Being an ATI-only partner, PowerColor keeps its product list looking busy by producing roughly one squillion Radeon HD 5000-series cards. There are 14 different cards based on the the Radeon HD 5770 GPU for example, with the differentiating features ranging from free games to non-standard coolers to ecological friendliness.
What we have today is the PCS+ flavour of HD 5770 – it’s the cross that’s the really interesting bit, as it means that this card is pre-overclocked (the only one of those 14 which is). The card also has a custom cooler (it terms of nosiness, it's rated at less than 30dB) and comes with the DX11 compatible Dirt 2. The board also has a redesigned VRM layout. That doesn’t sound like a bad deal for £130, but let’s just check before getting out credit cards out.
Possibly the weirdest difference between this card and the reference model is its length – the PowerColor's PCB is a good inch shorter at just 182mm (7.2in) rather than 210mm (8.27in). As the cooler doesn’t overhang the PCB either, the PowerColor is 33mm shorter than the 215mm long reference card. The shorter PCB results in squashed VRMs compared to those of the reference card – there’s a bank of nine Infineon MOSFETs feeding three chokes for the GPU and the usual 1-phase power for the memory.
The shorter PCB is due to more compact power circuitry. Click to enlarge
The cooler of the PowerColor is a large but simple aluminium heatsink with a copper base. A 92mm fan blows down onto this heatsink, with the fin layout of the heatsink mostly blowing air back into your case. This is primarily because the output panel is crammed full, with the mandatory pair of DVI ports, along with DisplayPort and HDMI outputs. The small vents aren’t open enough to encourage much air to flow through them. The cooler doesn’t create much noise - but then neither does the ATI reference cooler.
Unfortunately, there’s no dedicated cooling for the 1GB of Samsung memory, something that the reference cooler does provide, at least for the memory that’s on the GPU-side of the PCB. Worryingly, the cooler also jiggles a bit – the four spring-loaded screws not clamping the heatsink the GPU with a lot of force. This could be due to concerns about crushing the silicon, but it’ll likely also impact on cooling performance too. Let’s have a look at the specs and warranty, before diving into the millions of performance graphs:
Connections: 2 x DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort, 2 x CrossFire, 1 x 6-pin PCI-E power
The PowerColor Radeon HD 5770 PCS+ comes with a two-year warranty that includes cover for parts and labour. During the first year of the product’s life, your point of contact should be the retailer. However, if you’re having problems getting hold of the retailer (or the retailer goes out of business), you should contact PowerColor’s support team directly. During the second year of the warranty period, you should talk directly with PowerColor. This is pretty much in line with what other ATI board partners offer, and more than you’re legally entitled too.