XFX Radeon 5750 XXX Review Page: 1

XFX Radeon 5750 XXX Review

Introduction

The world of graphics cards was once a very simplistic affair. You had CGA and EGA. Perhaps if you were lucky VGA. This pretty much continued until two companies introduced this wonderful new thing called "3D Acceleration". Now you had your standard 2D, and then either a Voodoo or a Rendition Verite to provide your 3D goodness.

Gradually, like all technical breakthroughs, other companies leapt on the bandwagon and soon there were a few cards to choose from. Companies came and went and eventually two major technologies reigned supreme. GeForce from nVidia and the ATI Radeon.

The problem with any market is that it needs products that cover all pockets. Most of us look at the premium market, and buy from the middle and so the two major players need to provide products that cover every need and price. This leads to a plethora of models and specifications that it's difficult for us to keep a handle on much less the general public.

Is the XXX rated R?

A couple of days ago Mul looked at the XFX 5670 and found it a little overpriced for the performance it delivered. Today we're looking at a model from XFXs premium factory-overclocked line, the XXX series, and in particular the XFX HD5750 XXX.

By utilising the middle of the 57xx series the cost is kept significantly lower than a 58xx, but should provide more performance than the wheezy 5670. In the always excellent XFX XXX guise it has the potential to be the perfect balance of the quietness the HTPC crowd demand, the performance the gaming crowd seek, and at a price we all can enjoy.

Technical Specifications

We have the absolute zenith of the XFX HD5750 XXX series here, the ZND-C which comes with 1GB of DDR5 and the DisplayPort that enables Eyefinity. Today we're looking solely at a single-monitor solution, but to know we have that expandability certainly means the XFX HD5750 XXX could be all things to all men.

Bus Type PCI-E 2.0
GPU Clock 740 Mhz
Memory Bus 128
Memory Type DDR5
Memory Size 1024 MB
Memory Speed 4800 Mhz
Thermal Solution FANSINK
Minimum Power Supply Requirement 450 Watt w/ one 6-pin power connector
Outputs HDMI, Dual-Link DVI, Display Port
Card Dimensions 7.25 X 4.376 X 1.5
Feature Directx 11 support, DirectCompute 5.0, Open CL, Eyefinity Technology, Shader Model 5.0, OpenGL 3.2, Windows 7, DisplayPort, HDMI
Warranty
Package Contents 6 Pin Y Power Cable


Not bad on paper. We all know that the GPU Clock isn't everything though otherwise this would be priced much higher than it is, and certainly wouldn't need a single 6-pin PCI connector.

Testing isn't done on paper, so on we go.



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XFX Radeon 5750  XXX Review

Packaging

The XFX 5750 XXX comes in a much smaller package than we've seen from many graphics cards in recent times and kudos must go to XFX for trying to reduce packaging sizes. Of all the various items of hardware on the market the graphics card is the one that we don't berate for coming in gaudy packaging because it's the most exciting upgrade and the one that we all desire. Nothing quite unites us as the longing for bigger, better, faster or more graphics cards.

The 5750 XXX has a industrial looking front with the black and yellow warning stripes and all the relevant technology logos. On the reverse is the regulation technical specifications, but kept neat and easy to read. If the front of the box is a little bit of a mess the back is an exercise in restraint.

XFX Radeon 5750 XXX Box      XFX Radeon 5750 XXX Logo  

Every facet of the XFX 5750 XXX box is replete with information. As you can see from the left hand shot we have the C model in our hands.

XFX Radeon 5750 XXX Package      XFX Radeon 5750 XXX Packaging  

Finally a close up of the important XXX Edition branding. For anyone who is around my age that XXX certification means more than any NC17 or 18 ever will both in terms of anticipation and XFXs ability to always deliver the goods with their XXX models.

XFX Radeon 5750 XXX Review

Taking the very sturdy inner box out of the rather thin external one we can see a very simplistic design that really makes you feel there is a lot of power hiding inside. It implies the product is so good just knowing it's an XFX is enough. Lifting the lid we find a "Play Hard" box and manuals on a separate tray above the card itself.

XFX Radeon 5750 XXX Review     XFX Radeon 5750 XXX Review  

Well if the outside was a model of taste and decency, oh Lordy Lord the innards need to come with a Government health warning. Do you remember when you were at school, colouring in, and the black and blues would always be used up first and all that was left was this curious yellow/green combination colour that nobody could ever find a use for? XFX have found a use for it. Blimey.

