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ATI Radeon HD 4770 512MB GDDR5 Review

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Conclusion

Conclusion


This whole conclusion can be summed up in a few simple words: ATI has a winner on their hands. While I will go on in my usual long-winded ways through the rest of the conclusion, that is all you really have to know if you skipped to the end of this review.

Not only was the HD 4770 able to live up to nearly all of our somewhat lofty expectations but it exceeded them on so many levels. We all remember people laughing at the HD 2900 XT and snickered at the HD 3870 but you won’t hear anything but distant catcalls from Nvidia’s faithful after this launch. Everything from performance per watt ratio to its surprisingly capable heatsink contributes to make the HD 4770 the king of the hill in the $100 to $130 price category.

ATI is now stuck in an envious position; they have a card that nearly competes with the HD 4850 but it retails for significantly less which will make the HD 4770 ultra popular. On the other hand, through careful price cuts, ATI has reduced the price of the HD 4830 to below the $99USD / $120CAD price point which means the card that once competed with the 9800 GT is now retailing for $30-$40 less than the closest competing Nvidia solution. Could the HD 4770 conceivably replace both the HD 4850 and the HD 4830? While it will push both current cards into lower price ranges, judging from the performance differences between the HD 4770 and the HD 4850, we can predict the HD 4870’s little brother will be with us for some time to come.

What about Nvidia? What will they do? With the HD 4770 on the market, Nvidia could be in a load of trouble without some quick thinking on their part. The one competitor they have to the HD 4770 is not the 9800 GT or even overclocked versions thereof but rather the 9800 GTX+ otherwise known as the GTS 250. With a significant price cut it could become competitive in the price / performance category but the real question mark lies with the 9800 GT. As it stands, the 9800 GT gets manhandled by the HD 4770 in many tests and yet the ATI card will be retailing for a good $30 less (not including rebates). This all means that without some lower prices in their mid-tier offerings, Nvidia will be facing extremely strong competition at every single pricing tier. Indeed they can pimp PhysX and CUDA all they want but when push comes to shove, ATI’s mid-range offerings give a hell of a lot more gaming muscle for your hard earned buck.

Having the bragging rights to the first 40nm GPU doesn’t mean squat if the end user won’t benefit from it. As it stands, the HD 4770 we received boasts an undeniably oversized heatsink which takes up two slots and which should be completely unnecessary. We have all heard the rumors of the 40nm manufacturing process suffering from a fair amount leakage and the large heatsink on this card does seem to lend some validity to the whispers to people who read alot into such things. On the other hand, power consumption was all around quite good other than a small warning sign in higher than expected idle numbers and the heatsink really did work quite well. Conspiracy theories aside, it could be this is simply a case of a manufacturer finally offering us a proper heatsink on a mid-range part.

We also have to mention that this is a temperamental little card; at some times it challenges the HD 4850 but at others it can barely match the HD 4830’s performance. The issue is that some games seem to benefit more from higher memory clock speeds (Far Cry 2 DX10) while others like Left 4 Dead need pure rendering power, especially when AA is enabled. Take this as you will but while the HD 4770 is a great all-purpose mid-range gaming card, it shows its weaknesses in certain combinations of resolutions and IQ settings.

ATI has sure hit the nail on the head with the HD 4770 by delivering exactly what the current market needs: a high performance card that costs less than a hundred bucks. However, what they now need to do is follow up on the rave reviews with actual stock in the channel and a massive marketing push. Without those two things the HD 4770 may only be remembered as a footnote in the history of discreet graphics cards.


Pros:

- Excellent performance
- Quiet
- Efficient at load
- Great heatsink


Cons:

- Lack of brute power shows in some cases
- Higher than expected idle power consumption


Unfortunately, this review was done without support from ATI (drivers and otherwise). As such, we would like to thank whoever it was that anonymously sent us this card; without you, our readers would have gone without an article on launch day.

http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/video-cards/17353-hd-4770-review-comment-thread.html
 
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