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[nextpage title=”Introduction”]

The new Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition, which is being released today, is a mainstream video card based on the latest graphics architecture from AMD, dubbed “Graphics Core Next” or simply “GCN,” which supports the new PCI Express 3.0 connection and the latest DirectX version (11.1).

For a detailed explanation of the new features present on this latest architecture, please read our Radeon HD 7970 review.

AMD is also releasing a cheaper version of this video card, the Radeon HD 7750, which we will cover in a separate review. The Radeon HD 7750 and Radeon HD 7770 use the codename “Cape Verde.” By the way, this country is located in the Northern Hemisphere, not in the Southern. (This new GPU architecture from AMD used by these video cards is codenamed “Southern Islands.”)

At USD 160, the new Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition is available with the same price range as the Radeon HD 6850 and the GeForce GTX 460 with 1 GB. During its presentations, AMD compared the Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition against the GeForce GTX 550 Ti, but they are in different price segments. In the table below, we compare the main specifications of the video cards included in our review. As you can see, the Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition works at 1 GHz, and hence its name. The prices listed below do not include rebates and are for the models with the clock and memory configurations listed below. Prices were researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review, except for the Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition, which is the price advertised by AMD.

Video Card Core Clock Shader Clock Memory Clock (Effective) Memory Interface Memory Transfer Rate Memory Shaders DirectX Price
Radeon HD 7770 1 GHz 1 GHz 4.5 GHz 128-bit 72 GB/s 1 GB GDDR5 640 11.1 USD 160
Radeon HD 6850 775 MHz 775 MHz 4 GHz 256-bit 128 GB/s 1 GB GDDR5 960 11 USD 140 – 170
GeForce GTX 460 675 MHz 1,350 MHz 3.6 GHz 256-bit 115.2 GB/s 1 GB GDDR5 336 11 USD 140 – 150
GeForce GTX 550 Ti 900 MHz 1.8 GHz  4.1 GHz 192-bit 98.4 GB/s  1 GB GDDR5 192 11 USD 120 – 130

You can compare the specs of these video cards with other video cards by taking a look at our “AMD ATI Chips Comparison Table” and “NVIDIA Chips Comparison Table” tutorials.

Today, only the LGA2011 Core i7 processors (“Sandy Bridge-E”) have a PCI Express 3.0 controller. In our Radeon HD 7970 review, we discovered that, at this time, there is no difference between using a PCI Express 2.0 or a PCI Express 3.0 connection. Since the reviewed video card is a mainstream product, we decided to use a different testing platform, based on a Core i5-2500K processor.

Now let’s take a complete look at the AMD Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition reference model.

[nextpage title=”The AMD Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition”]

Below we have an overall look at the AMD Radeon HD 7770 GHZ Edition reference model. It requires one six-pin auxiliary power connector.

AMD Radeon HD 7770Figure 1: AMD Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition

AMD Radeon HD 7770Figure 2: AMD Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition

One of the highlights of this video card is the possibility of connecting up to six video monitors at the same time, which is achieved by using a DisplayPort hub or a DisplayPort monitor that provides daisy-chaining capability. The card provides one DVI-D, one HDMI, and two mini DisplayPort connectors.

AMD Radeon HD 7770Figure 3: Video connectors

[nextpage title=”The AMD Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition (Cont’d)”]

The Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition uses a standard aluminum cooler with a 80 mm fan.

AMD Radeon HD 7770Figure 4: Video card cooler

In Figure 5, you can see the video card with its cooler removed. It uses a voltage regulator with three phases for the GPU and one phase for the memory chips. The phases for the GPU uses ferrite-core coils, but the phase for the memory uses an iron-core coil. All capacitors used on this video card are solid.

AMD Radeon HD 7770Figure 5: AMD Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition

The reviewed video card uses four Hynix H5GQ2H24MFR-T2C GDDR5 chips, each one storing 2 Gbit of data, making the 1 GB of memory available on this video card. Each chip is connected to the GPU through a 32-bit lane, creating the 128-bit datapath that is available. These chips can run up to 5 GHz. On this video card, they are accessed at 4.5 GHz, leaving an 11% margin for you to increase the memory clock still within specifications. Of course, you can always try to push the memory clock above its specs.

