Summary: Priced at $99 and offering features like DirectX 11 and Eyefinity, ATI's Radeon 5670 is poised to take over the heart of the mainstream graphics market. But is it powerful enough to displace the Radeon 4850 and 4770? How well does it OC? Find out in today's article!
Everyone seems to be picking on the Radeon HD 4670 these days.
When they launched the GeForce GT 240 at the end of last year, NVIDIA was quick to compare their latest mainstream GPU to the Radeon 4670. Even though the $99 GeForce GT 240 was priced closer to the Radeon 4770 than the 4670, that didn’t stop NVIDIA from declaring victory in GT 240 pre-launch promotional materials, and as our benchmarks showed, NVIDIA’s claims were for the most part true. The GeForce GT 240 was definitely the faster card.
Now ATI’s getting in on the action. With today’s arrival of the Radeon HD 5670, ATI’s quick to compare its performance to that of the Radeon 4670 and GeForce GT 240. ATI says that the 5670 is faster than both, with the additions of DirectX 11 (including DirectCompute 11), Eyefinity, and HDMI 1.3a with Dolby True HD and DTS Master Audio (which the GT 240 also supports). And while the 5670 was originally designed to be the true successor to the Radeon 4670, there’s only one small problem: the 5670 is priced at $99.
Did no one at ATI or NVIDIA get the memo that the Radeon 4670 currently starts at about $70?
Getting the Radeon 5670 out the door is an important achievement for ATI though, as it gets them into another price bracket. You could argue it’s the most important bracket of all. You see, the Radeon 5670, previously codenamed “Redwood” is intended to service the mainstream market. According to the latest figures from Mercury Research, 66% of the discrete graphics market consists of cards that sell for less than $100. The $100-$200 graphics segment trails by a factor of 2X at 27% overall.
The card is the fourth release in ATI’s “Evergreen” family of DX11 GPUs. Last September ATI introduced Cypress, which was used in the Radeon 5800 series GPUs, while Juniper (Radeon 5700 series) and Hemlock (Radeon 5970) followed quickly in November. Today ATI’s introducing Redwood, and the latest rumors suggest that Cedar (which we’ll also be previewing today) could come as soon as next month.
It’s beginning to look like ATI will offer a top-to-bottom range of DirectX 11 cards before NVIDIA gets their first DX11 card out.
Like other Evergreen cards, the Radeon HD 5670 is built on TSMC’s 40-nm manufacturing process and consumes very little power as a result – at idle the card draws just 14W.
Its most notable feature though is without a doubt, DirectX 11. But does it have the horsepower to run cutting edge titles with good performance? Let’s take a look at the nuts and bolts that make up the Radeon 5670…
ATI’s latest Radeon card draws on the same roots as ATI’s other Evergreen boards. Its architecture is merely a cut-down derivative in order to reduce costs. Essentially ATI takes the Juniper XT core found in the Radeon 5770 and chops it in half to produce the Radeon 5670: while Radeon 5770 sports 800 shaders, Radeon 5670 has 400. 5770 features 16 ROPs with 40 texture units, while Radeon 5670 gets by with 8 ROPs and 20 texture units.
As you can see in the block diagram above, the Radeon 5670 features 5 SIMD cores with two 64-bit memory controllers paired to GDDR5 memory. Capacities of 512MB and 1GB will be offered, with both SKUs shipping with 4Gbps memory. The 512MB SKU should be sold for around $99.99 and up, while we’re told prices on the 1GB SKU should start around $114.99 and go up from there.
The Radeon 5670 is built on the same 40-nm manufacturing process as TSMC, but with half the number of stream processors (400 vs 800), it’s obviously going to be down on the 4770 when it comes to shading performance. Fewer texture units also means the 5670 will be down in the texturing department as well.
One positive for ATI though is die size. The Radeon 5670’s die measures just 104 square millimeters. In comparison, 4770 measures 172 mm2 and 4670 is 146 square millimeters, so the 5670 is a much smaller chip that should be cheaper for ATI to produce than preceding cards. In addition, thanks to the use of faster GDDR5 memory modules, the 5670 boasts two times the memory bandwidth of its predecessor – that’s a pretty substantial leap from one generation to the next in this class. It also sports about 13GB/sec of added memory bandwidth over the 4770.
