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Sapphire Radeon HD 7770 1GB OC Video Cards in CrossFire

We pair the Sapphire HD 7770 with another and see how CrossFire HD 7770 performance looks.
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Published Mon, Feb 27 2012 9:40 AM CST   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:30 PM CDT
Rating: 81%Manufacturer: Sapphire

Introduction and Package

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When I installed the Sapphire HD 7770 OC into my testbed and ran 3DMark 11, I found that there was only a few points difference between the score that Sapphire offered and what we saw out of the XFX HD 7770 Black Edition S Super Overclocked 1GB which we looked at the other day. Heading into GPU-Z I saw the reason the score was so close was because both cards where clocked extremely close to each other. We'll cover the clocks in the next page when we look at the specifications of the card.

Since it felt like a waste to just test the Sapphire card by itself when it's score would be near identical to the XFX model, I decided to pull the XFX card back out and throw it alongside our Sapphire one and see what CrossFire performance was like.

With the clocks on the card being similar but not identical, we lined up the clock speeds of the cards and then as always proceeded to benchmark them. Before we see the kind of performance we got, though, the first thing we need to do is take a closer look at the Sapphire card, which we haven't looked at yet.

The first thing we'll do is check out the package before we take a closer look at the card. Once that's done we'll cover the specifications of the OC model and go into a bit more detail what we did with the clocks. From there it's all about the performance of the setup, so with haste let's get into the package.

Package

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This is a really nice bundle for what is considered a mid-range card.

Alongside the included HDMI cable, the other big stand out is the Mini-DP to DP connector, which is something we're seeing a lot of companies ignore with the HD 7000 series.

The Card and Specifications

The Card

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Looking at the card the design is fairly basic; we've got a heatsink with some copper pipes running out the bottom and a fan that is fairly big sitting in the middle. It should do a good job of keeping our card cool. Outside of this there are no surprises with a single 6-pin PCIe power connector at the back of the card while across the top we find a single CrossFire connector which we'll be making use of today.

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On the I/O side of things we find a Dual-Link DVI connector, HDMI port and two Mini-DP connectors on the far left. As mentioned on the previous page, it's nice to see that Sapphire has included a Mini-DP to DP connector in the bundle.

Specifications

Out of the box a reference clocked HD 7770 will come in at 1000MHz on the core and 4500MHz QDR on the 1GB of GDDR5 memory. Looking below at the default clocks you can see the Sapphire comes in with an impressive 1150MHz core and 5000MHz QDR memory clock.

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While slightly higher on the core compared to the XFX which came in at 1020MHz, the memory clock is slightly down compared to 5200MHz QDR. Heading into Afterburner we pushed the core of the XFX up to 1050MHz while we pushed the Sapphire memory clock up to 5200MHz QDR resulting in both cards running at 1050MHz / 5200MHz QDR.

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.

Looking above you can see our normal X79 testbed setup with nothing new going on. As for the comparison cards today we'll be shifting the cards up slightly when compared to our single HD 7770 review as we move into CrossFire testing.

Alongside the single HD 7770 and the CrossFire setup today we'll also have the new HD 7950 and HD 7970 along with the GTX 580 and GTX 570. It will be interesting how this $300 setup performs against these bigger single GPU setups.

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 see a massive boost in performance from the CrossFire setup which puts it ahead of all our setups here except the new HD 7970. Compared to the HD 7950, you can see we've got a nice little boost in performance.

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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Heaven also sees massive performance gains across the board and we can see that 1680 x 1050 performance manages to sneak ahead of the HD 7970 in this case.

Moving to 1920 x 1200, though, we see the HD 7770 CrossFire setup fall just behind it again. We do see it again beat out the other setups, though.

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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Here we can see big gains across the board again and just some massive FPS which put it ahead of even the HD 7970 in this instance.

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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Again we see strong FPS gains across the board and more importantly, playable FPS at all resolutions. In single form you could see that we only managed to just scrape in that 60 FPS average at 1920 x 1200, against our other setups, you can see we're again slightly ahead of the HD 7950.

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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No surprise as we move along we again see some great gains when moving to CrossFire. We're again slightly ahead of the HD 7950, but you can see, we're not quite pulling in the 60 FPS we want at the highest resolution.

