HD 5770 does better than the HD 4870 at the lower resolutions here. But the GTX 260 gets a fairly big head start on them both.

 

Operating temperatures

Besides updating our gaming benchmarks, we've also updated our programs used to test operating temperatures and power usage. Our last program used just was stressing out the new generation of cards as it should, so we switched over to using the program OCCT for GPU strain testing.

Sapphire's Vapor-X cooler is tough to beat (a review of the HD 5870 Vapor-X is coming shortly), but the HD 5770 still keeps things running reasonably with only the stock cooler.

Power Usage

Sapphire recommends a 450W or better PSU to keep the HD 5770 running fine, and that seems like it will be fine to do the trick. For the amount of gaming performance it can produce, the load of 260W is pretty good.

Conclusion

Those of you somewhat new to video card reviews, might have been distressed to see that the HD 5770 came in last in many of our benchmarks. This was to be expected though: the video cards up against the HD 5770 were a tough bunch. While we had hoped that the HD 5770 would do better against the HD 4870 in more titles, nonetheless, the HD 5770 put in some reasonable numbers for a sub $200 video card, and would certainly not have much trouble beating many cards below the HD 4870 and GTX 260, such as the GTS 250 and HD 4770.

While the performance of the HD 5770 could be a bit more impressive, when you take into account that you are receiving a DX11 card that is ready for new, boundary-pushing games that'll be coming in 2010 and beyond, the Sapphire HD 5770 shines in a better light. While you could get better-bang-for-buck for some discounted models of last generation, we recommend that if you are looking to spend between $150-$200, you give the Sapphire HD 5770 some real consideration. And throwing some Dirt (2) sweetens the deal a bit more as well. 

 

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