I'm always up for a good fight, but over the past few years I've realized that there's two battles that I just can't win. One is telling people that the video cards they want to buy has more memory than they need and if they want to save a few dollars while getting almost identical performance, go for the one with less memory.
The second is convincing people that budget CrossFire or SLI setups just aren't worth it, as almost every time you could get a single card solution that's going to perform slightly better for what is usually a slightly lower price.
High MB video cards of course have their place in the high end segment and so does CrossFire and SLI in that same segment, but these days we seem so content that more is better and we forget to look at the 1s and 0s of the situation.
Following something that I was once told, "If you can't beat them, join them". I'm here with my second HD 5670 1GB GDDR video card and today we're going to place it with our other one to see what kind of performance this budget CrossFire setup can get us.
We never expect much from these mid range graphics cards when it comes to the bundle and this one is no different. We've got a bit of paperwork along with a CD that contains a driver and MSI's own Afterburner overclocking software.
The first stand out point for the MSI HD 5670 is the fact that the company has opted for its own cooler. This means that compared to the reference card, we're looking at another dual slot version of the HD 5670.
The whole design isn't anything we haven't really seen before and if past experience is anything to go by, we shouldn't have any issues when it comes to keeping our GPU cool with this option.
Like the other HD 5670s we've looked at, we don't have any extra power needed like the reference version we looked at, but with the MSI one we do have some CrossFire connectors on top of the card.
In the I/O department we don't see anything new; a single Dual-Link DVI Port, DisplayPort and HDMI port round off the connectivity. This setup allows us to make use of EyeFinity which for me is quite a nice feature on these more budget orientated cards.
Carrying 1GB of GDDR5 like the other retail HD 5670s we looked at, we don't see anything that we haven't already seen from the model. The core comes in at the same 775MHz while the memory carries with it a 4000MHz QDR clock.
The piece of information to pay the most attention to here is down the bottom of the GPU-Z screenshot where you can see that we've enabled CrossFire and two cards are currently running together.
Test System Setup and 3DMark Vantage
Test System Setup
Processor(s): Intel Core i7 920 @ 3.8GHz (190MHz x 20)
Cooling: Noctua NH-U12P (Supplied by Noctua)
Motherboard(s): GIGABYTE EX58-UD5 (Supplied by GIGABYTE)
Memory: 3 X 2GB Kingston Hyper X PC3-16000 2000MHz DDR CL9 (Supplied by Kingston)
Hard Disk(s): Western Digital 640GB SATA 2.0 HDD (Supplied by Western Digital)
Operating System: Windows 7
Drivers: ATI Catalyst Redwood Beta, Catalyst 9.12
Since the card carries with it the same clocks as the Sapphire HD 5670 we looked at along with the same amount of memory, we thought it was time to throw this card along with the new MSI one we have here together to see what kind of performance we can get out of a budget CrossFire setup.
Not only will we have a look at how much extra performance a second card adds, but we'll also see what the difference between the CrossFire setup when compared to a single HD 5750 and HD 5770.
Let's get started!
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmarkvantage/
Buy It Here
3DMark Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware.
3DMark Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.
Compared to the single card solution, we can see a great performance boost straight away with the CrossFire setup sitting only behind the HD 5770 which sits two models above this one.
Unigine Heaven Benchmark (DX10 & DX11)
Unigine Heaven Benchmark
Version and / or Patch Used: 1
Developer Homepage: http://www.unigine.com
Product Homepage: http://unigine.com/products/unigine
New benchmark grants the power to unleash the DirectX 11 potential in the gift wrapping of impressively towering graphics capabilities. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. With the interactive mode emerging experience of exploring the intricate world is ensured within reach. Through its advanced renderer, Unigine is one of the first to set precedence in showcasing the art assets with tessellation, bringing compelling visual finesse, utilizing the technology to the full extend and exhibiting the possibilities of enriching 3D gaming.
