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Asus EAH5750 Formula Graphics Card

Our first Radeon HD 5750 sample comes courtesy of Asus in the form of the EAH5750 Formula, a small, midrange graphics card with a rather interesting race-car style heatsink. As the HD 5000 series’ energy efficiency is well-known, the unique cooler has the potential to be fairly quiet.

February 21, 2009 by Lawrence Lee

Product
ASUS EAH5750 FORMULA/2DI/1GD5
PCI-E Graphics Card
Manufacturer
Street Price
~US$140

GPU manufacturers typically push their high-end solutions most, garnering as
much publicity as they can as a marketing tool. As a result ATI’s HD Radeon
5870 and 5970 graphics cards receive the most hype even though it’s well known
that the midrange segment is far more profitable. Most users cannot or are unwilling
to spend $300+ so mainstream cards are really the bread and butter of industry.
ATI has traditionally been very strong in discrete graphics at the $100~$200
level and their current competition is a bit dated to say the least. Nvidia’s
midrange GeForce 9800
and GTS 250 cards are based
on the two year old G92 core. While Nvidia is readying their new GF100 cards,
it should be several months before they hit the channel with force. In the meantime,
cards like the HD 5750 and the 5770 may offer the best value. Our first HD 5750
sample comes courtesy of Asus in the form of the EAH5750 Formula.


The box.

The EAH5750 Formula comes in an attractive blue box featuring a race car speeding
on ice. This is a reference to the design of the heatsink and its supposed thermal
advantages. Asus claims it runs 13% cooler than the reference HD 5750 heatsink
thanks to its “aerodynamic cover design” and the extra ridges on the
heatsink fins. The latter feature makes sense as it increases the cooler’s overall
surface area, but we’re skeptical on whether the funny-looking race car cover
provides any advantage over the standard fare. The size of the heatsink and
fan are probably more critical to its performance. The Formula also has a “dust
free” fan which could increase its efficiency over time as well as its
overall lifespan, though there weren’t many details explaining how this works
in Asus’ literature.


Heatsink design notes.

 


Accessories include a CrossFire bridge, 6-pin power and HDMI to DVI adapters.

 


Technical specifications according to GPU-Z.

From a technical standpoint the HD 5750 is a fair match for the HD
4850
. The 4850 has a wider memory bus (256-bit vs. 128-bit) and 80 more
shaders. To make up for this, the 5750 sports a slightly higher clocked graphics
core and faster GDDR5 memory. Our sample shipped with Samsung memory chips rated
for 1250MHz, so there may be some overclocking headroom. Horsepower aside, energy
efficiency may be equally important as a mid-level graphics card may spend more
time idle in a casual gamer’s machine. If the power savings are anything like
that of the HD 5850, which
outperforms both the 4870
and 4890 yet draws much less
power when idle, it could make a substantial impact on overall system power
consumption.

Specifications: Asus EAH5750 FORMULA/2DI/1GD5
(from the
product web page
)
Graphics Engine ATI Radeon HD 5750
Video& Color Engine ASUS Splendid HD
Bus Standard PCI Express 2.1
Video Memory GDDR5 1G
Engine Clock 700 MHz
Memory Clock 4.6 GHz ( 1150 MHz DDR5
)
RAMDAC 400MHz
Memory Interface 128-bit
CRT Max Resolution 2048 x 1536
DVI Max Resolution 2560 x 1600
D-Sub Output Yes x 1
DVI Output Yes x 2 (via HDMI to DVI
adapter x 1)
HDMI Output Yes x 1
HDCP Support Yes
Adapter/Cable Bundled 1 x CrossFire cable
1 x Power cable
1 x HDMI to DVI adaptor
Software Bundled ASUS Utilities & Driver
ASUS Features Xtreme Design
Formula Series
Note The card size is 7.18 inches
x 4.65 inches

PHYSICAL DETAILS

The EAH5750 Formula measures only 18.3cm across, which is 5cm shorter than the
HD 4850/4830, but it is still occupies two slots due to the large heatsink.


The card has HDMI, VGA, and DVI ports, but no DisplayPort so it doesn’t
fully support ATI’s Eyefinity feature (limited to two displays).

 


The heatsink cover is attached with two screws on each side and houses
a translucent 11 blade fan with a diameter of 7.4cm. As there is a single
6-pin PCI-E power connector, it’s safe to assume the card requires more
than the maximum 75W available through PCI Express.

 


Many of the heatsink’s fins are ridged to increase the amount of surface
area exposed to air. In theory this will make heat dissipation slightly
more efficient.

 


The cooler is attached with four spring-loaded screws at the back. The
mounting holes form a smaller square than the last two generation of Radeons.
Third party cooling solutions that list support for the older HD 2600/2400
and GeForce 8600/8500 series may be compatible, but the GPU core is shifted
further toward the rear compared to most cards so that may cause problems.

 


The PCB separated from the cooler.

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.

