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Sapphire Radeon HD 5770 FleX 1GB

Date: October 18, 2010
Author(s): Rob Williams

AMD’s Eyefinity technology has helped gamers over the past year realise that multi-monitor setups are not that unrealistic, and thanks to great support from game developers, more gamers are considering the move. Sapphire, with its Radeon HD 5770 FleX, caters to gamers who do want Eyefinity, but don’t want to go broke in the process.



Introduction

A couple of years ago, hooking yourself up with a multi-monitor setup might have seemed a little unrealistic, but things have certainly changed. Back in September, AMD told us about some killer bundles that included three displays, a GPU and special active cable, all for around $500. Think about that for a second… three displays… $500. Times in tech are certainly good.

Of course, those displays are only 20″, but to go higher, prices are still easy to stomach. This assumes that are not insistent on having the best of the best. It’s when you hit 30″ displays that a 3×1 setup sounds crazy, because unless you get such displays used, three from any vendor would likely set you back around $4,000 or more.

Needless to say, while 3×1 setups were uncommon in the past, I see them growing in popularity – especially over the next year or two. The biggest concern nowadays isn’t so much the cost, but the space required. Because of this, AMD and its partners have been pushing Eyefinity technology for some time. Most recently, Sapphire released a Radeon HD 5770 “FleX” edition, aiming to make it easier for gamers to take the Eyefinity route.

If you’re still not sold on the Eyefinity concept, or multi-monitor gaming in general, I recommend you check out an article we published a couple of months ago called, “The Benefits of Multi-Display Gaming“. If you take gaming seriously, you might want to reconsider your single-display setup!

Closer Look

AMD’s Radeon HD 5770 has been out for a while, but while waiting for the next series of GPUs to come along (HD 6000), vendors such as Sapphire have continually pushed out refined options, and in the case of FleX, it’s a card that focuses on allowing gamers to adopt Eyefinity by enabling them to use three DVI monitors, rather than two and also a DisplayPort. The company allows this by including a DisplayPort-to-DVI cable in the box.

Before we go further, you can review AMD’s current Radeon lineup:

Model
Core MHz
Mem MHz
Memory
Bus Width
Processors
Radeon HD 5970
725
1000
2048MB
256-bit
1600 x 2
Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6
850
1200
1024MB
256-bit
1600
Radeon HD 5870
850
1200
1024MB
256-bit
1600
Radeon HD 5850
725
1000
1024MB
256-bit
1440
Radeon HD 5830
800
1000
1024MB
256-bit
1120
Radeon HD 5770
850
1200
1024MB
128-bit
800
Radeon HD 5750
700
1150
512MB – 1GB
128-bit
720
Radeon HD 5670
775
1000
512MB – 1GB
128-bit
400
Radeon HD 5570 (GDDR5)
650
1000
512MB – 1GB
128-bit
400
Radeon HD 5570
650
900
512MB – 1GB
128-bit
400
Radeon HD 5550 (GDDR5)
550
1000
512MB – 1GB
128-bit
320
Radeon HD 5550
550
800
512MB – 1GB
128-bit
320
Radeon HD 5450
650
800
512MB – 1GB
64-bit
80

It’s important to note that AMD will be rolling out its first Radeon HD 6000 series of GPUs soon, but the HD 5770 is likely to be safe for a little while due to pricing. And thanks to the performance it already offers, powering 3×1 displays is no problem at all. Because it’s a mainstream GPU offering, the most common multi-display resolution it will power is 4800×900 (3 x 1600×900), which is a typical 3 x 20″ configuration.

The FleX card includes a rather interesting cooler that’s more box-shaped than anything, and compared to the reference design, it should allow for better airflow and temperatures. Similar to many other third-party coolers, this one features a copper base and heatpipes that flow through a finned design. The overall design is common, but Sapphire’s card includes a slightly different fan, where each blade is more curved than usual.

Sapphire Radeon HD 5770 FleX 1GB

Like all other HD 5770’s, this one requires a single PCI-E 6-pin connection.

Sapphire Radeon HD 5770 FleX 1GB

Despite being geared for Eyefinity, Sappire’s “FleX” doesn’t change up the connectors on the back at all. We still have 2 x DVI, 1 x HDMI and 1 x DisplayPort. For 3×1 display use, you’d use two of the DVI’s and also the DisplayPort. If your monitor doesn’t have DisplaysPort, you can use the included DisplayPort to DVI cable.

