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Sapphire Radeon HD 5550 Overclocked Edition

sapphire radeon hd 5550 ocThe Sapphire Radeon HD 5550 Overclocked Edition is obviously overclocked, as stated by the name, but also coming with an upgraded cooler from none other than Arctic Cooling. Arctic Cooling is known for producing great coolers at incredibly low prices. Sapphire incorporated the cooling engineering A.C. is known for and topped off their newest HD 5550 card with it. Traditionally the HD 5550 core is clocked at 550MHz, where as this new model has a slight overclock of 650MHz, but is the overclock worth it? We will find out shortly.

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sapphire radeon hd 5550 oc

sapphire radeon hd 5550 ocThe Sapphire Radeon HD 5550 Overclocked Edition is obviously overclocked, as stated by the name, but also coming with an upgraded cooler from none other than Arctic Cooling. Arctic Cooling is known for producing great coolers at incredibly low prices. Sapphire incorporated the cooling engineering A.C. is known for and topped off their newest HD 5550 card with it. Traditionally the HD 5550 core is clocked at 550MHz, where as this new model has a slight overclock of 650MHz, but is the overclock worth it? We will find out shortly.

Introduction to the Sapphire Radeon HD 5550 Overclocked Edition

These days, we are witnessing a great abundance of video card releases. We have seen new models come from Nvidia in the form of the 4xx series, and with ATI we have seen them filling in the gaps of their current line-ups. Many will claim there is just too many on the market, I believe the number of cards on the market is a great way for individuals to pick just the card he or she needs and at the price in which they can afford. One of the major players in the video card market is Sapphire, as they have released their fair share of great cards. While  typically they release models based on the reference design, when it comes to non-reference models they are always ahead of the curve, which our next sample is a testament to that.

The Sapphire Radeon HD 5550 Overclocked Edition is obviously overclocked, as stated by the name, but also coming with an upgraded cooler from none other than Arctic Cooling. Arctic Cooling is known for producing great coolers at incredibly low prices. Sapphire incorporated the cooling engineering A.C. is known for and topped off their newest HD 5550 card with it. Traditionally the HD 5550 core is clocked at 550MHz, where as this new model has a slight overclock of 650MHz, but is the overclock worth it? We will find out shortly.

Sapphire’s take on the Radeon HD 5550 Series

“The SAPPHIRE HD 5500 series is based on the highly successful graphics architecture from the ATI division of AMD, built in its 40nm process. It supports the advanced graphical features of Microsoft DirectX 11, as well as on-board Stream Processing and video decoding, delivering superb video clarity and visual effects, whilst consuming very low power levels.

The SAPPHIRE HD 5550 family of graphics cards have 320 Stream processors and support Microsoft DirectX 11 as well as accelerating applications compatible with ATI Stream. SAPPHIRE now offers several new models with different memory configurations and display output options giving users a choice of card for different applications, and different budgets. As the core technology is low power, no external power connection is required, making this series ideal for system upgrades or mainstream PCs that do not have high end power supplies.”

Specifications

1. Microsoft DirectX 11 Support
2. ATI Eyefinity Technology, supports up to 3 displays*.
3. ATI Stream technology**
4. 40nm Process Technology
5. Advanced GDDR5 Memory Technology
6. Microsoft Windows 7® Support
7. ATI CrossFireX™ Technology***
8. Enhanced Anisotropic Filtering
9. Accelerated Video Transcoding
10. Display Flexibility
11. HDMI 1.3
12. PCI Express® 2.1 support
13. Dolby® TrueHD and DTSHD Master Audio TM Support
14. ATI Avivo™ Technology Enhanced Unified Video Decoder 2 (UVD 2)
15. Supports OpenGL 3.2