Test Platform

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
AC Input (W)
87.0
115.0
183.1
242.1
305.0
370.2
Efficiency
75.1%
78.0%
81.2%
82.0%
81.8%
81.1%

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.

H.264/VC-1 Test Clips

H.264 and VC-1 are codecs commonly used in high definition movie videos
on the web (like Quicktime movie trailers and the like) and also in Blu-ray
discs. To play these clips, we use Cyberlink PowerDVD.


1080p | 24fps | ~10mbps
1080p H.264:
Rush Hour 3 Trailer 2c
is a 1080p clip encoded in H.264
inside an Apple Quicktime container.

 


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

x264/MKV Video Test Clip

MKV (Matroska) is a very popular online multimedia container
used for high definition content, usually using x264 (a free, open source
H.264 encoder) for video. The clip was taken from a full length movie;
the most demanding one minute portion was used. We use Media Player
Classic Home Cinema to play it as its default settings allow it to use
DXVA (DirectX Video Acceleration) automatically when used with a compatible
Intel/ATI graphics chip. For Nvidia graphics we use CoreAVC to enable
CUDA (Compute Unified Device Architecture) support in MPC-HC.


1080p | 24fps | ~14mbps

x264 1080p: Spaceship is a 1080p x264 clip encoded from
the Blu-ray version of an animated short film. It features a
hapless robot trying to repair a lamp on a spaceship.

Testing Procedures

Our first test involves recording the system power consumption using a Seasonic
Power Angel 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 ATITool/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 nominally in the majority of PCs.

The software is left running until the GPU temperature remains stable for at
least 10 minutes. If artifacts are detected by ATI’s artifact scanner or by
eye or any other instability is noted, the heatsink is deemed inadequate to
cool the video card in our test system.

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. System
noise measurements are made at each fan speed.

Our second test procedure is to run the system through a video test suite featuring
a variety of high definition clips. 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.

VGA Test Bed: Baseline Results
(no discrete graphics card installed)
System
State
System Power
AC
DC (Est.)
Idle
75W
Unknown
CPUBurn
151W
121W
Ambient temperature: 22°C

Asus EAH5750 Formula:

VGA Test Bed: Asus EAH5750 Formula
System
State
GPU Fan Speed
SPL
@1m
GPU Temp
System Power
AC
DC
Idle
36%
17~18 dBA
41°C
104W
80W
CPUBurn
43°C
180W
146W
CPUBurn + ATITool
39%
18 dBA
67°C
221W
181W
CPUBurn + FurMark
43%
18~19 dBA
79°C
241W
198W
N/A
75%
25 dBA
N/A
N/A
N/A
100%
30 dBA
Ambient temperature: 22°C
Ambient noise level: 11 dBA
System noise level: 12 dBA

The Formula heatsink cooled the GPU more than sufficiently with an idle temperature
of only 41°C. Full load brought the GPU core to 79°C which is cool enough
by modern standards. The cooler’s fan varied only slightly in speed between
idle and load, increasing from 36% to 43% of its maximum speed. Between these
speeds, the fan generated some bearing chatter and a slight whine when listened
to at close proximity. Inside a case at a distance of a meter, most of the fan’s
negative aspects were well muffled, sounding fairly smooth. The amount of noise
produced was reasonable at load.


EAH5750 Formula idling.

 

Noise & Cooling Comparison
Card
Idle
Load
SPL @1m
GPU Temp
SPL @1m
GPU Temp
ATI HD 4770
15 dBA
53°C
17 dBA
74°C
ATI HD 4830
14 dBA
56°C
20~21 dBA
86°C
Asus EAH5750 Formula
17~18 dBA
41°C
18~19 dBA
79°C
ATI HD 4870
13 dBA
82°C
20 dBA
91°C
HIS HD 4890 Turbo
15 dBA
66°C
26 dBA
80°C
PowerColor HD 5850
18 dBA
40°C
24 dBA
83°C
Ambient temperature: 22°C
Ambient noise level: 11 dBA
System noise level: 12 dBA

Compared to previous generation ATI cards, it runs fairly cool and quiet on
load, but like the HD 5850,
is unnecessarily loud when idle. If the minimum fan speed were lowered, it could
still adequately cool the GPU while potentially being close to inaudible in
a system sitting on the desktop.

SmartDoctor


SmartDoctor.

Asus’ SmartDoctor utility allows for overclocking and customizable control
of the fan with temperature boundaries that can be set manually. However, the
minimum fan speed was only 30% which, noise-wise, was indiscernible from the
automatic minimum speed, so it isn’t very useful for this particular card. The
program also needs to be running or fan control will revert to default.

Power

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 in idle mode.
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 (Intel GMA950). (The actual idle power
of the add-on card cannot be derived, because the integrated graphics does draw
some power — we’d guess no more than a watt or two.)

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. (If you want to nitpick, the 1~2W power of the integrated
graphics at idle should be added to this number.) 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.

