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ATI Radeon HD 5570: Reasonable Gaming Performance For $80?

Overclocking And Eyefinity Benchmarks

It has not escaped us that the Radeon HD 5570 shares the same GPU as the Radeon HD 5670, and that the more expensive card employs a clock rate 125 MHz higher. This gives us a nice round target to aim for as we overclock.

While the Catalyst Control Center's Overdrive tool caps overclocking to 700 MHz core and 950 MHz memory settings (versus the stock 650 MHz core and 900 MHz memory clocks), we wanted to exceed this imposed limitation. Thus, we employed MSI's Afterburner overclocking tool. Altering the config file for this utility allows us to overclock Radeon cards past any artificial ceilings.

Indeed, we were able to take our Radeon HD 5570 sample to 750 MHz core and 1,000 MHz memory--a 100 MHz increase over both reference specifications. While the card doesn't come with a beefy cooler, even our Crysis benchmark runs didn't push the GPU past 63 degrees Celsius. If MSI adds voltage modification support for the Radeon HD 5570 in its software, we'd expect to see additional headroom opened up without running into thermal issues.

In any case, we benchmarked Crysis and Far Cry 2 to see what the overclock would yield:

The overclock doesn't give us a ton of extra performance, but it certainly brings the results closer to Nvidia's stock GeForce 9600 GT and ATI's Radeon HD 5670.

What about Eyefinity? Is the Radeon HD 5570 a viable option for a low-budget triple monitor setup? We wanted to try three 17" 1280x1024 monitors, but as we mentioned, our sample did not have the requisite DisplayPort that'd be needed to enable Eyefinity-based display configurations. To get a rough idea of what triple-monitor performance might look like, we used two monitors, yielding a 3840x1200 desktop resolution. This is extremely close to the 3840x1024 resolution we'd get from three 17" displays.

Eyefinity might viable for desktop productivity, but our results suggest that gaming might be a stretch on a mainstream card like the Radeon HD 5570. Perhaps low-quality settings would be more attainable. But at that point, we'd rather experience a demanding title's recommended image quality options versus toning everything down to get playable frame rates at higher resolutions. Eyefinity is a great feature, but truly taking advantage of it means buying a powerful-enough GPU. This one falls short of that mark, even if you're using relatively-small 17" monitors.