Diamond HD 4770 Review

Silverfox tacohunter52 - 2009-04-26 14:38:12 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: Silverfox   tacohunter52   
Reviewed on: May 4, 2009
Price: $129.99

Introduction:

When someone tells you a new video card is being released, what do you think of? If you're anything like me, you'll think of some new and improved technology that blows all older cards away. From what we've seen from ATI, this doesn't have to be the case. It can be perfectly respectable to release a lower-end card for budget users, and because ATI figured this out, they are practically killing this market. Today I'll be looking at ATI's new HD 4770, which will be competing against the Nvidia GTS 250/9800GTX+. So what's so special about this card? Well, for one thing, it's using a 40nm process; this means lower power requirements and less heat...hopefully!!!

Not only is the 4770 a 40nm GPU, it is the first GPU to be built on a 40nm process. So for all you ATI fanboys out there, this should give you some fuel to throw at your Nvidia nemesis's until Nvidia releases its new 40nm beasts. As expected with all die shrinks, the HD 4770 is a much smaller card than the 4870. This can be both good and bad: good, if you've got a small case and a tight budget; bad, if you want to show off that you've got the biggest beast of a video card currently on the market. I personally think that this is a good thing, because the 4770 is a single slot card. In my opinion, there aren't enough of these little beauties lying around.

Whenever a new technology is introduced, bugs are always expected. ATI beat Nvidia in the race to manufacture 40nm video cards, but did they sacrifice quality for speed to market? Hopefully this is not the case. This is a new technology, so I'll be looking for any possible bugs. How well will Diamond's new 4770 perform? Let's take a look, starting with...what we all love the most...the packaging!!!

Closer Look:

The 4770 is a smaller card, so it makes sense that it would come with smaller packaging. It turns out the small packaging was actually pretty refreshing. Diamond didn't go all out with a big huge box full of features, specifications, and graphics. Instead, they took a box slightly larger than the card itself and filled it with a few basic bits of information. The front of the box of course features "Ruby," as well as Diamond's and ATI's respective logos. To the left of ATI's logo is a picture indicating that the 4770 is equipped with 512MB of GDDR5 Memory. The center of the box has a rectangle cut out so you can see the card's heatsink. At the bottom of the box, you can see the Battle Forge Logo, and that the 4770 - like all 4xxx series cards - supports DirectX10.1. Yep, that's right, 10.1 - better than what Nvidia supports. If that's not a reason to purchase a video card, then I don't know what is.

Let's ignore my feeble attempt at sarcasm and take a look at the more decorated back of the box. What stands out the most from the box's back is the monster from the game Battle Forge. I've never heard of that game before, but apparently it is made by Electronic Arts, and features some pretty cool looking monsters. The writing to the left of the monster is just Diamond ranting on about what ATI does better than the Green team. Basically, it says that the 4770 is the first 40nm card, that it uses the fastest memory (which somehow translates to superior performance), that the GPU - using ATI Stream technology - can transcode videos at amazing speeds, and that you can watch Blu-ray movies with incredibly high fidelity. What took me by surprise was that this was the first time I had ever seen fine print on a video card box. Although the fine print was just three obvious things: "HD capable monitor required, ATI CrossFireX technology requires an ATI CrossFireX ready motherboard and may require a specialized power supply," and that Blu-ray drives are "required to watch Blu-ray movies." Also this video card is "California Lead-Free" (according to the green symbol on the bottom of the box). You might want to watch out if eating this card though, because although it is CA lead free, the lead may have come from somewhere like Florida.

 

 

What can be more interesting on a box than its sides? This particular box has six sides, two of which were the top and bottom. Two more of the sides simply say "RADEON HD 4770," and have the ATI logo. That leaves two more sides to look at. One of the sides features "Key Features" and "System Requirements" of the 4770. The remaining side, which I thought was interesting, shows diagrams of connections. On it, you'll see a connection bus diagram, a display connector diagram, and a video out diagram. This was the first time I'd seen anything like that on a box, and thought it was kind of neat that it was included. Pointless, but still kind of neat.

