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AMD Radeon HD 7770 and 7750 GPU Reviews
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Date: Feb 15, 2012
Section:Graphics/Sound
Author: Marco Chiappetta
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Introduction and Related Information

By now you should all know the drill. A big GPU manufacturer releases a new high-end GPU, based on a new or updated architecture. Then over the course of the next few months, the company continually fleshes out its product stack until a top-to-bottom line-up of new graphics cards emerges, at a wide range of price points, all based on the same architecture.

If you’ve been paying attention as of late, you’ve probably noticed that AMD recently released a couple of high-end graphics cards—the Radeon HD 7970 and 7950—based on the GPU codenamed “Tahiti”, which sports an entirely new architecture, dubbed Graphics Core Next, or GCN. With the launch of the Radeon HD 7900 series set forth, what we have on tap for you today should come as no surprise. AMD’s current high-end products are based on a new architecture, so it’s time to flesh out the rest of the product stack with some new stuff, of course.

AMD is launching two more Radeon HD 7000 series products today, the Radeon HD 7770 and 7750, but unlike the 7970 and 7950, these two new cards are based on a fresh GPU codenamed “Cape Verde”. Cape Verde has essentially the same feature set as the more powerful Tahiti, but is pared down to target a totally different market segment, and be more affordable and power friendly too.


The AMD Radeon HD 7770

AMD Radeon HD 7700 Series
Specifications & Features


The main features and specifications of the new Radeon HD 7770 and Radeon HD 7750 being released today are outlined in the chart above. We’ll dive into the specifications and take a close look at each card on the next page, but for now the Typical Board Power spec provides a large enough hint to figure out that these cards do not target performance enthusiasts.


The AMD Radeon HD 7750

With typical board powers of 55 watts (Radeon HD 7750) and 80 watts (Radeon HD 7770), or approximately 4x to 5x lower than the Radeon HD 7900 series cards, it should be clear that these first two members of the Radeon HD 7700 series are targeted at mainstream users or casual gamers looking to upgrade from integrated graphics or an older, previous-generation entry-level graphics card.

The Cape Verde GPU powering the Radeon HD 7770 and 7750 cards, however, is fairly potent given its position in the Radeon HD 7000 series. It does not target the “sweet” spot of the market though; the GPU codenamed Pitcairn, which will power the Radeon HD 7800 series has that distinction. But if you’ve got the need for an affordable graphics card, with a bleeding edge feature set, and just enough oomph for some casual gaming, read on and check out the Radeon HD 7700s.

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Specifications and the Cards

As we’ve mentioned, the Cape Verde GPU powering the Radeon HD 7700 series cards is based on the Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture and has the same feature set as its higher-end counterpart found on the Radeon HD 7900 series.


AMD Cape Verde GPU Features

Like Tahiti, Cape Verde is comprised of roughly 1.5 billion transistors and is manufactured using TSMC’s advanced 28nm process node. The Cape Verde GPU, however, is outfitted with a maximum of 640 stream processors (to Tahiti’s 2,048) arranged in 10 compute units with 64 stream processors each. Cape Verde also sports 512KB of L2 R/W cache, 16 ROPs, 40 texture units, and a 128-bit GDDR5 memory interface. According to AMD, the die size of the chip is a relatively small 123 square millimeters.

Although Cape Verde is pared down to target more mainstream market segments, it doesn’t skimp on any features. With fewer stream processors, ROPs, and texture units, and a narrower memory interface, performance will be lower than Tahiti, but its features remain unchanged as you can see in the feature comparison above.



           
AMD Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition

The card you see here is the Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition. The Radeon HD 7770 is outfitted with a Cape Verde GPU with all of its functional units intact and enabled. As the full name of this card suggests, the Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition’s GPU is clocked at a cool 1GHz—a first for a reference GPU from AMD. With a 1GHz Cape Verde GPU paired to 1GB of GDDR5 memory clocked at 1.25GHz (4.5Gbps data rate), the Radeon HD 7770 offers up 1.28 TFLOPS of compute performance, with a texture fillrate of 40GT/s, a pixel fillrate of 16 GP/s, and peak memory bandwidth of 72GB/s.

The card is outfitted with a dual-slot cooler, but a relatively short 8.25” PCB. With only an 80W TDP, the Radeon HD 7770 requires only a single 6-pin PCI Express power feed, and its outputs consist of a single HDMI output, two mini-DisplayPort 1.2 outputs, and one Dual-Link DVI output.



