PowerColor 5770 PCS+ Vortex ReviewRHKCommander959 -
Category: Video Cards
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With the 5000 series from ATI having solidified itself in the market over time due to the performance leads over NVIDIA, manufacturers have come forth with more exotic video card designs and speeds. The 5700 cards are equipped with the second most powerful GPU core, Juniper, which targets the midrange market and is available on the 5770 and 5750. The strongest core is the Cypress, which power the 5970, 5870, and 5850 designs. Both cores are built on the 40nm fabrication process and share a similar design, although the Juniper is virtually half a Cypress with half the stream processing units, ROPs, memory bus, and close to half the amount of transistors, die size, and pixel/texture fill rates. However, both can come paired with 1GB of GDDR5 and have similar clock speeds. Half the size means that these cost ATI a whole lot less and should result in better binning and yields in comparison to the Cypress core, as more Juniper cores can be produced per wafer, not to mention a smaller design is also easier to produce.
New variants have been pumped out by many of the manufacturers supporting ATI for some time and PowerColor has just designed a new video card based off of the 5770 PCS+ that was reviewed here at OCC a few months ago. The new design is called the 5770 PCS+ Vortex and sports a new heat sink design and higher core overclock of 900 MHz. One of the things that stands out over most heat sinks is that this one has a movable fan that can possibly operate more efficiently if the system has enough room - with the fan in the normal position, the card only takes up two slots, while with the fan extended it protrudes into a third slot. Overclocking headroom could be limited from the decent factory overclock, but that will have to wait until later on in the review!
PowerColor has reused its older HD 5770 box by using a sliding sleeve to cover the older box up and to show off the new features and contents, such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. As is the norm for PowerColor, a car has been blended with the heat sink as the box art, giving some hints as to the general look of the video card, minus the wheels. With 1GB of GDDR5 memory, the video card is in the same range as most midrange and high level cards, memory-wise. Rotating to the back reveals some features of the HD 5770 - the video card is built on a 128-bit memory bus, connects through PCI Express 2.1, has a core built on 40nm fabrication technology, and supports Microsoft DirectX 11 and Shader Model 5.0, as well as some other features. Further along the back are thermal images of the card with the fan in its default position and again in the raised position. The raising of the fan creates a buffer, or shroud, effect that in turn allows air to more evenly distribute from the impeller. This is important because the motor hub generally overlaps the heat sink and thus inhibits airflow, usually right over or near the core where the heat sink is the warmest. To the right are seven translations of the basic features. Lastly, at the bottom of the backside, is a rating system for gaming, office, and entertainment performance with up to five stars for the best performance. They gave the HD 5770 PCS+ Vortex four stars in gaming, and five in entertainment and office performance. There is also an explanation of what the PCS acronym means.
Sliding the cover off shows the older HD 5770 box, which has a sticker saying that it contains a free copy of Dirt 2. Two free games would be nice, but I suspect that it is an error caused by reusing the prior material when Dirt 2 was given away for free on the 5770. The inside box art continues the common usage of cars, this time a different angle of another car heat sink.
Opening the main package yields the typical cardboard container, and opening it up immediately gives a sneak peek at the new heat sink design. Dirt 2 is not inside and neither is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 - perhaps Modern Warfare 2 was removed for the review sample. Only a driver disk, DVI to VGA adapter, a CrossFireX connector, and a pair of user manuals were included. The standard translucent, grayish-blue anti-static bag protects the 5770 PCS+ Vortex and gives a small glimpse of what the new video card looks like.
Time to get a better look at the PowerColor Radeon HD 5770 PCS+ Vortex!