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Sapphire HD5670 Ultimate Edition Crossfire X Review

Rating: 9.0.

KitGuru really likes the HD5670 Ultimate Edition and it appears, based on feedback that our readers share similar warm feelings towards Sapphires latest passively cooled graphics card.

While a single card is great for a low powered media center and occasional gaming we decided to follow up our initial review by seeing just what was possible with two of these in Crossfire X.

Would it be possible to game on a 24inch screen at native resolution while not having to compromise with image quality settings? Effectively giving us a high performing, yet basically silent gaming system.

Today that is just what we intend to find out.

Yes, we recognised her too, its the same weird looking ninja femme fatale as seen on the Sapphire HD5550 Ultimate box.

Included in the box is a Crossfire cable, video adapters and instruction leaflet. There is also a plugin included called SimHD for the Arcsoft Total Media Theater player.

The HD5670 Ultimate Edition is protected by a thick piece of cardboard, inside an anti static bag. The more observant among you will see the bracket was bent in shipping, but we straightened it out.

The cooler is similar to the HD5550 we reviewed a short while ago – meaning it is substantial and finished to the highest quality.

The upper side of the cooler has an additional heat pipe block which helps to expel heat away from the PCB.

It is a clever design – as the core transfers heat to the main PCB plate, down the thick heatpipes at the side of the card and onto the upper heatsink on the upper area of the board.

There are two thick heatpipes connecting both heatsink systems.

A clean “Sapphire” badge adorns the heatsink, just in case you forgot who made the product. You can also notice the fan header on the PCB, which is obviously not connected to anything.

The card fully supports Crossfire, which we like to see. Unfortunately Sapphire didn’t supply us with two or we could have gave performance results in this review today. HD5670 Crossfire scaling has been shown to be good however.

The card supports Dual Link DVI out, as well as displayport and HDMI. This covers all the ‘digital’ bases and offers a solid array of outputs for both monitors and HD televisions.

You can see another heatpipe on the reverse side of the heatsink to help keep the temperatures level across the whole area.

A quick overview of the specifications and it is worth pointing out again that this card is NOT underclocked, it is running at the full reference HD5670 clock speeds. We are also happy to see the use of GDDR5.

Finally a shot of two Sapphire HD5670 Ultimates in one of our test systems earlier this week.

When testing the Sapphire HD5670 Ultimate in a Crossfire configuration we feel it is important to use a processor that the buying public would be using in this specific sector. We could easily slot in an Intel high end Extreme Edition CPU, but its not a very realistic configuration so this time we opted for the 6 core AMD 1055T which we overclocked without a hitch (or the need for extra voltage) to 3.7ghz. If you want to see how to do this for yourself, check this out.

We normally include a broad cross section of graphics cards in these reviews, but we have already ran comparisons against the HD5670 in the past, today we are concentrating on Crossfire X performance gains if you add an additional card to a system.

While we previously tested the HD5670 at 1280×1024 resolution, today we will test at the native resolution of our 24 inch screen (1920×1200) and crank the image quality when possible … if you are spending twice the money you need to be seeing noticeable improvements to make it worthwhile.

Test System:

Sapphire HD5670 Ultimate 1GB GFX
AMD 1055T @ 3.7ghz
Kingston HyperX 8GB Kit
MSI 890 GXM-G65
Noctua NH CP12 Cooler
Silverstone Raven 2 Chassis
Antec 750W TruPower PSU

Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit
Catalyst 10.6 (with application profile update June 23rd for BC2)
Fraps Professional
Dell 2405W Panel
Intel 160GB SSD & 1TB Western Digital Drive

Keithley Integra unit
Thermal Diodes
Raytek Laser Temp Gun 3i LSRC/MT4 Mini Temp

Resident Evil 5
Far Cry 2
Tom Clancy Hawx
Alien V Predator
Left4Dead 2
Grand Theft Auto 4: Episodes From Liberty City
Colin McRae Dirt 2
Just Cause 2
Battlefield: Bad Company 2
Unigine Heaven Benchmark

All the latest bios updates and drivers are used during testing. We perform under real world conditions, meaning KitGuru test all games across five closely matched runs and average out the results to get an accurate median figure. We mix and match various games across our reviews to try and keep our regular readers interested – no one wants to see the same handful of games used in every review.