                         
AMD Radeon HD 7750

The Radeon HD 7750 has the same output configuration as the Radeon HD 7770, but its Cape Verde GPU is pared down somewhat. The GPU at the heart of the Radeon HD 7750 has one of its compute units disabled, so “only” 512 stream processors and 32 texture units are enabled. The GPU is also clocked lower at 800MHz. The Radeon HD 7750’s differences result in 819 GFLOPS (giga vs. tera) of compute performance, with peak texture and pixel fillrates of 25.6 GT/s and 12.8 GP/s, respectively. The card’s memory, however, is clocked at the very same 1.25GHz as the Radeon HD 7770, so memory bandwidth remains unchanged.

With its pared-down, lower clocked, GPU, the Radeon HD 7750 requires less power than the Radeon HD 7770—55w vs. 80w. As such, the Radeon HD 7750 does not require and additional power feeds. The standard 75 Watt power budget provided by a PEG slot is more than enough. The Radeon HD 7750 also has a much shorter 7” PCB and a single-slot cooler design.
 

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Test System and Unigine Heaven v2.5

How We Configured Our Test Systems: We tested the graphics cards in this article on an Asus P9X79 Deluxe motherboard powered by a Core i7-3960X six-core processor and 16GB of G.SKILL DDR3-1600 RAM. The first thing we did when configuring the test system was enter the system UEFI and set all values to their "optimized" or "high performance" default settings and disabled any integrated peripherals that wouldn't be put to use. The hard drive was then formatted and Windows 7 Ultimate x64 was installed. When the installation was complete we fully updated the OS and installed the latest DirectX redist, along with the necessary drivers, games, and benchmark applications.

HotHardware's Test System
Intel Core i7 Powered

Hardware Used:
Intel Core i7-3960X
(3.3GHz, Six-Core)
Asus P9X79 Deluxe
(Intel X79 Express)

Radeon HD 7770
Radeon HD 7750
Radeon HD 6670
Radeon HD 6790
GeForce GTX 560 Ti
GeForce GTX 550 Ti

16GB OCZ DDR3-1600
Western Digital Raptor 150GB
Integrated Audio
Integrated Network

Relevant Software:
Windows 7 Ultimate x64
DirectX April 2011 Redist
ATI Catalyst v12.2b
NVIDIA GeForce Drivers 290.53

Benchmarks Used:

Unigine Heaven v2.5
3DMark 11
Batman: Arkham City
Just Cause 2
Alien vs. Predator
Metro 2033
Lost Planet 2
Dirt 3

Unigine Heaven v2.5 Benchmark
Pseudo-DirectX 11 Gaming


Unigine Heaven

Unigine's Heaven Benchmark v2.5 is built around the Unigine game engine. Unigine is a cross-platform, real-time 3D engine, with support for DirectX 9, DirectX 10, DirectX 11 and OpenGL. The Heaven benchmark--when run in DX11 mode--also makes comprehensive use of tessellation technology and advanced SSAO (screen-space ambient occlusion) It also features volumetric cumulonimbus clouds generated by a physically accurate algorithm and a dynamic sky with light scattering.


The new Radeon HD 7700 series cards offered middling performance in the Unigine Heaven benchmark. The Radeon HD 7770 has no trouble besting the Radeon HD 6790 and GeForce GTX 550 Ti, but trails the GeForce GTX 560. The lower-priced Radeon HD 7750, however, trailed all of the other cards, with the exception of the previous-gen Radeon HD 6670.
 

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3DMark 11 Performance

Futuremark 3DMark11
Synthetic DirectX Gaming


Futuremark 3DMark11

The latest version of Futuremark's synthetic 3D gaming benchmark, 3DMark11, is specifically bound to Windows Vista and WIndows 7-based systems due to its DirectX 11 requirement, which isn't available on previous versions of Windows. 3DMark11 isn't simply a port of 3DMark Vantage to DirectX 11, though. With this latest version of the benchmark, Futuremark has incorporated four new graphics tests, a physics tests, and a new combined test. We tested the graphics cards here with 3DMark11's Performance preset option, which uses a resolution of 1280x720 (720p).

3DMark11 tells essentially the same story as the Unigine Heaven benchmark from the previous page. The new Radeon HD 7770's performance fell somewhere in between the GeForce GTX 560 and GTX 550, while the lower-end Radeon HD 7750 trailed the pack, with the exception of the Radeon HD 6670.
 

