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AMD Radeon HD 6570 & 6670 Budget GPUs

The recent release of the Radeon HD 6450, 6570 and 6670 graphics cards brings the much lauded AMD HD 6000 series to the entry and budget segments. AMD introduced the higher-end cards first to garner interest, with the HD 6850, 6870, 6950, and 6970 all racking up accolades left and right. The new budget cards also offer better performance per dollar, substantial energy savings and improved video decoding capabilities and support for stereoscopic 3D playback.

April 25, 2011 by Lawrence Lee

Product
AMD Radeon HD 6570 512MB
PCI-E Graphics Card
AMD Radeon HD 6670 1GB
PCI-E Graphics Card
Manufacturer
AMD
MSRP
$79
$99

The recent release of the Radeon HD 6450, 6570 and 6670 graphics cards brings the much lauded AMD’s HD 6000 series to the entry and budget segments. As with the previous HD 5000 generation, AMD introduced the mid-range and high-end cards first to garner interest, and it worked, with the HD 6850, 6870, 6950, and 6970 racking up accolades left and right. These new cards offered better performance per dollar than predecessors, with improved video decoding capabilities and support for stereoscopic 3D playback, along with substantial energy savings.

Sub-US$100 cards like the 6570 and 6670 have their place, but won’t be accorded as much fanfare, being in that odd space between the discrete cards used for video playback and little else, and the more powerful models that can actually deliver a smooth high definition gaming experience with the latest PC titles. These are graphics cards for people who may not play games often enough to justify the cost of a “serious graphics card” or for users willing to sacrifice resolution and eye candy for the reduced cost.


The AMD Radeon HD 6570 and 6670.

The HD 6570 and 6670 pack significantly more horse power than entry level cards like the HD 5450/6450, but they are built on similarly small circuit boards. This is usually an indicator of subpar 3D performance, but given the advances in GPU technology over the years, such cards have the potential of matching middle to high-end models from 3~4 years ago. The half-height PCB also allows the option of a low profile bracket for use in small, low profile HTPC-style cases.

Specifications: AMD Radeon HD 6670 vs. HD 6570
Model Radeon HD 6670 Radeon HD 6570
Process 40nm 40nm
Transistors 716M 716M
Engine Clock 800 MHz 650 MHz
Stream Processors 480 480
Compute Performance 768 GFLOPS 724 GFLOPS
Texture Units 24 24
Texture Fillrate 19.2 GTexels/s 15.6 GTexels/s
ROPs 8 8
Pixel Fillrate 6.4 Gpixel/s 5.2 Gpixel/s
Z/Stencil 32 32
Memory Type GDDR5 GDDR5 / DDR3
Memory Clock 1000 MHz 900-1000 MHz / 900 MHz
Memory Data Rate 4 Gbps 4 Gbps / 1.8 Gbps
Memory Bandwidth 64 GB/s 64 GB/s / 28.8 GB/s
Maximum Board Power 66 W 60 W / 44 W
Idle Board Power 12 W 11 W / 10 W

The two cards have similar features with the same number of transistors, stream processors, texture units and ROPs. The only difference is the core clock speed which is 800 MHz for the 6670 and 650 MHz for the 6570. Our 6570 sample is equipped with GDDR5 memory, but slower DDR3 models will be produced as well with substantially lower memory bandwidth but better energy efficiency.

PHYSICAL DETAILS: AMD Radeon HD 6570 512MB

The AMD Radeon HD 6570 512MB is a single slot graphics card with a board length of 16.8 cm (6.6″). It is equipped with a cooler similar to that of the reference HD 5570 (GDDR3), a slim copper heatsink with a small seven-blade fan. The 5570 was fairly quiet, but the 6570 has a significantly higher power draw (by 13W according to AMD) so higher fan speeds are likely needed to keep the GPU cool.


The 6570.


Three-way Eyefinity appears to be supported as DVI-D, VGA, and DisplayPort (version 1.2) outputs are offered at the back.