Resident Evil 5, known in Japan as Biohazard 5, is a survival horror third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the seventh installment in the Resident Evil survival horror series, and was released on March 5, 2009 in Japan and on March 13, 2009 in North America and Europe for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. A Windows version of the game was released on September 15, 2009 in North America, September 17 in Japan and September 18 in Europe. Resident Evil 5 revolves around Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar as they investigate a terrorist threat in Kijuju, a fictional town in Africa.

Within its first three weeks of release, the game sold over 2 million units worldwide and became the best-selling game of the franchise in the United Kingdom. As of December, 2009, Resident Evil 5 has sold 5.3 million copies worldwide since launch, becoming the best selling Resident Evil game ever made.

We have enabled 4 times Anti Aliasing for this test.

Resident Evil 5 is a pretty engine andwhile not the most demanding on the market today gives a good indication of potential scaling when we add a second Ultimate edition card into the mix.

Adding a second card really helps improve the frame rates throughout our Resident Evil test areas and while not really noticeable does help to smooth out the overall experience a little.

Far Cry 2 (commonly abbreviated as “FC2 or “fc2″) is an open-ended first-person shooter developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It was released on October 21, 2008 in North America and on October 23, 2008 in Europe and Australia. It was made available on Steam on October 22, 2008. Crytek, the developers of the original game, were not involved in the development of Far Cry 2.

Ubisoft has marketed Far Cry 2 as the true sequel to Far Cry, though the sequel has very few noticeable similarities to the original game. Instead, it features completely new characters and setting, as well as a new style of gameplay that allows the player greater freedom to explore different African landscapes such as deserts, jungles, and savannas. The game takes place in a modern-day East African nation in a state of anarchy and civil war. The player takes control of a mercenary on a lengthy journey to locate and assassinate “The Jackal,” a notorious arms dealer.

Our testing was performed at 1920×1200 with 8AA in DX10 mode. This is maximum image quality settings.

The Crossfire configuration really helps to improve our gaming experience in Far Cry 2 and with two cards running our minimum frame rate basically doubles. It is still somewhat shy of our 25fps ‘danger zone’ but it is good to see average frame rates increasing by 15.

When switching from one to two cards at our chosen setting the game switches from unplayable to borderline playable. We would probably lower AA settings to 4AA to smooth out some dips under 25fps in a few key areas. This however really shows the gains you can expect to receive by adding another card into the system.

Tom Clancy HAWX is set in the same universe as Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter; as Captain Scott Mitchell, the Ghost leader, is featured in a few missions of the missions. Plot elements are carried over from other Tom Clancy games such as the missile defense system found in Tom Clancy’s EndWar. G4′s interview with H.A.W.X’s lead designer Thomas Simon reveals that the game takes place in between Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 and Tom Clancy’s EndWar.

The player begins the game in 2014 as the player assumes the role of former U.S. Air Force pilot, David Crenshaw, who is part of an elite unit called H.A.W.X (“High Altitude Warfare eXperimental squadron”), provides fire-support missions for the Ghost team carrying out covert operations in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. However, shortly after the mission, the Air Force decides to deactivate the H.A.W.X squadron and its pilots, including Crenshaw, are recruited into the PMC Artemis Global Security.

We tested DX 10 with shadows high, sun shafts high, ambient occlusion (SSAO) very high. view distance high, forest high, environment high, texture quality high, HDR on, Engine heat on and DOF on.

8xAA and 16AF was also enabled.

Tom Clancy HAWX is a great example of how adding another HD5670 into your system will help you with discernable real world benefits. With a single card the game is basically not playable at these settings but after slotting in another it becomes silky smooth throughout.

The minimum graph above shows the massive differences with the HAWX engine when two cards are handling the rendering.

Aliens V Predator has proved to be a big seller since the release and Sega have taken the franchise into new territory after taking it from Sierra. AVP is a Direct X 11 supported title and delivers not only advanced shadow rendering but high quality tessellation for the cards on test today.