ATI Radeon™ HD 5550 GPU Feature

§ 627 million 40nm transistors
§ TeraScale 2 Unified Processing Architecture
o  320 Stream Processing Units
o  16 Texture Units
o  32 Z/Stencil ROP Units
o  8 Color ROP Units
§ DDR3/GDDR5 memory interface
§ PCI Express 2.1 x16 bus interface
§ DirectX® 11 support
o  Shader Model 5.0
o  DirectCompute 11
o  Programmable hardware tessellation unit
o  Accelerated multi-threading
o  HDR texture compression
o  Order-independent transparency
§ OpenGL 3.2, 3.3, and 4.0 support15
§ Image quality enhancement technology
o  Up to 24x multi-sample and super-sample anti-aliasing modes
o  Adaptive anti-aliasing
o  16x angle independent anisotropic texture filtering
o  128-bit floating point HDR rendering
§ ATI Eyefinity multi-display technology2,3
o  Three independent display controllers
·     Drive three displays simultaneously with independent resolutions, refresh rates, color controls, and video overlays
o  Display grouping
·     Combine multiple displays to behave like a single large display
§ ATI Stream acceleration technology
o  OpenCL Support1
o  DirectCompute 11
o  Accelerated video encoding, transcoding, and upscaling4,5
§ ATI CrossFireX™ multi-GPU technology6
o  Dual GPU scaling
§ ATI Avivo™ HD Video & Display technology7
o  UVD 2 dedicated video playback accelerator
o  Advanced post-processing and scaling8
o  Dynamic contrast enhancement and color correction
o  Brighter whites processing (Blue Stretch)
o  Independent video gamma control
o  Dynamic video range control
o  Support for H.264, VC-1, MPEG-2, and Adobe Flash9
o  Dual-stream 1080p playback support10,11
o  DXVA 1.0 & 2.0 support
o  Integrated dual-link DVI output with HDCP12
·     Max resolution: 2560×160013
o  Integrated DisplayPort output
·     Max resolution: 2560×160013
o  Integrated HDMI 1.3 output with Deep Color, xvYCC wide gamut support, and high bit-rate audio
·     Max resolution: 1920×120013
o  Integrated VGA output
·     Max resolution: 2048×153613
o  3D stereoscopic display/glasses support14
o  Integrated HD audio controller
·     Output protected high bit rate 7.1 channel surround sound over HDMI with no additional cables required
·      Supports AC-3, AAC, Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio formats
§ ATI PowerPlay™ power management technology7
o  Dynamic power management with low power idle state
o  Ultra-low power state support for multi-GPU configurations
§ Certified drivers for Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP

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Speeds & Feeds

§ Engine clock speed: 550 MHz
§ Processing power (single precision): 352 GigaFLOPS
§ Polygon throughput: 550M polygons/sec
§ Data fetch rate (32-bit): 35.2 billion fetches/sec
§ Texel fill rate (bilinear filtered): 8.8 Gigatexels/sec
§ Pixel fill rate:  4.4 Gigapixels/sec
§ Anti-aliased pixel fill rate: 17.6 Gigasamples/sec
§ Memory clock speed:
o  DDR3:  800-900 MHz
o  GDDR5:  900-1000 MHz
§ Memory data rate:
o  DDR3:  1.6 – 1.8 Gbps
o  GDDR5:  3.6 – 4.0 Gbps
§ Memory bandwidth:
o  DDR3:  24.5 – 28.8 GB/s
o  GDDR5: 57.6 – 64 GB/s
§ Maximum board power:  39 Watts
§ Idle board power: 10 Watts

Closer look

The Radeon HD 5550 OC comes based on Sapphire’s signature teal blue PCB, and is kept cool by an Arctic Cooling cooler. As you can see there is no humongous cooler on this model, as the HD 5550 is meant for those looking for a low power solution.  Other visual evidence of this being a low power GPU is the absence of a power connector. This is the result of the 40nm core technology which is the brain behind this card.

Here we have a close up of the Arctic Cooling supplied fan. The cooler uses an 80mm cooling fan atop an all aluminum block. The cooler is used to stabilize the 650MHz overclocked Redwood core, which as previously mentioned is upped 100MHz from the reference design.  The heatsink also cool the 512MB of GDDR5 memory. Sapphire does offer models of the HD 5550 with 1 GB of ram as well. The memory onboard here is clocked at 1000MHz (4000M/Ts).

Don’t let the single slot PCI expansion panel fool you since the cooler will most likely take up an adjacent slot on the motherboard. The rear of the card has all the video connection goodies you could ask for as well with HDMI, DVI and display port all being present. While there isn’t a cross bridge interface present, Crossfire is still supported through software if you feel so inclined.

