Sapphire HD 6770 FleX Edition Review
Reviewed by: ccokeman
Reviewed on: July 3, 2011
The HD 6770 is a card that now fleshes out AMD's 6000 series portfolio and gets rid of one of the last vestiges of the ATI brand. But in reality, the card is a renamed HD 5770 under the skin. Many times the renaming of a product gets a lot of negative attention because of the confusion it creates along with new price points that further complicate matters while the old products are still being sold. If there are improvements to the build process or capabilities, then really is this something bad? Depends on how you look at it! AMD has made improvements to the BIOS to enable HDMI 1.4a and UVD3 to set the HD 6770 apart from the HD 5770, so you are getting something slightly different even though the hardware is left untouched. So where does that leave us? With current pricing, there is no incentive to go for the HD 5770 over the HD 6770, if you look carefully — pricing is very close, with prices determined by brand, bundle, and cooling solutions employed.
One of Sapphire's entries into the 6700 arena is the HD 6770 FleX edition card that brings "Eyefinity" to the $130 price point. What you get is a card that is capable of driving up to four monitors in a Single Large Surface group to maximize productivity. The allure of the FleX Edition is the ability to handle up to three lower cost DVI monitors in a three monitor "Eyefinity" setup without the need for expensive adapters and added costs. Both are a plus for the person looking maximize efficiency.
The packaging for the HD 6770 FleX Edition is full of information, but is much smaller than that of the HD 5770. This smaller package size is a way to manage costs to keep the price down on a card that is in the $140 price range. The front panel has a representation of "Ruby" in mid-strike with the FleX information just to the right. What this states is that this card is capable of sending a display signal out to a total of four monitors in Eyefinity mode without the use of expensive active adapters. Three DVI monitors in Eyefinity mode is supported as well, again without adapters. Along the bottom of the front panel are features that the HD 6770 FleX counts among its attributes, including being CrossFireX-ready and having onboard DisplayPort and HDMI 1.4 connectivity. On the back panel the features are highlighted with a more detailed look at each of the listed features.
Inside is a standard cardboard container that holds the HD 6770 FleX Edition card. The documentation is front and center when the box is opened, with the card held in place by a foam block and the bubble wrap bag around the card. Underneath are the accessories included with the FleX Edition.
The accessory bundle that comes with the FleX Edition HD 6770 includes the installation manual, driver disk, and an invitation to join Sapphire's Select Club that gives members tangible benefits that include games and software applications, Automatic RMA registration, contests, and giveaways. The hardware part of the bundle includes a 4-pin to 6-pin PCIe power adapter, a DVI to VGA adapter, and an HDMI to SL-DVI dongle to add support for three lower cost DVI monitors.
Let's start our trip down memory lane with a look at the HD 6770 FleX.
The smallish size of the packaging is an indicator that the HD 6770 FleX is going to be a bit on the small side. The first thing you see, other than the size of the FleX edition, is the non-reference PCB and cooling solution. At first glance, the cooling solution looks much like many of the Vapor-X equipped cards in Sapphire's inventory and uses dual heat pipes to pull the heat from the 40nm Juniper-based GPU core. The cooling solution occupies two slots over the motherboard, while only physically using a single 16x PCIe slot. The blue PCB used by Sapphire is one way the company differentiates its product from the reference cards. At just about 7.5 inches in length, the FleX Edition HD 6770 is not going to take up a lot of space in the chassis. The back side of the PCB has four of the Hynix memory modules that make up a portion of the 1GB of onboard GDDR5 memory. When you set both the HD 5770 FleX and the HD 6770 FleX side by side, the only apparent difference is the sticker on the fan shroud.
