PowerColor 5770 PCS+ Vortex ReviewRHKCommander959 - August 8, 2010
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The Juniper core has over a billion transistors on a die the size of 170 mm2. This is all created on 40nm fabrication technology and is paired up with a 128-bit memory bus along with 1GB of GDDR5 on the Radeon HD 5770 video card. The core packs in 800 stream processors, similar to the older 4800 cards from the prior generation. 40 texture, 16 ROP, and 64 Z/Stencil units pair up with the stream processors and memory to make up the backbone of the video card. Connectivity is through a PCI Express 2.1 x16 slot and two CrossFireX slots for multiple card configurations. The 5770 only requires one 6-pin PCI Express power connection and so, theoretically, can only use up to 150 watts of electricity, although it wont even reach those levels without a good overclocking since AMD claims a reference 5770 loaded draws 108 watts. ATI PowerPlay throttles power consumption by adjusting settings on the fly, such as core and memory speed, during idle. In 2D mode, the card only runs at 100 MHz and 300 MHz, respectively, so power consumption is minimal when the load is low - 18 watts on a reference 5770. PowerPlay also saves energy when idling with CrossfireX configurations. HDMI 1.3 with 7.1-channel surround sound is supported, as are dual-stream 1080p playback, H.264, VC-1, and MPEG-2 formats. ATI Eyefinity and 3D stereoscopic technologies are also supported, so users can game in 3D and on up to three screens. On the audio front, the card supports AC-3, AAC, Dolby TrueHD, and DTS Master Audio formats. ATI Stream technology supports OpenCL and DirectCompute for faster encoding and processing.
The PowerColor Radeon HD 5770 PCS+ Vortex is completely in AMD colors, red and black, and around 7.5", which is the normal length of the 5700 cards. The core is overclocked to 900 MHz and the memory is running at 1225 MHz - reference clock speeds are 850 MHz core and 1200 MHz memory, so we already have a decent overclock. The fan extends about half outwards an inch by pushing the three red tabs counter-clockwise. There is no backplate as seen on larger core video cards. Four memory chips are mounted on the back and four on the front underneath the heat sink. All the connections are protected by plastic pieces except for the PCI Express x16 slot.
Near the PCI Express slot are version number, memory installed, and core type. The heat sink fins do not run the length of the card, but instead comes up short by a couple inches on each side, while the fan mount extends beyond to help keep airflow traveling through the video card before being exhausted out. The three red tabs can be lifted up and then twisted by users to create more space between the impeller hub and armatures, thus alleviating the problem of dead zones in air flow. In the default position, the hub sits very close to the heat sink fins and makes it difficult for the impeller to get air directly underneath. This is important because this dead zone also sits above the GPU core that generates the heat that must be dissipated, and if air can't reach the area, the heat must build up and radiate outward to where the airflow is. This buffer could be effective for up to a few degrees difference in performance.
The expansion slot plate is the same as found on all the other 5700 video cards with split grilles surrounding stacked DVI ports and sitting atop a HDMI port and DisplayPort. The grilles don’t actively pass much air by the fan itself, but if the video card is installed into a case with positive air pressure, it can help ventilate hot case air out. Though less likely, if there is negative air pressure (vacuum), it could pull in fresh air. The backside has some chokes and capacitors sitting under the heat sink fins, with the 6-pin power connector near the corner that is opposite the PCI Express x16 slot. The fan cable is sheathed and sneaks through to the PCB from the back. The two CrossFireX slots sit opposite of the 6-pin power connection near the expansion slot. These can be used to run multiple 5700-series cards for more performance.
The heat sink has no trouble clearing all the components of the PCB. The first photo shows the default position of the fan - in this configuration, it only requires two slots worth of space. Lifting up slightly on each tab and then twisting counter-clockwise until the fan clicks raises the fan around half an inch away from the heat sink. The fan housing is thin enough that with very slight torque one can push it past the clicking incidentally and make the fan fall out. Not to worry though, as re-installation is easy - there is a groove to reinstall the fan, as shown further down the page.
The rubber tabs provide the same service as a shim might, but cost less and are reminiscent of the Socket A days. The positioning is not even, but that is how PowerColor has them installed. The core is a decent size, similar to the memory chips. As usual, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TMSC) rendered the GPU core. Hynix produced the eight GDDR5 memory ICs that are soldered onto the video card. The memory runs off the 1.5V and is rated for 1250 MHz operation, which means it shouldn't be hard at all to match the speed since the memory is clocked slightly slower. Another similar batch with 1.6V is rated for 1500 MHz operation, so with proper cooling and voltage, this card could possibly overclock very nicely on the memory. There are four ICs on each side of the 5770.
The heat sink design is identical to the other PowerColor 5770 reviewed a while ago, other than the fan and fan mount design. The 5750 used the same design as well, but without the copper plate that helps dissipate heat from the core to the fins. To hold the heat sink on the card, spring-mounted nuts are screwed into standoffs attached to the heat sink. Plastic washers keep the PCB from getting scratched and also allow the springs to rotate as they spin for a more even dispersion and to keep them from warping.
The fan sits in the lowest hole when it is in the default position. With a light pull up on each tab, the fan can then be rotated through the long divot until the ball reaches the end and makes a click noise. It is then locked into place. To uninstall the fan, rather than twisting counter-clockwise, continue pulling up and give it a very slight clockwise turn, then continue pulling up. To reinstall the fan, it is the same method, just in reverse. There are three balls on the fan housing that ride along three matching groove patterns to raise and lower the fan. The fan has the dimensions 92mm by 15mm and is made by Power Logic, another company founded in Taiwan. The fan uses a sleeve bearing and requires 0.55A at 12V - it only has two power wires, so RPM reporting is not possible. The impeller sits slightly above the housing and thus can more effectively scavenge nearby air to the heat sink.
Once the drivers are done, it is time to test the new video card out!