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Lost Planet 2 Performance

Lost Planet 2
DirectX 11 Gaming Performance


Lost Planet 2

A follow-up to Capcom’s Lost Planet : Extreme Condition, Lost Planet 2 is a third person shooter that takes place again on E.D.N. III ten years after the story line of the first title. We ran the game’s DX11 mode which makes heavy use of DX11 Tessellation and Displacement mapping and soft shadows. There are also areas of the game that make use of DX11 DirectCompute for things like wave simulation in areas with water. This is one game engine that looks significantly different in DX11 mode when you compare certain environmental elements and character rendering in its DX9 mode versus DX11. We used the Test B option built into the benchmark tool and with all graphics options set to their High Quality values.

The trend we've seen to this point continues in the Lost Planet 2 benchmark. In this test, the Radeon HD 7770's performance once again falls somewhere in between the GeForce GTX 560 and 550. The Radeon HD 7750, however, offered performance about on par with the Radeon HD 6790, but behind the GeForce GTX 550.
 

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Just Cause 2 Performance

Just Cause 2
DX10.1 Gaming Performance


Just Cause 2

Just Cause 2 was released in March '10, from developers Avalanche Studios and Eidos Interactive. The game makes use of the Avalanche Engine 2.0, an updated version of the similarly named original. It is set on the fictional island of Panau in southeast Asia, and you play the role of Rico Rodriquez. We benchmarked the graphics cards in this article using one of the built-in demo runs called Desert Sunrise. The test results shown here were run at various resolutions and settings. This game also supports a few CUDA-enabled features, but they were left disabled to keep the playing field level.

The GeForce GTX 560 offered significantly better performance than the new Radeon HD 7700 series cards in the Just Cause 2 benchmark, but the same trend we've seen in the previous tests played out once again.
 

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Batman: Arkham City Performance

Batman: Arkham City
DirectX Gaming Performance


Batman: Arkham City

Batman: Arkham City is a sequel to 2009’s Game of the Year winning Batman: Arkham Asylum. This recently released sequel, however, lives up to and even surpasses the original. The story takes place 18 months after the original game. Quincy Sharp, the onetime administrator of Arkham Asylum, has become mayor and convinced Gotham to create "Arkham City" by walling off the worst, most crime-ridden areas of the city and turning the area into a giant open-air prison. The game has DirectX 9 and 11 rendering paths, with support for tessellation, multi-view soft shadows, and ambient occlusion. We tested in DX11 mode with all in-game graphical options set to their maximum values, at various resolutions.

Batman: Arkham City proved to be somewhat of a strong point for the new Radeon HD 7700 series cards. In this test, the Radeon HD 7770 still trailed the GeForce GTX 560, but the delta wasn't very big. The Radeon HD 7750, however, was able to pull ahead of the GeForce GTX 550 for the first time and almost hit the mark set by the Radeon HD 6790.
 

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Metro 2033 Performance

Metro 2033
DirecX11 Gaming Performance


Metro 2033

Metro 2033 is your basic post-apocalyptic first person shooter game with a few rather unconventional twists. Unlike most FPS titles, there is no health meter to measure your level of ailment, but rather you’re left to deal with life, or lack there-of more akin to the real world with blood spatter on your visor and your heart rate and respiration level as indicators. The game is loosely based on a novel by Russian Author Dmitry Glukhovsky. Metro 2003 boasts some of the best 3D visuals on the PC platform currently including a DX11 rendering mode that makes use of advanced depth of field effects and character model tessellation for increased realism. This title also supports NVIDIA PhysX technology for impressive in-game physics effects. We tested the game resolutions of 1920x1200 and 1680x1050 with adaptive anti-aliasing and in-game image quality options set to their High Quality mode, with DOF effects disabled.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the performance trend we've seen up to this point continued in the Metro 2033 benchmark. The Radeon HD 7770 trailed the GeForce GTX 560, but outpaced the GeForce GTX 550, while the Radeon HD 7750 trailed everything but the Radeon HD 6670.
 

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Dirt 3 Performance

Dirt 3
DirectX 11 Gaming Performance


Dirt 3

Dirt 3 is the latest in a string of great racing games from Codemasters. Like is predecessor, 2009's Dirt 2, this game sports impressive visuals with DX11 support. “Ultra” settings for shadow effects, tessellation, and post processing elements, like depth of field, then become available to the gamer, and in turn, crank up the workload on the graphics subsystem. The game engine also makes use of multi-core processors for higher performance on top-end systems. We tested the game configured with its Ultra graphics options with 4X anti-aliasing at resolutions with of 1920x1200 and 1680x1050.

