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AMD Radeon HD 7770 & HD 7750 Review

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SKYMTL

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In their march towards a top to bottom 28nm lineup, it was only a matter of time until AMD dropped some products into lower price points. While many expected the next products to hit the market would be the Pitcairn-based HD 7800 series, that wasn’t meant to be (we’ll likely see those in a few weeks) and instead the mainstream HD 7700 cards are being introduced first. Initially this series will be broken into two separate cards: the HD 7770 and HD 7750,which will retail for between $109 and $159. Considering there’s been quite a bit of movement in this price range with the previous generation’s higher performance cards getting some noteworthy price cuts the HD 7700 series could be in for a tough fight.

Under the code name of Cape Verde, the HD 7700 series was developed to be the “graphics cards for everyone” and pick up where the popular HD 5770 and HD 5750 (now rebadged the HD 6770 and HD 6750 respectively) left off. Some may not have realized this but the HD 5770 remains one of the most used DX11 GPUs on the market.


The HD 7700-series leverages a scaled down version of AMD’s Graphics Core Next in order to deliver the best possible DX11 gaming environment. In it’s fully enabled form the Cape Verde core consists of a single Compute Engine with ten GCN compute units consisting of 64 Stream Processors each for a total of 640 SPs. With each compute unit also housing four texture units, a HD 7770 will have a total of 40 TMUs. These are paired up with a single 9th generation tessellator (down from the dual tessellators on higher end cards) and 512KB of L2 read / write cache.

Cape Verde Pro's core has a pair of Compute Engines disabled so it comes equipped with 512 cores and eight less texture units than its bigger brother.

The ROP layout remains identical to higher end cores but have once again they have been cut down. Instead of the eight Render Output Units Tahiti comes equipped with, Cape Verde only uses four, each of which has been outfitted with four ROPs. 16 ROPs may not seem like all that much but AMD has significantly increased their throughput when compared to the previous generation so benefits will certainly be seen in some situations.

In terms of memory support, AMD is going for a top to bottom GDDR5 lineup though this time the four modules will be working off of a 128-bit memory interface with a pair of 64-bit controllers. In theory this should allow for 2GB configurations as well but we highly doubt cards with that type of layout will be available at launch.


The HD 7770 and HD 7750’s feature set mirrors that of higher end products with full Eyefinity multi monitor support and AMD’s App Acceleration coming as standard additions. We’ve covered the benefits of these points in past articles but what should make these two cards stand out from the pack is their support for AMD’s extended UVD 3.0 standards. With truly next generation video decoding capabilities including Blu Ray 3D output and compatibility with the latest codec packages, these two cards could become favorites of the HTPC crowd.

Another item which makes a comeback here is ZeroCore Power which essentially shuts down the core during long idle scenarios, helping to conserve power and increase overall efficiency. PowerTune is also included on these cores to ensure that their power needs don’t exceed a certain preset value.


The HD 7700-series has been parachuted into a lineup that is packed with graphics cards all piggybacking off one another’s price points. With the HD 7770 and HD 7750 being released, AMD now has four products from current and previous generations all within a narrow bracket of just ~$50. The HD 6850 and HD 6790 along with the newest additions are all competing against one another, not to mention certain outsides like the HD 6870 and NVIDIA’s GTX 560 1GB (the non-Ti version) and GTX 550 Ti.

On paper, the HD 7770 is supposed to fill a gap in AMD’s lineup while opening up a new front in the war against NVIDIA. It may not go toe to toe against any present NVIDIA cards from a pricing standpoint (the average price for a GTX 550 Ti is currently $119), many will feel like the HD 5770’s spiritual successor has been born. In addition, the HD 7770 has the distinction of being the first reference based card to reach the 1GHz mark, a fact not lost on AMD’s PR team which has coined the term “GHZ Edition” for cards meeting or surpassing the gigahertz barrier.

The HD 7750 on the other hand is supposed to meet requirements that are a bit more modest in scope. It is meant to go head to head against the GTX 550 Ti while offering a step up from the HD 6770 which has a core that dates back to the Juniper days. At $109 is should offer some much needed value to the budget friendly mainstream consumers.


On one hand the GCN architecture’s built in pipeline refinements should allow it to hold an edge over similarly spec’d cores. In addition, the massive 1GHz operating frequency will surely count for something but the Barts Pro core has brute force and a similar price on its side. For gamers in particular this performance disparity may cause them to avoid AMD’s new cards for the time being.

This situation highlights the challenges posed by introducing products into certain lower end price point where older, lower priced GPUs have yet to run their course. As we mentioned before, the Cape Verde based cards will be competing against more powerful yet less efficient previous generation architectures and will likely face an uphill battle until past SKUs are discontinued.
 