Connectivity options for the Sapphire HD 6770 FleX appear to be standard for the latest AMD-based cards on the market, with a single Dual Link DVI port, one Single Link DVI port, a single HDMI 1.4a port that supports Deep Color, 7.1 High Bitrate Audio, and Stereoscopic 3D to enhance your high definition audio and visual experience, with the final port being a single DisplayPort connection. The display options allow a connection to three low cost DVI monitors in a Single Large Surface Eyefinity configuration without expensive adapters. Adding a fourth monitor will mean you have to either purchase an active adapter for use with a DVI monitor or step up to a DisplayPort-equipped monitor. The exhaust vent on this card suffers much the same problem as many of the AMD cards with the full connectivity setup, in that the vent is too small to allow all the heat generated by the GPU core to be sent out the back side of the chassis. The back end of the card does not show much in the way of interest other than a few solid capacitors and the 6-pin power connection to provide additional power above the 75 watts pulled from the 16x PCIe slot. CrossFireX is supported on the HD 6770 FleX with more than two cards by way of the multiple CrossFire bridge connections.
The cooling solution used by Sapphire for the HD 6770 FleX edition is a dual heat pipe configuration that covers the PCB. The heat pipes radiate out from the contact surface into both the left and right side of the fin array for heat dispersal. The fan is a blow-through design that cools the GDDR5 memory and VFM components on one side of the PCB. The small discharge port on the mounting bracket means a large percentage of the heat generated will be dumped into the chassis. The copper contact surface is smooth and flat with some machining marks that do not seem to impact performance based on the temperatures delivered in the load testing. The heat sink has four standoffs with rubber vibration dampeners that work with the rubber shim around the GPU socket to keep the heat sink from rocking.
The fan used by Sapphire on the HD 6770 FleX is made by FirstDo. This fan part number, FD8015H12S, is 80x15mm in size, runs on 12V using .32A, and features a unique blade design most likely for improved static air pressure and/or a reduction in noise.
The HD 6770 did not really see a major press push since it is simply a rebadge of the Juniper-based HD 5770 with an updated BIOS for additional capabilities that include HDMI 1.4a and UVD 3 support. The TSMC-built 40nm Juniper core continues on with 1.04 billion transistors, 800 stream processors, and 40 texture units and ROPs. The Juniper die is 170mm2 in size and has clock speeds that mirror the HD 5770 at 850MHz on the core with the 1GB of GDDR5 memory at 1200MHz (4800MHz QDR). The GDDR5 memory used on the HD 6770 FleX is by Hynix, with part number H5GQ1H24AFR. The Hynix data sheets shows this memory to be created at 1250MHz (5000MHz QDR) using 1.5v. This memory has proven to have some nice headroom built-in based on previous testing, so It will be interesting to see if time has improved the process.
The HD 6770 FleX is equipped to compete at the $100 to $130 price point, but how does it fare by comparison?
1x Dual-Link DVI
1x Single-Link DVI-D
1x HDMI 1.4a
850MHz Core Clock
800x Stream Processors
1x Dirt®3 Coupon
DVI to VGA Adapter
6-Pin to 4-Pin Power Cable
HDMI to SL-DVI Adapter
- Advanced GDDR5 Memory Technology: GDDR5 memory provides twice the bandwidth per pin of GDDR3 memory, delivering more speed and higher bandwidth.
- Sapphire FleX Technology: 3 DVI Eyefinity Out of the Box Targeting maximum flexibility with minimum outlay, Sapphire FleX Technology simplifies AMD’s multi-monitor Eyefinity solution by allowing 3 X DVI monitors to be connected to the board ‘out of the box’ WITHOUT the requirement for expensive DisplayPort monitors or Active Adapters.
- AMD Eyefinity: AMD Eyefinity technology maximizes your field of view across up to three displays, fully engaging your peripheral vision. For gamers this puts you right IN the game and for other applications it helps to increase productivity by maximizing your visual workspace so that you can see more windows simultaneously. AMD Eyefinity technology is also ideal for multimedia applications as it allows you to keep several ‘palettes’ or ‘panels’ open over a larger workspace whist you edit your images or videos.*
- 40nm Process Technology: Cutting edge manufacturing process allows for efficient, high performance parts which use less power than their predecessors.
