AMD Radeon HD 7770 1GB Reference Design Video Card Review

We get around to testing the reference Radeon HD 7770 at its reference clock speeds, which is something we haven't done yet.

@TweakTown
Published Thu, Mar 8 2012 11:40 PM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:01 PM CST
Rating: 76%Manufacturer: AMD

Introduction

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During my hospital stay last month we saw the AMD Radeon HD 7700 series launch and while most the time we would look at the reference card and then follow them up with partner cards, because the launch happened while I was away, when I got out we wanted to quickly work through the partner cards we had on offer.

First we checked out the XFX offering which was called the HD 7770 Black Edition S Super Overclocked, then we looked at the Sapphire card and discovered it carried with it a similar strong overclock and we tested the new model in CrossFire.

From there we moved away from the HD 7770 and looked at the HIS HD 7750 1GB to see how the new HD 7700 series was rounded out. If that wasn't enough of the new HD 7700 series we also checked out the dual fan MSI HD 7770 and proceeded to see how high we could overclock the model. After all that was done and I found myself looking at the reference HD 7770 we have here today from AMD. I realized that we actually haven't looked at reference clock performance of the new model.

So saying that, it's exactly what we're going to look at today. While a lot of companies are offering strongly overclocked models out of the box, we're also seeing a lot of companies just offer the stock 1GHz core clock. Being a reference card, though, that means we're not dealing with any kind of package. Instead we'll take a quick look at the card and the default specifications before we look at the test system setup and of course the performance.

The Card and Specifications

The Card

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Every HD 7770 we've looked at so far as opted for its own cooling design so this is the first time we've seen the reference cooler. We see a fan sit slightly off center and the typical black and red shroud surrounding it. The rest of the card sees a single 6-pin PCIe power connector at the rear while across the top we've got the typical single CrossFire connector.

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In the I/O department we've got a Dual-Link DVI connector, HDMI port and two Mini DP connectors.

Specifications

Being a reference card means we're of course dealing with reference clock speeds which can be seen below in the GPU-Z screenshot. That means on the core front, the card AMD are labeling as the "GHz Edition" comes with a 1GHz core clock.

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As for the 1GB of GDDR5 memory running on that 128-bit memory bus, we can see that comes in at 4500MHz QDR.

Considering we've seen companies offer us 1120MHz and 1150MHz on the core and memory speeds exceeding 5000MHz QDR, we get a good sense of the overclocking abilities of the new model, when looking at the reference clocks.

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.

The main thing we'll be looking at today is just how the performance of the new HD 7770 is when it comes clocked at its reference out of the box speeds. Along with the AMD HD 7770, we'll also have the overclocked XFX HD 7770 offering and the reference clocked HD 7750 from HIS.

Along with those cards we've also got the HD 6870 and HD 6950 from Sapphire along with the highly popular GTX 560 Ti model from Palit.

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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Straight out the gate we're able to get an idea the kind of performance boost the XFX overclock gave us. You can see a nice 10% between the reference clocked AMD offering and the pre-overclocked XFX offering.

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 model falls further behind the similar price HD 6870 which continues to be an issue for AMD.

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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While we've again got a bit of a performance drop that sits around the 10% mark when compared to the XFX card, we can at least see we've still got playable FPS at both 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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While we can see Mafia II still offers us some playable numbers at 1680 x 1050, moving to reference clocks means the HD 7770 falls behind that 60 FPS mark we aim for 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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While we see a drop in FPS, it's not the hugest deal here as we see the HD 7770 like everything else in our graphs struggles to hit the 60 FPS mark at even 1680 x 1050.

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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We again see a drop in performance, but with already unplayable FPS, it's not a huge issue. We do continue to see that the XFX card is giving us about 10% more performance on top of a reference clocked card, though.

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 continue to see that 1920 x 1200 isn't playable on the HD 7770. Unfortunately while the XFX HD 7770 was able to sneak in with a 60 FPS average at 1680 x 1050, the reference clocked card of course falls behind that number.

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 continue to see a drop in FPS, but like a couple of other games, our numbers on the pre-overclocked XFX are already below what we want it to be.

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 also carries the same trend as we saw from Metro 2033, AvP and Lost Planet 2 with unplayable FPS at both resolutions.

While the XFX did fall below the 60 FPS mark as well at 1680 x 1050, at least it's a good 5 FPS closer making it a bit easier to gain those extra FPS we want with a small detail drop.

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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While FarCry 2 of course sees a drop in performance, we've fortunately still got strong FPS at both resolutions which make the HD 7770 handle older games like this extremely well.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF

High Quality AA and AF

While we test all our games with maximum in-game settings, turning on Anti-Aliasing (AA) and Antistrophic Filtering (AF) helps take the intensity of our testing to another level.

Here we see video cards go from playable FPS to an unplayable FPS and the real power houses continue to help break that 60 FPS mark we always aim for to provide a smooth gaming experience.

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Turning AA and AF on doesn't change the landscape as we see the card again lags behind a bit, but more importantly, not offer playable 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 AMD cooler isn't bad. It's worth remembering the XFX card which is running only 2c hotter, though, is pushing out 10% more performance thanks to its overclock.

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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Noise levels are also good on the new cooler and sit towards the bottom of the pack.

Power Consumption Test

Using our 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 pretty standard. What's interesting, though, is that the pre-overclocked and even our own overclocked MSI card offers power draw similar or lower.

Final Thoughts

*yawn* You know, it's not that I don't like the HD 7770. The issue with the HD 7770 is AMD released it too early. While there is so much HD 6800 stock still on the market at super aggressive price points, this $159.99 model just looks way overpriced for what it's offering.

Testing the reference card, though, today has bought with it a bit more shine to some of the heavily overclocked models from partners which see gains of 10% and even more if you take the time to do the overclocking yourself. While AMD price this card out of the market, though, it's not going to be a video card that stands out for the right reasons.

The upcoming HD 7800 series shouldn't have this same issue as HD 6900's are pretty much impossible to get these days and they're the main model we'll be looking at when comparing the new generation "x800" series model.

For now, though, we continue to have an issue recommending people to buy this model. While we could start to justify it a bit when we looked at CrossFire performance, it's still not enough for us to say buy it over the HD 6870 which as we mentioned the other day, is now coming in cheaper thanks to some even more aggressive rebates.

On the feature front the HD 7770 is a nice model and the HD 7700 series is a nice series thanks to its new 28nm GPU. For most, though, it's going to be all about performance and bang for buck. And that means in the end, you're better off going down the path of a HD 6870 and waiting a bit for the rebate to come back to you.

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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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