Sapphire HD 5770 FleX Review

RHKCommander959 - 2010-08-04 15:49:48 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: RHKCommander959   
Reviewed on: August 12, 2010
Price: $169.99

Introduction:

ATI has had their 5000 series graphics cards out for quite a while now, so vendors are continuously repacking and redesigning their cards that are already currently sold. Newer variants can be found with better cooling solutions that run quieter, take up less space, or cool the core and/or memory better. Some versions are overclocked beyond reference speeds and some even have voltage adjustments for overclocking. Finally, vendors also use offers of free video games or more connectivity options as sale points.

Sapphire has just come out with a new version of the ATI Radeon HD 5770 with the moniker FleX that can support up to four monitors in ATI Eyefinity. They accomplish this by using three DVI connections where one is a HDMI to DVI adapter. The card itself has two DVI connections: one has a single link output while the other has a dual link output. The rest of the graphics card is mostly reference with 1GB of GDDR5 and 800 stream processors both running at stock reference speeds of 850 MHz core and 1200 MHz memory.

Closer Look:

The Sapphire rendition of what looks to be Ruby has come back on the new box art and this time around she's not scantily clad. The box is smooth and glossy and is of good quality. The FleX edition designation is explained at the top center, the video card can support three monitors with DVI connections out of the box and up to four monitors total. Some of the main features of the card are listed near the bottom, Microsoft DirectX 11, PCI Express 2.1, 1080P Full HD output, DisplayPort and HDMI output, and 7.1-channel HD surround sound. Rotating to the back of the box shows some more features and what to expect from the 5770 FleX. To summarize the expectations, it provides affordable performance with up to date technology support such as Windows 7 and DirectX 11, ATI Stream compute technology and Eyefinity multi-monitor output of up to four monitors. Output is fully HD capable. Included in the package are some cables, user manual, and driver CD. Many review awards are listed on the back with Sapphire claiming to have received over 2500 since 2002, the OCC award logo is the second from the top left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first side of the box has some specifications about the graphics card such as operating system support (Windows Media Center Edition 2005, XP, Vista, and 7), video outputs, and system requirements including 450 Watt power supply and an open PCI Express x16 slot. The UPC is also on this side with five different barcodes for different identifiers. The other sides are clean and only show Sapphire, ATI, and the model name FleX HD 5770.

 

 

Inside the package is a cardboard box that contains a tray with two separate containers, one has the video card with a driver disk and paperwork stacked on top and the other has the cables and adapters. Everything that could be needed to use the 5770 has been included as well as the special FleX cable which converts HDMI to DVI output (a much more common monitor connection) for easy triple monitor Eyefinity. A power cable adapter is included for users who have a power supply that does not have any available 6-pin power connections so all that is needed is a spare 4-pin Molex connection. A DVI to VGA adapter is also included for those who still use the older D-sub connection, and the CrossFire dongle allows for hardware CrossFireX installations.

 

 

Sapphire has an online system called the Sapphire Select Club where RMA servicing and updates are easy to process, and users are eligible for free promotions and contests for things such as games and software, video cards and other hardware. The driver disk, case badge, and installation guide haven't changed much over the years, the driver disk has a copy of the ATI drivers and when combined with the installation guide should make installation and setup a breeze for anyone fresh to hardware upgrades. The video card is protected by the standard low density polyethylene antistatic bag, this one has a large warning sticker attached that reminds people to connect the power supply to the video card.

 

 

Let's see what the Sapphire HD 5770 FleX looks like!

Closer Look:

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. The core packs in 800 stream processors, similar to the older 4800 cards. 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 overclock 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, 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 AC-3, AAC, Dolby TrueHD, and DTS Master Audio formats. ATI Stream technology supports OpenCL and DirectCompute for faster encoding and processing.