 

 

 

Instead of being packed with the traditional foam or cardboard, the 4770 was shipped in a custom molded plastic carton. The carton was only big enough to hold the GPU so the accessories, Driver CD, and manuals were placed on the top and bottom of the carton. While it may not be the prettiest way to package a product, it did work the way it was intended. The 4770 got to me without taking any physical damage.

 

 

The Driver CD, along with the manual, a coupon for 50 songs, and a flyer saying, "Do not return this product to a store" were all wrapped in a red "Diamond" package. Overall it was quite nice, and I thought the designs on the package looked cool. The accessories, on the other hand, weren't packaged quite as well. They were all individually packed in plastic bags and then placed into a larger bag to hold them together. The accessories included with the 4770 are a DVI to VGA adapter, a DVI to HDMI adapter, and the famous component cable. The adapter that will likely get the most use is the DVI to VGA adapter, as the 4770 is equipped with two DVI ports.

 

 

 

 

Now that we've been introduced and have seen how the 4770 was packaged, let's get up close and personal with the card itself.

Closer Look:

Diamond's 4770 is equipped with 512MB of memory, and not just any ordinary memory. Like most of ATI's 4XXX cards, the 4770 utilizes GDDR5 memory. According to ATI, GDDR5 is the "Faster, Superior technology." This is in fact true, although Nvidia seems to do pretty well with the older tech. The 4770 will also appear smaller than other cards at its performance level, because it is built on a 40nm manufacturing process. This is a pretty big milestone for ATI - it actually beat Nvidia to the punch.

The 4770 uses the same amount of processing cores as the 4830. To translate this into an actual number, the 4770 has 640 cores, whereas the bigger 4870 has a total of 800 processing cores. One thing that looked like a downside was that the 4770 is using a 128-bit memory bus instead of the 256-bit bus used on other 4XXX series cards. Hopefully the GDDR5 memory will cancel out any performance losses that may be caused by this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let's stop for a moment and talk about connections. The 4770 has followed the same trends as most of the current GPUs out right now. On the card, you'll have two DVI ports, and one S-Video output. If you're using either an older monitor that only supports VGA, or an HDTV, an adapter was included to fit your needs. The 4770 was built on a smaller manufacturing process; this means lower power requirements. The effects of this are easily seen, because only one 6-pin power cable is needed to give this card the juice it needs to work its magic. The 4770 is also QuadFire capable, in case you're one of those people looking for that kind of setup. What this means for the card is that it will have two CrossFire connectors.

 

 

On the back of the card you'll see four unoccupied holes. These can be used if you're looking to mount an aftermarket cooler to the 4770. In the center of these holes, you'll see the backplate for the 4770's current cooler. The cooler is held firmly in place by four spring loaded screws.

 

 

The cooler itself is a pretty simple design. It consists of a copper colored aluminum heatsink, a fan, and a shroud. The fan has a "Diamond" D in the center, and the shroud says "ATI" on the left side. The cooler makes almost no contact with the card, other than directly on the GPU - but this shouldn't matter at all, because I'm not expecting the 4770 to create much heat.

 

 

Removing the heatsink allows us to get a good hard look at the RV740 core. Let's just take a moment to bask in this little chip's glory. 826 million transistors are crammed onto this little 40nm chip. While that isn't as much as NVIDIA managed to shove into the GT200, it's still way more transistors than I could ever imagine, or count on one hand. Are we basked enough? Ok, let's move on then. Surrounding the RV740 core in a half square are the GDDR5 memory modules. Together these little black squares make up 512MB of GDDR5 goodness - AMAZING!!! Toward the back of the card, located right before the power connector, is the 4770's fan slot. Toward the back of the card was a sticker saying 512MB. I really can't think of a purpose for this sticker, so I guess it's there to remind you how much memory your card has. Rather than looking at the box, GPUz, or the included manual, you can just pop open your case, remove your card, and be reminded of what you really didn't need to know that badly in the first place.