Sapphire Radeon HD 5770 FleX 1GB

Overall, there’s not much to say about this card, since it isn’t far different from the other HD 5770’s that have been available for a while. We’ll be benchmarking this card just like all others, with our three most popular resolutions, and also include a single benchmark in 3×1 mode for each game we test, except for StarCraft II as that game disallows multi-monitor support. But first, our test system and methodology.

Test System & Methodology

At Techgage, we strive to make sure our results are as accurate as possible. Our testing is rigorous and time-consuming, but we feel the effort is worth it. In an attempt to leave no question unanswered, this page contains not only our testbed specifications, but also a detailed look at how we conduct our testing.

Test Machine

The below table lists our testing machine’s hardware, which remains unchanged throughout all GPU testing, minus the graphics card. Each card used for comparison is also listed here, along with the driver version used. Each one of the URLs in this table can be clicked to view the respective category on our site for that product.

Component
Model
Processor
Intel Core i7-975 Extreme Edition – Quad-Core @ 4.05GHz – 1.40v
Motherboard
Gigabyte GA-EX58-EXTREME – F13j BIOS (08/02/2010)
Memory
Corsair DOMINATOR – 12GB DDR3-1333 7-7-7-24-1T, 1.60v
ATI Graphics Radeon HD 5870 1GB (Sapphire) – Catalyst 10.8
Radeon HD 5850 1GB (ASUS) – Catalyst 10.8
Radeon HD 5830 1GB (Reference) – Catalyst 10.8
Radeon HD 5770 1GB (Sapphire FleX) – Catalyst 10.9
Radeon HD 5770 1GB (Reference) – Catalyst 10.8
Radeon HD 5750 1GB (Sapphire) – Catalyst 10.8
NVIDIA Graphics GeForce GTX 480 1536MB (Reference) – GeForce 260.63
GeForce GTX 470 1280MB (EVGA) – GeForce 260.63
GeForce GTX 460 1GB (EVGA) – GeForce 260.63
GeForce GTX 450 1GB (ASUS) – GeForce 260.63
Audio
ASUS Xonar D2X
Storage
Seagate Barracuda 500GB 7200.11
Power Supply
Corsair HX1000W
Chassis
Cooler Master HAF X Full-Tower
Display
Gateway XHD3000 30″
Cooling
Corsair H50 Self-Contained Liquid Cooler
Et cetera
Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit

When preparing our testbeds for any type of performance testing, we follow these guidelines:

To aide with the goal of keeping accurate and repeatable results, we alter certain services in Windows 7 from starting up at boot. This is due to the fact that these services have the tendency to start up in the background without notice, potentially causing inaccurate test results. For example, disabling “Windows Search” turns off the OS’ indexing which can at times utilize the hard drive and memory more than we’d like.

The most important services we disable are:

The full list of Windows services we assure are disabled is large, but for those interested in perusing it, please look here. Most of the services we disable are mild, but we go to such an extent to have the PC as highly optimized as possible.

Game Titles

At this time, we benchmark with three resolutions that represent three popular monitor sizes available today, 20″ (1680×1050), 24″ (1920×1080) and 30″ (2560×1600). Each of these resolutions offers enough of a variance in raw pixel output to warrant testing with it, and each properly represent a different market segment: mainstream, mid-range and high-end.

Because we value results generated by real-world testing, we don’t utilize timedemos. The possible exceptions might be Futuremark’s 3DMark Vantage and Unigine’s Heaven 2.1. Though neither of these are games, both act as robust timedemos. We choose to use them as they’re a standard where GPU reviews are concerned.

All of our results are captured with the help of Beepa’s FRAPS 3.2.3, while stress-testing and temperature-monitoring is handled by OCCT 3.1.0 and GPU-Z, respectively.

