Product Sapphire Radeon HD 5770 Flex Edition
System Specifications 850MHz Core, 1GB GDDR5 memory (4,800MHz effective), 800 stream processors, 1 HDMI-out, 1 DisplayPort-out, 1 Single-link DVI-D.
Price £150 including VAT
IF YOU WANT to run a multi monitor set-up, one of the easiest ways of doing it is to buy a graphics card based around ATI's 5 series architecture. Easiest? Yes. Cheap? Maybe not. In order to power the third monitor, you'll need either a monitor supporting Displayport, which are expensive and not easy to find, or get hold of an active (and pricey) Displayport dongle. However, now one of ATI's biggest partner's, Sapphire, has released a card that supports three monitors out of the box.
With Sapphire's Radeon HD 5770 Flex Edition you can set up a three-monitor Eyefinity display using the DVI and HDMI ports, without touching the Displayport outlet. Of course, if you have either a monitor that supports Displayport or an active dongle then, by using the Displayport socket, the HD 5770 Flex will output to four monitors.
That's the good news, but - and you just knew there would be a 'but' - there's a problem when it comes to what types of displays the HD 5770 Flex Edition supports. A quick glance at the backplate reveals two DVI ports and single HDMI and DisplayPort outlets. Nothing worrying there, but a closer look reveals the problem: one of the DVI ports is coloured grey. No great shakes, you might think, but this indicates it is only a single link DVI, not dual link like the other one.
Being a single link DVI it's quite limited as to what screen resolution it can support, namely a maximum of 1920x1200 at 60Hz. This means it can't support ultra-high resolution monitors such as Dell's 27-inch and 30-inch models.
However, what you can do is power three 1920x1200 60Hz DVI monitors, which gives you a not insignificant resolution of 5760x1200. It's worth noting that resolutions much higher than this will see the HD 5770 Flex Edition completely running out of grunt.
With the HD 5770 Flex Edition, Sapphire has kept the all the clocks at reference speeds. The engine of the Juniper core runs along at 850MHz as do the 800 stream processors, while the eight Samsung K4G10325FE HC04 memory chips that make up the 1GB of GDDR5 memory run through a 128-bit bus at 1,200MHz, 4.8GHz effective.
Although the clock speeds of the HD 5770 Flex Edition might be to the reference specifications, the cooler preventing it getting hot under the collar certainly isn't. Sapphire has used a new design for the plastic shroud, under which sits a dual copper heat-pipe cooler and a copper GPU contact plate. Sitting in the middle of the aluminum-finned cooling block is a quiet-running 80mm fan.
Performance-wise, the HD 5770 Flex runs about the same as any other HD 5770 with standard clocks. Tested at 1680x1050 in FarCry 2's Small Farm map with all details set to their highest setting, the average frame rate for four runs was 61.10fps. The Black Tower map benchmark in Just Cause 2 yielded 57.79fps.
So far so good, but when the HD 5770 Flex was set-up in Eyefinity display with three 22-inch monitors giving a resolution of 5040x1050, the lack of oomph from the HD 5770 became apparent, which isn't really much of a surprise given the price point the HD 5570 is aimed at. Using the same maps and in game detail settings as before, we got an average of 32.41fps in FarCry 2 and 25.20fps average in Just Cause 2. While these frame rates are fairly low, it's worth remembering that these games were testing with all the in-game details set to their highest, so taking these back to their minimums or turning them off will achieve smoother and more playable frame rates.
As a proof of concept, Sapphire's HD 5770 Flex Edition certainly works, enabling three-monitor Eyefinity setups to be created out of the box without any problems. But at extremely high resolutions the card struggles with high-end games with lots of detail switched on. What would be interesting is if Sapphire introduced the Flex support to the more powerful cards nearer the top of its range. µ
Eyefinity support out of the box, no need for Displayport monitor or active dongle, good cooling, low noise.
Struggles when playing intensive games at very high resolutions.