Testing Hardware:
Motherboard: ASUS P7P55-E Deluxe
Processor: Intel Core i5 665K @ 4.2GHz at 1.38 volts
Ram: Patriot Viper II Sector 4GB 1600MHz DDR3
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 5550 OC 512MB
HDD: Hitachi 1TB
Power: Thermaltake Tough Power XT 850 (Sponsored by Thermaltake)
Case: Microcool Banchetto

Testing Software:
Futuremark 3DVantage (Performance, High and Extreme settings at 1280×1024)
Devil May Cry 4 (Built-in benchmark – DirectX 10 -1280×1024, No AA/4xAA)
Maxon Cinebench
Resident Evil 4 (1280×1024, No AA/4xAA)
Street Fighter 5 (1280×1024/1920×1200, No AA/4xAA)
Unigine DirectX 11 (1280×1024/1920×1200, 2xAA/4xAA)
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat (High, Extreme and Ultra, 4xAA)
Bohemia Interactive ARMA 2
Codemasters Dirt 2
Watts Up

Drivers:
Windows Seven Ultimate 7 64-bit
ATI Cat 10.2

Futuremark 3D Vantage
3DMark Vantage is a PC benchmark suite designed to test the DirectX10 performance of your graphics card. We’ve been making 3DMark for over 10 years, with each new edition using the latest 3D technology to determine real-world performance.
A 3DMark score is an overall measure of your system’s 3D gaming capabilities, based on comprehensive real-time 3D graphics and processor tests. By comparing your score with those submitted by millions of other gamers you can see how your gaming rig performs, making it easier to choose the most effective upgrades or finding other ways to optimize your system.
3DMark is widely used by the PC industry, press and media as well as individual users and gamers, for comparing performance levels between whole systems or even specific components.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat
We are glad to present you a special version of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat Having your PC tested with benchmark you will be able to get detailed information about its performance on various graphical modes and find out how well your system is balanced for gaming and S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat in particular.
This benchmark is based on one of the ingame locations – Pripyat . The testing process includes four stages, those utilizing various weather and time of the day settings (day, night, rain, bright sun). In order to test your system thoroughly the benchmark is provided with a number of presets and options including different versions of DirectX (9.0, 10.0, 11), screen resolutions, antialiasing etc, all at your disposal.

Devil May Cry 4
Long ago the Dark Knight Sparda rebelled against the dark emperor and waged a one-man war to save humanity. Thousands of years later, a religious organization worships this renowned savior and has taken it upon themselves to rid the world of all evil. Residing in Fortuna, this organization is known as the “Order of the Sword,” and is made up of an elite group of “Holy Knights.” One day, a young knight named Nero witnesses Sparda’s legendary son Dante slaughter his fellow warriors. Has the renowned devil hunter turned his back on mankind? What does the encounter mean for these two individuals?

Unigine DirectX 11
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.

Capcom Resident Evil 5
Capcom officially announced Resident Evil 5 on July 20, 2005. Jun Takeuchi, the director of Onimusha and producer of Lost Planet: Extreme Condition, took over producer duties from Hiroyuki Kobayashi. Keiji Inafune, who served as promotional producer for Resident Evil 2 and executive producer for the PlayStation 2 version of Resident Evil 4, oversaw the project.[26] In February 2007, members of Capcom’s Clover Studio were also called upon to help develop the game.

Capcom Street Fighter 4
All the characters and environments in Street Fighter IV are rendered as 3D models with polygons, similar to the Street Fighter EX sub-series Capcom produced with Arika. However, there are a couple of key differences. Art director and character designer Daigo Ikeno, who previously worked on Street Fighter III 3rd Strike, added cel-shading to give them a hand-drawn look, with visual effects accented in calligraphic strokes, ink smudges and ink sprays during the fights.

Bohemia Interactive ARMA 2
Three years after the conflict in Chernarus, portrayed in the original Arma 2, a new flashpoint in the Green Sea region heats up and coalition forces led by the US Army are sent to Takistan to quickly restore peace and prevent further civilian casualties in this standalone expansion pack to the best military simulator of 2009 – Arma 2.
You will enlist into various roles within the US Army, from basic infantrymen, through special operatives, to pilots and tank crew in this new installment in the award winning line up of military simulators for PC from Bohemia Interactive.