For those interested in the exact settings we use for each game, direct screenshots can be seen below:

Colin McRae: Dirt 2

Colin McRae: Dirt 2 - Settings

Colin McRae: Dirt 2 - Settings

Just Cause 2

Just Cause 2 - Settings

Mafia II

Mafia II - Settings

Metro 2033

Metro 2033 - Settings

StarCraft II

StarCraft II - Settings

Colin McRae: Dirt 2

It’s not that often that faithful PC gamers get a proper racing game for their platform of choice, but Dirt 2 is one of those. While it is a “console port”, there’s virtually nothing in the game that will make that point stand out. The game as a whole takes good advantage of our PC’s hardware, and it’s as challenging as it is good-looking.

Colin McRae: Dirt 2

Manual Run-through: The race we chose to use in Dirt 2 is the first one available in the game, as it’s easily accessible and features a lot of GPU-pounding effects that the game has become known for, such as realistic dust and water effects, a large on-looking crowd of people and fine details on and off the track. Each run-through lasts the entire two laps, which comes out to about 2.5 minutes.

As is to be expected with a reference-clocked card, Sapphire’s FleX performed on par with an actual reference sample. Overall, the performance in Dirt 2 is great at all resolutions, even with anti-aliasing enabled.

Graphics Card
Best Playable
Min FPS
Avg. FPS
NVIDIA GTX 480 1536MB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 4xAA
53
61.850
AMD HD 5870 1GB (Sapphire)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 4xAA
52
60.85
AMD HD 5850 1GB (ASUS)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 4xAA
42
50.325
NVIDIA GTS 450 1GB (Reference SLI)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 4xAA
44
53.584
NVIDIA GTX 470 1280MB (EVGA)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 4xAA
42
49.032
AMD HD 5830 1GB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 4xAA
24
40.385
NVIDIA GTX 460 1GB (EVGA)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 0xAA
38
44.090
AMD HD 5770 1GB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Medium Detail, 4xAA
44
58.439
AMD HD 5770 1GB (Sapphire FleX)
2560×1600 – Medium Detail, 4xAA
42
57.654
AMD HD 5750 1GB (Sapphire)
2560×1600 – Medium Detail, 4xAA
39
50.327
NVIDIA GTS 450 1GB (ASUS)
2560×1600 – Medium Detail, 4xAA
35
45.422

While the game did play decently well at 2560×1600 with 4xAA, it’s not going to be desirable by most gamers. Lowering the detail levels to Medium helped the performance significantly, and of course, at any resolutions below 2560×1600, you’re golden with maxed-out detail levels.

Sapphire Radeon HD 5770 FleX 1GB
Dirt 2 @ 4800×900: Medium Detail, 4xAA
Min: 29 / Avg: 51.304 FPS

Dirt 2 was one of the first titles to be released with AMD’s Eyefinity Certified classification, and for good reason. The game looks fantastic across three displays, and because it’s certified, the GUI is appropriately displayed. Because 4800×900 has a mere ~5.5% more pixels than 2560×1600, it’s no surprise to see the exact same detail settings used – which as the screenshot proves, looks quite good.

Just Cause 2

Just Cause 2 might not belong to a well-established series of games, but with its launch, it looks like that might not be the case for long. The game offers not only superb graphics, but an enormous world to explore, and for people like me, a countless number of hidden items to find around it. During the game, you’ll be scaling skyscrapers, racing through jungles and fighting atop snow-drenched mountains. What’s not to like?

Just Cause 2

Manual Run-through: The level chosen here is part of the second mission in the game, “Casino Bust”. Our runthrough begins at the second-half of the level, which requires us to situate ourselves on top of a car and have our driver, Karl Blaine, speed us through part of the island to safety. This is a great mission for benchmarking as we get to see a lot of the landmass, even if some of it is at a distance.

Just Cause 2 is a gorgeous game, and that’s reflected in the performance. Using our maxed out detail settings, along with 4xAA, isn’t reasonable for many GPUs even at 1080p, so let’s take a look at the best playable:

