Graphics Cards Guide

The Budget Showdown - ATI vs. NVIDIA

The Budget Showdown - ATI vs. NVIDIA



Really Budget Evergreen Arrives

Really Budget Evergreen Arrives

Just weeks ago, ATI launched their Radeon HD 5450 and HD 5570 chips, marking the completion of the Evergreen product line-up. With the release of the two chips, ATI has now a full range of Evergreen graphics cards, from high-end to budget-class, out in the market. This is impressive considering that the first Evergreen card - the Radeon HD 5870 - was launched slightly more than five months ago. 

Anyhow, today we are going to take a look at both the Radeon HD 5450 and HD 5570. These cards are budget-classed cards, priced well below US$100, and are targeted at HTPC enthusiasts, casual users with multimedia needs and light gamers. It's main competition in this arena will be NVIDIA's GeForce GT 240, GT 220 and 210, and also previous generation budget Radeon cards.

 

 We begin our analysis with the Radeon HD 5450, which is powered by ATI's Cedar PRO chip. This chip is the absolute base model in the Evergreen family and it has only 80 stream processors, 8 texture mapping units and 4 raster operating units - a far cry from the might of the all-powerful Cypress XT chip, which has 1600 stream processors.

In stock form, it's clocked at 650MHz at the core, and can be paired to run with either DDR2 or DDR3 memory (but more likely the latter). It's really basic, but the most worrying bit is its narrow 64-bit memory bus, which could seriously hamper performance. This however is quite a norm for very entry-level class cards and this model shows it. On the upside however, rated TDP at load is a mere 19.1W, which points to it as being extremely energy efficient and that it can be passively cooled.

The Radeon HD 5570 is markedly more robust. Powered by the Redwood PRO chip, it gets 400 stream processors, 20 texture mapping units and 8 raster operating units - the same as the Radeon HD 5670, which we were quite pleased with. However, clock speeds are severely different as the core clock has been numbed down to 650MHz (as compared to 750MHz on the Radeon HD 5670). The Radeon HD 5570 also retains the HD 5670's 128-bit wide bus width, but employs DDR3 memory instead, with ATI's reference editions clocking at 1800MHz DDR. Considering the Radeon HD 5570's paper specifications alone, we think it should still remain quite competitive.

And of course, both these new chips support all the niceties that we've come to expect from an Evergreen card, and that is full DirectX 11 compatibility and ATI EyeFinity. DirectX 11 compatibility might be a moot point for such low-end cards, but they should have no problems driving up to three monitors simultaneously. To add, both SKUs will have cards that come in both 512MB and 1GB flavors.

 

ATI Radeon HD 5450 and 5570 specs comparison with competitive SKUs
Model ATI Radeon HD 5450 ATI Radeon HD 5570 NVIDIA GeForce GT 220 NVIDIA GeForce GT 240 NVIDIA GeForce 9600 GT
Core Code Cedar PRO Redwood PRO GT216 GT215 G94
Transistor Count 292 million 627 million 486 million 727 million 505 million
Manufacturing Process 40nm 40nm 40nm 40nm 65nm
Core Clock 650MHz 650MHz 615MHz 550MHz 650MHz
Stream Processors 80 Stream processing units 400 Stream processing units 48 Stream Processors 96 Stream Processors 64 Stream Processors
Stream Processor Clock 650MHz 650MHz 1335MHz 1340MHz 1625MHz
Texture Mapping Units (TMU) or Texture Filtering (TF) units 8 20 16 32 32
Raster Operator units (ROP) 4 8 8 8 16
Memory Clock 1600MHz GDDR3 1800MHz GDDR3 2000MHz GDDR3 1800MHz GDDR3 / 3400MHz GDDR5 1800MHz GDDR3
DDR Memory Bus 64-bit 128-bit 128-bit 128-bit 256-bit
Memory Bandwidth 12.8GB/s 28.8GB/s 16.0GB/s 28.8GB/s 57.6GB/s
PCI Express Interface PCIe ver 2.0 x16 PCIe ver 2.0 x16 PCIe ver 2.0 x16 PCIe ver 2.0 x16 PCIe ver 2.0 x16
Molex Power Connectors None None None None 1 x 6-pin
Multi GPU Technology CrossFireX CrossFireX None None SLI
DVI Output Support 2 x Dual-Link 2 x Dual-Link 2 x Dual-Link 2 x Dual-Link 2 x Dual-Link
HDCP Output Support Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Street Price Launch Price: US$49 Launch Price: US$80 ~US$80 ~US$99 ~US$100