 

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Codemasters Dirt 2
DiRT 2 will feature a roster of contemporary off-road events, taking players to the most diverse and challenging real-world environments. This World Tour will have players competing in aggressive multi-car and intense solo races at extraordinary new locations, from canyon racing and jungle trails to city stadium-based events.
To be powered by the third generation of the EGO™ Engine’s award-winning racing game technology, DiRT 2 will benefit from tuned-up car-handling physics system and new damage engine effects. It will also showcase a spectacular new level of visual fidelity, with cars and tracks twice as detailed as those seen in GRID.
DiRT 2’s garage  houses a best-in-class collection of officially licensed rally cars and off-road vehicles, specifically selected to deliver aggressive and fast paced racing. Covering seven vehicle classes, players will be given the keys to powerful vehicles right from the off. In DiRT 2 the opening drive is the Group N Subaru; essentially making the ultimate car from the original game the starting point in the sequel and the rides just get even more impressive.
In addition to the World Tour, DiRT 2 will come complete with full online functionality that will be core to the overall experience, with head-to-head competitive online play and new social features to engage the racing community. Prepare for mud, gravel, dust and dirt too in DiRT 2, coming 2009.

 

Square Enix Final Fantasy XiV
FINAL FANTASY XIV takes the first intrepid steps into an unknown realm, and in doing soa new place for adventurers of all creeds to call home is born — Eorzea.
In the world of Hydaelyn, the term Eorzea denotes the geographical region comprised of the continent of ldenard and its surrounding islands, as well as the civilization which spawned there. Calling the area home are several independent city-states,the most notable being Limsa Lominsa, bustling port and pirate hub;Ul’dah, a desert city rich in mineral wealth; Gridania, nested deep within an ageless wood; and Ishgard, bastion atop the mountains.

 

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Alien Versus Predator
Aliens vs Predator is an entirely new title for PC and high-definition consoles from acclaimed British developer Rebellion, the team behind the 1999 original PC gaming classic. Bringing the legendary war between two of science-fiction’s most popular characters to FPS fans, AvP delivers three outstanding single player campaigns and provides untold hours of unique 3-way multiplayer gaming. Experience distinctly new and thrilling first person gameplay as you survive, hunt and prey in the deadly jungles and swamps surrounding the damned colony of Freya’s Prospect.

Power Consumption

The power consumption of this card, along with the rest of the build, was not too bad at all. Using an overclocked processor, a full-sized motherboard and this video card, the consumption maxed out at just over 157 watts total.

Overclocking

We were surprised to see this particular Radeon HD 5550 overclock as high as it did,  Considering the card was already overclocked from the factory a moderate 100MHz over reference cards. Letting ATI’s Control Center do the honors we were able to get the card up to 815MHz from the 650 in which it was clocked at. This was done without any voltage increasing, just playing around with the simple settings offered in CCC.

Conclusion

The Radeon HD 5550 OC is part of Sapphire’s newest budget line-up.  It is a smart buy for someone looking to upgrade from an older card, especially if their current card doesn’t have the feature set of a card like this. If digital video is a must for you then the 1080P support is great, watching movies or playing the newest video game is a great experience and have never been as good as it has now.  The latter will have its limitation of course, but we have seen in the testing the 5550 OC can game at moderate setting.

If you intend on using a card like this for connection to a large screen television, the video and sound quality is awesome. A far better choice than the on-board graphics that are coming on some of today’s motherboards.

Cards like the Radeon HD 5550 are big sellers due to their low price point. A card in this family would go for less than $100. And not only does it give the consumer various ways of connecting to your favorite display but it comes overclocked from the factory. A nice way to push the performance envelope and give the consumer more for his or her money.

If you are a quiet geek and want the least amount of noise coming in from your HTPC, then this is worth taking a look at. Sapphire did right by selecting Arctic Cooling to produce the heatsink for this card. Throughout our testing we could not hear the card, once again making it ideal for the home theatre buff.

However, if you are expecting to see a lot of accessories in the box coupled with the card, you will be disappointed. The card comes shipped with just a manual and nothing else. There are neither video adapters nor cables. This allows the card to keep it’s low-end price point. Drivers can be had from the web.

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ProClockers was founded in 2004, and since then we have reviewed thousands of tech products, including motherboards, CPUs, graphics cards, PC cases, cooling solutions and more. Whilst many of the original products we reviewed back then have long bit the dust, we continue working hard to provide unbiased PC hardware and tech reviews.

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