- AMD CrossFireX™ Multi-GPU Technology: Triple or Quadruple gaming power with AMD CrossFireX™ Multi-GPU Technology.AMD CrossFireX technology supports up to four graphics cards to be used in a single system
- PCI-Express 2.0: The latest PCI-Express 2.0 specification doubles data throughput from 2.5Gbps to 5Gbps allowing you to exploit the full performance potential of your graphics card.
- AMD HD3D Technology: Enjoy the most immersive experience possible with full support for High Definition Stereoscopic 3D, a technique that presents 2D images (movies, games, photos) in a format that creates the illusion of three-dimensional depth when using compatible 3D displays / glasses / software.
- Dual-Link DVI : Equipped with the most popular Dual Link DVI (Digital Visual Interface), this card is able to display ultra high resolutions of up to 2560 x 1600 at 60Hz.
- HDMI 1.4a: HDMI 1.4a builds on previous generations of HDMI connectivity with support for Deep Color, 7.1 High Bitrate Audio, and 3D Stereoscopic support, ensuring the highest quality Blu-ray and video experience possible from your PC.
- DisplayPort: Enjoy the benefits of the latest generation display interface, DisplayPort. With the ultra high HD resolution of 2560 x 1600 the graphics card ensures that you are able to support the latest generation of LCD monitors.
- Single-Link DVI-D: Supports Digital monitors up to 1920x1200 resolution.
- Microsoft DirectX® 11: Get intense gaming performance and unrivalled image quality with stunning 3D visual effects, realistic lighting and lifelike imagery with SAPPHIRE graphics cards supporting DirectX®11. New features in DirectX®11 such as Hardware Tessellation, HDR Texture Compression, Multi-threading support and DirectCompute bring lifelike gaming and an experience never possible on a PC before.
- OpenGL® 4.1: Supports the latest OpenGL API (Application Programming Interface) to accelerate performance of applications outside of DirectX®, i.e. Adobe Autodesk 2D/3D graphic design.
- Shader Model 5.0: Supports the latest Shader Model 5.0 feature set including VTF (Vertex Texture Fetch) which is a key feature used extensively in many of the games that ship today. Without support for this feature the game will fall back to a lesser shader path resulting in the loss of cool, lifelike effects made possible by Shader Model 5.0
- AMD Catalyst Control Center™: The AMD Catalyst Control Center™ software application gives you complete control over the performance and visual quality of your SAPPHIRE AMD Radeon™ based graphics card allowing for the best experience on your PC.
- Accelerated Video Transcoding: Massively parallel architecture and support for common shader transcoding instructions accelerates video encoding / transcoding way beyond what was possible with the CPU only. (Requires application support for AMD Stream technology and Digital rights management restrictions may apply)
- Dolby® TrueHD and DTSHD Master Audio™ Support: Support for copy protected, high bandwidth, 7.1 channel surround sound over HDMI. Get a fully immersive, high definition audio experience with the latest Blu-ray movies. (Requires a DVI to HDMI dongle on some models, an HD capable monitor and a Blu-ray drive)
- 2nd Generation TeraScale Engine: Supports more than 4 teraFLOPS of compute power, providing more performance than any other graphics card available. (As of October 9th, 2009, the AMD Radeon™ HD5970 scored in excess of X 10,000 in 3DMark Vantage V1.01, the highest single graphics card score achieved to date.)
- Anti-aliasing features: Supports advanced AA (Anti-aliasing) features to maximize your enjoyment of high definition gaming.
Multi-sample anti-aliasing (2, 4 or 8 samples per pixel)
Up to 24x Custom Filter Anti-Aliasing (CFAA) for superior quality
Adaptive super-sampling and multi-sampling
Super AA (AMD CrossFireX™configurations only)
All anti-aliasing features compatible with HDR rendering
- Physics processing support: Accelerates the performance of Fluid Dynamics, Cloth Simulation, Soft or Rigid Body Dynamics, Universal Collision Detection, Hair Simulation and Finite Element Analysis for the most lifelike gaming experience.