The cooler is secured to the PCB with a padded backplate using four tiny spring-loaded screws. The mounting holes form a 43 mm square, a layout that has been used by AMD for a few years now for their budget cards.

 


The heatsink covers the GPU core and just four memory bare GDDR5 memory chips.


The heatsink is composed of a copper plate on the bottom, a series of small copper fins enclosed by a plastic cover. The fan employed has only two wires and thus lacks RPM reporting.

PHYSICAL DETAILS: AMD Radeon HD 6utilizes 670 1GB

The AMD Radeon HD 6670 1GB is also 16.8 cm (6.6″) but a bigger two slot cooler. It is similar to the 6570 cooler, only larger, to deal with the 6670’s higher power/heat.


The 6670.


The video outputs are the same as the 6570.


Like the 6570, the cooler is completely enclosed except for the intake and exhaust and uses a 2-pin fan.


The heatsink mounts the same way as well.


Again, four memory chips under the hood. As our 6670 sample has 1GB of GDDR5, these are high density 2 Gb chips.


The heatsink’s fins appear to be aluminum rather than copper, and are substantially thicker.

TEST METHODOLOGY

Our test procedure is an in-system test, designed to:

1. Determine whether the cooler is adequate for use in a low-noise system.
By adequately cooled, we mean cooled well enough that no misbehavior
related to thermal overload is exhibited. Thermal misbehavior in a graphics
card can show up in a variety of ways, including:

  • Sudden system shutdown, reboot without warning, or loss of display signal
  • Jaggies and other visual artifacts on the screen.
  • Motion slowing and/or screen freezing.

Any of these misbehaviors are annoying at best and dangerous at worst —
dangerous to the health and lifespan of the graphics card, and sometimes to
the system OS.

2. Estimate the card’s power consumption. This is a good indicator of how efficient
the card is and will have an effect on how hot the stock cooler becomes due
to power lost in the form of heat. The lower the better.

3. Determine how well the card decodes high definition video.

Test Platform


GPU-Z screenshot: HD 6570 512MB.


GPU-Z screenshot: HD 6670 1GB.

Measurement and Analysis Tools

Estimating DC Power

The following power efficiency figures were obtained for the
Seasonic S12-600
used in our test system:

Seasonic S12-500 / 600 TEST RESULTS
DC Output (W)
65.3
89.7
148.7
198.5
249.5
300.2
400
AC Input (W)
87.0
115.0
183.1
242.1
305.0
370.2
500
Efficiency
75.1%
78.0%
81.2%
82.0%
81.8%
81.1%
80%

This data is enough to give us a very good estimate of DC demand in our
test system. We extrapolate the DC power output from the measured AC power
input based on this data. We won’t go through the math; it’s easy enough
to figure out for yourself if you really want to.

Video Test Suite


1080p | 24fps | ~14mbps

Spaceship is an H.264 encoded clip in an MKV container. It features a
hapless robot trying to repair a lamp on a spaceship.

 


1080p | 24fps | ~10mbps

Rush Hour
is a movie trailer encoded in H.264
inside an Apple Quicktime container.

 


1080p | 24fps | ~8mbps
Coral Reef is encoded in VC-1 using
the WMV3 codec commonly recognized by the “WMV-HD” moniker.

 


1080p | 24fps | ~3.4mbps

Avatar is a 1080p Flash trailer of the motion picture “Avatar” from YouTube.

Testing Procedures

Our first test involves monitoring the system power consumption as well as CPU and GPU temperatures using SpeedFan and GPU-Z during
different states: Idle, under load with CPUBurn running to stress the processor,
and CPUBurn plus FurMark running to stress both the CPU and GPU simultaneously.
This last state is an extremely stressful, worst case scenario test which generates
more heat and higher power consumption than can be produced by a modern video
game. If it can survive this torture in our low airflow system, it should be
able to function normally in the majority of PCs.

