XFX Radeon HD 7770 Black Edition S Super Overclocked 1GB Video Card Review

We look at our first AMD Radeon HD 7770 video card in the form of the Black Edition S Super Overclocked from XFX.

@TweakTown
Published Fri, Feb 24 2012 6:47 AM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:01 PM CST
Rating: 79%Manufacturer: XFX

Introduction and Package

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AMD's Radeon HD 7700 series is going to be one of the more important series out of the new HD 7000 line up for the simple fact that the mid-range model is going to be one of the top sellers for the company. Consisting of two models at the moment, the HD 7750 and the HD 7770 with the latter being what we have here today, we've got our fingers crossed that AMD are able to stand out in the highly competitive mid-range market.

Like the other HD 7000 series cards we've looked at, XFX was one of the first samples to arrive and for that reason we'll be checking out their offering first. Following along with the "Black Edition" theme that we've been seeing from them, this one goes a step further with the "Black Edition S Super Overclocked" naming scheme.

What makes it so super overclocked? Well we don't know yet, but we'll find out soon enough. Before we do that, though, there are a few things we need to do. First we want to see what's going on with the package, XFX hasn't done too bad here lately and we hope moving down to a lower price bracket card doesn't impact the bundle too much.

Once we've looked at the package we'll move onto the card to see just exactly what's going on with the HD 7770 Black Edition S Super Overclocked before we of course look at the specifications of the model including the clock speeds. Once that's done we'll get into the performance of the new model and just see how it goes in our benchmark line up before we wrap everything up.

Frist, though, let's see what's going on with that bundle.

Package

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The bundle isn't bad, we've got a load of paperwork and the cool door sign. Along with that we've got the sweet Black Edition case badge, DVI to HDMI, DVI to VGA and CrossFire bridge.

It's not a huge bundle, but considering the mid-range nature of the card, it's pretty good.

The Card and Specifications

The Card

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Looking at the card you can see that we've got the same double dissipation cooler that we've seen from the other HD 7000 series XFX cards. It's proved to be a good cooler so far and it looks good on the HD 7770 here. Moving around the card you can see at the back we've got just a single 6-pin PCIe power connector while moving across the top and closer to the front you'll see just a single CrossFire connector allowing up to only two cards in CrossFire.

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On the I/O side of things you can see we've got a single Dual-Link DVI power on the far right, full size HDMI port along with two Mini DP ports. As usual I would've liked to have seen XFX include a Mini DP to DP connector in the bundle since we've got two ports here, but we're seeing most companies choose to ignore it these days. As always if you're going to be making use of DisplayPort, make sure you pick up a connector when you're buying the card, assuming you don't have one already.

Specifications

Before we get into some of the XFX specifics, the HD 7770 carries with it the same 28nm technology we've seen on the other HD 7000 series cards. On the stream processor front we've got 640, 40 Texture Units and 16 ROPs.

Being dubbed the "GHz Edition" by AMD we've got a default core clock on the model of 1GHz or 1000MHz. As for the 1GB of GDDR5 memory, that comes in at 4500MHz QDR and sits on a 128-bit memory bus.

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With a name like "Black Edition S Super Overclocked" you expect some decent clocks out of the XFX offering here today. Looking above you can see that the GPU clock comes in at a massive 1120MHz while the 1GB of GDDR5 has also been bumped up to a cool 5200MHz QDR resulting in a strong overclock.

Benchmarks - Test System Setup

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We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASUS and Corsair.

Moving onto the testbed side of things there's nothing out of the ordinary when it comes to our X79 testbed with everything being seen above. Before we get into the performance side of things I just want to cover the cards we'll be using in our graphs today.

Outside of the XFX HD 7770 Black Edition S Super Overclocked we've got the Sapphire HD 6870, Sapphire HD 6950, HIS HD 7950 and the Palit GTX 560 Ti from the NVIDIA side of things.

Let's get started!