We saw more of the same in the Dirt 3 benchmark. Once again the Radeon HD 7770's performance fell somewhere in between the GeForce GTX 560 and GTX 550, while the Radeon HD 7750 trailed all but the last-gen Radeon HD 6670.
 

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Alien vs. Predator Performance

Alien vs. Predator
DirectX 11 Gaming Performance


Alien vs. Predator

The Alien vs. Predator benchmark makes use of the advanced Tessellation, screen space ambient occlusion and high-quality shadow features, available with DirectX 11. In addition to enabling all of the aforementioned DirectX 11 related features offered by this benchmark, we also switched on 4X anti-aliasing along with 16X anisotropic filtering to more heavily tax the graphics cards being tested.

Our final benchmark doesn't tell us anything new. The performance trend we've seen throughout testing plays out again the the Alien vs. Predator benchmark.
 

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Total System Power Consumption

Before bringing this article to a close, we'd like to cover a few final data points--namely power consumption and noise. Throughout all of our benchmarking and testing, we monitored acoustics and tracked how much power our test system was consuming using a power meter. Our goal was to give you an idea as to how much power each configuration used while idling and while under a heavy workload. Please keep in mind that we were testing total system power consumption at the outlet here, not just the power drawn by the graphics cards alone.

Total System Power Consumption
Tested at the Outlet

The new Radeon HD 7700 series cards are very power friendly, at idle (sitting at the Windows desktop), the cards consumed least amount of power of the bunch. While under load, the cards also consumed less power than every other card we tested, save for the much slower Radeon HD 6670.

With their relatively low power consumption characteristics, it should come as no surprise that the Radeon HD 7770 and 7750 put out minimal heat and are quiet as well. Somewhat surprisingly, the Radeon HD 7770 seemed to be quieter in our tested, most likely due to its larger heatsink and dual-slot cooler design. The low-profile fan on the Radeon HD 7750, while not loud by any means, produced an audible whir that was somewhat higher pitched than the Radeon HD 7770's.

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Our Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: We saw a distinct, near constant performance trend throughout all of our testing with the Radeon HD 7700 series cards. The Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition offered good performance in all of our tests that was typically higher than the previous-generation Radeon HD 6790. The Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition was also faster than the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 550 Ti, but it trailed the GeForce GTX 560, sometimes by a fairly large margin.

The Radeon HD 7750’s performance was also good considering its lower-price and more modest specifications, but its performance was typically lower than the GeForce GTX 550 Ti’s. It did, however, clearly outpace the previous-generation Radeon HD 6670.


The AMD Radeon HD 7750 (left) and 7770 GHz Edition (right)

AMD’s suggested pricing for the Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition will start at $159, while the Radeon HD 7750’s will be priced as low as $109. Both should be available immediately. All things considered, those prices are not bad, but as was the case with the Radeon HD 7900 series, we wish AMD was a bit more aggressive. As of today, the GeForce GTX 550 Ti can be had for about $115 to $130 (or lower if you factor in mail in rebates). Also, NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 560 can be found for about $169 to 189. Technically speaking, looking back at the performance, AMD has priced the Radeon HD 7700 series just right—the Radeon HD 7750 is slightly cheaper than the GeForce GTX 550 Ti and the Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition is somewhat more affordable than the GTX 560. But as the numbers have shown, for a relatively small additional investment, the GeForce GTX 560 offers much more performance than the Radeon HD 7770. Although it wasn’t a clean sweep, generally speaking, the GeForce GTX 550 Ti offers more performance than the 7750 for few extra bucks as well.

There are other factors to consider beyond price / performance though. The Radeon HD 7700 series cards have more flexible output configurations with Eyefinity support, PCIe 3.0 support, discrete digital multi-point audio, and the cards consume less power too. All told, the Radeon HD 7700 series cards look solid at their respective price points and are certainly worthy of consideration if you’re in the market for an affordable GPU.

  • Low Power Consumption
  • Cool and Quiet
  • Graphics Core Next
  • Affordable

  • We Wish Pricing Was More Aggressive
  • Much More Performance Available For a Few More Bucks



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