 

 

 

Now that we've seen what makes this card tick, let's take a look at the included drivers and programs.

Closer Look:

We all love installing drivers. That is, of course, only if they're actually painless. My ideal driver installation would go something like this: I place the CD into my optical drive. After doing so, I close my optical drive. Then instantly the drivers are installed, without me having to click on any prompts. However, I don't expect to ever encounter drivers that are this painless, at least in the near future.

Diamond's 4770 driver installation started off perfectly painless. The first AutoRun page presented me with five options: Install Software, Read Documentation, Visit Website, Browse CD-ROM, and Exit. You do need to click on Install Software in order to get to the next screen, but Diamond did include transitions in between the two screens. These transitions are much like those you'd find in a PowerPoint presentation, and surprisingly enough, they actually made the transition go smoother. The installation screen presents you with a whopping nine options: Windows XP 32-Bit, Windows Vista 32-bit, Windows XP 64-bit, Windows Vista 64-Bit, Windows XP 32-bit 4770 Series ONLY, Windows Vista 32-Bit 4770 Series ONLY, Windows XP 64-Bit 4770 Series ONLY, Windows Vista 64-Bit 4770 Series ONLY, and Back To Previous Page. This was confusing to me as well, so I selected Windows Vista 64-Bit. This takes you to another install screen with seven options: Install Drivers, Install Adobe Reader, Support, Live Chat, Register Your Product, EXIT, and Back to Previous Page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clicking "Install Drivers" will bring you to the dreaded "Next" screen. From here, you'll need to click "Next" and then directly afterword click "Install." Before you can actually install anything, you'll need to choose between "Express" and "Custom" settings. Once you've made your decision, you may click "Next" again, and then agree to the terms and conditions. Once the drivers have finished installing, you'll need to click "Finish." Sadly, this is not where the quest to install drivers ended for me. Windows would not recognize the 4770 until after I had installed the drivers via the "Windows Vista 64-Bit 4770 Series ONLY!" option. As soon as I did that, everything worked fine. However, up until that point, installing the 4770's drivers wasn't all that bad.

 

 

 

The only program that came included with Diamond's 4770 was Adobe Reader. As such, I will not show you what Adobe Reader looks like, because it really isn't anything you've never seen before...at least I hope. Let's check out the CCC!!!

Closer Look:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Information Center: In the Information Center you can view extensive hardware information, as well as driver, CCC and DirectX versions.

 

 

Digital Panel: In the Digital Panel section you can set and view display information such as monitor attributes, adjustments, and color correction.

 

 

3D: In the 3D tab you can adjust general image quality settings, as well as Anti-Aliasing, Anisotropic Filtering, and color schemes. There are also a few settings for DirectX and OpenGL.

 

 

Avivo Video & ATI Overdrive: Avivo settings allow you to alter the color settings for better viewing. ATI Overdrive gives the user control of the GPU and memory frequencies. For novice users, there is an automated clock configuration utility that will find the best overclock for your system settings.

 

 

Now that we've got everything set up, let's take a look at how the 4770 performs.

Specifications:

 

GPU:

HD 4700

ASIC Core:

RV 740

Core Clock:

750MHZ

BUS:

PCI Express x16

Ports:

2 Dual-Link DVI, Video Out (S-Video, Composite, HDTV)

Cooling:

Active-FanCooler

MFG Process:

40nm fabrication process

Transistor Count:

826 million transistors on 55nm fabrication process

Stream Processors:

320

Memory Clock:

800MHz

Memory Configuration:

16mx32

Memory Type:

GDDR5

Memory Bandwidth:

51.2GB/s

Memory Size:

512MB

Memory Interface:

128-Bit

RAMDAC:

Dual 400MHz

HDTV:

YES

HDMI:

HDMI 1.3/HDMI Ready

HDMI MODE:

DONGLE

Native Display Support:

10 bit

3D Resolution:

2560x1600

TV-OUT Resolution:

720

Dual Display support:

Hydravision4

Holywood Q.VIDEO:

YES

 

Features:

 

All information on this page courtesy of Diamond @ http://www.diamondmm.com/4770PE5512.php

Testing:

It's time to find out just how well the 4770 can perform. Will this 40nm beauty be able to compete with the 9800GTX+, or its identical twin the GTS 250? Or, will it be outperformed by older and larger cards? I'll be pairing the 4770 with the OCC test system. Once it has been installed, it will be put through a series of synthetic and real world benchmarks. Will the 4770 be able to hold a place in the GPU market? Let's find out.

