Product: HIS HD 5550 & HD 5570 512MB, Silence
Company: HIS
Authour: James Prior
Editor: Charles Oliver
Date: September 27th, 2010
Summary & Conclusions

HIS
HIS
The switch to GDDR5 is only a benefit for the Redwood Pro and LE derived products, with both the HIS HD 5500 cards showing little extra power use for a useful extra performance bump. It also blurs the boundary between the HD 5670 and HD 5570, as now a good overclock can get you the higher card performance in the smaller card form factor.


Both HIS cards silent cooling solutions work well, with secure simple mounting and nice form factor. The dual height monolithic block of aluminum is simpler than Sapphire's heatpipe design. Sapphire's design also allows for adjacent card placement as it's extra height is carefully position to be away from the next slot below, and not interfere with chipset heatsinks or half-height cards in slots above.

ATI Radeon HD 5500 Roundup
ATI Radeon HD 5500 Roundup

For HTPC use the cards are very promising, with native HDMI 1.3b outputs and integrated 7.1 HD Audio with Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio bitstreaming (true Blu-ray protected audio path) support. The lack of DisplayPort on the HD 5550 is a shame, as you will need an adapter to convert on of the outputs to DisplayPort to use Eyefinity. There have been reports of passive VGA to DisplayPort adapters allowing all three outputs to work in Eyefinity without the need for expensive adapters, but we haven't personally verified this. Eyefinity on this performance level product is for productivity or media enjoyment, rather than 3-panel gaming.

Our 'Pretend Llano' experiment worked out quite well, giving us perhaps a glimpse of the lower range of performance to expect from the new APU's due next year. The possibility of this level performance and feature support in a single product is very exciting. From the Cyberlink MediaEspresso results we can see that application support is going to be the key to AMD's successful APU strategy.

HIS HD 5500 Series
HIS HD 5500 Series

Award
Award
If you're looking for a low power, low heat, full function home theater card, the HD 5500 series should top the list. It doesn't get any quieter than no moving parts, and on card integrated audio with multi-channel bit-stream support should satisfy all but the elite audiophile crowd. 512MB is plenty of frame buffer for modern titles and modest amounts of anti-aliasing, although in older titles or in legacy API modes (Dx9) you might want more if you try edge detect AA or FSAA. The price is a little high with the next generation 'Northern Islands' based cards expected in Q1 2011, but as they have been thus far unopposed on features (DirectX 11, Eyefinity, and until recently multi-channel bitstream audio), it may be worth the premium.


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