MSI Radeon HD 7770 1GB OC Edition Video Card Review

With some big out of the box overclocks on the AMD Radeon HD 7770, we see how much further we can go with the MSI offering.

@TweakTown
Published Wed, Feb 29 2012 10:52 PM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:01 PM CST
Rating: 80%Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction and Package

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VIEW GALLERY - 27 IMAGES

We've found ourselves a little underwhelmed with what's been going on with the new HD 7700 series. It's not so much the performance of the card, but more the price as we see the HD 7770 line up with the HD 6800 series which comes out ahead.

When we moved away from the single GPU performance via the XFX HD 7770 Black Edition S Super Overclocked 1GB and checked out the CrossFire performance via Sapphire we saw a bit of light at the end of the tunnel thanks to some awesome CrossFire scaling. The issue continued to be the price of the setup, though.

With some strong overclocks out of the box, we wonder what kind of overclocking potential we have with the model. Today we'll be finding that out exactly via the help of the MSI Radeon HD 7770 1GB OC Edition video card. There are of course a few things we need to do before we cover the overclocking side of things.

The first thing we'll start with is check out the package to see what kind of bundle MSI is offering us, once we've done that we'll move onto the card itself, look at the default clocks on the OC Edition model and check out the overclock we managed to achieve. From there we'll move onto the testbed before we of course look at the performance side of things to see just what kind of boost the overclock can offer us.

Package

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Looking at the bundle we've got the normal line up of paperwork and driver CD, along with a DVI to VGA connector, dual Molex to 6-pin PCIe power convertor and lastly a mini DP to DP connector.

The Card and Specifications

The Card

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Looking at the MSI card you can see we've got a big dual fan setup with a massive aluminum heatsink sitting behind the two fans. Taking a quick spin around the card you'll see a 6-pin PCIe power connector at the back while closer to the front we've got a single CrossFire connector.

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The I/O side of things doesn't hold any surprises with a single Dual-Link DVI connector, full size HDMI port and two Mini DisplayPort connectors to round it off.

Specifications

This annoys me a little bit with MSI and it's not the first time they've done it.

Looking below we can see that the default core comes in at 1020MHz while the 1GB of GDDR5 carries a 4500MHz QDR memory clock. While this is an overclock, it's a core overclock of just 20MHz while the memory is left at complete stock. Considering we've seen overclocks of 100MHz+, it would've been much nicer to see MSI go harder here.

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We'll be moving past the stock clocks of the card here today and as you can see above we ended up bringing the core up to 1240MHz, while the 1GB of GDDR5 came in at a nice rounded 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 all the main bits and pieces in regards to our X79 testbed that we've been using since launch of the Sandy Bridge-E platform. On the comparison side of things we'll see how our own overclocked MSI HD 7770 goes against the heavily pre-overclocked HD 7770 from XFX.

Along with the XFX HD 7770 we've got a Sapphire HD 6870 and HD 6950, HIS HD 7950 and Palit GTX 560 Ti. We'll see how much extra performance we're able to get out of the HD 7770 as we move to a core clock that exceeds 1200MHz.

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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As we start off under 3DMark 11 we can see a nice boost in performance which pushes us over that P4000 point. We can see the gap between the HD 7770 and HD 6870 also closes a bit. Unfortunately for the HD 7770, the HD 6870 is carrying just its stock clocks and could still be pushed faster.

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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Moving into Heaven we also see a nice boost in performance as we break the 1000 point mark at 1680 x 1040. Here we're very close to the HD 6870; again unfortunately the HD 6870 is running at stock verse the heavily overclocked HD 7770.

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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Moving into H.A.W.X. 2 we've got some strong performance with some extra FPS being seen. Looking above, though, you can see we were already getting very strong FPS out of the HD 7770 at stock speeds.

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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Moving to Mafia 2 we can see that the XFX card managed to score just that 60 FPS we aim for at 1920 x 1200. Looking at our MSI card we can see the overclock helps push that to 63 FPS giving us a little more breathing room.

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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Looking at Lost Planet 2 we do see a boost in performance at 1680 x 1050 which equates to almost 10%. Unfortunately the intensity of Lost Planet 2 continues to be too much for all our cards here except the HD 7950.

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 we don't see any change in FPS when we overclock and our FPS continue to be a decent chunk below that 60 FPS mark we aim for.

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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A bit like Mafia 2 we can see that the overclock here gives us a little bit more breathing room at 1680 x 1050 as we move away from a 60 FPS average to 63 FPS. We see an extra couple of FPS at 1920 x 1200 as well, but unfortunately we're still below that 60 FPS mark.

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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Looking at Metro 2033 performance we can see a couple of extra FPS being seen, but nothing that changes the scenario of the game being playable.

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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Looking at Dirt 3 we can see that 1680 x 1050 performance gets a couple of extra FPS pushing us up to 58 FPS. Again we're still just below that 60 FPS mark we want, while 1920 x 1200 performance is sitting just under 50 FPS.

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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Moving over to FarCry 2 we can see a couple of extra FPS, but it doesn't change the landscape as we already had very playable numbers from the XFX HD 7770.

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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Across the board we can see that the extra MHz on offer doesn't help make turning AA / AF on an option. While we've got a couple of extra FPS, we've still got numbers at unplayable levels.

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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With the extra voltage running through the core you can see that our MSI offering sits a bit warmer than the other HD 7770s we've looked at. It of course comes as no surprise as we cranked up the clock speeds ourselves.

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 side of things the MSI is unfortunately quite a loud card as you see it sit on the top half of the graph here.

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 doesn't hold any real surprise as it sits around that 350 watt mark we've seen from a number of HD 7000 series cards.

Final Thoughts

The biggest issues when it comes to overclocking the HD 7770 yourself is that some companies have opted for such large out of the box overclocks giving us little gains over other offerings currently on the market. The bigger appeal to a lower clocked out of the box card is the price.

Coming in at $159.99, the MSI HD 7770 carries the SRP that you'd expect while the XFX offering is $179.99 and the Sapphire card we looked at comes in at $169.99. Looking through our graphs today you can see that you're able to save $10 or $20 and achieve performance that would come out just ahead of these overclocked offerings.

One of the issues is that the cooler on the MSI offering doesn't exactly stand out for the best reasons. While we're of course custom overclocked here, for the most part, we can see that performance comes in only about 5% higher than what XFX is offering us. Looking at heat and noise numbers, you can see this is done with a fair bit more noise and heat as well.

We're just not that much of a fan of the HD 7770, and even taking the time to find a max overclock yourself, there's not this massive gain that you'd hope, because companies are offering us such big out of the box overclocks. Going from a default clock of 1000MHz to 1240MHz is really nice, but because XFX offer us a default clock of 1120MHz on the core and Sapphire offers us 1150MHz, we're not seeing the kind of gains you'd expect to see if more companies opted for the default clocks.

The MSI offering isn't our favorite HD 7770 we've looked at from a cooling point of view, but does come in a bit cheaper than the other models. The one thing we have to continue to mention, though, is the simple fact that for a similar price point you're able to get a HD 6800 series video card. The situation has been made even worse recently with some really aggressive rebates being seen and the XFX HD 6870 coming in at $139.99 after rebates. In the end we've got another HD 7770 that leaves us flat as AMD price themselves out of the market with the HD 6870 with continues to be the better choice.

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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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