Emptying the contents of the top tray we find the standard manual and driver disk, along with a door hanger for the teens in the audience. The "Play Hard" box above contained a molex to PCI-E cable. For a separate box we were hoping for maybe a game or a case sticker or something. Such is the downside of universal packaging. I'm sure if this was a 5970 XXX there would be lots of goodies in that "Play Hard" section.

XFX Radeon 5750 XXX Review     XFX Radeon 5750 XXX Review

So the external packaging is good enough especially considering this is only around £125.



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XFX Radeon 5750  XXX Review

The XFX 5750 XXX

The initial impression is how compact the design is. We're so used to modern cards being longer than a Wagner opera that it's great to see a graphics card that will fit in even the most compact and bijou of cases without hanging out the front more than a ticketless party go-er.

Around the back we see all the usual solder and GDDR5 chips. The cross-brace backplate for the cooler isn't enormous and is surrounded sufficiently that we'd be loathe to apply a third-party cooling solution. Thankfully being part of the premium XFX XXX Range we doubt that would be necessary.

XFX Radeon 5750 XXX Review     XFX Radeon 5750 XXX Review  

Moving around the business end we have a plethora of connections. HDMI, DisplayPort and 2 DVI ports cover all possible requirements. Especially nice to see is the in-built DisplayPort adaptor meaning the 5750 XXX supports Eyefinity out of the box. The finish isn't easy to photograph but is a lovely gun-metal colour and looks far classier than the generic nickel-plate we see on most I/O shields.

Just above those we have the standard Crossfire adaptor points.

XFX Radeon 5750 XXX Review     XFX Radeon 5750 XXX Review  

Finally we have a close-up of the cooler. XFX have chosen to retain the reference design cooler and we'll have much more to say on this subject in the conclusion.

XFX Radeon 5750 XXX Review     XFX Radeon 5750 XXX Review

Although this is factory overclocked, let's see if we can eek a little more out.



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XFX Radeon 5750  XXX Review

Test Setup and Overclocking

Test Setup

Naturally when reviewing a graphics card it's important that the subsystem doesn't inhibit the performance possibility of the card. For this reason we're using a P55 based system with our Intel i7 870 running at 4GHz to make sure the 5750 XXX never wants for information to process.

CPU : Intel i7 870 @ 4GHz
GPU : XFX HD5750 XXX 1GB
RAM : G.Skill Trident 2000MHz CL9 4GB
PSU : Cougar 1000CM
HDD : Samsung Spinpoint 1TB
Motherboard : MSI P55-GD85
OS : Windows 7 64
Cooling : Thermalright MUX-120 with Arctic Cooling MX-3

Our tests will be run in the usual OC3D manner with them being performed 5 times, the fastest and slowest discarded then an average of the remainder taken. Although this is a pre-overclocked card we're also running the tests in the "out the box" and overclocked states.

Overclocking

The XFX HD5750 XXX is factory overclocked by 40MHz on the GPU core, and 50MHz on the GDDR5 when compared to the standard XFX HD5750. Whilst this isn't a paultry gain as always we love to push things a little harder to see what performance is available.

XFX Radeon 5750 XXX Stock Core Clock Speed

Using the ATI Overdrive feature available as part of the Catalyst Control Centre, we gradually increased the settings, checking for artifacts and temperatures all the time. The best stable overclock we managed was 60MHz extra on the RAM and 65MHz extra on the GPU. Temperatures were still well within tolerances but 815MHz or higher started to get artifacts or make the graphics driver crash, so we throttled back to 805MHz which ran perfectly stable and it was at this speed that our tests were run.

One thing to notice is that we, as always, pushed the fan to the maximum to ensure temperature isn't an issue whilst overclocking and the moment you get past 50% on the fan it sounds like a hurricane. 100% is utterly intolerable and was audible in the other room akin to someone vacuuming.

XFX Radeon 5750 XXX Overclocked and Overclocking Potential

With our overclocking out the way and the rig set up, let's get on to some results.



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XFX Radeon 5750  XXX Review

Gaming Benchmarks

3D Mark Vantage

The Performance test in Vantage is the default benchmark that most people use. Of course the resolution and image quality settings leave a little to be desired, but nonetheless it will be a good test to see how the overclock fairs against the standard speeds.

There is certainly a benefit to be had with 1000 point P-Score improvement from such a relatively small overclock shows that this card could indeed be quite a go-er.

The High preset is much more representative of the average users gaming life though, running at 1680x1050 and with 2xAA it is about the settings most of you will run.

