What's in the cards
AMD has unleashed a couple of graphics cards with Juniper chips onboard. The one that will most likely capture your interest is the Radeon HD 5770, which is the fastest Juniper-based card. Have a look.
That's Gigabyte's take on the 5770, and yes, it's clothed in one of those Batmobile-inspired cooling shrouds. AMD calls this the "Phoenix" shroud, and all early versions of the 5770 should include it. Over time, though, the various brands will be free to come up with their own custom coolers, so the Phoenix's availability may be somewhat limited.
Juniper cranks away at 850MHz in the 5770, paired with a gig of memory clocked at 1.2GHz. That memory clock translates into a 4.8 GT/s data rate, since this is GDDR5 memory. Happily, Juniper has inherited Cypress's ability to conserve power at idle by dropping its GDDR5 memory into a low-power state. As a result, AMD rates the 5770's idle power at only 18W. Even under load, the 5770 is relatively tame, with a 108W max power rating.
Thus, the 5770 gets by easily with just a single six-pin auxiliary power connector. The board's relatively short, too, at just under 8.25" in lengthan easy fit for most any mid-sized desktop enclosure, though it will occupy two slots.
And here's the Radeon HD 5750, the 5770's little brother. For this mission, Juniper has had one of its SIMD cores clipped, along with the corresponding texture unit. Clock speeds are de-tuned, too, with the GPU at 700MHz and memory at 1150MHz. Thanks to the changes, the 5750 tops out at 86W of power draw and is rated for just 16W at idle. The board's shorter, too, at just 7 3/16".
Both 5700-series cards sport the same array of outputs as the Radeon HD 5870, including a pair of dual-link DVI ports, a DisplayPort connector, and an HDMI out. The cards can drive up to three monitors at up to 2560x1600 in several port combinations, although the third display must use DisplayPort. AMD's Eyefinity capability is fully supported in all 5700-series cards, too, making it possible to play games across three displays with either card, provided the pixel-pushing demands of the games aren't too strenuous.
Incidentally, AMD says board makers will be able to create multi-display cards based on Juniper that feature more than three DisplayPort connectors, but it will ask them to limit those cards to five outputs. You'll have to step up to one of the upcoming Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity6 Edition cards to drive six displays via a single GPU.
Another limitation of the 5700 series will be the number of cards supported in CrossFire multi-GPU configs. Although the cards have dual CrossFire connectors up top, AMD plans to limit them to dual-GPU configs only. Again, going beyond that will mean moving up to the 5800 series.
AMD told us it expects "nearly all" board vendors to include a coupon with their Radeon HD 5770 cards good for a Steam download of the upcoming racing game, DiRT 2. As I understand it, board vendors may even include the DiRT 2 coupon with the 5750, if they choose. They don't appear to be doing so right now, though. At present, most 5700-series cards listings at Newegg say nothing about a DiRT 2 coupon. Our retail boxed review sample of Gigabyte's Radeon HD 5770 from Gigabyte didn't include a coupon, either, and Gigabyte says only its 5800-series cards will feature that perk.
The initial suggested e-tail price for the Radeon HD 5770 is $159. That's an interesting opening bid from AMD, because the Radeon HD 4870 1GB can be had right now for a prevailing price of about $150 at online retailers, with rebate deals that can drop the price another 10 or 15 bucks below that. The 4870 has a lower core clock speed than the 5770, but higher memory bandwidth, so the performance contest between them is no sure thing (as we'll soon see). AMD has apparently decided to charge a bit of a premium at the outset for its latest GPU and the fresh technology it offers.
That decision puts the Radeon HD 5770 in more or less direct competition with the GeForce GTX 260, too. Prevailing prices online for the GTX 260 are about $165, with rebate deals shaving up to 20 bucks off the final toll, provided that the rebate company actually pays.
One tricky thing about making comparisons to the GTX 260 is the fact that clock speeds on end products tend to vary. For this review, we tested with a GTX 260 card from Asus that's clocked quite a bit higher than Nvidia's baseline speeds, primarily because it was the only one we had on hand that uses the 55-nm "b" version of the GT200 GPU. Our Asus card has clock speeds of 650MHz (core), 1400MHz (shaders), and 1150MHz (memory, or 2300 MT/s with DDR3). This particular Asus model is apparently not available at online retailers right now. This Gigabyte card with very similar clock speeds is selling for $179 at Newegg with a $30 mail-in rebate attached. Depending on whether the rebate works out, then, that GTX 260 will either cost more or less than the 5770. Be aware, though, that not all GTX 260s are created equal, and the one we've tested is at the upper end of the bell curve, like the word count in a TR review.
Meanwhile, the 1GB variant of the 5750 will list for $129, where it will have to contend with the Radeon HD 4850 1GB (~$120 prevailing price) and the GeForce GTS 250 1GB (~$140, with some rebates available). Again, clock speeds vary on the GeForces, and this Gigabyte offering for $150, plus a $20 rebate, is probably closest to our EVGA Superclocked card's 770MHz core, 1890MHz shaders, and 1123MHz memory.
AMD says it has shipped "tens of thousands" of both 5750 and 5770 1GB cards for this initial launch, so availability hopefully won't be as spotty as it has been for the Radeon HD 5800-series cards. Over time, Radeon board makers should begin shipping a 512MB version of the 5750, as well, for around $109.
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