The Sapphire HD 5770 FleX is the same dimensions as most of the other 5770s on the market with a length of around 7.5" and a height of two slots. The core and memory speeds are reference speeds of 850 MHz and 1200 MHz respectively, all eight memory chips are not actively cooled as is common on 5770s. The plastic shroud and heat sink design are shared by some of Sapphires other video cards, this one however does not have a picture of the girl seen on the box as some of the other cards do feature her. The design on here is basic and reminds me of how racing cars are usually covered in company stickers, so is this video card! The two-wired ball bearing fan has an impeller with atypical angles to it that probably change how the air disperses in the heat sink fins or somehow varies the acoustics from the air noise. The heat sink does have two large heat pipes that start right above the GPU core and then each pipe reaches for an end of the card to terminate, this aids in dispersing the heat thoroughly throughout the heat sink since heat pipes help to wick heat away from the source rather than letting the heat merely radiate outward from the core. The back side is clean, there is no back-plate although this is common practice on the 5770s and four of the memory ICs are visible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The single link DVI port is the top grayish port and provides only 1920x1200 resolution while the second DVI port is dual link and can handle 2560x1600 resolution. DisplayPort can handle 2560x1600 as well, so users can run up to four monitors at 1920x1200 or two monitors at 2560x1600 with one on the DL-DVI port and one on the DisplayPort. The only extra power needed is through the 6-pin PCI Express connection at the rear of the card away from the slot. CrossFireX can be achieved using the two CrossFire ports near the expansion slot bracket.

 

 

The core is the same as on all other 5770s, the 40nm Juniper core is 170mm2 in size and has over a billion transistors. This 5770 has come paired with Samsung GDDR5 K4G10325FE-HC04 6th generation ICs mounted with 170 FBGA pins, the ICs have a stock voltage of 1.5V and are rated for 1250 MHz operation so there should be some easy overclocking headroom. These chips are Halogen and Lead free too. Four Phillips-head screws are used to attach the heat sink to the PCB, the screws have springs attached to them and are only threaded for about half their length.

 

 

The heat sink assembly has four standoffs with a mushy shock dampener on each, the base is part aluminum and part copper, the copper area comes into contact with the GPU core. Two heat pipes are attached at the base with solder and then spread out to the ends of the fins where it is again soldered into place. The plastic shroud is a two piece design with a silver colored plastic mounted against the larger black piece. Four screws hold the heat sink and shroud together. Three more screws hold the fan in place, two L-shaped brackets are mounted against the heat fins and hold the fan when assembled.

 

 

The fan dimensions are 80mm wide and 15mm tall, also the impeller has unique curved blades that level out near the ends. The fan operates off of standard 12VDC power and draws up to 0.32A. The fan is only wired for power, no RPM sensing or PWM wires are included.

 

 

Time to read up on some specifications!

Specifications:

SKU
11163-13
GPU
Radeon HD 5770
Bus Interface
PCI-E x16 (PCI-E 2.10)
Memory
1024MB / 128-bit GDDR5
Clock Speed
850 MHz Core / 4800 MHz effective Memory
Cooling System
Dual slot Fan with auto fan control
Bracket
Full Height
Display Support
DL-DVI-I
HDCP
Yes
Crossfire Support
Native Hardware Crossfire
External Power
PCIe Graphic External 1 x 6 pin
Board Power
108 Watt (Maximum)
18 Watt (Idle)
Bundled Accessories
Crossfire Interconnect Cable x 1
DVI to VGA Adapter x 1
HDMI to DVI adapter x 1
6 PIN to 4 PIN Power Cable x 1

 

Features:

 

All Information courtesy of Sapphire @ http://www.sapphiretech.com/presentation/?lid=1

Testing:

OCC has a standardized testing procedure that the Sapphire HD 5770 FleX is run through to see how it stacks up to other video cards from ATI and NVIDIA. Three synthetic benchmarks and nine games provide the majority of test results with four common resolutions for all except 3DMark Vantage: 1280x1024, 1680x1050, 1920x1200, and 2560x1600. After a run through all of the tests the card is overclocked to near its maximum capabilities and then tested and compared all over again. Settings never change between video cards so the results are comparable, with the exception of disabling PhysX for all NVIDIA cards in certain tests, if disabled it is noted in the settings of the test. All testing is done on similar hardware running 64-bit Windows 7.