If the heatsink has a fan, the load state tests are repeated at various fan
speeds (if applicable) while the system case fan is left at its lowest setting
of 7V. If the card utilizes a passive cooler, the system fan is varied instead
to study the effect of system airflow on the heatsink’s performance.

Our second test procedure is to run the system through a video test suite featuring
a variety of high definition clips played with PowerDVD and Mozilla Firefox (for Flash video). During playback, a CPU usage graph is created
by the Windows Task Manger for analysis to determine the average CPU usage.
High CPU usage is indicative of poor video decoding ability. If the video (and/or
audio) skips or freezes, we conclude the GPU (in conjunction with the processor)
is inadequate to decompress the clip properly. Power consumption during playback
of high definition video is also recorded.

TEST RESULTS

BASELINE, with Integrated Graphics: First, here are the results of
our baseline results of the system with just its integrated graphics, without
a discrete video card. We’ll also need the power consumption reading during
CPUBurn to estimate the actual power draw of discrete card later.

System Measurements:
VGA Test System (IGP)
Measurement
Idle
CPUBurn
CPU Temp
33°C
51°C
SB Temp
33°C
41°C
SPL@1m
13 dBA
System Power (AC)
52W
140W
System Power (DC, est.)
unknown
111W
Ambient temperature: 22°C
Ambient noise level: 11 dBA

AMD Radeon HD 6570 512MB

System Measurements: VGA Test System
(AMD Radeon HD 6570 512MB)
Measurement
Idle
CPUBurn
CPUBurn + FurMark
CPU Temp
28°C
51°C
54°C
SB Temp
34°C
41°C
43°C
GPU Temp
39°C
43°C
90°C
SPL@1m
14 dBA
24 dBA
System Power (AC)
62W
151W
217W
System Power (DC, est.)
unknown
121W
177W
Ambient temperature: 22°C
IGP system noise level: 13 dBA

For reference, the HD 5570 reference cooler measured 17 dBA and 20 dBA on idle and at load respectively at one meter distance in our test system. Despite being similar in appearance, the HD 6570 heatsink was much quieter when idle at just 14 dBA@1m. On the flip side, the 6570 fan worked significantly harder on load, resulting in a noise level of 24 dBA@1m. The fan control seemed to be a little lax as well, allowing the GPU temperature to reach 90°C. The power difference between idle and load was about 55W.



Our VGA test system with the HD 6570 installed measured 14 dBA when idle and 24 dBA on load at one meter’s distance.

When idle, the 6570 reference cooler was very quiet, without the tonality produced by many low-end stock fans. The addition of the 6570 added only a slight audible difference to our system, a subdued low pitched hum that blended into the background inconspicuously. On load, the fan noise was loud, whiny and turbulent.

AMD Radeon HD 6670 1GB

System Measurements: VGA Test System
(AMD Radeon HD 6670 1GB)
Measurement
Idle
CPUBurn
CPUBurn + FurMark
CPU Temp
28°C
52°C
54°C
SB Temp
35°C
42°C
45°C
GPU Temp
32°C
36°C
76°C
SPL@1m
14~15 dBA
20~21 dBA
System Power (AC)
62W
152W
206W
System Power (DC, est.)
unknown
121W
168W
Ambient temperature: 22°C
IGP system noise level: 13 dBA

Compared to the 6570, the 6670 stock cooler emitted about the same level of noise when idle but substantial less on load, about 3~4 dB. Furthermore, with both CPUBurn and FurMark running the 6670 actually consumed 11W less than the the 6570 (according to AMD, the 6670 should use 6W more). We’re not sure why this is exactly, but we should note that AnandTech encountered something similar, a 5W advantage for the 6670 over the 6570. With a lower power draw and a substantially heftier cooler, the 6670’s GPU core stabilized at a lukewarm 76°C on load.



Our VGA test system with the HD 6670 installed measured 14~15 dBA when idle and 20~21 dBA on load at one meter’s distance.