 

Testing Setup:

Comparison Video Cards:

Overclocking:

Overclocked Settings:

As always, I wanted to overclock the 4770 using RivaTuner. However, Riva failed to recognize the 4770. For this reason, I was stuck overclocking with the CCC. This turned out to be the strangest overclocking job I have ever done. I looked in the CCC, and saw that the maximum memory clock was 850MHz. I figured the 4770 should be able to handle that no problem, and guess what? I was right. In fact, I feel that the memory should have been able to be pushed farther. The maximum core clock however was 820MHz, which I didn't think the 4770 could handle. To begin overclocking the core clock, I bumped it straight up to 805, and began to run the benchmarks. Every single one passed flawlessly, so it was time to increase the core even more. Instead of going by my usual increments of 5MHz, I jumped the core clock all the way to the CCC's max - 830MHz. Much to my surprise, it actually worked! I was able to run every single benchmark with a core clock of 830MHz without any problems or noticeable loss in stability. This surprised me very much, but at the same time made me long for RivaTuner. The fact that I was able to max at CCC only tells me that the 4770 has even more OC potential. I can't help but wonder how far it will actually be able to go! Another thing I changed in the CCC was the fan speed. At the stock setting, the fan wasn't all that noisy; it made a slight hum, but nothing more. Turning the fan speed up made the thing VERY, VERY, VERY loud. I mean louder than two Thermaltake Thunderblades. I'm not joking - I actually installed two Thermaltake Thunderblades in my case, and couldn't hear them. Not because the Thunderblades are silent, but because the 4770 fan sounds like a train wreck.

 

 

  1. Far Cry 2
  2. Crysis Warhead
  3. BioShock
  4. Call of Duty: World at War
  5. Dead Space
  6. Fallout 3
  7. Left 4 Dead
  8. 3DMark 06 Professional
  9. 3DMark Vantage

Testing:

Far Cry 2:

Featuring a new game engine named Dunia, this game looks to be another one to stress your video card. Built especially for Far Cry 2, this engine allows for real time effects and damage. This next generation First Person Shooter comes to us from Ubisoft surprisingly - not from Crytek. The game is set in a war-torn region of Africa where there is a non-existent central government, and the chaos that surrounds this type of social environment. If you have seen the movie Blood Diamond, you know the setting. Ubisoft puts the main storyline of the game into focus with these statements: "Caught between two rival factions in war-torn Africa, you are sent to take out "The Jackal," a mysterious character who has rekindled the conflict between the warlords, jeopardizing thousands of lives. In order to fulfill your mission you will have to play the factions against each other, identify and exploit their weaknesses, and neutralize their superior numbers and firepower with surprise, subversion, cunning and, of course, brute force." In this version of the game, you don't have the beautiful water, but instead the beauty and harshness of the African continent to contend with. Most games give you a set area that can be played through, while Ubisoft has given the gamer the equivalent of 50km2 of the vast African continent to explore while in pursuit of your goals. The settings used are just a few steps below the maximum in-game settings and offer a good blend of performance vs. visual quality.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

At stock settings, the HD 4770 performed about the same as the 4850, GTS 250, and 9800GTX+. As the resolution got higher, the gaps between the cards did get slightly larger. After the 4770 had been overclocked, we saw FPS increases of four frames all around the board.