AMD Radeon HD 7770Figure 6: Memory chips

Before seeing the performance results, let’s recap the main features of this video card.

[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]

The main specifications for the AMD Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition reference model include:

  • Graphics chip: Radeon HD 7770 running at 1 GHz
  • Memory: 1 GB GDDR5 memory (128-bit interface) running at 4.5 GHz QDR (Hynix H5GQ2H24MFR-T2C chips)
  • Bus type: PCI Express 3.0 x16
  • Video Connectors: One DVI-D, one HDMI, and two mini DisplayPort
  • Video Capture (VIVO): No
  • Cables and adapters that come with this board: NA
  • Number of CDs/DVDs that come with this board: NA
  • Games included: NA
  • Programs included: NA
  • More information: https://www.amd.com
  • MSRP in the U.S.: USD 160.00

[nextpage title=”How We Tested”]

During our benchmarking sessions, we used the configuration listed below. Between our benchmarking sessions, the only variable was the video card being tested.

Hardware Configuration

Software Configuration

  • Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
  • Video resolution: 2560×1600 @ 60 Hz

Driver Versions

  • AMD video driver version (Radeon HD 6850): Catalyst 12.1
  • AMD video driver version (Radeon HD 7770): 8.923.2
  • NVIDIA video driver version: 285.62
  • Intel Inf driver version: 9.2.0.1030

Software Used

Error Margin

We adopted a 3% error margin. Thus, differences below 3% cannot be considered relevant. In other words, products with a performance difference below 3% should be considered as having similar performance.

[nextpage title=”StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty “]

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty is a very popular DirectX 9 game that was released in 2010. Though this game uses an old version of DirectX, the number of textures that can be represented on one screen can push most of the top-end graphics cards to their limits. StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty uses its own physics engine that is bound to the CPU and thus does not benefit from PhysX.

We tested this game at 1920×1200. The quality of the game was set to the “extreme” preset. We then used FRAPS to collect the frame rate of a replay on the “Unit Testing” custom map. We used a battle between very large armies to stress the video cards. 

Radeon HD 7770

Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty 1920×1200 Difference
GeForce GTX 460 1 GB 79.0 6.3%
Radeon HD 6850 76.8 3.4%
Radeon HD 7770 74.3
GeForce GTX 550 Ti 63.8 16.4%

[nextpage title=”Far Cry 2″]

Released in 2008, Far Cry 2 is based on a game engine called Dunia, which is DirectX 10. We used the benchmarking utility that comes with this game at 1920×1200, setting overall quality to “high,” adjusting anti-aliasing to “4x,” and running the “Ranch Long” demo three times. The results below are expressed in frames per second and are an arithmetic average of the three results collected.

Radeon HD 7770

FarCry 2 1920×1200 Difference
GeForce GTX 460 1 GB 57.8 8.5%
Radeon HD 6850 57.5 8.0%
Radeon HD 7770 53.3  
GeForce GTX 550 Ti 45.3 17.6%

[nextpage title=”Aliens vs. Predator”]

Aliens vs. Predator is a DirectX 11 game that makes full use of tessellation and advanced shadow rendering. We used the Aliens vs. Predator Benchmark Tool developed by Rebellion. This program reads its configuration from a text file. (Our configuration file can be found here.) We ran this program at 1920×1200, with texture set at “high,” shadows set at “low,” with anisotropic filtering and anti-aliasing disabled.

Radeon HD 7770

Aliens vs. Predator 1920×1200 Difference
Radeon HD 6850 40.3 19.2%
GeForce GTX 460 1 GB 38.6 14.2%
Radeon HD 7770 33.8  
GeForce GTX 550 Ti 27.3 23.8%

[nextpage title=”DiRT3″]

DiRT3 is a DirectX 11 game in which we measured the video cards’ performance by running a race and then playing it back using FRAPS. We ran this game at 1920×1200 with image quality set to “high” and with anti-aliasing disabled.

Radeon HD 7770

Dirt 3 1920×1200 Difference
GeForce GTX 460 1 GB 86.4 11.6%
Radeon HD 7770 77.4  
Radeon HD 6850 75.2 3.0%
GeForce GTX 550 Ti 67.5 14.7%

[nextpage title=”Deus Ex: Human Revolution”]

Deus Ex
: Human Revolution is another DirectX 11 game. We used the in-game introduction to measure the number of frames per second, using FRAPS. We ran the introduction at 1920×1200, configuring image quality settings at “very high” and with anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering disabled.