At idle, the 6670 generated a comparable level of noise to the 6570, but the pitch of the sound was noticeably lower. On load, the noise level was much quieter, but the acoustics were again, lower in pitch but this time with a bit more tonality. The 6570 cooler had a more broadband profile.

Fan Control


AMD Radeon HD 6570 and 6670 BIOS fan control settings.

According the BIOS, the cards share the same fan speed profile with a starting temperature of 55°C, a maximum temperature of 102°C, and minimum duty cycle of 22%. The fan speed can be changed manually using third party utilities like MSI Afterburner and Sapphire TriXX, but we were unable to reduce the minimum speed.

POWER CONSUMPTION

The power consumption of an add-on video card can be estimated by comparing
the total system power draw with and without the card installed. Our results
were derived thus:

1. Power consumption of the graphics card at idle – When CPUBurn is
run on a system, the video card is not stressed at all and stays idle.
This is true whether the video card is integrated or an add-on PCIe 16X device.
Hence, when the power consumption of the base system under CPUBurn is subtracted
from the power consumption of the same test with the graphics card installed,
we obtain the increase in idle power of the add-on card over the
integrated graphics chip.

2. Power consumption of the graphics card under load – The power draw
of the system is measured with the add-on video card, with CPUBurn and FurMark
running simultaneously. Then the power of the baseline system (with integrated
graphics) running just CPUBurn is subtracted. The difference is the load power
of the add-on card. Any load on the CPU from FurMark
should not skew the results, since the CPU was running at full load in both
systems.

Both results are scaled by the efficiency of the power supply (tested
here
) to obtain a final estimate of the DC power consumption.

Note: the actual power
of the add-on card cannot be derived using this method because the integrated graphics may draw
some power even when not in use. We estimate that the integrated HD 4200 graphics chip in our test configuration uses 3~4W, However, the relative difference between the cards should be accurate.

Like the higher-end HD 6800 and 6900 series, the 6570 and 6670 are very energy efficient when idle, using just 10W, a substantial improvement over the GDDR5 version of the HD 5550 and 5570. On load, both cards had modest power requirements under 70W, but the 6670 was curiously more efficient, consuming 9W (14%) less power than the 6570 despite being substantially faster.

VIDEO PLAYBACK

Equipped with the latest version of the AMD UVD (universal video decoder), the HD 6000 series handles H.264 and VC-1 video with ease, using less than 10% CPU load during playback. Rendering Flash was more demanding, with almost 30% CPU usage playing 1080p Flash clips in full screen mode on an LCD with a resolution of only 1440×900.

The additional CPU resources required for playing Flash also contributed to an increase in system power consumption. We observed an increase of 50% in power when playing our high definition YouTube trailer compared to other video formats tested. The 6670 was more energy efficient than the 6570, just as it was during our full load test. According to GPU-Z, both cards were running at their maximum clock/memory speeds with a core voltage of 1.10V in these scenarios.


WMV-HD video quality comparison: HD 5570 vs. HD 6570. Click for a larger image.

We also observed some differences in picture quality compared to the HD 5000 series. Compared side to side, our WMV-HD test clip seemed overly saturated by the HD 5570, while the HD 6570 produced a hazier, but perhaps more accurate rendition.


Flash video quality comparison: HD 5570 vs. HD 6570. Click for a larger image.

The Avatar Flash trailer looked almost identical on the two cards, but after reviewing several screenshots we found a slight difference in skin color of Colonel Quaritch. The HD 5570 depicted him with a pinkish hue, while the HD 6570 paints him with a slightly yellower tone.

3D PERFORMANCE

While 3DMark is a completely synthetic benchmark, it is a good general indicator
of 3D performance, particularly when the score differences are quite high. In this case we see both the HD 6570 and HD 6670 posting significant gains over the GDDR3 version of the HD 5570, particularly in the DX9 and DX10 versions of the benchmark.