Estimated Power Consumption Comparison (DC)
Card
Idle
Load
PowerColor HD 4650 512MB
15W
28W
ATI Radeon HD 5570 1GB
8W
29W
ATI HD 4670 512MB
3W
40W
ATI HD 4770 512MB
28W
60W
Asus EAH5750 Formula 1GB
25W
77W
Asus EN9800GT Matrix 512MB
32W
80W
ATI HD 4830 512MB
18W
87W
Sparkle GeForce GTS 250 1GB
22W
87W
PowerColor HD 5850 1GB
21W
132W

The Asus EAH5750 Formula falls between the HD
4770
and 4830, using
25W idle and 77W on load, a reasonable amount for a midrange card.

Video Playback

Test Results: Video Playback
Test State
ATI Radeon HD 5570
Asus EAH5750 Formula
Avg.
CPU Usage
Avg. DC Power*
Avg.
CPU Usage
Avg. DC Power*
Rush Hour
(1080p H.264)
4%
+10W
5%
+10W
Coral Reef
(WMV-HD)
26%
+27W
25%
+42W
Spaceship
(1080p x264)
3%
+8W
4%
+10W
*compared to idle

The EAH5750 passed our video test suite with ease, though the lower-end HD
5570
used less power doing so. This was particularly notable during
WMV-HD playback when we recorded a 15W power difference from idle. According
to GPU-Z, the 5750’s clock speeds were set to maximum during playback rather
than the UVD-prescribed 400/900MHz resulting in more energy been drawn. It’s
a problem we encountered on the HD 5850 as well.

BIOS – Asus EAH5750 Formula

Some of the card’s inner workings can be revealed by taking a look at the BIOS.
We used GPU-Z to extract the board’s BIOS and Radeon
BIOS Editor
to examine its contents.


Clock settings. Boot/3D setting in red, idle in green, UVD in yellow.

Clock speeds of 750/1150MHz in 3D, 157/1000MHz idle, and 400/900MHz when UVD
is at work were confirmed using GPU-Z.


Fan settings.

According to the BIOS, the stock fan’s speed rises slowly, running at 30% until
the core temperature reaches 45°C and then increases linearly until 109°C
when it reaches its maximum speed.

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: Please check out gaming-oriented reviews of the HD 5750 at sites
like like HardwareCanucks,
The Tech
Report
, and techPowerUp.
The general consensus is that the HD 5750 is a decent midrange graphics card
with a small increase in performance over the HD 4850/4830,
and is a competitive rival for the GeForce
GTS 250
. It is aptly suited for gaming at resolutions of 1680×1050 and
below.

Power Consumption: By our estimates, the Asus EAH5750 Formula 25W when
idle and 77W under full load. Given the HD 5000 series’ reputation for energy
efficiency, we were expecting a bit less. The overall power consumption is about
on par with other cards in its class.

Cooling: The unique race-car themed heatsink adopted by Asus for the
EAH5750 Formula is an efficient cooling solution though we can’t say for sure
whether the touted design elements are crucial to its performance. The size
of the heatsink and fan are more than suitable for the amount of power required
by the 5750. Inside a case at one meter’s distance, the overall noise character
is very smooth and inconspicuous whether idle or on load. However, on load the
power draw goes up by 50W yet the noise level increases by only 1 dBA, so it’s
fairly obvious that its idle fan speed could be lowered. As it’s also very cool
when idle, we see little harm in reducing the minimum fan speed — it would
be an easy way for Asus to improve its acoustics further.

The Asus EAH5750 Formula is a reasonably quiet, well-performing midrange graphics
card. It’s also fairly energy efficient card, though we were expecting more
of an improvement over its predecessors. Like all modern video cards, it plays
high definition video easily but as a member of the HD 5000 series it can also
bitstream Dolby TrueHD / DTS-HD Master Audio through HDMI. The card itself is
physically short and takes up two expansion slots, but it doesn’t have a DisplayPort
connector so it does not support ATI’s Eyefinity multi-display technology. If
this is a feature you’d like to have, it’s not an expensive upgrade as Eyefinity-supported
5750’s can be found for as little as $145 compared to the EAH5750 Formula’s
$140 price-tag; the price difference is almost negligible. If you have a little
extra cash, you may also want to move up a step to the HD 5770 for $160.

February 27th, 2010 ~ Reviewer’s note:

We were mistaken in our assumption that Eyefinity is not supported due
to the lack of a DisplayPort. It does support Eyefinity, but with two
displays only
. Our apologies for any inconvenience this mistake may
have caused.

Our thanks to ASUSTeK
for the EAH5750 Formula sample.

* * *

Articles of Related Interest

ATI Radeon HD 5450 & HD 5570 Graphics Cards

PowerColor
Radeon HD 5850: Worth the Wait

ATI
Radeon HD 4770: ATI’s First 40nm GPU

HIS
Radeon HD 4890 Turbo Edition

Sparkle
GeForce GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card

Asus
EN9400GT Silent Edition

* * *

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