|ATI Radeon HD5570 DX11 Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Bruce Normann|
|Thursday, 11 February 2010|
Page 4 of 16
Closer Look: Radeon HD5570
From the specification standpoint, the HD5570 is not that different from the HD5670 design. From the physical perspective though, the intended application for this diminutive card has driven a different approach. Everything is smaller and packaged tighter, to accommodate usage in low-profile HTPC cases. The sample card I received has a full height I/O bracket, but the DE15HD VGA connector is wired with ribbon cable and is removable, or it can be relocated to an adjacent slot. This way, the card can be easily reconfigured to a true half-height form factor. The card itself is only about an inch longer than the PCI-e interface that it connects to.
Power consumption is nowhere near the all-time low set by the HD5450, but the performance is going to be miles ahead as a result. This is the perfect card for those who saw the HD5670 and wished it was a low profile card. The same folks probably saw the HD5450 and bemoaned the fact that gaming with it was pretty much out of the question, with only 80 shaders in play. I hate to keep describing this card in terms of its two nearest siblings, but it really is the perfect mix of the best from both of them. ATI's AIB partners will have considerable flexibility for their cooling solutions, allowing them to optimize their offerings along several product pathways. I expect some current fan-cooled designs to be recycled, in order to reduce tooling costs. For now, ATI has given us a promising pint sized reference cooler that is 100% copper, excepting the fan and its shroud, which are both plastic. By the looks of it, I expect excellent cooling performance.
The connections on the I/O plate at the rear of the card are arranged in a common configuration for this class of video card. From left to right: one VGA, one HDMI and one DVI connector - one for everyone. This card did not have a DisplayPort connection, which is required for a three monitor Eyefinity setup. There will be some flexibility in the I/O port arrangement for ATI partners, so pay attention to the product specs when you buy, as it can be hard to tell the HDMI and DisplayPort connections apart with a casual glance.
Looking at the end-on image above, it's also clear that the cooling hardware consumes only one expansion slot. Since HTPC cases and their smaller class of motherboards have more restrictive space requirements, this is an important point for some builders. Remember, there will be a variety of options available from the AIB partners, although I don't think any of them are going to adopt a two-slot cooling solution. We saw quite the reverse when the HD5450 was released. All of the retail partners released single slot passive designs that looked (and performed) nothing like the passive heatsink ATI showed us in their engineering samples.
The back of the Radeon HD5450 is not quite as densely packed as some of the uber-cards we test here at Benchmark Reviews, but it's filled, for the most part, with miniature surface-mount-technology components. The main features to be seen here are the metal cross-brace for the GPU heatsink screws, which are spring loaded, and connect to threaded standoffs on the heat sink assembly on the front side of the card, and the GDDR3 RAM modules. 4 modules of back side DRAM show up on this 1 GB version of the card, in conjunction with their mates on the front side, which are hidden below the GPU cooler. Neither the front nor back side RAM receives any active or passive cooling, as we'll see later when we look closer at the cooling system.
For most high-end video cards, the cooling system is an integral part of the performance envelope for the card. Make it run cooler, and you can make it run faster was always the byword for achieving gaming-class performance from the latest and greatest GPU. The HD5570 takes a similar path, but the main design problem faced here is squeezing enough cooling for the Redwood-class GPU into a low profile form factor, for the HTPC application it will most likely be used in.
The HD5570 offers the performance of a mainstream video card in a half-height form factor. With a very small GPU die, there just aren't too many transistors there to produce a lot of heat, but it's likely to be pushed to maximum performance levels by most customers, who buy this card because they needed the gaming performance that the HD5450 couldn't provide. What heat there is will all come out here, at the top and back end of the cooler housing.
That's all there really is to see on the outside, so let's peel back the covers and have a good look around on the inside.