AMD has taken a bit of a battering in the last few months. Nvidia has finally delivered on the early promise of the Fermi GPU and has released a mid-range graphics card of 8800GT like proportions.
That, though, is a card ranging from £150 to £200. And it still requires a bit of a meaty PSU to get the most out of this surprisingly powerful little card.
AMD, then, has still got the lower end of the graphics market sewn up. Sapphire is trying to tie that up even more now, with more versatile versions of these cheaper cards trying to offer a bit more for your cash. Step up the HD 5670 Ultimate.
This is a sub-£100 card with a full 1GB GDDR5 memory on board, with the multi-monitor EyeFinity goodness, but more importantly, no PCI-e power requirements and a completely passive cooling solution.
Unfortunately, while the passive cooler does enough to allow the card to run quite happily, it does generate a massive amount of heat and runs the GPU at around the 100ºC mark. Which can't be good for it.
Still, for a small rig with decent airflow across it, the HD 5670 Ultimate wouldn't be a bad choice. At the fairly standard 1,680 x 1,050 res it manages quite respectable gaming frame rates at the top settings, batting around the 30fps mark in both DiRT 2 and Far Cry 2. Just Cause 2, though, is a mite more demanding, making the poor GPU groan under the strain.
The real fly in the ointment is that £99 price tag. For barely an extra tenner you can pick up the far superior and increasingly popular HD 5770. A stock version of that card will almost hit that 30fps line in Just Cause 2, making it the better budget gamer.
Still, the passive cooler in the HD 5670 is a definite draw, so long as your case is up to the thermal job.
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