- AMD PowerPlay™: Dynamically manage power efficiency and take control of your performance with AMD’s revolutionary AMD PowerPlay TM power management technology delivering high performance features when needed and conserving power when the demand on the graphics processor is low. This seamless technology dramatically reduces the overall power consumption allowing for break-through energy efficiency.
- AMD Advanced Parallel Processing technology: Accelerate the most demanding applications by offloading parallel data compute tasks from the CPU to GPU, dividing the tasks as evenly as possible for improved system performance and reliability.
- Enhanced Internet Browser Applications: Not just for video and games, the power of your GPU can now accelerate the latest versions of some Internet browsers (IE9/Mozzilla FireFox) utilising Direct 2D rendering for a faster and more responsive browsing experience including high quality image rendering and media playback.
- Microsoft Office 2010: Take advantage of improved picture and media editing capabilities in Office 2010 as well as edit and share your content in real time See more, and get more done. Enhanced productivity with accelerated GPU processing for Office applications.
- Windows® 7 support: WHQL (Windows Hardware Quality Labs) Certified drivers and logos are available for all SAPPHIRE HD2000, HD3000, HD4000 and HD5000 series cards ensuring compatibility and reliability with Microsoft Windows 7.
- AMD App Acceleration: Use the power of your AMD Radeon™ GPU to speed up everyday applications like your web browser and Microsoft Office 2010 using AMD App Acceleration. Do more, and do it faster. Watch Blu-ray movies, online streaming video and other HD content using your AMD Radeon™ GPU and get smooth – high quality playback with amazing image quality.
All information courtesy of Sapphire Tech @ http://www.sapphiretech.com/presentation/product/?cid=1&gid=3&sgid=1073&pid=1194&psn=000101&lid=1&leg=0
Testing of the Sapphire HD 6770 FleX will consist of running it and comparison cards through the OverclockersClub.com suite of games and synthetic benchmarks. This will test the performance against many popular competitors. Comparisons will be made to cards of equal and greater capabilities to show where they fall on the performance ladder. The games used are some of today's newest and most popular titles to give you an idea of how the cards perform relative to each other.
The system specifications will remain the same throughout the testing. No adjustment will be made to the respective control panels during the testing, with the exception of the 3DMark Vantage testing, where PhysX will be disabled in the NVIDIA control panel. I will test the cards at stock speeds, then overclocked in order to see the effects of any increases in clock speed. The cards are placed in order from highest to lowest performing in the graphs to show where the cards fall by comparison. The drivers used are the 11.5 Catalyst drivers for the AMD-based cards and the 275.27 for NVIDIA-based cards
- Processor: Intel Core I7 920 200x18 3.6GHz
- Cooling: Noctua NH-U12P SE 1366
- Motherboard: ASUS P6T Deluxe OC Palm Edition
- Memory: Mushkin 996805 Redline PC312800 6-8-6-24 1600MHz
- Video Card: Sapphire HD 6770 FleX Edition
- Power Supply: Mushkin 1000 watt Joule Modular power supply
- Hard Drive: 1 x Seagate 1TB SATA
- Optical Drive: LG DVD-RW
- OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
- Case: Cooler Master HAF 932
Comparison Video Cards:
- Sapphire HD 6750
- Sapphire HD 6670 Ultimate
- XFX HD 6790
- ASUS GTX 550 Ti TOP
- Gigabyte GTX 560 OC
- Sapphire HD 6770 FleX 945MHz Core / 1374MHz Memory