Testing:

Crysis Warhead:

Crysis Warhead is a standalone expansion pack situated in time with the story line of the original Crysis. As Sergeant "Psycho" Sykes, you have a secret mission to accomplish on the far side of the island. Along the way there, are EMP blasts and Aliens to contend with, as you hunt down the KPA chief. This game uses an enhanced version of the CryEngine 2.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the lower two resolutions, the 4770 was able to outperform every card except the HD 4870. However, at the highest settings it scored the lowest. Just so you guys know, you haven't played Crysis Warhead until you play it at five FPS - it's like watching a high quality slide show. The overclock didn't really improve the scores much, but hey - a few extra frames are always good to have.

Testing:

BioShock:

BioShock is one of the creepier games you can play. The building of a perfect Utopian society undersea gone horribly wrong. Its inhabitants driven mad with the introduction of tonics and genetic modifications. Now Rapture is just a shadow of its former glory with little girls looting the dead of what little they have left while being shadowed by guardians known as "Big Daddies". It is a demanding game that will make your hardware scream for mercy. This First Person Shooter allows for an infinite number of weapons and modifications to provide a unique experience each time it is played. The environment, as well as the story line, will wrap you up for hours on end.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 4770 was outperformed by every card. As the resolutions got higher, the gap between the cards was lowered as well. At 1920x1200, the 4770 was only losing to the GTS 250 by five frames. After the overclock, the 4770 wasn't able to beat any of the other cards. It did, however, make itself much more competitive with them.

Testing:

Call of Duty: World at War:

Activision's Call of Duty: World at War goes right back to the bread and butter of the franchise - WWII FPS action. In this rendition, you start off in the South Pacific and move through a series of missions that flip back and forth between the Russian front and the island hopping advance toward the Imperial Japanese homeland. Included is a mission on Peliliu Island, arguably one of the more difficult and costly battles in the Pacific theater. The gameplay in the single player mode is rather short, but the game makes up for this shortcoming in online gameplay. If you thought COD4 looked nice, this game is amazing with the graphics maxed out playing at a large resolution. This game just may be the reason to move to a 30 inch monitor. I will use Fraps to measure a section of gameplay in the Semper Fi map on Makin Island, to compare performance of these video cards.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once again, the 4770 was outperformed by every other card, but the margins were much smaller. The largest gap between the GTS 250 and the HD 4770 was seven FPS. The most the 4850 outperformed the 4770 by was four, and the 4770 was only outperformed by the 9800GTX+ by five FPS at best. With the overclock, the 4770 gave an FPS increase of four to six frames. This allowed it to beat all cards except the 4870.

Testing:

Dead Space:

In Dead Space, as part of the crew of the USG Kellion, you are headed on a repair mission to repair a ship in distress. Things go from bad to worse starting with the crash landing and the seemingly silent and "Dead" ship, the USG Ishimuru. Offering a non-traditional over the shoulder viewing angle, the game gets right into the action as soon as the ventilation systems are activated. From there, things get worse with the appearance of the Necromorphs. Survival now becomes a primary concern for the main character Isaac Clarke. Survive and you may find the loved one that was aboard the Ishimuru.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 4770 was able to outperform the 4850, and it was also able to compete with every other card at just about every resolution. The overclock allowed the 4770 to keep up with the 4870. The FPS gain was actually pretty impressive, especially in the lower resolution. I saw a 59 FPS increase, an 11 FPS increase, and an eight FPS increase for the respective resolutions.

Testing:

Fallout 3:

Fallout 3 takes place after the nuclear holocaust that nearly wipes out civilization and leaves the world an irradiated mess. The vault, or fallout shelter, you are born in is Vault 101, situated in the Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia area. The premise of the game is that the vault has been sealed for 200 years, and now your father has opened the vault and escaped without a trace. The Overseer believes you are involved, so you must escape as well into the wasteland that was once our nation's capital. I find myself looking for landmarks, since I am familiar with the streets of Washington DC.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again, the 4770 lost to every single card, but not by that much. For a less expensive card with smaller everything, the performance it's giving is simply amazing! The overclock pushed the 4770 up a few FPS, allowing it to more closely compete with the rival cards.