 

Comparison Video Cards:

 

Overclocking:

Overclocked settings:

Overclocking the Sapphire HD 5770 FleX was a breeze! This card did not want to give up but it was difficult to pinpoint where it begun becoming unstable. The core went clear to 1000 MHz and ran through benchmarks but performance was decreased over 980 MHz so that is where the testing was conducted at while memory was set to 1360 MHz speed. The gains were 130 MHz on core speed and 160 MHz on memory speed, 15% and 13% gains respectively. A combination of AMD GPU Clock Tool and MSI Afterburner were used together since ATI Overdrive wouldn't allow for high enough speeds. The two overclocking programs had to be used together because Afterburner could only change fan speed and GPU Clock Tool could only change core and memory speeds, the two worked together flawlessly.

 

 

Maximum Clock Speeds:

Each card has been tested for its maximum stable clock speeds using MSI's Kombuster utility. So far, my testing has shown that higher clock speeds may be stable in games where GPU usage does not reach 100%, but will crash within a few minutes using this utility. The reported clock speeds are those that proved stable over a 15 minute test at 1920x1200 8x AA.

 

 

  1. Far Cry 2
  2. Metro 2033
  3. Crysis Warhead
  4. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
  5. Darkest of Days
  6. Bioshock 2
  7. Just Cause 2
  8. Unigine Heaven Benchmark 2.0
  9. Batman: Arkham Asylum
  10. Resident Evil 5
  11. 3DMark 06 Professional
  12. 3DMark Vantage
  1. Temperature

Testing:

Featuring a new game engine named Dunia, this game looks to be another one to stress your video card. Built especially for Far Cry 2, this engine allows for real time effects and damage. This next generation First Person Shooter comes to us from Ubisoft surprisingly - not from Crytek. The game is set in a war-torn region of Africa where there is a non-existent central government and the chaos that surrounds this type of social environment. If you have seen the movie Blood Diamond, you know the setting. Ubisoft puts the main story line of the game into focus with these statements: "Caught between two rival factions in war-torn Africa, you are sent to take out "The Jackal," a mysterious character who has rekindled the conflict between the warlords, jeopardizing thousands of lives. In order to fulfill your mission you will have to play the factions against each other, identify and exploit their weaknesses, and neutralize their superior numbers and firepower with surprise, subversion, cunning and, of course, brute force." In this version of the game, you don't have the beautiful water, but instead the beauty and harshness of the African continent to contend with. Most games give you a set area that can be played through, while Ubisoft has given the gamer the equivalent of 50km2 of the vast African continent to explore while in pursuit of your goals. The settings used are just a few steps below the maximum in-game settings and offer a good blend of performance vs. visual quality.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

Performance is on par give or take 1 FPS with the PowerColor 5770 Vortex for Far Cry 2. All of the other cards are in a higher class.

Testing:

Part first-person shooter, part survival horror, Metro 2033 is based on the novel of the same name, written by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. You play as Artyom in a post-apocalyptic Moscow, where you'll spend most of your time traversing the metro system, with occasional trips to the surface. Despite the dark atmosphere and bleak future for mankind, the visuals are anything but bleak. Powered by the 4A Engine, with support for DirectX 11, NVIDIA Physx and NVIDIA 3D Vision, the tunnels are extremely varied - in your travels, you'll come across human outposts, bandit settlements, and even half-eaten corpses. Ensuring you feel all the tension, there is no map and no health meter. Get lost without enough gas mask filters and adrenaline shots, and you may soon wind up as one of those half-eaten corpses - chewed up by some horrifying manner of irradiated beast that hides in the shadows, just waiting for some hapless soul to wander by.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

The single core ATI cards all score similarly with the 5770s overtaking them at the highest resolution. They also manage to beat out the GTX 465 and GTX 460 in some of the resolutions.

