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ATI Radeon HD 5570: Affordable DX11 GPU
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Date: Feb 09, 2010
Section:Graphics/Sound
Author: Marco Chiappetta
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Introduction and Related Info

"This is like déjà vu all over again." That quote from the ever-so-quotable former New York Yankee Yogi Berra is particularly suitable for today's launch of the ATI Radeon HD 5570. Just last week, we brought you our coverage of the Radeon HD 5450 launch and wrote a bit about AMD's aggressive release schedule with regard to their DirectX 11-class GPUs. In this article, we will present to you yet another new DX11-class card from AMD, the ATI Radeon HD 5570.

A quick look at its model number, along with a bit of deductive reasoning, will reveal that the Radeon HD 5570 falls somewhere in between the Radeon HD 5450 and 5670 in AMD's current line-up. And in fact, the card shares some attributes of both cards. We'll get to the finer details in a just a bit; for now, check out the specifications and related information below and hunker down for a look at what could be one of the hottest graphics cards for HTPC users in quite a while.


The Half-Height ATI Radeon HD 5570

ATI Radeon HD 5570
Specifications and Features


A lot of groundwork had to be laid over the preceding months and even years before AMD could produce the entire Radeon HD 5000 series of products. Although the GPU at the heart of the Radeon HD 5570 is based on the same architecture as the other members of the DX-11 class Radeon HD 5000 series, the chip does leverage technologies already implemented in previously released GPU generations, so it's not all new.  As such, we'd recommend perusing some recent HotHardware articles to brush up on a few of the technologies and features employed by the new Radeon HD 5450...

The articles listed above cover many of the features available with the Radeon HD 5570, like the UVD 2 video engine, Catalyst Control Center, PowerPlay, Eyefinity, GDDR5 memory, and more. There are also, however, many brand new features that were introduced with the Radeon HD 5800 series that we detailed in our Radeon HD 5870 coverage which are also pertinent, so that article at the very least is a must-read companion to this one--well, if you're up for some extra reading anyway.

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ATI Radeon HD 5570

By now, if you have already read our coverage of the other Radeon HD 5000 series launches, the block diagram below should look familiar to you. The new Radeon HD 5570 GPU offers virtually all of the same features of 5800 series, and it is configured almost identically to the Radeon HD 5670. In comparison to the high-end 5800 series GPU, the Radeon HD 5570 is equipped with fewer SIMD engines, and hence fewer stream processors, fewer texture units, and ROPs and it has a narrower memory memory interface. The functional blocks in the 5570, however, are identical to the 5670.

To be precise, the Radeon HD 5570 is outfitted with 5 SIMD engines, with up to 400 total Stream Processing Units, 20 Texture Units, and 8 ROPs with a 128-bit GDDR3 memory interface--the 5670 uses GDDR5. The actual GPU is manufactured using TSMC's 40nm process and is comprised of approximately 627 million transistors.

 

 
The Radeon HD 5570

The Radeon HD 5570 you see here is a 1GB, actively cooled, half-height card--like the 5450. It features a slim, single-slot active cooler, that chills the front half of the card and does so with very little noise. Typical idle board power is only 9.7w with peak power of around 38w, so there is no need for supplemental power connectors--the 75w offered by a PCIe slot will do.

The reference specifications call for up to a 650MHz GPU clock, with 900MHz memory, for an effective data rate of 1.8Gbps. At those clocks, the Radeon HD 5570 offers a peak texture fillrate of 13GTexel/s, 5.2GPixels/s, with 28.8GB/s of memory bandwidth and up to 520GFLOPS of compute performance.

The outputs on the Radeon HD 5570 consist of a dual-link DVI output, a DisplayPort output, and a standard VGA output. Any combination of these ports can be used simultaneously. The card also fully supports 'ATI Eyefinity multi-display technology, with up to three displays.

The backside of the Radeon HD 5570 is exposed, but other than the myriad of surface mounted jellybean components, and a few memory chips there isn't much to see. The GPU heatsink retention bracket is visible right about in the center the PCB, but where the card's CrossFire edge connectors are supposed to be there are none. It is up to board partners though, whether or not to outfit their cards with CF connectors, but we doubt that will happen given the card's price point. Please note, that CrossFire is still supported with two of the cards pictured here; transactions will be sent over the PCIe interface, however, instead of the CrossFire bridge.