Note: If a card doesn't support DirectX 11 the benchmark will be left out. If it does it will be included along with the DirectX 10 results.
Direct X 10
Direct X 11
The CrossFire setup again performs very strong. In this case the extra performance from the second card manages to make it out perform the HD 5770 in all setups.
Benchmarks - CINEBENCH R10
Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10
Developer Homepage: http://www.maxon.net/
Product Homepage: http://www.maxon.net
CINEBENCH is a real-world test suite that assesses your computer's performace capabilities. MAXON CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software, CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.
MAXON CINEBENCH runs several tests on your computer to measure the performance of the main processor and the graphics card under real world circumstances. The benchmark application makes use of up to 16 CPUs or CPU cores and is available for Windows (32-bit and 64-Bit) and Macintosh (PPC and Intel-based).
No surprise when it comes to CINEBENCH with all cards lining up next to each other.
Benchmarks - Resident Evil 5
Resident Evil 5
Version and / or Patch Used: Demo Benchmark
Developer Homepage: http://www.capcom.com
Product Homepage: http://www.residentevil.com
Resident Evil 5 is a survival horror video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the seventh installment in the Resident Evil survival horror series, and was released on September 18. Resident Evil 5 revolves around Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar as they investigate a terrorist threat in Kijuju, a fictional town in Africa.
Looking at our first real world game, we again see excellent performance with the HD 5670 CF setup outperforming the HD 5770 at both resolutions.
Benchmarks - Far Cry 2
Far Cry 2
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.03
Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long
Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com
Product Homepage: http://www.farcry2.com
Buy It Here
The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.
The strong performance continues to show in Far Cry 2 with the HD 5670 CF setup performing stronger than the single HD 5770. Unlike a single card which is a fair chunk away from that 30 FPS minimum we need, the CF setup just blasts past it.
Benchmarks - World in Conflict
World in Conflict
Version and / or Patch Used: 220.127.116.11
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.massive.se
Product Homepage: http://www.worldinconflict.com
World in Conflict is a real-time strategy video game by Massive Entertainment and to be published by Sierra Entertainment for Windows (DX9 and DX10).
The game is set in 1989 where economic troubles cripple the Soviet Union and threaten to dissolve it. However, the title pursues a "what if" scenario where, in this case, the Soviet Union does not collapse and instead pursues a course of war to remain in power. It is an intensive new game that is sure to put plenty of stress on even the latest graphics cards. We use the built-in benchmarking for our testing.
The HD 5670 CF setup is the only one that's able to break the 30 FPS minimum at 1920 x 1200. You can begin to see how this would be a nice little setup.
Benchmarks - Batman Arkham Asylum
Batman Arkham Asylum
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.rocksteadyltd.com
Product Homepage: http://www.batmanarkhamasylum.com
Batman: Arkham Asylum exposes players to a unique, dark and atmospheric adventure that takes them to the depths of Arkham Asylum - Gotham's psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane. Gamers will move in the shadows, instigate fear amongst their enemies and confront The Joker and Gotham City's most notorious villains who have taken over the asylum.
Using a wide range of Batman's gadgets and abilities, players will become the invisible predator and attempt to foil The Joker's demented scheme.
Batman: Arkham Asylum features an original story penned exclusively for the game by famous Batman author and five-time Emmy award winner Paul Dini, whose credits include Lost season one and Batman: The Animated Series.
Note: With support for PhysX NVIDIA based cards will be tested with the technology on and off, while ATI cards will be tested with the technology off due to it not being supported on their cards.
Batman AA already performs strong on most cards, but we again see a very impressive bump in performance from the HD 5670 CF setup which gives it a win against the HD 5770.
Benchmarks - Darkest of Days
Darkest of Days
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.4
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.phantomefx.com
Product Homepage: http://www.darkestofdays.com
Darkest of Days takes the player through time into historic battles in an effort to save key individuals from certain death. The battles range from Custer's Last Stand at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876 to fighting in Pompeii as ash and fire rain down from an erupting Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. Other locations include the battles of Antietam and Tannenberg, and a German World War II P.O.W. camp. There are different missions in every time period and the game takes about 4 hours to complete.