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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Again we see some strong gains, but in this instance, we sit a little bit behind the HD 7950. Like every other setup here we also see that we can't hit that 60 FPS average at the highest resolution.

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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Moving into Just Cause 2 we've again got those great gains and you can see where we couldn't even get 60 FPS at 1920 x 1200 with the single card setup, but it's not an issue getting that average we aim for at the higher 2560 x 1600 resolution in CrossFire mode.

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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We see strong gains again and you can see that the single HD 7770 wasn't even able to give us playable FPS at the lowest resolution.

In CrossFire we've got playable FPS at both 1680 x 1050 and 1920 x 1200 with only 2560 x 1600 falling below that 60 FPS average. Compared to the other setups, we again see performance floating around the HD 7950 level with for the most part our CrossFire setup coming a little ahead.

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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Just like Metro 2033 we could see that the 60 FPS average we aim for couldn't be hit on a single card. Moving to CrossFire we see some great gains that give us playable numbers at 1680 x 1050 and 1920 x 1200. We can again see the setup only falls behind at the highest resolution.

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 above we can see that we've got strong FPS across the board under FarCry 2 with strong gains again being seen and playable FPS at all resolutions.

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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Cranking up the detail we can see those strong gains are again seen across the board and we've got playable FPS under both Mafia II and FarCry 2. It's only under the super intensive Aliens vs. Predator that we see our average FPS drop below 60.

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 we can see the Sapphire card which is the hottest runs a little warmer in CrossFire, but the temperature isn't at a level that we'd be worried about.

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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In CrossFire the setup is extremely silent and that's thanks to the fan choice that Sapphire has opted for. The option for a larger fan that spins slower means we've got a setup that runs really quietly.

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 draw is strong and you can see that it sits only a little higher than the single HD 7950. The less attractive number is the idle number that sits higher than the HD 7900 cards.

Final Thoughts

For the most part my opinion on the HD 7770 hasn't changed from what it was when we looked at the XFX HD 7770 Black Edition S Super Overclocked 1GB. With that said the landscape does change a little when we move into CrossFire mode. For $300 this is a really nice setup that offers performance that we'd say is around the AMD Radeon HD 7950 GPU level, if not slightly better. Compared to the HD 7950 it's also $100+ cheaper, which is really appealing. Of course it's a CrossFire / dual GPU setup, and for some people that's not an option, or they simply just don't like it or want it.

The big issue for the HD 7770 is the fact that similar money gets you the HD 6870 and that's a faster card. This is where it gets a little weird, though, if you wanted to spend around $300, I'd opt for a HD 7770 CrossFire setup over a HD 6870 CrossFire setup. Take the HD 6800 series out of the equation as well and the HD 7770 CrossFire setup looks really nice when you compare the performance and the price to the HD 7950. The issue for the HD 7770, though, is the HD 6800 series are still here, they come in at a really good price point, there's plenty of stock and performance from them are really strong.

Moving away from the CrossFire setup and looking at the Sapphire card itself; it's a really strong HD 7770 model. It comes with a strong out of the box overclock, the bundle is really nice and the fan is quiet. What you end up with again is a really nice version of a model that just doesn't stand out at the moment. Until the HD 6800 series disappear or the price of the HD 7770 comes down slightly, it's going to be hard to recommend this model over HD 6800 series. In CrossFire it becomes a good looking setup, especially compared to the HD 7950. The price is great and the performance is fantastic in CrossFire, which sees playable numbers at 1680 x 1050 and 1920 x 1200 consistently. If you want to game at 2560 x 1600, you are going to need to spend more money.

In CrossFire the HD 7770 looks like a better setup; especially when compared to the HD 7900s. But the same underlying issues for the model exist and I still disagree with the fact that AMD chose to launch this model before the HD 7800 series. The situation is made worse by the fact that there's still so much HD 6800 series stock on the market at the same $150 price point.

Sapphire has put together a nice card and we'd expect no less from them. The model on a whole is pretty good, but while the HD 6850 and HD 6870 are in the market like it is, the AMD Radeon HD 7770 continues to be a little hard to swallow at the current price point.

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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.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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