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Test Setup and Vantage

HOW WE CONFIGURED THE TEST SYSTEM: We tested the graphics cards in this article on an Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD5 motherboard powered by a Core i7 965 quad-core processor and 6GB of OCZ DDR3 RAM. The first thing we did when configuring the test system was enter the system BIOS and set all values to their "optimized" or "high performance" default settings. Then we manually configured the memory timings and disabled any integrated peripherals that wouldn't be put to use. The hard drive was then formatted, and Windows 7 Ultimate x64 was installed. When the installation was complete we fully updated the OS and installed the latest hotfixes, along with the necessary drivers and applications.

HotHardware's Test Systems
Core i7 Powered

Hardware Used:
Core i7 965 (3.2GHz)

Gigabyte EX58-UD5
(X58 Express)

Radeon HD 5570
Radeon HD 5450
Radeon HD 5670
Radeon HD 5770
Radeon HD 5750
GeForce GT 240
GeForce GTX 260 Core 216

6GB OCZ DDR3-1333
Western Digital Raptor 150GB
Integrated Audio
Integrated Network

Relevant Software:
Windows 7 Ultimate x64
ATI Catalyst v10.10b
NVIDIA GeForce Drivers v195.50

Benchmarks Used:

3DMark Vantage v1.0.1
H.A.W.X.
Left 4 Dead*
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars v1.5*

* - Custom benchmark

Futuremark 3DMark Vantage
Synthetic DirectX Gaming


3DMark Vantage

The latest version of Futuremark's synthetic 3D gaming benchmark, 3DMark Vantage, is specifically bound to Windows Vista-based systems because it uses some advanced visual technologies that are only available with DirectX 10, which y isn't available on previous versions of Windows.  3DMark Vantage isn't simply a port of 3DMark06 to DirectX 10 though.  With this latest version of the benchmark, Futuremark has incorporated two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, in addition to support for the latest PC hardware.  We tested the graphics cards here with 3DMark Vantage's Extreme preset option, which uses a resolution of 1920x1200 with 4x anti-aliasing and 16x anisotropic filtering.



Its lower GPU clock and reduced memory bandwidth in comparison to the Radeon HD 5670 show in 3DMark Vantage, but the Radeon HD 5570 still put up a respectable score in this benchmark considering its relatively low price point.

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Enemy Territory: Quake Wars

Enemy Territory: Quake Wars
OpenGL Gaming Performance


Enemy Territory:
Quake Wars

Enemy Territory: Quake Wars is Based on a radically enhanced version of id's Doom 3 engine and viewed by many as Battlefield 2 meets the Strogg, and then some.  In fact, we'd venture to say that id took EA's team-based warfare genre up a notch or two.  ET: Quake Wars also marks the introduction of John Carmack's "Megatexture" technology that employs large environment and terrain textures that cover vast areas of maps without the need to repeat and tile many smaller textures.  The beauty of megatexture technology is that each unit only takes up a maximum of 8MB of frame buffer memory.  Add to that HDR-like bloom lighting and leading edge shadowing effects and Enemy Territory: Quake Wars looks great, plays well and works high end graphics cards vigorously.  The game was tested with all of its in-game options set to their maximum values with soft particles enabled in addition to 4x anti-aliasing and 16x anisotropic filtering.

The Radeon HD 5570 trailed the pack, save for the low-power Radeon HD 5450. The 5570's performance, however, was only about 10% lower than the GeForce GT 240, which is significantly more expensive, to the tune of about $20 - $30 more.

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Left 4 Dead

Left 4 Dead
DirectX Gaming Performance


Left 4 Dead

Left 4 Dead is a co-operative, survival horror, first-person shooter that was developed by Turtle Rock Studios, which was purchased by Valve part-way into development. Like Half Life 2, the game uses the Source engine, however, the visual in L4D are far superior to anything seen in the Half Life universe to date. The game pits four Survivors of an apocalyptic pandemic against hordes of aggressive zombies. We tested the game at resolutions of 1,920 x 1,200 and 2,560 x 1,600 with 4x anti-aliasing and 16x anisotropic filtering enabled and all in game graphical options set to their maximum values.

