Sapphire HD 6570 Video Card Review

The Sapphire Radeon HD 6570 video card is aimed towards HTPC system builders. Generally thought of as a niche market, HTPCs are quickly growing in popularity, which has led to a wealth of new products targeting home DIY media fanatics.

Front of the retail box

Front of the retail box

Back of the retail box

Back of the retail box

Inside padding is recyclable

Inside padding is recyclable

Driver CD and manual included

Driver CD and manual included

Nicely padded by the anti-static bag

Nicely padded by the anti-static bag

The card has a quiet Arctic Cooling heatsink

The card has a quiet Arctic Cooling heatsink

HDMI, VGA, and DVI connectors

HDMI, VGA, and DVI connectors

Bottom of the card

Bottom of the card

Side of the Arctic Cooling heatsink

Side of the Arctic Cooling heatsink

Even though this HD 6570 is advertised as including a heatsink by Arctic Cooling, the design isn’t very different from the one included on the HD 5550 or GT 240. As such, I’d expect this fan to be just as quiet as the other cards.

HD 5550 Heatsink

HD 5550 Heatsink

GT 240 Heatsink

GT 240 Heatsink

Product Information

The Sapphire HD 6570 I received comes with 512 MB GDDR5 memory, but it also utilizes HyperMemory. This feature allows the GPU to reserve some of your system memory for a maximum total of 2.8 GB available to the graphics card. Since RAM prices are starting to fall, you can really take advantage of this by running 4 GB or more in your system. Still, I’d prefer to have 1GB or 2GB memory on board and leave the system memory for the CPU to use.

GPUZ screenshot with 6570 details

GPUZ screenshot with 6570 details (overclocked)

Feature Comparison Table

Sapphire HD 6570 HD 5550 HD 5570 Geforce GT 240 Geforce GT 220
Core Clock 650 MHz 550 MHz 650 MHz 550 MHz 625 MHz
Memory Clock 1000 MHz 1000 MHz 1000 MHz 850 MHz 790 MHz
Memory Type GDDR5 GDDR5 DDR3 GDDR5 DDR3
Memory Size 512 MB (+HM) 512 MB 1024 MB 1024 MB 1024 MB
Memory Bus Width 128 Bit 128 Bit 128 Bit 128 Bit 128 Bit
Direct X Support 11 11 11 10.1 10.1
ROPs 16 16 16 8 8
Shaders 480 320 400 96 48
Texture Fillrate 25.6 GTexel/s 8.8 GTexel/s 29.4 GTexel/s 17.6 GTexel/s 14.9 GTexel/s
Pixel Fillrate 10.4 GPixel/s 4.4 GPixel/s 11.8 GPixel/s 4.4 GPixel/s 7.4 GPixel/s
Memory Bandwidth 64.0 GB/s 64.0 GB/s 33.3 GB/s 54.4 GB/s 31.2 GB/s
GPU Technology 40 nm 40 nm 40 nm 40 nm 40 nm
Transistors 716 M 627 M 627 M 727 M 486 M

Overclocking

I was able to use the Sapphire TriXX software to push the card a little bit above stock. Unfortunately, it would not allow for voltage adjustments so you’ll need to manually mod the card or flash a new firmware if you want to do that. I was able to run the card at 845 MHz on the core and 1070 MHz on the RAM and still pass all the benchmarks, which is pretty decent considering the stock clocks are 650 MHz and 1000 MHz, respectively.

Transcoding test at 845/1070

Transcoding test at 845/1070

Benchmarks

The 6570 fared pretty well against two slightly older cards also aimed at HTPC users: the AMD HD 5550 and the NVIDIA Geforce GT 240. Unfortunately, those are all I had on hand to compare with, but the results speak for themselves in terms of what the newer technology can do. You’ll notice the GT 240 is missing some data and that is because it is only a DX10 card and cannot run the DX 11 tests.

As you can see by the graph below, the 6570 beat the 5550 and GT240 in every test. That’s no surprise, though, because it is supposed to be the stronger card. Lost Planet 2 and Stalker really stressed the card and in both of those it failed to get a playable framerate with the maximum settings. Of course, you can always turn down the MSAA and other details to make them playable but if you are looking for a high end gaming experience you’ll need to pick a better card.

Also, remember that if you want to take advantage of GPU acceleration in Flash and video encoding then you need to download the separate Media Codec Package (formerly known as Avivo; under “Optional Downloads”) that is not included in the Catalyst Software Suite package. This is where the AMD cards shine above their NVIDIA counterparts as you can see they almost cut transcoding time in half, even on a powerful processor like the 2600k.

Test Setup

All game tests were run with their settings maxed out (everything at “high” or “ultra”, 8x Anisotropy). Synthetic benchmarks were run at stock settings.

Sapphire HD 6570 Performance

Sapphire HD 6570 Performance

3DMark 11 Performance

3DMark 11 Performance

3DMark 11 Xtreme

3DMark 11 Xtreme

3DMark 06

3DMark 06

3DMark Vantage

3DMark Vantage

Stalker

Stalker

Unigine

Unigine

Conclusion

The Sapphire HD6570 is a solid choice for an HTPC build if you would like to do some light gaming at 1080p resolution or below. If you are only going to be watching videos, then the 6570 is a little overkill and you can save money by purchasing a lesser card such as the HD 5550 or GT 240 which will both render 1080p video without an issue.  For encoding, AMD has really put a lot of effort into their Media Codec (Avivo) package and a software suite with GPU acceleration can really be helped by the 6570 when transcoding video. Also, even when the fan is spinning at 100%, it is relatively quiet which is especially good when you want to enjoy your movies without a lot of background noise.

Searching around for a price, though, I couldn’t find this card on sale anywhere. I did find Sapphire’s 6570 1GB model for $75 at Newegg and their 6450 1GB for $53, so this card must be somewhere in the middle. Honestly though, I think the 1GB model would be a better fit for a casual gamer and the 6450 would be a more economical option for playing movies. So when taking it all into consideration, I’m going to give this card a “meh.” mainly because it is difficult to find and there are better options out there.

Thanks to Sapphire for supplying this unit for review.

- splat

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