Graphics Card
Best Playable
Min FPS
Avg. FPS
AMD HD 5870 1GB (Sapphire)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, 4xAA
27
38.29
NVIDIA GTX 480 1536MB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, SSAO Low, 0xAA
29
39.137
AMD HD 5850 1GB (ASUS)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, High Water, High Objects, 0xAA
27
38.468
NVIDIA GTX 470 1280MB (EVGA)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, Medium Shadows, Medium Water, Medium Objects, SSAO Low, 0xAA
33
37.932
NVIDIA GTS 450 1GB (Reference SLI)
2560×1600 – Max Details, Medium Shadows, Medium Water, Medium Objects, High-Res Shadows Off, SSAO Off, 0xAA
39
46.988
AMD HD 5830 1GB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, Medium Shadows, Medium Water, Medium Objects, High-Res Shadows Off, SSAO Off, 0xAA
31
38.230
AMD HD 5770 1GB (Sapphire FleX)
1920×1080 – Max Detail, High Water, High Objects, SSAO Medium, 0xAA
32
42.781
AMD HD 5770 1GB (Reference)
1920×1080 – Max Detail, High Water, High Objects, SSAO Medium, 0xAA
31
42.332
NVIDIA GTX 460 1GB (EVGA)
1920×1080 – Max Detail, Medium Shadows, Medium Water, Medium Objects, High-Res Shadows Off, SSAO Low, 0xAA
43
48.724
NVIDIA GTS 450 1GB (ASUS)
1920×1080 – Max Detail, Medium Shadows, Medium Water, Medium Objects, High-Res Shadows Off, SSAO Off, 0xAA
39
45.059
AMD HD 5750 1GB (Sapphire)
1920×1080 – Max Detail, Medium Shadows, Medium Water, Medium Objects, High-Res Shadows Off, SSAO Off, 0xAA
35
43.306

For the most part, the detail settings can remain high on the HD 5770 and still deliver good framerates, but the 2560×1600 resolution is an unrealistic prospect. The same can be said about ambient occlusion and of course, anti-aliasing.

Sapphire Radeon HD 5770 FleX 1GB
Just Cause 2 @ 4800×900: High Texture, Medium Shadows/Water/Objects, SSAO/High-Res Off, 0xAA
Min: 30 / Avg: 39.424 FPS

Being that there are many more pixels to push compared to 1920×1080, we had to lower some of the detail levels a bit, with very high textures being pushed down to high, and AO being disabled entirely. Despite these additional decreases, the game still looks great – and this is one of those titles that really can become immersive with 3×1 setups.

Mafia II

For fans of the original Mafia game, having to wait an incredible eight years for a sequel must’ve been tough. But as we found out in our review, the wait might be forgotten as the game is quite good. It doesn’t feature near as much depth as say, Grand Theft Auto IV, but it does a masterful job of bringing you back to the 1940’s and letting you experience the Mafia lifestyle.

Mafia II

Manual Run-through: Because this game doesn’t allow us to save a game in the middle of a level, we chose to use chapter 7, “In Loving Memory…”, to do our runthrough. That chapter begins us on a street corner with many people around, and from there, we run to our garage, get in our car, and speed out to the street. Our path ultimately leads us to the park, and takes close to two minutes to accomplish.

As much as I consider Mafia II to be a great game, one unfortunate thing is that enabling anti-aliasing does little. For AA benefits to really be seen, 4xAA would be desired, but here, the only option is 2xAA, and in normal gameplay, you’re not going to see differences unless you actually look for them. Even so, the FleX card handles the game relatively well up to 1080p, which for a game that looks this good is fantastic.

Graphics Card
Best Playable
Min FPS
Avg. FPS
NVIDIA GTX 480 1536MB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, PhysX High, 0xAA
23
61.922
AMD HD 5870 1GB (Sapphire)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, PhysX Medium, 0xAA
39
60.947
NVIDIA GTX 470 1280MB (EVGA)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, PhysX Medium, 0xAA
30
50.955
AMD HD 5850 1GB (ASUS)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, PhysX Medium, 0xAA
27
38.468
NVIDIA GTS 450 1GB (Reference SLI)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, PhysX Off, 0xAA
35
49.230
AMD HD 5830 1GB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, PhysX Off, 0xAA
33
39.252
NVIDIA GTX 460 1GB (EVGA)
2560×1600 – Max Detail, PhysX Off, 0xAA
27
38.625
AMD HD 5770 1GB (Sapphire FleX)
2560×1600 – Medium Shadows, Medium Geometry, SSAO Off, 0xAA
33
44.160
AMD HD 5770 1GB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Medium Shadows, Medium Geometry, SSAO Off, 0xAA
30
44.030
NVIDIA GTS 450 1GB (ASUS)
1920×1080 – Max Detail, PhysX Off, 0xAA
38
46.118
AMD HD 5750 1GB (Sapphire)
1920×1080 – Medium Detail, PhysX Off, 0xAA
32
47.660

Similar to Just Cause 2, we found that lowering the detail settings and going to 2560×1600 was the best option. To pull off that resolution, we had to decrease all levels of detail to Medium, and disable both ambient occlusion and anti-aliasing.