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SKYMTL

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A Closer Look at the HD 7770 and HD 7750

A Closer Look at the HD 7770



With a centrally located and quiet running 92mm cooling fan and a relatively short 8.25” length, the HD 7770’s reference design looks like a spitting image of NVIDIA’s GTX 550 Ti. Of course the card is decked out in AMD’s signature black and red colour scheme but it should be noted that only a few board partners will be shipping this design to the retail channel. Sapphire, HIS, XFX, Gigabyte, MSI and ASUS will all be going down a different route with custom heatsink designs and some will likely be charging a premium as well.


Taking a tour around the HD 7770 we can see that it uses a relatively simple design without much in the way of additional cooling vents due to the small amount of heat output from its 28nm core. AMD has also kept Crossfire setups to two cards (versus the tri card capability of higher end products) by placing a single interconnect on this board’s side.


Efficiency is the name of the game here so this card only needs a single 6-pin connector even though its 80W of power consumption could in theory be fulfilled by the PCI-E slot. We’re guessing the extra power connector is in place to aid overclocking and ensure there’s enough overhead if the user chooses to increase PowerTune limits.

The backplate uses the same layout we’ve seen from every other HD 7000-series card with a single DVI connector along with two mini DisplayPort outputs and a single HDMI. This setup will allow a single HD 7770 to control up to six monitors in an Eyefinity group but some of AMD’s board partners won’t be shipping any adaptors with their boards. This means running just two DVI equipped monitors will be impossible unless additional dongles are purchased through a third party. Others will simply be including a mini DP to DP adaptor.


The PCB on the HD 7770 1GB is the usual reference black and is quite simple looking but doesn’t house any surprises. The heatsink covers a basic 3 + 1 phase power distribution setup and a mere four modules of GDDR5 memory.


The Radeon HD 7750 1GB



AMD’s HD 7750 is one small card with a length of just 6.7” or barely longer than a PCI-E x16 slot. There could be low profile versions released over the next few months but for the time being, most will stick to the reference PCB design.

Due to the low power needs of the HD 7750, AMD has been able to avoid the installation of a PCI-E power connector, instead allowing all of the power to come from the motherboard’s PCI-E slot. This bodes well for this card’s use in small form factor systems and other applications.


Unfortunately, while heat production may not be all that high, not one board partner we have talked to has expressed any confidence in the small reference heatsink and every one of them has elected to go the non-reference route. Some have even decided to release passive versions as well.


Output connectors have received a change as well with the dual mini DisplayPorts being replaced by a full sized single DP output alongside the usual HDMI and DVI ports. This still allows for up to six monitors if a DisplayPort hub is used but also ensures much broader out of box monitor / HDTV compatibility for lower end systems.
 
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SKYMTL

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MSI's HD 7770 OC & The XFX HD 7770 Black Edition DD

MSI HD 7770 OC



MSI’s OC Edition looks promising at first glance and we have high expectations for its cooling and overclocking potential but clock speeds are quite disappointing. While we’re used to seeing pre-overclocked cards hitting between 10 and 15 percent above reference spec, MSI has gone ahead with a pathetic 20MHz core overclock on top of the reference card’s 1GHz default speed while the memory clocks remain unchanged. This won’t make one bit of difference in our charts so if you are looking for how this card performs, look no further than the reference HD 7770.


With a pair of top mounted fans, large heatpipes and an end to end aluminum fin array, this card’s heatsink certainly looks impressive. It also causes the fan shroud to extend past the PCB’s edge, making the MSI HD 7770 8 ¾” long or about ½” more than the reference design.


The backplate on this card sticks to the reference design other than the inclusion of a branded grille area. MSI does however include a mini DisplayPort to Displayport adaptor so three active display outputs are possible provided your monitors support HDMI, DVI and DisplayPort.


XFX HD 7770 Black Edition S Double Dissipation



XFX’s HD 7000-series cards have all received custom treatment in one way or another and their HD 7770 doesn’t escape this fate. Along with four other versions, the Black Edition S Double Dissipation incorporates a specially engineered heatsink as well as some impressive clock speeds of 1120 / 5200. Since this is also part of XFX’s DD lineup, it receives their full Lifetime Warranty provided registration takes place within 30 days of purchase.


The Double Dissipation heatsink is quite extensive for such an efficient card though it doesn’t add to the HD 7770’s reference length of just over 8”. XFX has also equipped it with a small vapor chamber above the core along with a pair of 80mm intake fans.


Along with the logo stamped high airflow bracket, the Black Edition’s backplate sticks to the reference design but XFX has also included a single HDMI to DVI adaptor.
 
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SKYMTL

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PowerColor HD 7770 & HIS HD 7750 iCooler

PowerColor HD 7770 1GB



Simply put, the PowerColor card sent to us retained the reference design, right down to the heatsink installed over the core. It includes a single intake fan as well as a branded shroud that differs a bit from the standard glossy AMD colour scheme but is otherwise bone stock.


The only area in which PowerColor’s card differs from the reference design is their use of a red PCB. Otherwise, everything from output connectors (a mini DP to DP adaptor is included in the box) to fan choice is in line with AMD’s original specifications.