Most users consider 30 fps as representing a smooth gaming performance and both the 6570 and 6670 delivered this in our standalone game benchmarks with our test system, which features a budget processor, the Athlon II X3 435, and 4GB of DDR3 memory. Each benchmark was configured with high detail levels and run at 1440×900, a modest 16:10 resolution.

The HD 5570 (GDDR3 version) was borderline in both Lost Planet 2 and Alien vs. Predator, suggesting that in some games, you’ll be sacrificing either image quality or framerate. In contrast, the 6570 and 6670 powered through H.A.W.X. 2 with ease so they should be able to drive higher resolutions (full HD) on similar, less demanding titles.

MP3 SOUND RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high
resolution, lab quality, digital recording system
inside SPCR’s
own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber
, then converted to LAME 128kbps
encoded MP3s. We’ve listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation
from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of
what we heard during the review.

These recordings are intended to give you an idea of how the product sounds
in actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer
or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient
noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. Be aware
that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn’t hear it from
one meter, chances are we couldn’t record it either!

The recording starts with 5~10 seconds of room ambiance, followed by 5~10 seconds
of the VGA test system without a video card installed, and then the actual product’s
noise at various levels. For the most realistic results, set the volume
so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then don’t change
the volume setting again.

Comparable system sound files:

FINAL THOUGHTS

Gaming: Both cards offer reasonably good performance at lower resolutions (1440×900 and lower) compared to the respective models they are meant to replace, the HD 5570 and HD 5670. At larger resolutions, say 1080p, they struggle and a more capable card is required. For more extensive game testing of the HD 6570 and HD 6670, please check out gaming-oriented reviews at sites
like HardwareCanucks and AnandTech.

Video Playback: Like the rest of the HD 6000 series, both cards support bitstreaming for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD MA audio, stereoscopic 3D, and UVD 3, making them among the most versatile graphics cards available for home theaters and the like. Seamless full HD decoding is produced with ease, with Flash video demanding more CPU cycles, as is the norm. We also noticed that the image quality on some of our test clips were less saturated compared to our HD 5570 sample. The end result seems to be more realistic, though whether it looks better is debatable.

Power Consumption: By our estimates, both the AMD Radeon HD 6570 and 6670 use just 10W when idle, which is excellent compared to most cards in the same class. On load, they consume approximately 66W and 57W respectively. We’re not sure exactly why the higher-clocked 6670 turned out to be more energy efficient, being more frugal both during video playback and on full load.

Cooling: The HD 6570 stock cooler is what you expect from a reference heatsink for a budget graphics card: the bare minimum. It is fairly quiet when idle, annoyingly loud at load, and managed to keep the GPU core adequately cooled — just barely. The bigger two slot cooling solution employed on the HD 6670 kept it both cooler and quieter when stressed, though it may simply be that our 6670 sample’s superb energy efficiency gave it an easier time.

Price: Many AMD budget graphics cards have overlapping price-points at the moment, with the HD 6570, HD 5670, and the GDDR5 version of the HD 5570 all lurking in the same price range. The 5570 is the obvious odd man out, while the 6570 doesn’t offer as much value as the 5670, trailing the older card slightly in 3D performance. Also, at US$79, it costs about $10 more than the cheapest 5670.

The HD 5750‘s price hovers just above US$100, making things difficult for the US$99 HD 6670. The 5750 offers much better gaming performance for just a few dollars more. Still, the 6670 offers better energy efficiency and may be available in low profile versions.

Our thanks to AMD for the reference Radeon HD 6570 512MB and Radeon HD 6670 1GB samples.

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Arctic Cooling Accelero Xtreme Plus GPU Cooler

AMD Radeon HD 6870 Graphics Card

GELID Icy Vision Dual Fan VGA Cooler

HIS HD 5550 & 5570 “Silence” Graphics Cards
HIS HD Radeon 5870 iCooler V Turbo

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