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Radeon HD 5770 And 5750 Review: Gentlemen, Start Your HTPCs

Conclusion

I see two types of buyers considering these cards.

First, there are the value-oriented enthusiasts who try to keep their systems updated once a year or so. They’d love the fastest technology, but know that flagships always carry the largest pricing premiums. These are the folks who kept an eye on our Best Graphics Cards for the Money column, and when Radeon HD 4870s hit $140 bucks, they bought (and got a killer deal, even by today’s standards). If you belong to that group and are looking at “Radeon HD 5700-series,” expecting a big step up in performance, even the 5770 is a disappointment. After all, if you own a 4870 or 4890 already, that card is faster in today’s games.

Of course, there’s an X factor in play: ATI’s value-adds. Eyefinity—the ability to run three concurrent display outputs—is completely unique at the high-end still. It’s particularly exciting at the $159 and $129 price points being represented here.  Likewise, the ability to bitstream Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD MA are capabilities previously available through $200+ sound cards. Now you can get that functionality from a DirectX 11 graphics card. Both extras are compelling enough on their own to sell these cards to the folks able to exploit their benefits today. And it’s personally telling that I’ve put one card in my desktop workstation to drive a trio of monitors, and one into my HTPC, driving a 55” Samsung LED display.

How could you NOT want this on your desk?

The second group of folks is upgrading from older graphics technology, or perhaps even building a first system. They don’t have a good point of reference, so they’re seeing Radeon HD 5770/5750, Radeon HD 4870, and GeForce GTX 260 on the shelf next to each other for the first time. Available for $145 online, and with consistently better performance than the 5770, ATI’s Radeon HD 4870 remains a good buy. But paying an extra $15 for Eyefinity, bitstreaming, and the promise of DirectX 11 should really be a no-brainer.

What about the Radeon HD 5750 versus GeForce GTS 250 grudge match? Again, Nvidia seems to have the faster GPU, but again, it’d be short-sighted to pass up on ATI’s value-adds at the same price point for a few frames per second. As an aside—and this is going to get me crucified in the comments—but props to Nvidia for designing a GPU that could hang around for more than two years and continue to do battle against modern architectures in modern games and come out ahead.

I think it’s our second-to-last page that’s the most telling here, though. Stepping from a 2.66 GHz Core i5-750 to the same chip running at 3.8 GHz makes almost no difference to the gamers running at 1920x1200. If it means saving a few bucks on a less expensive CPU so that you can step up to a Radeon HD 5850, that’s the move I’d most likely make.

  • Summer Leigh Castle
    Can we BOLD or change the color of the card that's being reviewed?
    Reply
  • masterjaw
    Nice one, but the charts are a bit cluttered without giving emphasis on the featured cards (bold fonts, etc). A media card that could do games pretty good.

    I'm quite agree with the nvidia's G92 still hanging around but looking at their newly released cards (gt220, 210), I don't know what to say anymore. Hopefully, they're making the right choices at the right time.
    Reply
  • megamanx00
    Looks to me like the 5770 really needs faster memory speeds, though that would defeat trying to make it cheaper, and perhaps a higher core clock. Perhaps we'll see some factory overclocked cards with memory that can reach a significantly higher speed.
    Reply
  • JohnnyLucky
    Power consumption, temperature, and noise levels are very encouraging. I just finished reading other reviews where the 5700 cards are described as mid-level and mainstream cards.
    Reply
  • buzznut
    If I was building today (htpc), I would still go with a HD4670. Who knows six months from now...
    Those other features are compelling. If I could afford 2 more monitors that is.
    Reply
  • cangelini
    Summer Leigh CastleCan we BOLD or change the color of the card that's being reviewed?
    For sure--I've looked into this and would be happy to implement, but haven't had much luck. Any Excel gurus able to get only certain axis labels bolded without changing the entire series?
    Reply
  • noob2222
    and bitstreaming HD audio in an HTPC (a reason to buy a second card for the living room).

    Personally I use my main computer as my HTPC, after all, I can't play games and watch movies from 2 different rooms at the same time, and all it takes is the HDMI cable (at least until they make it wireless.)
    Reply
  • cangelini
    That works as well. But for someone with a triple-head setup *and* an HTPC, I can justify both usage models.
    Reply
  • lashabane
    I'm looking to upgrade from my dated 3850 and was thinking that these would really impress me for the price. I'm thinking I'll just spend the bit extra and get the 5850 when the prices come down.

    Of course, I wouldn't have been able to make such an informed decision so early if it weren't for TH and columnists such as yourself.

    Thanks for another great article Chris.
    Reply
  • ambientmf
    What's the benefit of DirectX 11 capabilities if the cards are worse performing than last gen cards in DX9/10 games? I'd rather get a 4800 series card, being a gamer myself, for slightly better framerates.
    I can see the other benefits for the hardcore HTPC crowd though.
    Reply