The game was tested at 1920×1200, the native resolution of our panel.

Again, we can report very good scaling with Alien V Predator as our average frame rate increases from 23 fps to 37 fps. Minimum rates also increase from 10 to 22 fps which, as you would expect,  is immediately noticeable.

Again the differences between a single and dual card solution are easily recorded. One is completely unplayable at our settings and the other delivers a great, all round experience. There is only one instance when the CF X configuration dips into the red zone at 22fps.

Left 4 Dead 2 is a cooperative first-person shooter game. It is the sequel to Valve Corporation’s award-winning Left 4 Dead. The game launched on November 17, 2009, for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360 in the United States; it launched November 20 in Europe. It builds upon the cooperatively-focused gameplay of the original and uses Valve’s proprietary Source engine, the same game engine used in Left 4 Dead. The game made its world premiere at E3 2009 with a trailer during the Microsoft press event.

In a similar fashion to the original, Left 4 Dead 2 is set during the aftermath of an apocalyptic pandemic, and focuses on four survivors fighting against hordes of the infected. The survivors must fight their way through levels, interspersed with safe houses that act as checkpoints, with the goal of reaching a rescue vehicle at the campaign’s finale.

The gameplay is procedurally altered by an artificial intelligence engine dubbed the “Director” that monitors the players’ performance and adjust the scenario to provide a dynamic challenge. Several new features have been introduced: new types of infected, melee weapons, and a story-arc that connects the game’s five campaigns together.

We test with 8aa and 16af at 1920×1200

Left 4 Dead 2 is not a taxing engine with modern hardware and even the single card can handle these settings with relative ease. Adding another card adds 34 fps to the average and 24 fps to the minimum characteristics.

Although both solutions are perfectly playable the Source engine does show very good scaling in Crossfire across our testing sections.

Grand Theft Auto: Episodes From Liberty City is a standalone compilation of the DLC episodes for Grand Theft Auto IV, containing both The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony on one disc. It was released alongside the DLC release of The Ballad of Gay Tony on 29 October 2009 for the Xbox 360 and released on 13 April 2010 for Microsoft Windows and PlayStation 3. It does not require a copy of Grand Theft Auto IV to play, nor is an Xbox Live or PSN account necessary (except for multiplayer). The content is also played straight from the disc, and does not need to be downloaded to a hard drive to play, like various other disc-based expansions for other Xbox 360 games that have been released in the past.

The engine is still extremely demanding for this game – even months later for the newest hardware. The latest version changes some of the rendering calls and is used partially within the latest Max Payne engine.

The Crossfire X configuration delivers a much better experience and although there are still some frame rate issues it is worth noting that the minimum frame rate in CFX is higher than the average with one card. That is significant.

The single card remains totally unplayable at these settings while the CFX configuration helps to drive the minimum frame rate figures into the 25-30fps zone for the most part. Ideally we would lower a few settings, even on the CFX system to help push these a little higher throughout.

Colin McRae: Dirt 2 (known as Dirt 2 outside Europe and stylised, DiRT) is a racing game released in September 2009, and is the sequel to Colin McRae: Dirt. This is the first game in the McRae series since McRae’s death in 2007. It was announced on 19 November 2008 and features Ken Block, Travis Pastrana, Tanner Foust, and Dave Mirra. The game includes many new race-events, including stadium events. Along with the player, an RV travels from one event to another, and serves as ‘headquarters’ for the player. It features a roster of contemporary off-road events, taking players to diverse and challenging real-world environments. The game takes place across four continents: Asia, Europe, Africa and North America. The game includes five different event types: Rally, Rallycross, ‘Trailblazer,’ ‘Land Rush’ and ‘Raid.’ The World Tour mode sees players competing in multi-car and solo races at new locations, and also includes a new multiplayer mode.

This engine support DX11 and was one of the integral releases for ATI when they launched the 5xxx series cards a while ago. Hardware tessellation is used on the crowd, as well as water and cloth objects. DirectCompute 11 accelerated high definition ambient occulsion is also integrated with full floating point high dynamic range lighting.

We enabled maximum settings, including hardware tessellated animated crowds and dynamic water via ULTRA settings.