HIS HD 7750 iCooler



Like all of AMD’s board partners, HIS has decided to do away with the lackluster reference cooler and install their own cooling solution. In this case, it is nothing more than a single slot heatsink topped by a basic fan and a clamping system that tends to fall off if manipulated the wrong way.


Other than the “iCooler”, HIS sticks with the standard PCB, clock speeds and video outputs for this card. Don’t expect any adaptors either since the HD 7750 comes with full size HDMI, DisplayPort and DVI connectors.
 

SKYMTL

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Test System & Setup / Benchmark Sequences

Main Test System

Processor: Intel Core i7 920(ES) @ 4.0Ghz (Turbo Mode Enabled)
Memory: Corsair 3x2GB Dominator DDR3 1600Mhz
Motherboard: Gigabyte EX58-UD5
Cooling: CoolIT Boreas mTEC + Scythe Fan Controller
Disk Drive: Pioneer DVD Writer
Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB
Power Supply: Corsair AX1200
Monitor: Samsung 305T
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate N x64 SP1


Acoustical Test System

Processor: Intel 2500K @ stock
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws 8GB 1600MHz
Motherboard: Gigabyte EX58-UD5
Cooling: Thermalright TRUE Passive
SSD: Corsair Performance Pro 256GB
Power Supply: Seasonic X-Series Gold 800W


Drivers:
AMD Beta for HD 7700-series (8.932.2)
AMD 12.1 WHQL + CAP 11.12 CAP3
NVIDIA 285.62 WHQL

Application Benchmark Information:
Note: In all instances, in-game sequences were used. The videos of the benchmark sequences have been uploaded below.


Battlefield 3

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Crysis 2

<object width="560" height="315"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/Bc7_IAKmAsQ?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/Bc7_IAKmAsQ?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560" height="315" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>​


Deus Ex Human Revolution

<object width="560" height="315"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/GixMX3nK9l8?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/GixMX3nK9l8?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560" height="315" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>​


Dirt 3

<object width="560" height="315"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/g5FaVwmLzUw?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/g5FaVwmLzUw?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560" height="315" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>​


Metro 2033

<object width="480" height="360"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/8aZA5f8l-9E?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/8aZA5f8l-9E?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="480" height="360" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>​


Shogun 2: Total War

<object width="560" height="315"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/oDp29bJPCBQ?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/oDp29bJPCBQ?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560" height="315" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>​


Witcher 2 v2.0

<object width="560" height="315"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/tyCIuFtlSJU?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/tyCIuFtlSJU?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560" height="315" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>​


*Notes:

- All games tested have been patched to their latest version

- The OS has had all the latest hotfixes and updates installed

- All scores you see are the averages after 3 benchmark runs

All IQ settings were adjusted in-game and all GPU control panels were set to use application settings
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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3DMark 11 (DX11)

3DMark 11 (DX11)


3DMark 11 is the latest in a long line of synthetic benchmarking programs from the Futuremark Corporation. This is their first foray into the DX11 rendering field and the result is a program that incorporates all of the latest techniques into a stunning display of imagery. Tessellation, depth of field, HDR, OpenCL physics and many others are on display here. In the benchmarks below we have included the results (at default settings) for both the Performance and Extreme presets.

Entry Preset



Performance Preset

 

SKYMTL

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Battlefield 3 (DX11)

Battlefield 3 (DX11)


For this benchmark, we used a sequence from the Rock and Hard Place mission. The results may seem lower than normal and this is due to the fact that after playing through the game multiple times, this one are was found to be the most demanding on the GPU. As with all of the tests, we try to find a worst case scenario in order to ensure a given card can properly play through the whole game instead of just a “typical” section.

1600 x 900





1920 x 1080



 

SKYMTL

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Crysis 2 (DX11)

Crysis 2 (DX11)


Crysis 2 with the DX11 and Texture Package installed not only looks great but it is a strain on any GPU. For this benchmark, we used a classic runthrough which includes far views, explosions, combat and close-in knifing; basically every hallmark of gameplay.

1600 x 900



1920 x 1080

 

SKYMTL

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Deus Ex: Human Revolution (DX11)

Deus Ex: Human Revolution (DX11)


Deus Ex: Human Revolution may not be the hardest game for today’s high end gaming rigs to render. While the game mostly takes place indoors, it is the few outdoor areas that put additional strain on graphics cards. So for this test, we use one of the more involved outdoor sections: the Sharif Manufacturing Loading Docks.

1600 x 900





1920 x 1080



 

SKYMTL

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12,857
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Dirt 3 (DX11)

Dirt 3 (DX11)


Dirt 3 isn’t all that much different from its predecessor but the developers have added a few more visual touches but boost image quality. In this case, we used the Michigan Rally track since it features some of the hardest to render features of the game: expansive vistas, water, dirt effects, trees and many other items.

1600 x 900





1920 x 1080



 
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