The FPS Numbers Explained

When we benchmark our video cards and look at the graphs, we aim to get to a certain level of FPS which we consider playable. While many may argue that the human eye can't see over 24 FPS or 30 FPS, any true gamer will tell you that as we climb higher in Frames Per Seconds (FPS), the overall gameplay feels smoother. There are three numbers we're looking out for when it comes to our benchmarks.

30 FPS - It's the minimum number we aim for when it comes to games. If you're not dropping below 30 FPS during games, you're going to have a nice and smooth gaming experience. The ideal situation is that even in a heavy fire fight, the minimum stays above 30 FPS making sure that you can continue to aim easily or turn the corner with no dramas.

60 FPS - It's the average we look for when we don't have a minimum coming at us. If we're getting an average of 60 FPS, we should have a minimum of 30 FPS or better and as mentioned above, it means we've got some smooth game play happening.

120 FPS - The new number that we've been hunting down over recent months. If you're the owner of a 120 Hz monitor, to get the most out of it you want to get around the 120 FPS mark. Moving from 60 FPS / 60 Hz to 120 FPS / 120 Hz brings with it a certain fluidity that can't really be explained, but instead has to be experienced. Of course, if you're buying a 120 Hz monitor to take advantage of 3D, an average of 120 FPS in our benchmark means that in 3D you will have an average of 60 FPS, which again means you should expect some smooth gameplay.

Benchmarks - 3DMark 11

3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1

Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com

Product Homepage: http://www.3dmark.com/3dmark11/

Buy It Here

3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world's most popular benchmark. Designed to measure your PC's gaming performance 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

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Starting off with 3DMark 11 we get a good idea of where the new HD 7770 is going to sit with it coming in about 15% behind last generations HD 6870.

Benchmarks - Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.5

Developer Homepage: http://www.unigine.com

Product Homepage: http://unigine.com/press-releases/091022-heaven_benchmark//

New benchmark grants the power to unleash the DirectX 11 potential in the gift wrapping of impressively towering graphics capabilities. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. With the interactive mode emerging experience of exploring the intricate world is ensured within reach. Through its advanced renderer, Unigine is one of the first to set precedence in showcasing the art assets with tessellation, bringing compelling visual finesse, utilizing the technology to the full extend and exhibiting the possibilities of enriching 3D gaming.

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Looking at Heaven performance we can see the HD 7770 doesn't sit as far back as it does in 3DMark 11. This is of course no doubt thanks to the improvements in tessellation performance, something that AMD have been working on with every generation.

Benchmarks - Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.2

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo

Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test

Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/UK/default.aspx

Product Homepage: http://www.hawxgame.com/

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2 is an arcade-style flight action game developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft. The game is the sequel to Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X., released in 2009.

The game begins with Colonel David Crenshaw participating in a routine patrol mission in the Middle East. After halting an insurgent attack, a volley of missiles is fired at the Air Force base that Crenshaw was stationed at, with one of the missiles disabling Crenshaw's aircraft, resulting Crenshaw being in enemy captivity. A joint strike force composed of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and a Ghost Recon squad executes an operation to rescue Crenshaw. In Scotland, Royal Navy Pilot Colin Munro encounters an unidentified passenger aircraft that explodes from an on-board bomb when undergoing training exercise. In Russia, an air force squadron led by Colonel Denisov and Captain Dmitri Sokov engages separatist aircraft but is ordered to retreat from the region after numerous Russian military installations have been attacked.

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Due to some optimization we can see that under H.A.W.X. 2 the HD 7770 comes in a head of both HD 6000 series cards we've got here. More importantly at both resolutions we see some strong performance which gives us some very playable numbers at all resolutions.

Benchmarks - Mafia II

Mafia II

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.2kczech.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.mafia2game.com/

Buy It Here

Mafia II is a third-person action-adventure video game, the sequel to Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven. It is developed by 2K Czech, previously known as Illusion Softworks, and is published by 2K Games. The game is set from 1943 to 1951 in Empire Bay (the name is a reference to New York's state nickname "The Empire State"), a fictional city based on San Francisco and New York City, with influences from Chicago and Detroit. The game features a completely open-ended game map of 10 square miles. No restrictions are included from the start of the game. There are around 50 vehicles in the game, as well as licensed music from the era.