Testing:

Left 4 Dead:

Left 4 Dead is a new release from Valve that leaves you as part of a group of survivors in a world where an infection has rapidly turned the populace into a zombie horde. You goal is to make it to a rescue point, all the while fighting what seems like overwhelming odds. Along the way there are safe houses where you can replenish your weapons and health. The movie 'I Am Legend' comes to mind to set the stage for this game. But unlike the movie, there are four characters and not just a lone gun and his faithful companion. The horde is not at all like the typical slow walking, foot shuffling zombie. These zombies are quick and work with the pack mentality. Your job: survival! Below are several screenshots to show some in-game action.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again we see similar results. The 4770 was outperformed by all cards by a relatively small amount, except for the 4850 at 1680x1050. With the overclock, the 4770 was able to perform almost on par with every card except the 4870. Not too shabby for a card that costs just over $100.

Testing:

3DMark 06:

3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest is begun. 3DMark06 presents a severe test for many of today's hardware components. Let's see how this setup fares. The settings we will use are listed below.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course the 4770 scored lower than every other card, but then again, it was meant to replace the 4830. The overclock pushed the scores up a few hundred points, but no amazing gains.

Testing:

3DMark Vantage:

Featuring all-new game tests, this benchmark is for use with Vista-based systems. "There are two all-new CPU tests that have been designed around a new 'Physics and Artificial Intelligence-related computation.' CPU test two offers support for physics related hardware." There are four preset levels that correspond to specific resolutions. 'Entry' is 1024x768, progressing to 'Extreme' at 1920x1200. Of course, each preset can be modified to arrange any number of user designed testing. For our testing, I will use the four presets at all default settings.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These scores were lower than every other card, but it wasn't too bad. The overclock allowed the 4770 to beat the GTS 250, and in some cases, the 4850 as well. The overclock once again offered a few hundred points increase, but nothing major.

Conclusion:

The HD 4770 is the first 40nm GPU on the market right now, and it also offers great performance for its price. We will hopefully see some 40nm chips from Nvidia this summer. If ATI wants to dominate the 40nm market, they'll have to step up to the plate. Their cards work perfectly fine doing graphics, but Nvidia's chips do more than that. Nvidia has CUDA and PhysX as well as its graphical capabilities. This used to be not such a big deal, but now that many CUDA programs are being released, and with over 100 PhysX titles available, it just isn't a small problem anymore. Getting back to the 4770, it's a great little card. It offered fair performance and was comparable to the 4850. The 4770 was meant to replace the 4830, which ATI should slowly fade out of play. However it looks like ATI will have to step up the 4850s a bit to keep them from fading out as well.

The 4770 was obviously designed to be a low-end card, and for this reason it doesn't compete with the GTX 285 behemoth from Nvidia - but it's not supposed to!  What it does do is decode high definition video extremely well. For $120, you can get a video card that decodes video with almost no CPU usage whatsoever. I took a few hours to watch some of my favorite movies, and CPU usage was extraordinarily low. About 80% of the time, CPU usage was reported at 1%; occasionally this would get as high as 3%, but the most that I ever saw was 5%. What's even cooler is that the movies ran extremely smooth the whole time. If you're a movie lover, and you'll be building a multimedia PC, I'd definitely think about purchasing a 4770.

This isn't a card I'd recommend for a performance junkie, but if you're short on cash or want to make a small upgrade, I'd say definitely go for it! The 4770's price to performance ratio is just great. The fan was a bit loud, but keeping it at 50% kept the card at about 40 degrees Celsius. So as long as you don't run the 4770's fan at 100%, noise should not be any concern. The 4770 also seemed to have a lot of overclocking potential. Then again, I couldn't use RivaTuner, so how far the 4770 can actually be pushed will remain a mystery. All in all, I'm going to say "Great job ATI!" for making an awesome, easily affordable card! I can't wait to see some of the high-end 40nm beauties.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: