Launched under the promise that “HD gaming starts here”, the ATI Radeon HD 5670 graphics processor make a few boasts from the get go; the promotional notes start by telling us how it offers “best-in-class performance and features, with complete DirectX 11 support and the world’s most advanced graphics, display and memory technologies”.
Overall then, from the promo material they’re not exactly selling themselves short then, but a few weeks on from its release onto the market has ATI really lived up to its word? Previous Radeons such as the HD 5870, HD 5850 and HD 5770 cover a lot of bases when it comes to DX11 but where the 5670 is set to make its mark, as one review notes, is as a low cost DX11 card (around €70 or $100) that, perhaps most importantly considering its mass market audience, does not require an external power connector.
As Bit-Tech reveal, “Of course, dropping an external power connector and targeting a lower price point mean that there have had to be some significant cuts when it comes to the core hardware involved. The 40nm GPU, codenamed Redwood (to the 57xx series’ Juniper and the 58xx series’ Cypress) sports a lowly 400 stream processors running at 775MHz (in comparison to the HD 5770’s 800 and the HD 5870’s1,600 stream processors, running at 725MHz and 850MHz respectively), with those 400 comprising just twenty texture units.”
Elsewhere, Techspot have a good run through some of the other basics of the new ATI offering noting that it’s the first board in the HD 5000 series to use a single slot design, making it a solid choice for HTPC systems. “The card is said to consume just 61 watts of power under load, which is considerably less than the 108 watts of the Radeon HD 5770, or the 188 watts of the Radeon HD 5870. As a result the Radeon HD 5670 should generate little noise and likely overclock very well.”
They add that, on paper, it looks like the 5670 “is aiming for the GeForce GT 240, and we can’t help but feel worried that they have not set their goals for the Radeon HD 5670 higher”. Tom’s Hardware pick up this point saying the 5670’s aim is directed towards the less-expensive GeForce 9600 GT not to mention Nvidia’s aging GeForce 9800 GT.
Compared to the Radeon HD 5770, which measures 21cm, the Radeon HD 5670 is just 17cm long. This is the same as the GeForce GT 240 and therefore should fit in any case that can support a mATX motherboard. Techspot notes that there are only eight ROPs (Rasterization Operator Units), which is exactly half as many as the Radeon HD 5770, and the same as the older Radeon HD 4670.
The latter point is something that was picked up on by Bit-Tech as well, as they said that this unfortunately results in the 5670 being a “card that is a notable step down in GPU performance” from previous incarnations. But before we all lose the run of ourselves there is method to the madness. The makers have “at least chosen to furnish the HD 5670 with a 128-bit memory bus – the same as the HD 57xx series – and furnished the card with GDDR5 memory in either 512MB or 1GB configurations (most cards at launch will use 1GB), with the memory running at 1GHz (4GHz effective). All these hardware cuts have come with the benefit of much lower power demands though, allowing the HD 5670 to tip the scales at a miserly 61W typical maximum board power, and an excellent idle power draw of just 14W. This low power consumption has allowed ATI to do away with any kind of additional power connector, crucial for the low-end upgrade market where manufactures want to simplify the installation procedure as much as possible,” remarked Bit-Tech.
HardOCP’s very thorough review said that in tests the 5670 improved upon the performance of Nvidia’s GeForce GT 240 “and allowed us to turn many in-game settings up to ‘gamer’ level. This includes: texture quality, physics quality, volumetric, game effects, post-processing, particles, water and motion blur quality. The gameplay experience is enhanced, the textures look much better. However, shaders quality is still at ‘mainstream’, it just couldn’t push ‘gamer’ shaders even at 1680×1050.”
The promo material referred to earlier also went on to say that the HD 5670 allows you to, “Expand your visual real estate across up to three displays and get lost in the action with ATI Eyefinity Technology,” Eyefinity being a technology created to work with games that support non-standard aspect ratios, required for panning across three displays and to enable a third display you require one panel with a DisplayPort connector.
Tackling the Eyefinity feature Tom’s Hardware says that while the GPU powering the HD 5670 is technically capable of handling four displays, “the company let us know that its launch cards will be limited to three due to the real estate issues of fitting the outputs on a single-slot I/O bracket”. Manufacturers, they add, have the option of offering a 5670 able to exploit four displays at once, though we have to imagine such functionality would typically be reserved for the high-end.
“The biggest potential drawback here ironically applies to gamers. Is the Radeon HD 5670 powerful enough to handle the ludicrous resolutions that Eyefinity requires? Probably not, considering aggressive Eyefinity resolutions can bring even the Radeon HD 5870 to a crawl. But AMD suggests that 4800×900 (three monitors running 1600×900 each) is a playable arrangement on this new board,” adds the report.
Summing things up nicely, one ComputerShopper review said that, all in all, “in real-world gaming tests, the HD 5670 is impressive for the price”, adding that “it’ll tackle mainstream games with ease, and it should handle demanding DirectX 10 games at anything up to 1,920×1,200, so long as you’re willing to dial down some of the settings”.
More pertinently, across the reviews we saw the general theory was that this card also puts ATI even further ahead of rival Nvidia, which has yet to release a DX11 card.
Overall Review of Reviews Rating: 6.5/10