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Looking at Mafia II we've got some good numbers which see that 60 FPS target we aim for being hit at 1920 x 1200. Of course that means that 1680 x 1050 offers us some strong performance with an average of over 70 FPS. The most important thing to remember is that we're dealing with quite a heavily overclocked HD 7770 here, reference clocked cards shouldn't see a 60 FPS average at 1920 x 1200.

Benchmarks - Lost Planet 2

Lost Planet 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark - Test A Scene 1

Developer Homepage: http://www.capcom.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.lostplanet2game.com/

Lost Planet 2 is a third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the sequel to Lost Planet: Extreme Condition which is also made by Capcom, taking place ten years after the events of the first game, on the same fictional planet. The story takes place back on E.D.N. III 10 years after the events of the first game. The snow has melted to reveal jungles and more tropical areas that have taken the place of more frozen regions. The plot begins with Mercenaries fighting against Jungle Pirates. After destroying a mine, the Mercenaries continue on to evacuate the area, in which a Category-G Akrid appears and attacks them. After being rescued, they find out their evacuation point (Where the Category-G appeared) was a set-up and no pick up team awaited them. The last words imply possible DLC additions to the game, "There's nothing to be gained by wiping out snow pirates... unless you had some kind of grudge."

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As we start to get into something more intensive, though, we see the new HD 7770 struggle with the FPS sitting only around the 40 mark at 1680 x 1050 and 1920 x 1200.

Benchmarks - Aliens vs. Predator

Aliens vs. Predator

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.rebellion.co.uk/

Product Homepage: http://www.sega.com/games/aliens-vs-predator/

Aliens vs. Predator is a science fiction first-person shooter video game, developed by Rebellion Developments, the team behind the 1999 original PC game, and published by Sega for Microsoft Windows, the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. The game is based on the Alien vs. Predator franchise, a combination of the characters and creatures of the Alien franchise and the Predator franchise. There are three campaigns in the game, one for each race/faction (the Predators, the Aliens and the Colonial Marines), that, while separate in terms of individual plot and gameplay, form one overarching storyline.

Following the storyline of the campaign modes comes the multiplayer aspect of the game. In this Multiplayer section of the game, players face off in various different gametypes in various different ways.

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Moving to Aliens vs. Predator also sees FPS around the 40 FPS mark with the 1680 x 1050 averaging being just 46 FPS, a good chunk lower then we really need it to be.

Benchmarks - Just Cause 2

Just Cause 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.2

Timedemo or Level Used: Dark Tower

Developer Homepage: http://www.eidos.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.justcause.com/

Just Cause 2 employs the Avalanche Engine 2.0, an updated version of the engine used in Just Cause. The game is set on the other side of the world from the original Just Cause, on the fictional island of Panau in Southeast Asia. Panau has varied terrain, from desert to alpine to rainforest. Rico Rodriguez returns as the protagonist, aiming to overthrow the evil dictator Pandak "Baby" Panay and confront his former mentor, Tom Sheldon.

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Looking at Just Cause 2 performance we can see that while we continue to struggle at 1920 x 1200, we manage to sneak in that 60 FPS average at 1680 x 1050. Again, it's worth remembering that the XFX offering is quite heavily overclocked, as we mentioned on the specifications page.

Benchmarks - Metro 2033

Metro 2033

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.4a-games.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.thqnordic.com/

Metro 2033 is an action-oriented video game with a combination of survival horror and first-person shooter elements. The game is based on the novel Metro 2033 by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. It was developed by 4A Games in Ukraine and released in March 2010 for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360.[3] In March 2006, 4A Games announced a partnership with Glukhovsky to collaborate on the game.[4] The game was announced at the 2009 Games Convention in Leipzig;[5] a first trailer came along with the announcement.[6] A sequel was announced, currently titled Metro: Last Light.

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Getting into Metro 2033, it comes as no surprise that we see the HD 770 struggle again with that lower FPS being seen with a 49 FPS average at 1680 x 1050.

