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

Radeon HD 5570: The Reference Card

The Radeon HD 5570 certainly doesn't look like a card sporting 400 shaders--likely a side-effect of a move to 40nm manufacturing, cutting back on die size and thermal output, thereby requiring a more conservative cooler and smaller PCB. Frankly, it looks more like the entry-level Radeon HD 4550 with an active cooler. But we mean that with all due respect; fitting this into a microATX (or even mini-ITX) HTPC enclosure in the living room is a real win.

The Radeon HD 5570 doesn't need a dedicated power connector, which is no surprise since the more powerful Radeon HD 5670 doesn't either. Of course, we do expect this card's idle and load power consumption numbers to be even lower. That's another bit of good news since, again, the Radeon HD 5670 already demonstrates impressive results in this regard.

Notice how small the reference cooler is. The impressive part is that is does a great job keeping temperatures in check, as we will demonstrate in the benchmarks.

Our Radeon HD 5570 lacks a CrossFire bridge, but AMD let us know that these low-end Radeons will work quite well in CrossFire without the bridge connector; in fact, it's one of those designs able to enable CrossFire operation over the PCI Express bus. The thing is, with 400 shader cores per card, it is difficult to imagine a scenario where dual Radeon HD 5570s would make sense. The Radeon HD 5770 costs less than two Radeon HD 5570s, but sports 800 shader cores and comes with faster GDDR5 memory. This is one of those scenarios where a single board is a better value than two less-expensive derivatives.

The card's small size allows for a half-height output bezel swap, as long as you're willing to give up the analog VGA connector. This is interesting because half-height versions of respectable gaming cards, such as the GeForce 9600 GT, are usually accompanied by notable price increases, since they are often custom-designed by board vendors. The Radeon HD 5570 should give half-height card buyers access to some low-cost hardware capable of decent gaming.

This reference model came with VGA, DVI, and HDMI outputs. This is a little perplexing because DisplayPort output is necessary for triple-monitor Eyefinity use. Thus, our sample is not triple-monitor capable. As with most of the 5000-series card, each manufacturer has some flexibility as to the output options it wishes to include, so a version with DisplayPort should not be a difficult find post-launch.

The memory on this reference card is Samsung K4W1G1646E-HC11, rated for 900 MHz operation. We found it was willing to go a lot farther than that in our overclocking tests. Of course, the memory on retail boards will vary based on what each manufacturer decides to use.

Looks a lot like the Radeon HD 5670 GPU, doesn't it? That would make sense, since it's the same thing.