The game features over twenty weapons, both from the original time period as well as those brought back from the future. In addition, there are artillery weapons from different time periods to assist in battle.
Note: With the PhysX set to Medium or High, Darkest of Days takes advantage of the NVIDIA PhysX abilities. For that reason we will test ATI cards at the Low preset, while NVIDIA based cards will be tested at Low and High.
PhysX set to Low
Darkest of Days is making no use of the CrossFire technology here which means in turn we're not seeing a performance increase.
Benchmarks - BattleForge
Version and / or Patch Used: Auto Patched at Load
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.ea.com
Product Homepage: http://www.battleforge.com
The Gods have disappeared and the old sun has died, letting a vile twilight engulf the world of Nyn. In exchange for all treasures the mortals possessed, the evil giants agreed to forge a new sun and hurl it into the sky.
But the deal was betrayed, the treasure stolen and now the mortals flee the wrath of the giants. Under the light of a new sun the mortals stumble into a world changed and twisted by an age of twilight. The long journey home has become a conquest of survival.
Note: Supporting DirectX 11, we have separated the graphs for NVIDIA and ATI cards. While the numbers between the two brands can be compared, you have to make note that ATI based HD 5000 series cards are running DirectX 11.
DirectX 11 (ATI HD 5000 Series Only)
A very intensive game in itself, the CF HD 5670 setup is able to break that 60 FPS average we want to see at the lower resolution, making the setup quite impressive.
Temperature and Sound Tests
With the TES 1326 Infrared Thermometer literally in hand we found ourselves getting real-world temperatures from the products we test at load (3D clock speeds).
There are two places we pull temperature from - the back of the card directly behind the core and if the card is dual slot and has an exhaust point we also pull a temperate from there, as seen in the picture.
With a card in front, the MSI HD 5670 isn't getting the same amount of airflow meaning that it's going to run a bit warmer than a single card setup and the second card in a CrossFire setup.
Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.
After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).
Noise levels aren't anything to worry about with it being slightly quieter than the HD 5700 series.
Power Consumption Tests
Using our new PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01 or "Power Thingy" as it has become quickly known as to our readers, we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated graphics cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).
There are a few important notes to remember though; while our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10% more. We test at the exact same stage every time; therefore tests should be very consistent and accurate.
The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a 7,200RPM SATA-II single hard drive is used without CD ROM or many cooling fans.
So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.
While the two card setup does draw more power, 340 Watts at load is hardly anything to worry about.
I hate to admit it but budget CrossFire setups are beginning to have a place in the market thanks to aggressive pricing and low-end cards performing quite strong these days. The MSI HD 5670 we looked at today is going to set you back $114.99, while a HD 5770 with the stock cooler is going to be $169.99 after a $10.00 mail-in rebate.
Now, before you say that two HD 5670s are more expensive than a single HD 5770, let me stop you and say; I know. HD 5670s can be had for under $100, though; closer to the $95 mark. And again, while that setup is slightly more expensive than a single HD 5770, it's also slightly faster across the board.
Setting up CrossFire is of course going to require a motherboard that supports the technology, but with many people sporting an i7 or i5 CPU, this shouldn't be a problem. The only other issue that tends to pop up is power requirements, but at just below 350 Watt at load, just about any good quality power supply will handle the setup.
On to the specifics that are part of the HD 5670 from MSI, we discover it's another good variation from the stock model thanks to its aftermarket cooling option. Performance is as you would expect and this model of course supports EyeFinity which is an important feature.
Overclocking can be done with the Afterburner software, but as we discovered, don't expect miracles when it comes to the performance increase you get. While some extra FPS can be had, if you're really looking for something that can game better at higher detail in 1680 x 1050 or higher resolutions, look at the CF setup or a HD 5770 and above.
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