Sapphire Radeon HD 5770 FleX 1GB
Mafia II @ 4800×900: Medium Shadows, Medium Geometry, SSAO Off, 0xAA
Min: 33 / Avg: 40.498 FPS

To pull the game off in an Eyefinity setup, we had to use identical settings as our 2560×1600 best playable. Like both Dirt 2 and Just Cause 2, Mafia II looks great across three displays, and interestingly enough, it’s one of the few games (or rather, the only I’ve ever seen) that gives a “3 x 1600×900” option rather than “4800×900”. It’s interesting that the developers chose to label the resolution like this, but it’s non-important in the grand scheme.

Metro 2033

One of the more popular Internet memes for the past couple of years has been, “Can it run Crysis?”, but as soon as Metro 2033 launched, that’s a meme that should have died. Metro 2033 is without question one of the beefiest games on the market, and though it supports DirectX 11, it’s almost a feature worth ignoring, because the extent you’ll need to go to in order to see playable framerates isn’t likely going to be worth it.

Metro 2033

Manual Run-through: The level we use for testing is part of chapter 4, called “Child”, where we must follow a linear path through multiple corridors until we reach our end point, which takes a total of about 90 seconds. Please note that due to the reason mentioned above, we test this game in DX10 mode, as DX11 simply isn’t that realistic from a performance standpoint.

Metro 2033 is somewhat of a disappointing title for mid-range cards, because both DX10 and DX11 models are almost an impossibility at a decent resolution. Fortunately for gamers, DX9 mode still happens to look fantastic, but as one of the few games out there built in with DX11 mode, it would be nice to actually play it at those settings. As far as our chosen detail settings above go, the HD 5770 is limited to 1680×1050.

Graphics Card
Best Playable
Min FPS
Avg. FPS
NVIDIA GTX 480 1536MB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Medium Detail, DX10, 0xAA
46
62.563
AMD HD 5870 1GB (Sapphire)
2560×1600 – Medium Detail, DX10, 0xAA
39
60.947
NVIDIA GTS 450 1GB (Reference SLI)
2560×1600 – Medium Detail, DX10, 0xAA
32
50.060
NVIDIA GTX 470 1280MB (EVGA)
2560×1600 – Medium Detail, DX10, 0xAA
35
49.220
AMD HD 5850 1GB (ASUS)
2560×1600 – Medium Detail, DX10, 0xAA
30
47.746
NVIDIA GTX 460 1GB (EVGA)
1920×1080 – High Detail, DX10, 0xAA
45
66.894
AMD HD 5830 1GB (Reference)
1920×1080 – High Detail, DX10, 0xAA
30
44.030
AMD HD 5770 1GB (Sapphire FleX)
1920×1080 – Medium Detail, DX10, 0xAA
30
53.006
AMD HD 5770 1GB (Reference)
1920×1080 – Medium Detail, DX10, 0xAA
32
52.555
AMD HD 5750 1GB (Sapphire)
1920×1080 – Medium Detail, DX10, 0xAA
32
47.660
NVIDIA GTS 450 1GB (ASUS)
1920×1080 – Medium Detail, DX10, 0xAA
30
47.608

Given just how hardcore of a game Metro 2033 is on a GPU, I’m personally surprised that one such as the HD 5770 can handle 1920×1080 at decent detail settings, but sure enough… Medium detail and DX10 and 50 FPS on average. Not a bad deal.

Sapphire Radeon HD 5770 FleX 1GB
Metro 2033 @ 4800×900: Medium Detail, DX9, 0xAA
Min: 25 / Avg: 37.464 FPS

Because Metro 2033 doesn’t allow fine-tuning the detail settings to any real degree, we were limited in how much we could tweak to get a playable setting. Our only option here was to drop things down to DX9 mode, while retaining Medium detail levels. As mentioned above, though, this game still looks great in DX9 mode, as the screenshot above can attest.

