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

TrueHD/DTS-HD Bitstreaming: It Works!

One of the features I was most excited about at ATI’s press briefing aboard the USS Hornet was the addition of a protected audio path, which would allow cards based on the Cypress (and now Juniper) GPUs to pass encoded Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio streams to a stereo receiver.

Actually, this is more about allowing the playback software to pass that audio data. The path has to be implemented in such a way that the high-definition soundtrack doesn’t become accessible to a malicious user who’d happily intercept the DRM-free audio. ATI and CyberLink worked closely together to enable this functionality right as the Radeon HD 5870 was launching in a beta build of PowerDVD 9.

PowerDVD 9 properly reporting TrueHD being passed as a compressed multi-channel stream

Unfortunately, bitstreaming wasn’t working for me as of the Radeon HD 5870 review. Nor was it working a couple of weeks later when the Radeon HD 5850 emerged. But between then and now, we’ve been communicating with CyberLink, describing some of what we were seeing. And now bitstreaming works beautifully.

In the face of a somewhat perplexing performance environment, here’s where we see the Radeon HD 5770 and 5750 attracting the attention they deserve. Granted, the 5770 is a double-slot, full-height card, and it won’t fit in small HTPC enclosures. However, the 8.5” long board easily dropped into my nMediaPC 1000B and quite literally ran silently. If you remember back to my first experiments with Windows 7 on an HTPC, then you know I’ve been running Asus’ Xonar HDAV 1.3 in between ATI’s 780G chipset and an Onkyo TX-SR507. The combination was near-perfect, with the exception of a few Blu-ray movies that flagged my config as HDCP-incompatible, requiring AnyDVD HD to circumvent.

Mr. Onkyo happily chews on a little TrueHD

No such trouble with Radeon HD 5770 and PowerDVD 9. Even the most problematic title, Resident Evil: Extinction, played without a hitch. Best of all, the platform’s graphics subsystem went from a Radeon HD 3200 to a Radeon HD 5770. Whereas it really couldn’t game at all previously, it’s now actually quite capable of smooth play, even at 1920x1080.

Chris Angelini
Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.
  • Summer Leigh Castle
    Can we BOLD or change the color of the card that's being reviewed?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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.)
  • cangelini
    That works as well. But for someone with a triple-head setup *and* an HTPC, I can justify both usage models.
  • 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.
  • 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.