ATI Radeon HD 5500 Series GDDR5 Review

Introduction and Specifications

A few weeks back, AMD quietly released a couple of new graphics cards in the Radeon HD 5500 series. For a while there, starting with the Radeon HD 5870 in late September of last year, it seemed like AMD was releasing a new series of graphics cards aimed at different price points, practically every few weeks. Things slowed down a bit once the company had a complete top-to-bottom line-up of DX11 and Eyefinity capable cards from prices ranging from about $49 to $600, but obviously AMD wasn’t quite done beefing up the Radeon HD 5000 series.

The recently released Radeon HD 5500 series cards differed from their predecessors in only one meaningful way—they were equipped with GDDR5 memory. The original 5500 series cards sported GDDR3 or GDDR2 memory. The move to GDDR5 allowed AMD to crank the memory clock speed up a bit, which would have a positive impact on overall performance.

We’ve got both the Radeon HD 5550 and Radeon HD 5570 GDDR5 edition graphics cards in house and have taken them for a spin around the lab with an assortment of popular games and benchmarks. Take a look at the pages ahead to see just what a sub-$90 graphics card can get you these days…


The Radeon HD 5550 and 5570 GDDR5 Editions

Radeon HD 5500 Series
Specifications & Features
627 million 40nm transistors

TeraScale 2 Unified Processing Architecture

  320 (5550) / 400 (5570) Stream Processing Units
  16 (5550) / 20 (5570) Texture Units
  32 Z/Stencil ROP Units
  8 Color ROP Units 

DDR3/GDDR5 memory interface

PCI Express 2.1 x16 bus interface

DirectX 11 support
  Shader Model 5.0
  DirectCompute 11
  Programmable hardware tessellation unit
  Accelerated multi-threading
  HDR texture compression
  Order-independent transparency

OpenGL 3.2, 3.3, and 4.0 support

Image quality enhancement technology

  Up to 24x multi-sample and super-sample anti-aliasing modes
  Adaptive anti-aliasing
  16x angle independent anisotropic texture filtering
  128-bit floating point HDR rendering

ATI Eyefinity multi-display technology

  Three independent display controllers 
  Drive three displays simultaneously with independent resolutions, refresh rates, color controls, and video overlays
  Display grouping
  Combine multiple displays to behave like a single large display

ATI Stream acceleration technology

  OpenCL Support
  DirectCompute 11
  Accelerated video encoding, transcoding, and upscaling
ATI CrossFireX multi-GPU technology
Dual GPU scaling

ATI Avivo HD Video & Display technology
  UVD 2 dedicated video playback accelerator
  Advanced post-processing and scaling8
  Dynamic contrast enhancement and color correction
  Brighter whites processing (Blue Stretch)
  Independent video gamma control
  Dynamic video range control
  Support for H.264, VC-1, MPEG-2, and Adobe Flash
  Dual-stream 1080p playback support
  DXVA 1.0 & 2.0 support
  Integrated dual-link DVI output with HDCP 
  Max resolution: 2560x1600
  Integrated DisplayPort output
  Max resolution: 2560x1600
  Integrated HDMI 1.3 output with Deep Color, xvYCC wide gamut support, and high bit-rate audio
  Max resolution: 1920x1200
  Integrated VGA output
  Max resolution: 2048x1536
  3D stereoscopic display/glasses support
  Integrated HD audio controller
  Output protected high bit rate 7.1 channel surround sound over HDMI with no additional cables required
  Supports AC-3, AAC, Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio formats

ATI PowerPlay power management technology

  Dynamic power management with low power idle state
  Ultra-low power state support for multi-GPU configurations

Certified drivers for Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP

The Radeon HD 5500 Series GDDR5 editions have the exact same feature set as their GDDR3/2 counterparts. The GPU configurations on GDDR5 cards are identical to those of the original GDDR3/2 cards. Also note, the Radeon HD 5550 and Radeon HD 5570 sport the same GPU, hence the similar features. The only differences between the two cards are that the higher-end Radeon HD 5570 has more stream processing units and texture units. Whereas the Radeon HD 5570 has 400 stream processors and 20 texture units, the Radeon HD 5550 has 320 and 16.


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