StarCraft II

Of all the games we test, it might be this one that needs no introduction. Back in 1998, Blizzard unleashed what was soon to be one of the most successful RTS titles on the planet, and even as of today, the original is still heavily played all around the world – even in actual competitions. StarCraft II of course had a lot of hype to live up to, and it did, thanks to its intense gameplay and superb graphics.

StarCraft II

Manual Run-through: The portion of the game we use for testing is part of the Zero Hour mission, which has us holding fort until we’re able to evacuate. Our saved game starts us in the middle of the mission, and from the get-go, we build a couple of buildings and concurrently move our main units up and around the map. Total playtime lasts about two minutes.

Some might disagree, but I have found 30 FPS to be good enough for most gamers in this title, and despite the low number, the overall gameplay is still smooth, which is rather surprising. For hardcore gamers, I wouldn’t doubt that higher framerates would be desired at 2560×1600, but for any resolution under that, the performance seen here is good.

Graphics Card
Best Playable
Min FPS
Avg. FPS
NVIDIA GTX 480 1536MB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Ultra Detail, 0xAA
25
72.674
AMD HD 5870 1GB (Sapphire)
2560×1600 – Ultra Detail, 0xAA
31
57.28
NVIDIA GTX 470 1280MB (EVGA)
2560×1600 – Ultra Detail, 0xAA
20
55.961
NVIDIA GTS 450 1GB (Reference SLI)
2560×1600 – Ultra Detail, 0xAA
32
50.060
AMD HD 5850 1GB (ASUS)
2560×1600 – Ultra Detail, 0xAA
32
48.787
NVIDIA GTX 460 1GB (EVGA)
2560×1600 – Ultra Detail, 0xAA
25
41.306
AMD HD 5830 1GB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Ultra Detail, 0xAA
20
32.986
NVIDIA GTS 450 1GB (ASUS)
2560×1600 – Ultra Detail, 0xAA
19
32.561
AMD HD 5770 1GB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Ultra Detail, 0xAA
17
30.515
AMD HD 5770 1GB (Sapphire FleX)
2560×1600 – Ultra Detail, 0xAA
18
30.216
AMD HD 5750 1GB (Sapphire)
2560×1600 – High Detail, 0xAA
23
37.297
NVIDIA GTS 450 1GB (ASUS)
2560×1600 – High Detail, 0xAA
22
33.331

At Ultra detail settings, and no anti-aliasing, the game hits my minimum mark of 30 FPS, so that becomes our overall best playable. If you are a competitive player and are using a larger monitor, you might want to decrease the settings to High, but if you don’t take things ultra-seriously, you should be more than pleased with the performance from the FleX at 1920×1080 and under, regardless of settings.

Unfortunately for Eyefinity gamers, Blizzard has taken it upon itself to say that there’s no place in StarCraft II for multi-monitor gaming. While hacks exist to get around the limitation, we didn’t test with it as the number of people willing to tweak their game and risk getting their accounts banned is going to be small.

Futuremark 3DMark Vantage

Although we generally shun automated gaming benchmarks, we do like to run at least one to see how our GPUs scale when used in a ‘timedemo’-type scenario. Futuremark’s 3DMark Vantage is without question the best such test on the market, and it’s a joy to use, and watch. The folks at Futuremark are experts in what they do, and they really know how to push that hardware of yours to its limit.

Similar to a real game, 3DMark Vantage offers many configuration options, although many (including us) prefer to stick to the profiles which include Performance, High and Extreme. Depending on which one you choose, the graphic options are tweaked accordingly, as well as the resolution. As you’d expect, the better the profile, the more intensive the test. The benchmark doesn’t natively support 2560×1600, so to benchmark with that, we choose the Extreme profile and simply change the resolution.

As one would expect, Sapphire’s FleX card pairs up with the reference HD 5770, which puts it just above NVIDIA’s GeForce GTS 450 – at least where this particular benchmark is concerned.

Unigine Heaven 2.1

While Futuremark is a well-established name where PC benchmarking is concerned, Unigine is just beginning to become exposed to people. The company’s main focus isn’t benchmarks, but rather its cross-platform game engine which it licenses out to other developers, and also its own games, such as a gorgeous post-apocalytic oil strategy game. The company’s benchmarks are simply a by-product of its game engine.

