ATI Radeon HD 5770 CrossFireX Performance

by Rob Williams on December 7, 2009 in Graphics & Displays

Want to purchase a Radeon HD 5870, but can’t find one in stock? One alternative to consider is instead purchasing two Radeon HD 5770’s to take advantage of CrossFireX. Not only does this solution save you up to $80 at current pricing, but it proved in our results to offer even better performance in select titles, such as with Modern Warfare 2.

Crysis Warhead

Like Call of Duty, Crysis is another series that doesn’t need much of an introduction. Thanks to the fact that almost any comments section for a PC performance-related article asks, “Can it run Crysis?”, even those who don’t play computer games no doubt know what Crysis is. When Crytek first released Far Cry, it delivered an incredible game engine with huge capabilities, and Crysis simply took things to the next level.

Although the sequel, Warhead, has been available for just about a year, it still manages to push the highest-end systems to their breaking-point. It wasn’t until this past January that we finally found a graphics solution to handle the game at 2560×1600 at its Enthusiast level, but even that was without AA! Something tells me Crysis will be de facto for GPU benchmarking for the next while.

Manual Run-through: Whenever we have a new game in-hand for benchmarking, we make every attempt to explore each level of the game to find out which is the most brutal towards our hardware. Ironically, after spending hours exploring this game’s levels, we found the first level in the game, “Ambush”, to be the hardest on the GPU, so we stuck with it for our testing. Our run starts from the beginning of the level and stops shortly after we reach the first bridge.

If there’s one game that can show any sort of weakness in a graphics card, it’s Crysis. The results here aren’t too surprising, and the scaling of our CrossFireX configuration is quite good. But even with the two cards combined, we still couldn’t hit the 30 FPS mark at 2560×1600. Any resolution lower than this plays just fine on the Gamer detail settings, however.

Unfortunately, these graphs don’t tell the whole story about what I experienced. Though the performance looks good, and expected, the gameplay wasn’t ideal during our benchmarking runs. I hate to call the effect “tearing”, because it wasn’t true tearing, but it was to an extent. Whatever the effect, it wasn’t nice to look at, and it was directly caused by our configuration. Once I disabled CrossFireX, the problem went away. The issue became noticable as soon as I started the game. During the Crytek logo screen, there was intense flicker. That was the only screen that exhibited an issue, but it became clear quick that the game wasn’t pleased with our setup.

In looking around the Web at CrossFireX performance with these two cards in this particular title, I didn’t spot a single complaint, and no one seemed to experience the same issue I did. It could be that something specific with our setup was the root of the issue, but the issue was there, so I have to assume that there’s potential for others to experience it. This is a bizarre, and unfortunate issue, because the Crytek engine is one that pushes hardware like nothing else, so you’d expect it to thrive on multi-GPU setups. In all fairness, though, I have run multi-GPU setups with this game before and haven’t seen the same issue as here, so it could be that this is an issue with the HD 5000 series only.

Graphics Card
Best Playable
Avg. FPS
NVIDIA GTX 295 1792MB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Gamer, 0xAA
ATI HD 5870 1GB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Gamer, 0xAA
ATI HD 5850 1GB (ASUS)
2560×1600 – Mainstream, 0xAA
2560×1600 – Mainstream, 0xAA
NVIDIA GTX 275 896MB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Mainstream, 0xAA
2560×1600 – Mainstream, 0xAA
ATI HD 4890 1GB (Sapphire)
2560×1600 – Mainstream, 0xAA
ATI HD 4870 1GB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Mainstream, 0xAA
ATI HD 5770 1GB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Mainstream, 0xAA
2560×1600 – Mainstream, 0xAA
ATI HD 5750 1GB (Sapphire)
1920×1080 – Mainstream, 0xAA

Given the issues I experienced with our CrossFireX configuration, I had no choice but to omit a “best playable” from the table above, because the best playable happens to be with the single GPU. I’ll ping AMD about this issue, and will update this page with its response once I receive it, and if the company happens to have tips, I’ll test it out and see if the issue is indeed something inherent with our setup.