MSI HD R7770 Power Edition ReviewRHKCommander959 -
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Now that the graphics card is out of the antistatic bag and the protective covers are removed it is time for a proper examination. The top view of the card shows the prominent Propeller Blade fan impeller with two blue stripes running lengthwise over the spreader. Between the stripes is the MSI logo. To the left of the fan impeller is a crescent opening showing the heat sink fins. This region is cut out to make room for the second fan when the shroud is slid back. Almost all of the heat produced by the card is reintroduced into the case in this mode. Having good case airflow will help keep temperatures wrangled. Flipping the card over shows a black PCB with a typical design. There are no memory ICs here because they are underneath of the heat sink surrounding the core. There are six spring loaded screws holding the heat sink to the PCB – four for the GPU core and two for the power circuits. There is one CrossFire slot at the top. A single screw near the CrossFire slot supports the I/O plate near the DisplayPort and HDMI port since there is no other way to attach these together sturdily.
The side views show the tool-free latches sitting across the fan motor. Pushing both latches allow the fan shroud to slide beyond the rear of the card until snapping into place. Moving the shroud makes room for the second fan in Dual Fan Mode. This setup provides the best cooling solution for consumers as long as the card can fit into their cases. Four screws hold the shroud onto the heat sink, two on each side. There are vents on both sides between where both fans would meet; the design is very open allowing air to flow in any direction. This design does not display heat pipes but there is one hiding under the heat sink. Cooling this card is simple since the thermal design power is less than 80W. The second fan has a connection near the rear of the card. Installation is simple and requires no tools. The only undesirable element is that there is no wire management for the second fan. For output the R7770 Power Edition has one DisplayPort, one HDMI port, and one Dual Link DVI-I port. The I/O plate has the MSI logo stamped into it. The 6-pin power connection is at the rear of the card. Some cards have it exit from the rear and others out the side, both have pros and cons. Generally shorter cards have the connection exit out the rear while longer cards utilize side exits. Part of the shroud is notched so that it can slide back without hitting the power connection.
MSI includes the auxiliary fan in a nice cardboard box. The front has a black picture of the Propeller Blade impeller design and the MSI logo. The back of the small box has features listed for those curious to know. The primary information is Dimension 98mm x 98mm x 25.5mm, Rotational Speed 2500 RPM, Air Volume 32.88 CFM, and Max. Noise Level 25.9 dBA. The bottom left of the box lists the address, phone, fax, and website for MSI. There is also a QR code. The housing matches the blue stripes while the impeller appears to be identical to the one on the main fan.
There are three fan modes possible for the cooling system. The card is shipped in Single Fan Mode by default. Pinching the clips on each side of the shroud allows it to be slid back. After that the auxiliary fan can be installed. There is nothing to manage the wire with, but anyone with a modding spirit could use zip ties on some of the vents. For systems where card length is important there is Double Fan Mode. For this the shroud is in the forward position, but the fan clips on top of the other fan! This will improve cooling for systems where length matters but height doesn't. Both fans use Dust Free Technology to keep the heat sink clean. The fans spin in reverse for the first 30 seconds of boot-up to pump dust out of the heat sink. After that they switch to normal rotation. The Propeller Blade design is great for this purpose as it can work efficiently in both directions, normal impellers work best in one direction.
The fan shroud can be easily removed by taking out four screws from both sides. This makes cleaning the fins out easy and also allows simpler aftermarket fan installation too. The thermal paste installed was quite messy and smeared over several of the surface mounted circuits on the core. The GPU core is a new design by AMD that departs from the VLIW4 architecture of the 6000 series. AMD has developed a new architecture fabricated at 28nm called Graphics Core Next. This design increases efficiency and computing power. Tessellation performance has been increased too. A few chunks of thermal paste were embedded in one of the memory thermal pads. The center Hi-C Caps don't make much contact with the thermal tape, as can be seen in the photo . Using a back plate would easily have alleviated this problem. Four memory ICs provide 1GB of GDDR5 memory capacity. All active components are cooled by the heat sink. It is nice to see that there is a heat pipe hiding underneath the heat sink and that there is a copper base plate for make contact with the core.
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