GIGABYTE HD6770 Silent Cell CFX Video Card Review

Today we'll find out if two of GIGABYTE's HD6770 Silent Cell cards can match the performance of a Radeon HD 6950. We were impressed with how this no-fan silent configuration CrossFireX setup performed. However, is it worth $280 against the falling prices of the Radeon HD 6950?

Introduction

Gigabyte is a hardware manufacturer and one of the most respected PC component builders in the business today. The company was established in 1986 in Taipei, Taiwan, and is best known for its motherboards. Gigabyte has a vast product line, including motherboards, graphics cards, notebooks, LCDs, mobile devices, tablet computers, computer cases, and many other PC peripherals.

On our test bench today are two of GIGABYTE's HD6770 Silent Cell cards sporting GIGABYTE's Silent Cell cooling system that includes no fans, just one huge heat sink. It is currently the only silent solution for an HD 6770 on the market. We want to know if two off these in a CrossFireX setup can be a silent solution to a Radeon HD 6950. We will also see how they do against a Radeon HD 6950 and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570 which are both in the comparable price range. This is the most powerful silent CrossFireX solution possible.

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AMD Radeon HD 6770

The AMD Radeon HD 6770 is based on the same hardware as the ATI Radeon HD 5700 series. The only real difference between the HD 6700 and HD 5700 series is the sticker on the cards and a few BIOS changes that were made after AMD integrated the ATI brand name.

The Radeon HD 6770 is comprised of 1.04 billion transistors, providing 800 streaming processors, 40 texture units, 16 color rasterizers, and 64 Z/Stencil ROPs. It boast 1.36 TFLOPS of computer power on the GPU, texture fill rate of 34.0 Gigatexels per second, and a pixel fill rate of 13.6 Gigatexels per second. The HD 6770 has 1024MB of GDDR5 memory clocked at 1200MHz (or 4.8GHz DDR) on a 128-bit bus. Its memory bus boasts a maximum theoretical throughput of 76.8 Gbps. There are three output ports, including one DVI port, one DisplayPort, and one HDMI port.


GIGABYTE HD6770 Silent Cell

The GIGABYTE HD6770 Silent Cell card features many of GIGABYTE's trademark features. These include their Ultra Durable VGA components. On board you will find Japanese Solid Capacitors, Tier 1 Samsung/Hynix memory, and Ferrite Core chokes. GIGABYTE claims these will increase overclocking ability by 10%-30%. The Ultra Durable VGA components also reduce power switching loss by 10%-30%, and reduce GPU core temperatures by 5%-10%. GIGABYTE Also built the card from the ground up on their custom 2oz Copper PCB. Double the copper than runs through a normal graphics PCB, which helps spread heat evenly across the card. You can read more about GIGABYTE's Ultra Durable VGA components here.

The most interesting, and unique part of this particular HD 6770, is the Silent Cell cooling system from GIGABYTE. When we first took this card out of the box we were surprised with how light the card was with such a huge heat sink. The reason being, the heat sink is made Ultra-thin layered Aluminum fins with an extremely large surface area. This particular card has four high performance heat pipes that spread to four areas on the heat sink. Directly contacting the GPU is a copper base, that also has four thermal heat pads that sit on top of the memory. The full idea behind the Silent Cell cooling system involves case fans which help move heat out of the case. You can read more about Silent Cell cooling here.

One GIGABYTE HD6770 Silent Cell card is currently going on Newegg for $138.99, putting the cost of two of these at $278. Newegg has 2-day free shipping available. This video card has a 3 year limited parts and labor warranty and a copy of DiRT 3.

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The front of the box has a cutout window with a clear piece of plastic over it so you can see the card inside. There is a second, thicker clear piece of plastic inside the box that helps keep the card safe from damage. The front also talks about the Ultra Durable VGA components, and mentions the 3 year warranty. The back of the box gets more detailed talking about each individual Ultra Durable VGA component. It also talks about the Silent Cell cooling, with a picture of the case and airflow intended for this card.

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The card did not come wrapped in an antistatic bag like we have grown accustomed to. One of the cards also came loose of its packaging during shipping. There was no damage done to it, because the foam packaging inside would not let it move too much, but it would bounce around some if you shook it. The accessory bundle with one 6-pin PCI-E to dual-Molex connector and a CrossFireX bridge. The soft bundle came with a multi language user manual/installation guide, and a driver installation disk.

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As you can see, most of the card is covered in an enormous heat sink. As we mentioned above the heat sink is compromised of several Aluminum fins with a large surface area for heat to spread to. We took the heat sink off by removing the four mounting screws on the back of the card. There are four thermal heat pads that sit on top of the memory. The thermal paste in the middle of the copper base sits on the GPU.

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The only annoying thing that we dealt with on this card was plugging in and removing the 6-pin PCI-E power connector. It is in an extremely difficult spot to get to and the sharp aluminum blades made it a bit painful to get in and out. Dimensions of the card are 10.75 inches in Length, 6.25 in Height, and 1.5 inches in Width.


The Competition

Right now Newegg has the GIGABYTE HD6770 Silent Cell available for $138.99. The total cost of two of these would be $278. We want to find out how it will compete against a Radeon HD 6950, which can be had for as low as $244.99 after MIR, while most HD 6950's range between $240 and $280. Also in this price range is NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 570 which can be had for as low as $289.99 after MIR, while most of the GTX 570 market ranges between $330 and $370.

It is worth noting here that the Radeon HD 6950 has 2048MB (2GB) of memory on-board, while the GeForce GTX 570 has 1280MB (1.25GB). Each of the GIGABYTE HD6770 Silent Cell video cards have 1024MB (1GB). Remember that in a CrossFireX configuration, the video memory of each card contains copied data. This means the 2GB present in our GIGABYTE HD6770 Silent Cell CFX can only be effectively utilized as 1GB.


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