Benchmarks - Dirt 3

Dirt 3

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.codemasters.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.dirt3game.com/

DiRT 3 boasts more cars, more locations, more routes and more events than any other game in the series, including over 50 rally cars representing the very best from five decades of the sport. With more than double the track content of 2009's hit, DiRT 3 will see players start at the top as a professional driver, with a top-flight career in competitive off-road racing complimented by the opportunity to express themselves in Gymkhana-style showpiece driving events.

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Dirt 3 averages see numbers below 60 FPS. Fortunately the 54 FPS number seen at 1680 x 1050 isn't too bad and a slight drop in detail would see us hit that 60 FPS average.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01

Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long

Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.farcry2.com/

Buy It Here

The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.

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Looking at something a bit older like FarCry 2 we can see that the HD 7770 doesn't have any trouble here with our minimum being 60 FPS at 1680 x 1050.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF

High Quality AA and AF

Our high quality tests let us separate the men from the boys and the ladies from the girls. If the cards weren't struggling before they will start to now.

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As you turn on AA and AF it's no surprise that we again fall to numbers we consider unplayable. Even the older FarCry 2 sees a minimum of only 23 FPS.

Temperature Test

The temperature of the core is pulled from MSI Afterburner with the max reading used after a completed run off 3DMark Vantage and the Performance preset.

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On the temperature front the XFX offering comes in pretty good coming in at just over 60c during load.

Sound Test

Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.

After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).

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On the noise front the XFX HD 7770 sits towards the bottom of the pack which is always appreciated.

Power Consumption Test

Using our new PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01 or "Power Thingy" as it has become quickly known as to our readers, we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated graphics cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).

There are a few important notes to remember though; while our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10% more. We test at the exact same stage every time; therefore tests should be very consistent and accurate.

The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a SSD hard drive is used with a single CD ROM and minimal cooling fans.

So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.

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Power numbers are quite interesting. While load is of course quite low, we can see that the idle sits a bit higher then we'd expect. The strong overclock on offer from XFX could have something to do with this.

Final Thoughts

I don't really agree with what AMD has done here with the launch of the HD 7700 series card. They skipped the HD 7800 series for the time being and we find that we look at the current crop of HD 7000 series cards and see the HD 7770 and then the HD 7950 that sits considerably ahead of it offering us playable FPS at 2560 x 1600 quite often.

It would've been nice to see AMD release the HD 7800 series first and then follow that up with the HD 7700 series so we can see this natural progression to the mid-range cards. Instead this huge gap on a psychological level leaves you feeling a bit ordinary about the HD 7700 series card.

Of course the HD 7770 comes in at $149 while the next HD 7000 series card, the HD 7950, comes in at $449. To get in on the Double Dissipation cooler that XFX is offering us here today you're going to pay an extra $20. Another $10 on top of that will give you the higher out of the box clocks.

If you're looking at playing something a bit older, you shouldn't run into any issues playing games at 1680 x 1050 with game details maxed out. Moving to something newer, with newer technologies sees 1680 x 1050 performance begin to struggle when settings are at high. Instead you'll have to find yourself looking around the medium area for a smooth gaming experience.

The XFX offering here manages to put out some strong numbers, but at times we can see we only just scrap in that 60 FPS average we aim for. While great for XFX, it's a little worrying for the HD 7770 as we find ourselves thinking that reference 1000MHz clocked cards are going to come in below that 60 FPS mark.

The biggest issue for the HD 7770 isn't anything from NVIDIA. Instead it's AMD's own cards. The still very available HD 6870 can be had for around the $160 US mark after rebates. Going through the numbers we can see the kind of performance difference that these two cards have.

The HD 7770 is a little bit of a tough one. The XFX version is really nice, but the model on a whole feels like it misses the mark. Compared to the HD 7950 the pricing looks great as it's significantly cheaper, but of course it's significantly slower. The issue comes when you start to dive a bit deeper into other models that are available for a similar price. The HD 7770 is a good card and the XFX version really stands out; the biggest issue seems to come in terms of price which at the moment is just a little too high.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

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