Testing:

Crysis Warhead is a standalone expansion pack situated in time with the story line of the original Crysis. As Sergeant "Psycho" Sykes, you have a secret mission to accomplish on the far side of the island. Along the way there are EMP blasts and aliens to contend with, as you hunt down the KPA chief. This game uses an enhanced version of the CryEngine 2.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

The only good frame rates come from the highest end cards from both the red and green teams. Overclocking brought a few FPS gains across the board but not enough to catch the GTX 460 and GTX 465 even at stock speeds.

Testing:

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is the latest iteration of the venerable first-person shooter series, Call of Duty. Despite its long, successful pedigree, the game is not without substantial criticism and controversy, especially on the PC. Aside from the extremely short campaign and lack of innovation, the PC version's reception was also marred by its lack of support for user-run dedicated servers, which means no user-created maps, no mods, and no customized game modes. You're also limited to 18-player matches instead of the 64-player matches that were possible in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Despite all this, the game has been well received and the in-house IW 4.0 engine renders the maps in gorgeous detail, making it a perfect candidate for OCC benchmarking. You start off the single player missions playing as Private Allen and jump right into a serious firefight. This is the point where testing will begin. Testing will be done using actual game play with FPS measured by Fraps.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

Modern Warfare 2 has some solid frame rates for the Sapphire HD 5770, overclocking was good for an average of ~5 FPS gain.

Testing:

What would testing be if you did not show both sides of the fence? In this test, PhysX was set to low, while leaving the remaining settings intact. You have seen time and again where the ATI cards suffer when PhysX is enabled. Mirror's Edge and Cryostasis are two prime examples. Darkest of Days is no different. What happens in this test shows that, although the game can be played by cards from the red team, the video effects and quality are diminished.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

Darkest of Days does not cooperate well with dual-GPU cards as can be seen with the single-card performance coming from both 5970s. The 5770 does well and generally scores over half the score of the 5870.

Testing:

BioShock 2 is the sequel to a game that won more than 50 game of the year awards and sold more than 2.5 million units worldwide. Though a first-person shooter at its core, BioShock 2 blends that with RPG elements and drops you into an environment like no other - the underwater dystopian city of Rapture. Set approximately ten years after the events of the original, BioShock 2 allows the player to be one of the most iconic video game characters of recent years, a Big Daddy. Powered by the Unreal Engine 2.5 and featuring Havok Physics, BioShock 2 also adds multiplayer to the mix, filling in the one hole prevalent in the first game. There are seven different multiplayer game modes that take place in 1959, before the events of the original BioShock.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

BioShock 2 has good performance for the Sapphire HD 770 FleX even up to 2560x1600 and overclocking gives decent gains.

Testing:

Just Cause 2 is a third-person shooter that takes place on the fictional island of Panau in Southeast Asia. In this sequel to 2006's Just Cause, you return as Agent Rico Rodriguez to overthrow an evil dictator and confront your former boss. When you don't feel like following the main storyline, you're free to roam the island, pulling off crazy stunts and causing massive destruction in your wake, all beautifully rendered by the Avalanche Engine 2.0. In the end, that's what the game basically boils down to; crazy stunts and blowing things up. In fact, blowing things up and wreaking havoc is actually necessary to unlock new missions and items.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

Just Cause 2 with all cards at stock bring the 5870 and 5850 close to the 5770 in performance, once overclocked they of course soar far away. Gaming gets worse as the resolution climbs with these game settings.

Testing:

Unigine Heaven Benchmark 2.0 is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on the Unigine engine. What sets the Heaven Benchmark apart is the addition of hardware tessellation, available in three modes; Moderate, Normal and Extreme. Although tessellation requires a video card with DirectX 11 support and Windows Vista/7, the Heaven Benchmark also supports DirectX 9, DirectX 10 and OpenGL. Visually, it features beautiful floating islands that contain a tiny village and extremely detailed architecture.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

The Heaven benchmark has the 5770 FleX scoring around half the 5870 but power-wise it resembles half of a 5870. it is outclassed by these high end power cards.

