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Sapphire HD5550 Ultimate Review



Testing the Sapphire HD5550 Ultimate is not a challenge, so much as determining what kind of gaming performance this card is capable of. The computing attributes make it a card that will help improve the everyday experience of a computer for the mainstream user. To test out the HD5550 Ultimate's gaming credentials, I will run the card through the OverclockersClub suite of benchmarks, but since it won't be able to deliver playable frame rates at the settings I typically use, I will reduce the settings to a level that gives an expectation of playability. In reality, this card will most likely find its home in a mainstream computer with a 17" to 19" LCD panel in a home office or in the family computer. Testing will be limited from 1280x1024 to 1920x1200, with the revised settings listed at the top of each game page. 1280x1024 should be playable in all the games in the suite, so let's get to it and see if we can make it playable. Of course, overclocking will be part of the exercise. The drivers used for this test will be Catalyst 10.4 for all ATI cards and 191.07 for the NVIDIA cards.


Comparison Video Cards:



Overclocked settings:

  • Sapphire HD5550 Ultimate 690/445MHz

When it comes down to overclocking the Sapphire HD5550, I used MSI Afterburner which has proven to be quite a good overclocking utility and with the Kombustor stress tester, will allow me not only to overclock the card, but test my clock speeds well. The maximum core clock that I was able to set the GPU to was 690MHz. This is no small feat as the stock setting is 550MHz, which is a 25% overclock. When it came down to the memory speeds, I was able to get the memory bumped up to 445MHz which is an 11% overclock. The memory did start to give me a few artifacts on the screen once I went any higher than 485MHz. As a result, I had to bump it down to make sure that it would end up being stable enough to run all of the benchmarks back to back. I am really happy with the overclocked settings I was able to get with the card considering the low clock speeds it ships with. During the testing, the highest temperature that I saw was 78°C, which isn't too bad considering the fact that it uses a completely passive cooling solution.


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.



Gaming Tests:

  1. Far Cry 2
  2. Crysis Warhead
  3. Darkest of Days
  4. Call of Duty: World at War
  5. Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II
  6. Batman: Arkham Asylum
  7. Resident Evil 5
  8. Left 4 Dead
  9. 3DMark 06 Professional
  10. 3DMark Vantage

  1. Introduction & Closer Look
  2. Closer Look (The Video Card)
  3. Specifications & Features
  4. Testing: Setup & Overclocking
  5. Testing: Far Cry 2
  6. Testing: Crysis Warhead
  7. Testing: Darkest of Days
  8. Testing: Call of Duty World at War
  9. Testing: Warhammer 40,000 Dawn of War II
  10. Testing: Batman Arkham Asylum
  11. Testing: Resident Evil 5
  12. Testing: Left 4 Dead
  13. Testing: 3DMark 06
  14. Testing: 3DMark Vantage
  15. Conclusion
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