Fourteen floors down, in a secured elevator, Zardon's personal lab is a monstrous affair. Closer to a medieval torture pit than anything you'd see Pepper Potts delivering coffee to Tony Stark in. When you absolutely, positively, definitely need the truth – then Zardon's inner chamber is where the torture testing will happen. However, sometimes you just want it fast and loose. To smack 2 stones against each other and see which, if either, breaks. KitGuru picks up a GTX470 in one hand and a pair of Radeon HD 5770s in the other, before smacking them together to see what gives. GITR. Get In The Ring!
With the price cuts for the GTX470 well and truly delivered to the channel, KitGuru decided to get a quick head-to-head going between this newly-priced Fermi force and a pair of lighter weight 5770 cards. Product like the XFX Radeon HD 5770 is now around £127 from Dabs and the same store is also carrying a ‘best value' GTX470 around the GTX470 at £264.
You can see where we're going with this, right?
Economics has a well defined concept called opportunity cost. Do one thing, choose one product option – and you can look at the market to see what else was available for the same kind of spend. In the Queen's notes, the Dabs ‘Best value' GTX470 costs £264. Opportunity cost? A pair of XFX Radeon HD 5770 cards. Easy. Now we just need to strip em down, stick them in a ring and push em into each other. Let battle commence.
And in the other corner we have:
Just before we reveal the numbers, one quick word on why we've picked the XFX card. Basically, it's one of the only companies to be loved by both nVidia and ATI. The Santa Clara outfit can't say enough good things about XFX, for example “They implement smart technology, ingenious engineering and innovative design. Above all they have an essence that may often be imitated but never duplicated. XFX does all this. By combining 10 years of technical and market experience with NVIDIA's unmatched advanced graphic processing technologies, XFX has created a unique synergy that has never before been seen”. Now wasn't that a nice thing to say.
Enough of the “nVidia loves XFX” fest. Let's see what happens when you match up a pair of XFX Radeon 5770 cards against a GTX470 at the new, lower price point.
Slight advantage to the Radeons – but it's only a matter of £10/$16.
With the Radeons pulling around 70w each during gaming and the GTX470 close to 200w, it's a 60w advantage to AMD's middleweights. In the UK, each 60w bulb running for at least 5 hours a day, will cost you around £12/$19 a year. We know most gamers won't care, but there it is – make of it what you will.
While a pair of XFX Radeon 5770 cards generate just over 35dBA together, the GTX470 touches 60 dBA under load. Here's an extract from the KitGuru real world noise chart for comparison…
25dBA – Whisper
30dBA – Computer fan
40dBA – Refridgerator
50dBA – Background noise is a larger office
60dBA – Laughter
70dBA – Vacuum Cleaner or Hairdryer
If your speakers are cranked up in a deathkill-FPS you won't give a crap about system noise, but if you're planning on stealth mode gaming, 60dBA will end your career.
In most games it is very close. Testing at the 1080p resolution that many gamers use these days, the GTX470 is just under 10% quicker in Crysis Warhead and slightly over 10% quicker in FarCry 2. At the same time, a synthetic benchmark like 3DMark vantage will show the 5770 CrossFire set up to be 8% quicker. We're confident in saying that, for most games, you will definitely get a few frames more with the GTX470, some will be a draw and a small minority could give the lead to the XFX Radeon HD 5770 cards.
No matter how hard a driver team works, it will always be more complicated to get an SLi or CrossFire driver working. There's just more work involved. On the other hand, there are cases when having the two cards available will give you a performance boost – as we've seen from 3DMark Vantage.
Again, this can vary wildly. The XFX offer at £127 on Dabs includes not only Aliens Vs Predator, but also Assassin's Creed. The Dabs special value GTX470 includes a trial for StarCraft II and a copy of Just Cause 2. We like AvP, but that's a personal preference – so you will need to decide for yourself if these bundles have real value for you.
- High Definition Video Playback
Comparing the Catalyst 10.6 Driver for AMD against the ForceWare 258.80 driver for nVidia, we get a measurable HD image quality difference of around 10% in favour of the Radeons. nVidia has made big strides in this department since Jen Hsun and his engineers read KitGuru's revolutionary HQV2 analysis report, and that rapid improvement to HD video quality has to be applauded.
KitGuru GITR Challenge: Time for the Referee's Score Card
It's an interesting match up. Both solutions will take up a pair of slots. There is a power and noise advantage for the 5770 CrossFire set up and a performance advantage for the GTX470. In the rough-n-ready performance tests we did, the cards were scoring pretty high. Over 60fps in FarCry2 and around 40fps in Crysis Warhead. Given that all of the tests had averages that were well over the ‘KitGuru danger zone' of 30fps, you will feel a difference of around 10%, but not by much. Moving from 27 fps to 30 fps, or from 30fps to 33fps is seriously noticeable. The higher you go, the less you feel 10%, but it's still there.
KitGuru says: The bundles are both decent. HD video playback goes to the Radeons. If you're looking for the gaming performance winner, then it has to be the GTX470 (albeit by a nose). If you are concerned about the power draw or (more importantly for KitGuru) noise levels, then you need to consider 5770 CrossFire. Pricing will vary with time, so the 5770's small advantage could change overnight.
GET IN THE RING: Overall, we're looking at creating more of these bite-sized-easy-to-digest-get-your-mind-thinking articles that don't get bogged down in too much data. The idea is for Zardon's Labs to keep on pushing out hardcore, multi-page, in-depth analysis of products for the hardcore among you – while at the same time creating some straightforward buying advice comparisons for the times when you just need to know what to buy. Let us know below or in the KitGuru forum what you think!