Radeon HD 7770

Deus Ex: Human Revolution 1920×1200 Difference
Radeon HD 7770 49.8  
Radeon HD 6850 48.0 3.7%
GeForce GTX 460 1 GB 46.3 7.5%
GeForce GTX 550 Ti 43.8 13.7%

[nextpage title=”Battlefield 3″]

Battlefield 3 is the latest installment in the Battlefield franchise released in 2011. It is based on the Frostbite 2 engine, which is DirectX 11. In order to measure performance using this game, we walked our way through the first half of the “Operation Swordbreaker” mission, measuring the number of frames per second using FRAPS. We ran this game at 1920×1200, configuring image quality settings at “high” and disabling anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering.

Radeon HD 7770

Battlefield 3 1920×1200 Difference
GeForce GTX 460 1 GB 53.0 2.2%
Radeon HD 7770 51.8  
Radeon HD 6850 50.8 2.0%
GeForce GTX 550 Ti 43.6 18.8%

[nextpage title=”3DMark 11 Professional”]

3DMark 11 Professional measures Shader 5.0 (i.e., DirectX 11) performance. We ran this program at 1920×1200, selecting the four graphics tests available and deselecting the other tests available. We used two image quality settings, “entry” and “performance,” both at their default settings. The results being compared are the “GPU Score” achieved by each video card.

Radeon HD 7770

3DMark 11 – Entry 1920×1200 Difference
GeForce GTX 460 1 GB

2214

18.5%
Radeon HD 6850

2098

12.3%
Radeon HD 7770

1869

 
GeForce GTX 550 Ti

1516

23.3%

Radeon HD 7770

3DMark 11 – Performance 1920×1200 Difference
GeForce GTX 460 1 GB

1845

13.7%
Radeon HD 6850

1792

10.4%
Radeon HD 7770

1623

 
GeForce GTX 550 Ti

1255

29.3%

[nextpage title=”Media Espresso 6.5″]

Media Espresso is a video conversion program that uses the graphics processing unit of the video card to speed up the conversion process. We converted a 449 MB, 1920x1080i, 18,884 kbps, MPEG2 video file to a smaller 640×360, H.264, .MPG4 file for viewing on a portable device such as an iPhone or iPod Touch. We also ran this test on our CPU (Core i5-2500K) in order to compare the difference in performance between a mainstream CPU and a mainstream GPU to transcode video.

Radeon HD 7770

Media Espresso 6.5 Seconds Difference
Radeon HD 7770

41

 
GeForce GTX 460 1 GB

46

10.9%
GeForce GTX 550 Ti

50

18.0%
Radeon HD 6850

52

21.2%
Core i5-2500K

67

38.8%

[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]

AMD is promoting the Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition as a competitor to the GeForce GTX 550 Ti. It really crushed this video card, being between 14% and 29% faster than it. But there is just a “small” problem: the GeForce GTX 550 Ti costs USD 130, while the Radeon HD 7770 GHz costs USD 160. At this price range, the Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition in reality competes with the Radeon HD 6850 and the GeForce GTX 460 with 1 GB video cards that proved to be superior. Let’s see.

The Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition was faster than the Radeon HD 6850 and the GeForce GTX 460 with 1 GB only at Deus Ex: Human Revolution (by 4% and 8%, respectively), being marginally faster than the Radeon HD 6850 on DiRT3. All video cards achieved the same performance level on Battlefield 3. On all the other games and simulations we ran, the other two video cards were faster. The Radeon HD 6850 was between 3% and 19% faster, while the GeForce GTX 460 with 1 GB was between 8% and 18% faster.

On Media Espresso, however, the Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition was substantially faster than its competitors, with an advantage of 12% over the GeForce GTX 460 with 1 GB and 27% over the Radeon HD 6850. It was also 63% faster than our Core i5-2500K for video transcoding. This shows that the new “GCN” architecture is really optimized for the processing of “regular” programs, as promised by AMD.

Analyzing gaming performance alone, we think that if you have around USD 150 to spend on a video card, you will be better off buying one of the “older” video cards.