Unigine Heaven 2.1

The biggest reason that the company’s “Heaven” benchmark grew in popularity rather quickly is that both AMD and NVIDIA promoted it for its heavy use of tessellation, a key DirectX 11 feature. Like 3DMark Vantage, the benchmark here is overkill by design, so results here aren’t going to directly correlate with real gameplay. Rather, they showcase which card models can better handle both DX11 and its GPU-bogging features.

While the HD 5770 came ahead of GTS 450 in 3DMark Vantage, NVIDIA’s Fermi architecture helps it excel in the heavily tessellated Unigine Heaven. Will we see things shake up with AMD’s upcoming Northern Islands launch? We’ll find out soon enough.

Power & Temperatures

To test our graphics cards for both temperatures and power consumption, we utilize OCCT for the stress-testing, GPU-Z for the temperature monitoring, and a Kill-a-Watt for power monitoring. The Kill-a-Watt is plugged into its own socket, with only the PC connect to it.

As per our guidelines when benchmarking with Windows, when the room temperature is stable (and reasonable), the test machine is boot up and left to sit at the desktop until things are completely idle. Because we are running such a highly optimized PC, this normally takes one or two minutes. Once things are good to go, the idle wattage is noted, GPU-Z is started up to begin monitoring card temperatures, and OCCT is set up to begin stress-testing.

To push the cards we test to their absolute limit, we use OCCT in full-screen 2560×1600 mode, and allow it to run for 15 minutes, which includes a one minute lull at the start, and a four minute lull at the end. After about 5 minutes, we begin to monitor our Kill-a-Watt to record the max wattage.

I didn’t hold any major credence in Sapphire’s FleX cooler, as it doesn’t look quite as efficient as most of the previous Vapor-X and similar designs that the company has put out in recent years, but overall, the temperature drop between it and the reference is still quite notable. The same goes for power, which saw a minor drop overall, despite being the same card.

Final Thoughts

When I had the chance to take a good look at Eyefinity using both 3 and 6 monitor configurations this past spring, I became a believer fast. With the HD 5000 series launch, I jumped to conclusions that multi-monitor gaming wouldn’t take off, but once I actually had a chance to give it a good test for myself, across numerous titles (20+), I found it a little hard to get used to one screen again. Companies such as Sapphire, with its FleX card designed for Eyefinity, confirms its own belief that multi-monitor gaming has some real value.

Where Sapphire’s FleX card in particular is concerned, it doesn’t do much physically different compared to other HD 5770’s, but it does include a DisplayPort to DVI cable, which enables anyone with three monitors (that have DVI) to get started with Eyefinity. Because DisplayPort is a required component for Eyefinity, this is the only solution for those without a DisplayPort monitor. Fortunately, we can be thankful that this workaround exists at all.

With Northern Islands’ launch right around the corner (October 22), the question has to be raised as to whether or not it’s wise to invest in an HD 5770 at this point in time. Unfortunately, I had this card in my possession for months, and due to various delays and other things, it took me this long to tackle. The card would have been far more relevant back when I first received it, but even as it stands, it looks as though the HD 5770 is going to have redeeming value for some time to come.

Sapphire Radeon HD 5770 FleX 1GB

As mentioned in our intro, AMD pointed out a couple of deals at Newegg weeks ago that were in all cases impressive. Although i wouldn’t consider 3 x 20″ to be an ideal setup (at that point the screens are kind of small, so the level of immersion isn’t quite as high as say, a 3 x 24″ setup… but that’s a personal opinion. Even so, the fact that three 20″ monitors of decent quality, and an HD 5770, and an active cable can be had for $500… that’s impressive.

Based on rumors alone, the launch Northern Islands cards, the HD 6850 and HD 6870, aren’t going to replace the HD 5770’s price point, so at $150, a card that can power a 4800×900 resolution at decent detail levels (in some cases, great detail levels) is hard to ignore. For the gamer looking to dive into Eyefinity but wants to do so as cheaply as possible, the HD 5770 is going to be a winner for a while.

If the Northern Islands launch has you at all spooked, however, you can wait until the end of the week and all questions will be answered. Unfortunately, that’s all I can say for now. Be sure to check back later this week for our HD 6800 launch coverage!

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