Testing:

Batman: Arkham Asylum is a new game that brings together two bitter rivals, the Joker and Batman. The Joker has taken over Arkham Asylum, Gotham's home for the criminally insane. Your task is to rein the Joker back in and restore order. This game makes use of PhysX technology to create a rich environment for you to become the Dark Knight.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

Batman Arkham Asylum is plenty playable up until 2560x1600 where it might get choppy during game play, although with 4xAA and 16xAF the Sapphire HD 5770 FleX does very well.

Testing:

Resident Evil 5 is the sequel to one of the best selling video games of all time. You play the game as Chris Redfield, a survivor of the events at Raccoon City, who now works for the BSAA. Sent to Africa to find the genesis of the latest Bio Organic agents, you meet up with another BSAA operative and work together to solve the problem. The game offers incredible 3D effects and co-op multiplayer.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

Resident Evil 5 is another game that is mostly playable until the resolutions climb higher, overclocking helps keep 1920x1200 smooth.

Testing:

3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest begins. 3DMark06 presents a severe test for many of today's hardware components. Let's see how this setup fares. The settings we will use are listed below.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

Graph position looks almost the same across all of the eight graphs, but the numbers help show the differences. Overclocked the 5770 managed to break 19K at the default 3DMark 06 resolution of 1280x1024.

Testing:

Featuring all-new game tests, this benchmark is for use with Vista-based systems. "There are two all-new CPU tests that have been designed around a new 'Physics and Artificial Intelligence-related computation.' CPU test two offers support for physics related hardware." There are four preset levels that correspond to specific resolutions. "Entry" is 1024x768 progressing to "Extreme" at 1920x1200. Of course, each preset can be modified to arrange any number of user designed testing. For our testing, I will use the four presets at all default settings.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

Performance is still over 50% between the Sapphire 5770 and 5870, overclocking does help but isn't enough to bring the mid-range card to even the low side of the high-end performers.

Testing:

Temperature testing will be accomplished by loading the video card to 100% using MSI Kombuster, which is paired with MSI's afterburner overclocking utility for temperature monitoring. I will be using the stability test set to a resolution of 1920x1200 using 8xAA. I will use a 15 minute time frame to run the test ensuring that the maximum thermal threshold is reached. The fan speed will be left in the control of the driver package and video card's BIOS for the first test, with the fan moved to 100% to see the best possible cooling scenario for overclocking. The idle test will be a 20 minute cool down with the fan speeds left on automatic.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lower = Better

 

Stock idle temperatures were similar for the Sapphire 5770, 5850, and 5870, and the load temperature was one of the lower results of the group. Overclocking made it so that the card could not throttle its clock speed down low as it does at stock speed and likely contributed to the heat, but at load the temperatures improved 4°C thanks to the 100% fan speed used.

Conclusion:

Although on paper the Sapphire HD 5770 FleX appears to be just a reference designed 5770 with a different heat sink, it proves that it is much more through the overclocking headroom and how cool it operates. Being able to benchmark at 1 GHz core is not an insignificant feat, especially without voltage modification. The core was tested with a 15% overclock and the memory tested with a 13% overclock, not bad at all and there was the possibility for more headroom with enough patience. The idea of being able to use three monitors together for ATI Eyefinity with normal DVI connectors is a nice bonus too although not everyone will need that capability. Although the video card didn't come with any free games, people do have the chance of getting some games and hardware free through promotions and giveaways at the Sapphire Select Club!

Price, like usual, will decide how well the Sapphire HD 5770 FleX will sell. In this case however, pricing will be more important since it doesn't have any free games to entice gamers as other 5770s do and thus wouldn't justify a price premium for an extra adapter. The consumers interested in Eyefinity are in a niche market where the 5970s or 5870s might be a wiser choice for most unless they are using Eyefinity for mainly office and light gaming work. The overclocking performance this card provided is well worth taking a look at for future upgrades!

 

Pros:

 

Cons: