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MSI Radeon HD 7770 Power Edition 1GB Overclocked Video Card Review

MSI's first Radeon 7000 series Power Edition video card arrives in the form of the HD 7770, a model that's been hit and miss.
@TweakTown
Published Thu, Apr 19 2012 3:50 AM CDT   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Rating: 87%Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction and Package

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AMD's Radeon HD 7700 series hasn't been a series that we've welcomed with open arms. Priced highly against the Radeon HD 6800 series which continued to flood the market and performance that sat behind it meant that the HD 7700 series just never got us all that excited from a value for money point of view and that's a big deal.

It wasn't until we saw the Sapphire HD 7750 Ultimate that we found ourselves getting a little excited about the model thanks to the custom passive cooler that Sapphire had implemented. Outside of that model, though, the HD 7700 series wasn't doing much for us.

Today, though, we hope that is going to change with the MSI HD 7770 Power Edition video card. Straight away the HD 7770 Power Edition has two things going for it. The first is it is part of the Power Edition series, a series that brings with it added voltage options which in turn normally help boost overall overclocking performance by a fair margin.

The second thing going for it and probably the more important is the recent price drops on the HD 7000 series of video cards which sees the HD 7700 series drop a little. Obviously MSI (probably) knew of these upcoming price drops and waited for the perfect time to launch this model - right now. Combining these two things we're hoping that the HD 7700 series can begin to see a bit of extra life and brightness in our eyes.

Before we get into the performance side of things there's a few things we need to do. The first is as always is checking out the package and bundle. Once we've done that we'll move onto the video card itself before we look at the specifications and what we managed to overclock the card to. And from there it's all about performance.

Package

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I love the new box design that MSI has used with the HD 7770 Power Edition. It's really fresh looking and just overall nice to see something a bit different. Hopefully we'll see a similar design with other Power Edition video cards when they hit the market.

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Looking at the bundle there's for the most part nothing too out of the ordinary with some paperwork, driver CD, DVI to VGA connector and dual Molex to 6-pin PCIe power connector.

Saying that, there's an extra fan included in the bundle and you can see what it's used for in the box images with a cooler that can be transformed. We'll cover it in more detail on the next page, though.

The Card and Specifications

The Card

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Having a look at the video card you can see we've got a new design when it comes to the heatsink here. The cooler becomes even more interesting, though, when we throw the other fan into the mix using the "Transthermal Design" by MSI. We'll quickly just cover the rest of the card, though, before we go into more detail on the extra fan.

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Taking a look around the video card you can see we've got a single 6-pin PCIe power connector towards the back while closer to the front we've got a typical single CrossFire connector.

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On the I/O side of things we've got a Dual-Link DVI connector, HDMI port and DisplayPort to round off the connection side. You can also see the top half of the video card has the MSI logo and some vents to help the hot air escape out the back of the case.

As we've mentioned already, the MSI HD 7770 Power Edition brings with it an extra fan, which allows you to have the cooler run in three configurations. The first is the one you see at the top of the page.

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The second configuration allows you to install the fan on top of the standard one which MSI dub as "Double Airflow Mode". This mode provides higher air pressure over the core to keep the temperature down.

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The other mode and the one we're using today is "Dual Fan Mode" and is said to drop the card temperature by the most thanks to a bigger area for dissipation and more efficient cooling on the PWM and memory. To do this you simple slide the cooler to the right making the video card longer and then slot the fan in place. While better cooling is on offer from both these configurations the cost is that you're going to have added noise into the mix.

Specifications

As you'd expect the MSI HD 7770 Power Edition comes overclocked out of the box and looking below you can see we've got an 1100MHz core up from the default 1000MHz.

As for the 1GB of GDDR5, MSI have chosen to leave that alone in this case with it coming in at the default 4500MHz QDR clock. Of course being a Power Edition video card we're going to overclock it today to see just what we can get out of it.

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Looking above you can see we ended up with a core clock of 1180MHz which is a nice increase of the reference 1000MHz clock while the memory came in at an impressive 5200MHz QDR, which is a nice increase over the default 4500MHz QDR clock.

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.

Before we get into the performance side of things we want to quickly cover the cards we'll be using in our comparison today.

Along with our overclocked MSI HD 7770 Power Edition we've got the reference clocked HD 7770 which is the main cards we'll be comparing against today.

Along with that, though, we've also got the HD 7750, HD 6870, HD 6950 and GTX 560 Ti to round out the selection today.

The main thing we want to see, though, is the kind of performance boost we get over the reference clocked card.

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 can see a really nice boost in performance from the overclocked MSI HD 7770 here that sees a strong increase over the reference clocked video card.

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 Unigine Heaven performance we can see a nice boost in performance and you can see we're not that far behind the HD 6870 thanks to the improved Tessellation performance on offer from the new AMD Radeon HD 7000 series video cards.

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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Looking at H.A.W.X. 2 performance we can not only see some strong gains, but just some strong FPS overall which make for a playable experience on the MSI HD 7770 PE here.

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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Checking out Mafia II we've got some strong gains again and you can see at 1920 x 1200 the overclock is enough to push us from under that 60 FPS average to over it which is really impressive.

This is exactly what we like to see when it comes to overclocking a video card.

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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Lost Planet 2 sees some really nice performance gains and you can see at 1680 x 1050 we're right on top of the HD 6870 here.

Unfortunately the intensity of the game and engine means we're still a decent chunk below that 60 FPS average we want, even at the lower 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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Alien vs. Predator much like Lost Planet 2 sees some really nice gains; unfortunately we're still a good amount below that 60 FPS average we want to get.

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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Here we see another great result from the overclock helping push our 1680 x 1050 FPS average from below 60 FPS to just over it or in other words what we would consider unplayable to playable.

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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Metro 2033 sees some great gains, but we're again still a bit off that 60 FPS average we want here 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 continues the trend with strong performance gains, but you can see, we're just a little shy of that 60 FPS mark again. Fortunately we're only 4 FPS away from it at 1680 x 1050, so a minor detail drop would bring the FPS up to over 60 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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Far Cry 2 sees some good gains as you'd expect and just overall some very playable FPS at all resolutions.

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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While we continue to see gains under our AA and AF tests the HD 7770 just isn't powerful enough to make AA / AF gaming a realistic option.

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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Looking at the temperature level of the video card we can see that the dual fan cooling solution is doing wonders for the core temperature. Considering we're also heavily overclocked, these are just some good numbers.

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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Unfortunately those lower temperatures are coming at the cost of higher noise levels.

Saying that, at load because of the dual fan configuration, the noise level is very bearable verse a video card with a single fan that was spinning louder.

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 doesn't hold any surprises and it's where you'd expect it to be. You'd find most power supplies wouldn't have an issue dealing with a video card like this, even when overclocked quite high.

Final Thoughts

What I like about MSI Power Edition video cards is the same thing I like about Hawk and Lightning series video cards. They're just more fun than your typical design. Combined with MSI Afterburner, the larger choice of voltage options make for a video card that you can push much further than others.

Moving away from just the overclocking side of things, you've also got the fan configuration options which are cool and really easy to setup. I didn't even have to read the manual to figure out the options.

AMD's Radeon HD 7770 is still far from a model that we're in love with like the other HD 7000 offerings that sit above it, but it's nice to see companies starting to do something interesting and creative with the HD 7700 series. If there was ever going to be a HD 7770 that took our interest it would've been from MSI and it would've been part of something like the Power Edition series.

With an MSRP set at around $149 as well, this is a good price point for a video card that offers this kind of feature set. Combined with being part of the new HD 7000 series, this is one of the, if not, the best HD 7770 to buy, that we've looked at so far. Before the AMD price drop I think this video card would've come in closer to the $179 - $189 mark and that would've just been too expensive.

The only downfall for the video card is the noise levels we got with the two fan setup. From a pure number stand point the video card is quite loud and while it's noticeable more audible at idle compared to other video cards also at idle, the load levels aren't too bad at all. Inside a case I think you'd find the video card fairly quiet. Of course there's always the option for the other fan configurations as well, we did opt for the one that lets the video card run the coolest, which comes at the cost of more noise.

If you're looking to spend around that mid $100 mark, want to get in on the AMD Radeon HD 7000 series and are happy to fire up MSI Afterburner to unleash the most potential, the MSI HD 7770 Power Edition is a great offering.

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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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