Dirt 2 is one of our favourite racing games and changing from a single card to Crossfire X means that this game is now fully playable. In single card mode the engine juddered on specific tracks which ruined the immersiveness of the overall experience.

The extra rendering horsepower really helps to not only increase the framerate but to smooth it out in specific situations. This is a great result for the CFX configuration and shows benefits by adding another card to your system.

Just Cause 2 is a sandbox-style action video game. It was released in North America on March 23, 2010, by Swedish developer Avalanche Studios and Eidos Interactive, and was published by Square Enix. It is the sequel to the 2006 video game Just Cause.

Just Cause 2 employs the Avalanche Engine 2.0; an updated version of the engine used in Just Cause. The game is set on the other side of the world from the original Just Cause, on the fictional tropical island of Panau in Southeast Asia. Rico Rodriguez returns as the protagonist, aiming to overthrow the evil dictator Pandak “Baby” Panay and confront his former boss, Tom Sheldon.

Just Cause 2 at our settings proves a bit of an ordeal for a single HD5670 with the frame rate often struggling to stay in the plus 25+ zone. Adding a second card gives much higher levels of performance and smooths out the whole experience significantly real world.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2, colloquially known as Bad Company 2, is a first-person shooter video game developed by EA Digital Illusions CE and published by Electronic Arts for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 systems. It is a part of the Battlefield series and is a direct sequel to 2008’s Battlefield: Bad Company. The game was released worldwide in March 2010.

The game is primarily a squad-based online first person shooter based around modern warfare. Additionally, the game includes a single player campaign whose storyline is a continuation of the original Bad Company. The game’s Destruction 2.0 engine allows for destructible environments, and multiplayer maps contain an array of vehicles, aircraft and turrets and allow for a number of game modes.

At 1920×1200 with 2AA and 16AF, the single card solution cannot deliver steady enough framerates to maintain a playable experience throughout our test level. Adding a second card really boosts the minimum frame rate – Crossfire X is the difference between playing the game without AA and having to lower image quality settings.

Unigine is a top-notch technology, that can be easily adapted to various projects due to its elaborated software design and flexible toolset. A lot of our customers claim that they have never seen such an extremely-effective code, which is so easy to understand. It is already used in the development of different projects (mostly games).

Heaven Benchmark is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on advanced Unigine engine from Unigine Corp. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. Interactive mode provides emerging experience of exploring the intricate world of steampunk.

Efficient and well-architected framework makes Unigine highly scalable:

  • Multiple API (DirectX 9 / DirectX 10 / DirectX 11 / OpenGL) render
  • Cross-platform: MS Windows (XP, Vista, Windows 7) / Linux
  • Full support of 32bit and 64bit systems
  • Multicore CPU support
  • Little / big endian support (ready for game consoles)
  • Powerful C++ API
  • Comprehensive performance profiling system
  • Flexible XML-based data structures

We gave the Unigine Heaven V2.1 benchmark a run at 1080p resolution with other settings left to default.

Huge increases when moving from one video card to a Crossfire X solution show potential gains when using the complex Unigine Engine.

HQV Benchmark 2.0 is an updated version of the original tool and it consists of various video clips and test patterns which are designed to evalute motion correction, de-interlacing, decoding, noise reduction, detail enhancement and film cadence detection.

There are two versions of the program, standard definition on DVD and high definition on Bluray. As our audience will be concentrating on HD content so will we.

This has a total of 39 video tests which is increased from 23 in the original and the scoring is also up from a total of 130 to 210. As hardware and software gets more complicated, the software has been tuned to make sure we can thoroughly maximise our analysis.

