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ATI Radeon HD 5570 and Sapphire HD 5570 1GB DDR3 DP

The Radeon HD 5570, sometimes referred to as Redwood PRO, belongs to the family of Redwood-based solutions, too. This model is also represented by two versions in this review – a reference version and a version from Sapphire – but they don’t differ much. Sapphire’s card is packaged into a rather large and nice-looking box designed in red colors and embellished with a picture of the official mascot of the Radeon series called Ruby.

The type of the graphics memory is indicated correctly. You can also learn from the text on the box that a low-profile mounting bracket is included into the box. A free version of the SimHD IM plug-in is included, too. “IM” stands for Internet Messaging and the plug-in itself can scale up streaming video to near-HD level. The technology may be useful, but the quality of an Internet video call depends more on the video codec, Internet bandwidth and latencies rather than on any post-processing of the image itself. The accessories are not rich but passable for a below-$85 product: discs with drivers and SimHD IM, a Sapphire sticker, a couple of low-profile mounting brackets, one of which is designed for a D-Sub connector, and a user manual. There is no DVI-I à HDMI adapter in the kit which may be a problem as we’ll explain shortly.

The two Radeon HD 5570 models we’ve got are both based on the reference PCB design. They are compact low-profile cards equipped with tiny coolers.

 

 

With such dimensions, the Radeon HD 5570 should not provoke any installation-related problems if your system case is designed for a discrete graphics card at all. You may need a half-height mounting bracket like the one included with the Sapphire HD 5570 DP. We guess that all retail versions of Radeon HD 5570 will come with such brackets.

 

The cards look unusual with the coolers removed. The GPU is turned around by 45 degrees, which is not often to be seen. This must be due to the specifics of wiring a low-profile PCB. This also must be the reason why the PCBs are so densely populated with small components. The power circuit is very simple and uses single-phase GPU and voltage regulators managed by uP6101 chips.

 

 

With the component density so high, it would be a daunting task to volt-mod the Radeon HD 5570 but some overclockers might do that just for fun.

 

The GPU chip on the reference Radeon HD 5570 was manufactured on the 38th week of 2009. The Sapphire card’s GPU was made on the 47th week of 2009. As usual, you can extract no other useful info from the markings on ATI Radeon HD series GPUs.

 

Compared with the Radeon HD 5670, the clock rate is reduced from 775 to 650 MHz, but this is still the same Redwood (RV380) with 400 ALUs, 20 TMUs and 8 RBEs. However, there are internal differences explaining why this chip is called “Redwood PRO” when installed on the Radeon HD 5570 rather than “XT” as on the senior model of the series. In this case, the memory controller is set up for DDR3 whereas the senior model’s controller is set for GDDR5. AMD’s card is an engineering sample while Sapphire’s is an almost exact copy of it, so their memory frequency is 900 (1800) MHz in full compliance with the official specs. With a 128-bit memory bus, the peak memory bandwidth is 28.8 GBps.

 

There are eight K4W1G1646E-HC11 memory chips from Samsung at the back of each Radeon HD 5570 card, four on each side of the PCB. Although they are categorized as gDDR3 on the manufacturer’s official website, you should not confuse them with GDDR3 as the popular GPU-Z tool does. These are actually two different types of memory. GDDR3 is based on DDR2 technologies, has a higher voltage than DDR3 (1.7 to 2.1 V compared to 1.5 V) and has internal termination. The chips on board the described AMD and Sapphire cards have a voltage of 1.5 V and a rated frequency of 900 (1800) MHz. They have a capacity of 1 Gb for a total of 1024 megabytes. Although seemingly redundant, this amount of graphics memory has already become standard even for cheap graphics cards.

The Radeon HD 5570 has a typical selection of interfaces for an HTPC-oriented solution: one DVI-I, one HDMI and one D-Sub (the smaller mounting bracket does not allow using the D-Sub). The card fully supports HDMI 1.3a. The Sapphire HD 5570 DP has a DisplayPort instead of the HDMI, which may present a problem if you are going to build a three-monitor configuration. And you will also need a DVI-I à HDMI adapter to connect the card to most modern TV-sets (the adapter is not included into the kit). Sapphire also offers a Radeon HD 5570 with a more traditional selection of interfaces, though.

The reference card’s cooling system is simple and consists of a copper base with a copper heatsink soldered to it. The heatsink is made of slim interlocked fins. The Sapphire HD 5570 DP has an all-aluminum heatsink of about the same size. There are slits beneath the fan: we don’t think the PCB of the Radeon HD 5570 needs such cooling but it will be indeed cooled better here.

 

 

The heatsink is cooled by tiny 7-blade fans. Considering the reduced GPU frequency, this should be enough. We only have some apprehensions concerning the noise these fans may produce.

Compared with the Radeon HD 5670, the Radeon HD 5570 seems a better option for HTPC users. An HTPC is not expected to be fast in 3D applications and is likely to be assembled in a compact low-profile system case for which the half-height Radeon HD 5570 is going to suit perfectly. These solutions are absolutely identical in terms of software and hardware capabilities for processing HD audio and video content, at least theoretically. As we know, some manufacturers often deliberately limit the functionality of their inexpensive products to make customers prefer the more expensive ones.

 
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