Sapphire HD5550 Ultimate ReviewNerm - May 5, 2010
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Once you get the card taken out of all the packaging, you are going to notice that the PCB is a nice bright blue. It has a massive heatsink with two heatpipes that go from the front of the card to the back. When you're looking at the front of the card, you will see a black plaque at the top of the heatsink with Sapphire's logo printed on it to let you know exactly who's card it is. Taking a look at the back of the card, you will notice that the heatsink wraps around the card to give it even more space to dissipate the heat. The heatsink is till mounted to the card with the four typical spring-screws. The IO panel of card features three different video outputs, DVI, HDMI, or D-Sub outputs. This means what ever type of monitor or display device you are planning on using, it will be supported by this card. As you would expect with a passive GPU, this card get's all of it's power from the PCIe slot and thus requires no external power connections.
When you get the heatsink pulled off of the card, you are left with something that looks like every other standard ATI card out there. The HD5550 is built on the latest 40nm architecture from ATI and supports DirectX 11 with DirectCompute 5.0. You will find 1GB of GDDR2 memory located on the card, with clock speeds coming in at 550MHz on the GPU and 800MHz for the memory. There are 320 Stream processors that can flex their muscles in any application that supports ATI Stream.
When it comes down to the cooling solution, it is a completely passive system, meaning it is only a heatsink with no fan. This obviously makes it a completely silent card, but with the expense of slightly higher temperatures compared to an active cooling solution. There are two heatpipes that go from the base of the heatsink, (Positioned over the GPU) to the back of the card where there is a seperate heatsink fin array to help increase the surface area. The base of the heatsink that sits on the GPU is made up of copper. This allows the heat to be quickly drawn off of the GPU, through the heatpipes and into the heatsink to dissipated.
Now that we know what the card looks like, it's time to take a look at the specifications / features and move on to the testing.