Sapphire HD5670 Ultimate (Discrete)
NV G210 (Discrete)
NV G220 (Discrete)
Dial
4
0
2
Dial with static pattern 5 5 5
Gray Bars 5 0 2
Violin 5 0 3
Stadium 2:2 5 0 0
Stadium 3:2 5 0 3
Horizontal Text Scroll 5 3 3
Vertical Text Scroll 5 5 5
Transistion to 3:2 Lock 5 0 0
Transition to 2:2 Lock 0 0 0
2:2:2:4 24 FPS DVCAM Video
5 0 0
2:3:3:2 24 FPS DVCam Video
5 0 0
3:2:3:2:2 24 FOS Vari-Speed
5 0 3
5:5 FPS Animation
5 0 0
6:4 12 FPS Animation
5 0 0
8:7 8 FPS Animation
5 0 0
Interlace Chroma Problem (ICP)
5 0 2
Chroma Upsampling Error (CUE)
5 0 5
Random Noise: Sailboat
5 5 5
Random Noise: Flower
5 5 5
Random Noise: Sunrise
5 5 5
Random Noise: Harbour Night
5 5 5
Scrolling Text
3 0 0
Roller Coaster
3 0 3
Ferris Wheel
3 0 3
Bridge Traffic
3 0 3
Text Pattern/ Scrolling Text
3 3 3
Roller Coaster
3 3 3
Ferris Wheel
3 3 3
Bridge Traffic
3 3 3
Luminance Frequency Bands
5 2 2
Chrominance Frequency Bands
5 2 2
Vanishing Text 5 5 5
Resolution Enhancement
15 15 15
Theme Park
5 2 5
Driftwood 2 5 5
Ferris Wheel
3 3 3
Skin Tones
7 3 3
Total 175 82 114

As a media card, the Sapphire HD5670 Ultimate is vastly superior to the nVidia solutions which are findings we discussed at length in our recent HQV 2.0 Benchmark analysis. We are sure that nVidia will redress this situation over the coming months with new driver revisions, however right now as it stands we simply have to recommend the Sapphire HD5670 with the Catalyst 10.6 pairing.

The tests were performed in a controlled air conditioned room with temperatures maintained at a constant 25c – a comfortable environment for the majority of people reading this.

Idle temperatures were measured after sitting at the desktop for 30 minutes. Load measurements were acquired by playing Crysis Warhead for 30 minutes and measuring the peak temperature.

We felt it would be interesting to see any changes in temperatures when moving from a single card to a dual card setup.

With two cards in close proximity temperatures rise a little, by 1c at idle and 3c under load, this is due to radiated heat being picked up by the other passive cooler. This proves a point however, the Sapphire cooler is exceptionally good.

To test power consumption today we are using a Keithley Integra unit and we measure power consumption from the VGA card inputs, not the system wide drain. The best way to get maximum load results is by using Furmark, and even though it is not indicative of a real world situation it shows the limits the card can theoretically demand. The ‘gaming’ results are measured when playing Crysis Warhead and is a more valuable result to take from this.

We were impressed to see the card only consuming 13 watts of power when idle and a modest 52 watts when gaming. This is a very efficient board design which offers low power drain combined with excellent gaming performance. Obviously when adding two cards this power consumption doubles. Gaming and Furmark results aren’t exactly 200%, falling slightly shy of each figure by a few watts.

We already know that a single Sapphire HD5670 Ultimate Edition card is capable of delivering a fantastic media experience and it is also able to maintain reasonable gaming frame rates at modest settings.

We proved an interesting point today, if you want the foundation of a silent, yet extremely gaming system then having two Sapphire HD5670 Ultimate Editions running in a Crossfire X configuration is highly feasible. The extra horsepower in rendering is noticeable, particularly if you want to run with Anti Aliasing enabled as well as being in a position to crank the eye candy levels considerably.

Many people have a 1080p HDTV and also like to game via their media center. For this particular marketplace, the passive Sapphire cards really will deliver the ultimate, silent experience. All of the engines on test today were perfectly playable at 1920×1200 with all the image quality settings on high or maximum. To get the same level of image quality from some of these engines with a single card, the resolution would need to be lowered significantly.

In closing, if you are looking for a gaming system which will emit very little noise, then we suggest you buy two of these cards and either a Thermaltake Contac 29 or Noctua NH C12 P SE14. All your friends with noisy, high end systems might be surprised just what is possible with careful component selection! For around £200, this has to be one of the best deals right now on the market.

KitGuru says: The Sapphire HD5670 Ultimate Edition graphics cards are a gaming tour de force in Crossfire X.

Discuss in our forums over here or leave a quick comment below.


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