AMD Radeon HD 4770

Cheap price, low power, and an enjoyable gameplay experience, all of this is possible in AMD’s new Radeon HD 4770 launching today. We will take the HD 4770 for a spin in six games and compare it to a NVIDIA GeForce GTS 250. You’ll be surprised at the level of gameplay possible for around $100 these days.

Introduction

As gamers we all want fast video cards. Fast video cards give us the performance in demanding games that allows an enjoyable gameplay experience. Typically, in this video card market, you get what you pay for. Higher priced cards are faster, and the fastest of the bunch can take you near $1000 when configuring a multiple-GPU setup. When it comes down to it, not everyone can afford these high priced video cards, and both AMD and NVIDIA know this. The real money is made in the mainstream and low-priced OEM realm.

AMDآ’s strategy and product-lineup for the Radeon HD 4000 series shocked the press when it was announced, they decided to put their main focus on this mainstream segment and build a highly scalable GPU. This was different because they did not initially target the very high-end enthusiast crowd at launch. Instead they made a GPU that would be able to scale down to sub-$99 price points as well as scale up to $400+ price points. Though their strategy worried us at first we can say that AMD has succeeded in making these goals possible, and todayآ’s launch really proves the flexibility of this GPU.

AMD started with the HD 4850 and HD 4870. Later they scaled this upwards to 1GB versions and the fastest of their lot, the 4870 X2 with two 4870 GPUs on a single PCB. Recently AMD has pushed this GPU series further with the launch of the Radeon HD 4890 making it the first GPU to reach 1GHz easily. The performance and gameplay experience provided by the Radeon HD 4890 is very impressive for the price point. AMD is once again taking this GPU series, based on the latest technology, but this time going in the other direction and scaling it all the way down to near $100. Donآ’t let this price point trick you though, you are getting a lot more performance at $100 than ever before in the history of graphics cards.

At this price point NVIDIA also has some competition for the Radeon HD 4770 in the form of the GeForce GTS 250, which is a re-branded GeForce 9800 GTX+ (they share the exact same specifications.) The cheapest GeForce GTS 250 currently available is $109.99 with rebate, which matches up exactly with the price point of AMDآ’s new Radeon HD 4770.

The Radeon HD 4770 is targeting around a $109 price point, but AMD tells us rebates should be available that will make this card $99, or possibly less. Since we count rebates here, if they are available, that means that the Radeon HD 4770 might be slightly cheaper than the GTS 250 in the real-world. Time will tell on that front.

Radeon HD 4770 GPU

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So what is the Radeon HD 4770 then? Like we said, it is based on Radeon HD 4000 series technology, so it has all the latest bells and whistles. You will find DirectX 10.1 support, UVD 2.0 video engine, GDDR5, and the first GPU to be manufactured to consumers at 40nm. The Radeon HD 4770 is a dual-slot video card that consumes about 80W of power, though we found through testing that number reported is high, actual power utilization is lower.

40nm gives us lower power, lower heat and packs a whole lot of transistors into a small place. There are 826 million transistors present, which is less than the Radeon HD 4850 but more than the Radeon HD 4670. The engine clock runs at 750MHz and there are 640 stream processors. The Radeon HD 4850, 4870 and 4890 have 800 stream processors for comparison. There are 32 texture units, down from the 4850 and 4870, but there are 16 ROPs, the same as the 4850 and 4870.

The memory is where it gets interesting. AMD is using fast clocked GDDR5, but on a 128-bit memory bus to reduce board costs. By using GDDR5 though they can make up some of the bandwidth shortcomings of a 128-bit bus by using high frequency memory chips. At 800MHz (3.2GHz GDDR5) the Radeon HD 4770 is capable of 51.2GB/sec of memory bandwidth; the HD 4850 is capable of 64GB/sec, so it isnآ’t too far off in that department. For comparison, the GeForce GTS 250 has 70GB/sec of memory bandwidth.

In the fourth slide, AMD is proud to show that they are introducing new technology near the $100 price point, rather than re-branding older GPUs. Finally, in the final slide we see where the Radeon HD 4770 is meant to slide into. It fits in-between the HD 4830 and HD 4850.

Radeon HD 4770 Pictures

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The very first aspect of the video card we picked up on was literally when we picked the video card up and held it in our hands. It physically is very light in weight, despite the beefy heatsink with heatpipes.

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It is also very short, one of the shortest video cards we have evaluated in a while. It measures in at 8.25آ” in length, compared to 9.5آ” for the GeForce GTS 250. The GeForce GTS 250, shown above, is a Sparkle GTS 250 with a custom cooler we are using in this evaluation.

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Since this is a low power video card it only requires one 6-pin auxiliary power connector. The GeForce GTS 250 also uses one 6-pin power connector, however the Sparkle model we are using for evaluation uses 2x 6-pin power connectors.

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Air is pulled in through the fan and exhausted out the back of the video card. There is a heatsink directly over the GPU and heatpipes that transfer heat from the block to the outer part of the heatsink. In operation these heatpipes get very hot. In the last picture, that area around the CrossFire connectors gets extremely hot and was the hottest part of the video card when we were testing it. That bracket that goes along the top heats up and it is toward the end with the CrossFire connectors where it peaked in temperature. We have temperature testing later in this evaluation.

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Installed in our system the video card takes up little room and is very uncluttered with only one power connector required.