Here we can see that a good overclock is necessary to produce barely playable results and the stock settings really show the limits of the card.

Dirt 2

Dirt 2 is, as we've often mentioned, a great game for testing because the graphics engine used is well optimised and responds well to even average hardware.

The results are stark, with the overclock that gave such a good boost in 3D Mark barely making a dent in the real world and the maximum frame-rate being unchanged. As we said earlier the mark of a card isn't solely in its GPU speed, and never is this more obvious than in this graph.

Crysis Warhead

Crysis Warhead, as we're all aware, is a game far more dedicated to Physx based GPU solutions and so the immense 4GHz clock of our i7 870 is really where most of this score is coming from. The graphics aren't so amazing that the 5750 XXX is really struggling and a 30FPS average for a card priced around £125 isn't bad at all.

Modern Warfare 2

Having exhausted two very graphically intense games we'll move down to the kind of game you'd expect to be able to play on a card such as this, starting with the always popular IW COD Modern Warfare 2. It's console roots are apparent with maximum in-game settings producing a frame rate above 60FPS even on our 'stock' 5750 XXX and getting a nice boost in the minimum frame rate from the overclock. 

GRiD

If ever a game absolutely is at home on a particular architecture it's the combination of GRiD and ATI. It adores ATI hardware so much we reckon you'd get 60FPS from a red hamster wheel.

So it proves here with the XFX 5750 XXX not even going below 60FPS minimum despite intentionally running at the back of a huge field around the harsh San Francisco circuit. Impressive.

Time for a conclusion.



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XFX Radeon 5750   XXX Review

Conclusion

Often results lead to a very obvious conclusion, and sometimes despite the results making you expect one thing, you have to conclude quite another.

Such it is with the XFX 5750 XXX.

It's priced around the market one would expect to find HTPC style cards with a little gaming performance in them. As we all know for an HTPC solution we require silence above all else. Normally a reference heatsink isn't the best design in the world as they are usually too loud and have an inadequate fan. However, they do have the benefit of exhausting the hot air out the back of the case.

A non-reference cooler seeks to redress these issues by either installing a larger fan and still exhausting out the rear, or by utilising so many heatpipes that although the hot air stays in the case, it's nowhere near as hot thanks to a large heatsink.

Whilst the XFX 5750 XXX is their premium pre-overclocked model, sadly they have chosen to retain the woeful HD5750 reference design. If you ignore the large plastic periphery it's basically a small, few pronged, heatsink with a fan in the centre of it. Unfortunately this is compounded by the totally needless plastic plate on the top. This serves to do precisely nothing but advertise themselves. Of course once you've brought the card you don't really need it advertising.

If you are the kind of case-modder whereby it's important to make it clear who either are your sponsors or whose hardware you've chosen, then you're unlikely to pick a 5750 to do it. In fact the only thing is does do is ensure the heat that is dissipated by the heatsink gets trapped nicely between the plastic shield and the board itself. All of this could be forgiven if it was whisper-quiet, but as soon as the card gets remotely under load the fan becomes akin to standing at Heathrow in August. Intolerably loud. As the XXX models cost significantly more than their standard brethren this is an enormous disappointment.

So maybe it's a gaming card? In standard guise the 5750 is around a hundred pounds, certainly a price we'd not expect to see gaming performance and so our results would indicate that as long as you understand its limitations you can play reasonable games with good quality at reasonable frame rates. Unfortunately this XXX model is priced £3 less than a standard 5770 and even overclocked it only produces results on a par with the basic 5770. The architecture also means that even with a hefty overclock the card is just too limited to obtain performance beyond expectations, as especially demonstrated in the Dirt 2 Maximum FPS test.

So if it is too loud for HTPC applications it must be a budget gaming card. But as a budget gaming card you'd be mad not to buy the 5770 instead.

We said at the beginning that the paucity of technologies has meant manufacturers need to saturate the market with barely different models in an attempt to cover every requirement. The side-effect of this process is that some cards will be wholly pointless because regardless of your application there is a better or cheaper one available.

That isn't to say that the XFX HD5750 XXX is a bad card, noise levels aside, it's just we can't see anyone who would want it at this price. With a proper custom cooler it might be quiet enough for HTPC or have enough overclocking headroom for the gamers. At £125 for a standard card with a mild overclock that we can easily better ourselves, we can't help but feel it's one model too many.

Thanks to XFX for providing the 5750 XXX for review. Discuss in in our forums.