The new Radeon HD 5570's lower core clock and memory bandwidth resulted in performance that was about 40% lower than the Radeon HD 5670. Left 4 Dead, even at the relatively high settings we used here, was playable though.

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Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.
DirectX Gaming Performance


Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. is an aerial warfare video game that takes place during the time of Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter.  Players have the opportunity to take the throttle of over 50 famous aircrafts in both solo and 4-player co-op missions, and take them over real world locations and cities in photo-realistic environments created with the best commercial satellite data provided by GeoEye.  We used the built-in performance test at two resolutions with all quality settings set to their highest values, using the DX10 code path for the GeForce cards, and DX10.1 path for the Radeons.

H.A.W.X. put a hurting on the Radeon HD 5570. Framerates were much better than the Radeon HD 5450, but well behind the Radeon HD 5670 or GT 240.

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Video Playback and Power Consumption

While the Radeon HD 5570 may not have burned through the gaming benchmarks like a high-end, more expensive card would have, it did put up some decent scores considering its price point. It may not me a gamer's dream card, but the Radeon HD 5570's half-height form factor and quiet cooling will likely appeal to the HTPC crowd. With that in mind we also tested the 5570 in a number of scenarios, playing back DVDs, Blu-Ray discs, MOV files, and ripped M2TS files.

 

The Radeon HD 5570 was flawless during playback of all video types and CPU utilization was extremely low (as you can see in the screen-cap above). In addition, we should note that Adobe now supports GPU acceleration of Flash video when using the latest 10.1 beta and the 5570 also performed well playing back HD vids from sites llike Hulu, Youtube and the like.

Total System Power Consumption
Tested at the Outlet

Before bringing this article to a close, we'd like to cover a few final data points--namely power consumption and noise. Throughout all of our benchmarking and testing, we monitored how much power our test system was consuming using a power meter. Our goal was to give you all an idea as to how much power each configuration used while idling and while under a heavy workload. Please keep in mind that we were testing total system power consumption at the outlet here, not just the power being drawn by the graphics cards alone.

As you may have expected, looking at its specifications and gaming performance, the Radeon HD 5570 is a low-power graphics card. In fact, its power consumption was the second lower of the bunch during idle and load, coming in only marginally higher than the Radeon HD 5450.

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Our Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: The Radeon HD 5570 performed relatively well in our testing. In light of its $79 - $85 projected price point, the Radeon HD 5570 produced respectable frame-rates. Generally speaking, performance was significantly higher than the Radeon HD 5450 we showed you last week, but lower than the Radeon HD 5670 and GeForce GT 240, sometimes much lower. Power consumption for the Radeon HD 5570 was very low, however, and its performance during our multimedia tests was excellent.

 

Running a low-priced graphics card, always requires some sort of compromise.  It all really depends on your usage model. In the Radeon HD 5570's case, consumers will have to decide if the card's half-height form factor, low power attributes, and DirectX 11 support are enough to warrant going with a card like this, when much higher performing cards can be had for only a few dollars more. We suppose decisions like these have to be made when purchasing a graphics card at virtually any price point, but in the 5570's case an additional $15 to $30 investment could yield much higher in-game performance.


AMD ATI Radeon HD 5570
 

Ultimately though, the Radeon HD 5570 is quite appealing. We know not everyone with an HTPC will use it to play games, but it would be nice to know the possibilty exists. And with the Radeon HD 5570, gaming at 720P or even 1080P resolutions is absolutely possible. The card is ideal for low-power and HTPC applications and quiet computing or ultra-small form-factor requirements.

Expect the Radeon HD 5570 to appear at popular on-line e-tailers immediately, for about $79 to $85 depending on the configuration alongside the rest of the Radeon HD 5000 series line-up. Speaking of Radeon HD 5000 series cards, we're hearing rumblings of even more new releases, that don't appear on the roadmap we've shown you a few times before. It seems AMD's relentless release schedule of DX11-class cards may not yet have come to end.  Stay tuned to HH for the full scoop--we'll fill you in on the details as soon as we can.

     
  • Low-Profile
  • Low-Power
  • Low-Price
  • Quiet Cooling
  • Eyefinity Support
  • UVD 2 Support
  • Much Higher Performing Cards, Only Slightly More Expensive



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