Today, Sapphire have announced the latest in their lineup of ATI 5xxx series graphics cards - the passively cooled HD 5550, dubbed the 'Ultimate'.  

The party piece of this hardware comes in the form of the wrap around heatsink - the passive design and the low power usage (10W in 2D or idle mode) is destined to appeal to HTPC and quiet systems enthusiasts who yearn for DirectX 11.

Using a Sapphire-custom PCB and AMD's 40nm Redwood GPU, you will see 320 shaders clocked at 550Mhz, with a 1GB DDR2 memory at 800Mhz connected via a 128-bit interface.  Seems odd that they're using DDR2 and not GDDR3, given the increased heat dissipation mechanics of GDDR3 and the cost between them is negligible.

In terms of battling against the multimedia, the card offers DVI, HDMI and and VGA outputs while conforming to the HDMI 1.3a standard for full support on Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.  ATI's on-board Unified Video Decoder will provide hardware decoding of all Hi-Def media.

Pricing so far has not been announced, but expect it to be in the region of £70/$90.

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  • Lonyo - Friday, April 30, 2010 - link

    There's something wrong... maybe it's the complete lack of being low-profile.
  • IanCutress - Friday, April 30, 2010 - link

    HIS recently have announced a low profile HD5550 to go on sale in a few weeks. The press release for that has *only just* fallen in my inbox as this was going live. It may be worth a look if the Sapphire is not up to your needs. If we get either of these in to test, we'll let you know how they do.

  • ssiu - Friday, April 30, 2010 - link

    A blurb and picture of the HIS low-profile:
  • LoneWolf15 - Friday, April 30, 2010 - link

    ...It would be nice to see a low-profile version.
  • Spivonious - Friday, April 30, 2010 - link

    I totally agree. I'm also curious how this would do in a cramped case, as most HTPC cases are just big enough to fit a uATX board.
  • mczak - Friday, April 30, 2010 - link

    Agreed though obviously there would be a problem with the heatsink surface area...
    I guess it's either full height and single slot or lp and dual slot for a card with this power draw.
    IMHO though big big mistake to use ddr2, that completely ruins performance for this card. With ddr3 (not gddr3 as noone uses that on cheap cards nowadays) performance could be a lot higher with pretty much the same power draw.
  • neoflux - Friday, April 30, 2010 - link

    I know the 5570 and 5450 were both testing for their post-processing abilities, will this one be tested when it is available? Especially since the 5570 could handle everything and the 5450 could not, I would like to see if it's possible to use this for a HTPC with the same abilities as the 5570 in terms of video playback post-processing. Passive > Active any day for HTPC.
  • adholmes - Friday, April 30, 2010 - link

    Can this card run three displays at once? I've seen ATI solutions before, but they all required one of your monitors to use DisplayPort, or use an expensive active DisplayPort adaptor.
  • geok1ng - Friday, April 30, 2010 - link

    The low end 5xxx are a very weird bunch:

    When they come with display port you MAY use the display port with a cheap passive adaptor DP>VGA to run 3 monitors at once, as long as the DP monitor is the principal. YMMV, but there are plenty webreports of people successfully running 3 monitors with a cheap and passive DP>VGA ( not to confuse miniDP>VGA).

    But when the card has HDMI, DVI and VGA outputs there seems to be no way to run 3 monitors, which is kind of weird, since one could assume that the VGA output is running from the DisplayPort interface.

    Given that most 56XX and 55XX use the DVI-HDMI-VGA setup, it would be gret if AT once again clarifies the issues with Eyefinity in the low end cards.
  • Roland00 - Friday, April 30, 2010 - link

    The displayport to vga adapters you can get for 30 bucks or so are actual active adapters. They may not have the usb power, but they drawpower from the displayport port and they barely get enough power from the displayport port to work. In fact there are occasionally issues with these adapters not due to the adapter themselves but the fact that sometimes the displayport doesn't provide enough power, though a bios update on the card telling the card to provide more power can fix them.

    You need an active adapter to run eyefinity of any sort with 3 monitors, or a native displayport monitor. This is because all the hd5xx0 series video cards only have 2 TMDS generators (Transition Minimized Differential Signaling aka the Clock Signal generator). You need TMDS generators to use HDMI, DVI, or VGA; Displayport works on a different technology and because of this doesn't need a TMDS generator.

    So while there are 3 connections on the card, with only 2 TMDS generators you can only get 2 monitors working at once. Now if you buy an active adapter it actually actively converts a displayport feed to another form of signal, including introducing a TMDS signal/a clock signal. Passive adapters do not work for they aren't actually converting a displayport to dvi or hdmi signal instead the card recongizes there is a passive adapter plug in and actually sends an hdmi or dvi signal through the displayport pins which the passive adapter will reroute those pins into an hdmi or dvi connection. All displayport to vga adapters though are active adapters, you can't reroute a vga signal through a displayport connection like you can from displayport to dvi or dvi-a to vga or dvi-i to vga.

    Now you can always run eyefinity with only 2 monitors, and if you are using only 2 monitors you don't need an active adapter or a native displayport monitor. But if you want to use 3 monitors or more you need an active adapter or a native displayport monitor.

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