Power consumption is another highlight for the Radeon 5670. We’re told that the board idles at just 14W, while typical power consumption is 61W. This, along with the 5670’s A/V features, should make it ideal for HTPC use.
Radeon 5670 cards
We’re not going to spend a lot of time discussing the Radeon 5670 reference board design, as frankly it isn’t as important for the 5670 as it is for more powerful cards in the Evergreen family. This is because ATI is allowing their board partners to produce their own unique 5670 boards right out of the gates on launch day. Board partners were forced to stick with the reference design for their Radeon 5700 and Radeon 5800 series cards, and are just now beginning to sell their own custom boards based on those GPUs.
Unfortunately, this comes with a performance penalty for enthusiasts who may wish to pair up two Radeon 5670 cards together. For ATI’s board partners, this helps to reduce their manufacturing costs. We’re told that you’ll see a mixture of 5670 cards with and without hardware-based CrossFire.
The mockup reference board photos provided by ATI for this review highlight a reference design with one DVI, one DisplayPort, and one VGA output as well as dedicated CrossFire connectors.
ATI has two more cards planned for the value segment of the graphics market, the Radeon HD 5500 series and Radeon HD 5450, which is based on their final Evergreen chip, “Cedar”. Thanks to last week’s Mobility Radeon announcement, we already know that Cedar will ship with 80 stream processors and will likely utilize a 64-bit memory interface, but we don’t know the final clocks or pricing. We do have a couple of shots of these boards that we can share with you though:
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition
6GB (2x3GB) OCZ Reaper HPC 1600 @ DDR-1066 Speeds
NVIDIA GeForce GT 240 512MB
NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GT 512MB
NVIDIA GeForce 9600 GT 512MB
ATI Radeon HD 5670 512MB
ATI Radeon HD 4670 512MB
ATI Radeon HD 4770 512MB
2TB Seagate Barracuda XT
Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Max Settings
Fallout 3 DirectX 9
CoD: MW2 – DirectX 9
Crysis – DirectX 10
Far Cry 2 – DirectX 10
Resident Evil – DirectX 10
Batman:AA – DirectX 9
HAWX – DirectX 10
Wolfenstein – OpenGL
With just 400 shaders and a 128-bit memory interface though, there’s simply no way the Radeon HD 5670 is going to be able to keep up with a card as powerful as the Radeon 4850. It’s simply in a different performance class.
When designing the Radeon 5670, ATI’s engineers just weren’t given the power budget to produce a card on the 4850’s scale. Instead their goal was to deliver a competent Radeon 4670 successor while remaining under 75W max power: ATI didn’t want the 5670 to require a dedicated PCIe power connector.
Considering those goals, obviously ATI’s engineers have delivered on their mission. The Radeon HD 5670 delivers best-in-class performance, sweeping the GeForce GT 240 in all of the benchmarks we ran, and is also the most feature-rich card in its class. It’s easily the better card between the two.
When compared against other $99 cards like the Radeon 4770/4850 and GeForce 9800 GT however, the Radeon 5670 does take a backseat when it comes to 3D performance. If you’re a gamer looking for a card that will perform well with today’s titles (which are largely DX9 or DX10-based), you’d be better off with one of these older Radeon or GeForce boards.
That could change though as more DX11 titles begin to ship. Our results with STALKER: Call of Pripyat had the Radeon 4770 running neck-and-neck with the 5670. This is because the Radeon 5670 is able to use DX11’s more efficient shaders to deliver improved performance. Unfortunately, we aren’t able to run head-to-head comparisons with DiRT 2, as the game’s DX11 mode offers significantly more features than its DX9 codepath, but you could potentially see this trend in other upcoming DX11 games.
If you need a good gaming card to get you through the next 6-12 months, you may want to go with a Radeon 4770 or 4850, but if you’re buying for the long-term, the Radeon 5670 would be the better buy. It’s got all the right features, low power consumption, and it’s a decent performer. Sure, we wish it were a little closer to the 4770 in performance with today’s titles, but all things considered, ATI’s definitely done enough to earn a lot of business from OEMs and budget-conscious gamers.
Now we’ll have to see what ATI has in store with Cedar coming later this quarter…
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