Overclocking this card could not have been simpler — enable overclocking in the Catalyst control panel, open Afterburner, set fan speed to 100%, firewall the clock speeds for the memory and GPU core, and then test. Things went according to plan until halfway through my test scenario, when the card locked up and gave me a wonderful black screen that is so typical of the failure mode on a bad overclock on the core. I backed the GPU core clock speed down to 945MHz from the 960 maximum on the card and then was greeted with texture-tearing and a grey screen of death. Whoops, the memory was a bit too high and needed to be adjusted down to 1374MHz for a good solid clean run through the stability testing scenario. This gave me a final result of 95MHz on the core and 1374MHz on the memory. If percentages are more of what one looks at, the core increase is just over 11%, while the memory boost comes in at a nice 14.5% bump in memory clock speed. These increases offered up measurable increases in all the games and synthetic benchmarks tested. One area of concern with AMD cards is the fan used to vent the heat outside the chassis and cool the card. The Sapphire FleX Edition card uses a non-reference heat pipe-based cooling solution for this chore. The fan used is quiet when spooled up to its maximum speed. It is audible, but is no where close to the noise of the reference cooling solution. During the load testing, the highest temperature recorded was 67 degrees Celsius when overclocked. The fan speed was tweaked to 100% to achieve this. The temperature recorded under load with the driver controlling the fan speed was 64 degrees Celsius, with the fan only spooling up to 44%. On this card, there is not currently a tool that can adjust or tweak the voltage. The value is reported in Sapphire's TRIXX utility, but is not adjustable nor are the clock speeds available for adjustment, Afterburner was exactly the opposite, with the clock speeds being adjustable, but no voltage value or ability to adjust it. Even so, real world performance benefits from the overclocking ability of this card. Will all the cards in this series respond similarly? Most likely not — your mileage may vary with some cards better and some worse.
Maximum Clock Speeds:
Testing for the maximum clock speed consists of looping Crysis Warhead and Unigine 2.5 for 30 minutes each to see where the clock speeds will fail when pushed. If the clock speed adjustment fails, then the clock speeds and tests are rerun until they pass the full one hour of testing.
- Gaming Tests:
- Aliens vs. Predator
- Metro 2033
- Civilization V
- HAWX 2
- Just Cause 2
- Unigine Heaven Benchmark 2.5
- Mafia II
- Battlefield: Bad Company 2
- Lost Planet 2
- 3DMark 11
- Power Consumption
Aliens vs. Predator, developed by Rebellion Developments, is a science fiction first-person shooter and is a remake of its 1999 game. The game is based off the two popular sci fi franchises. In this game, you have the option of playing through the single player campaigns as one of three species, the Alien, the Predator, and the Human Colonial Marine. The Game uses Rebellion's Asura game engine that supports Dynamic Lighting, Shader Model 3.0, Soft Particle systems, and Physics. To test this game I will be using the Aliens vs. Predator benchmark tool with the settings listed below. All DirectX 11 features are enabled.
- AA Off
- 1x AF
- SSAO = On
- Texture Quality = Medium
- Hardware Tesselation = On
- Advanced Shadow Sampling = On
- Shadow Quality = Medium
Higher = Better
At stock speeds, the Sapphire HD 6770 FleX delivers performance close to that of the HD 6790, but falls off when the clock speeds are pushed. It is faster than the GTX 550 Ti in all four tests.
Part first-person shooter, part survival horror, Metro 2033 is based on the novel of the same name, written by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. You play as Artyom in a post-apocalyptic Moscow, where you'll spend most of your time traversing the metro system, with occasional trips to the surface. Despite the dark atmosphere and bleak future for mankind, the visuals are anything but bleak. Powered by the 4A Engine, with support for DirectX 11, NVIDIA PhysX and NVIDIA 3D Vision, the tunnels are extremely varied — in your travels, you'll come across human outposts, bandit settlements, and even half-eaten corpses. Ensuring you feel all the tension, there is no map and no health meter. Get lost without enough gas mask filters and adrenaline shots and you may soon wind up as one of those half-eaten corpses — chewed up by some horrifying manner of irradiated beast that hides in the shadows just waiting for some hapless soul to wander by.
- DirectX 11
- 4x AF
- Global settings = Medium
- Physx = On
Higher = Better
In Metro 2033, the NVIDIA cards have an advantage in performance. The HD 6770 FleX most closely matches up performance-wise with the HD 6790. With the settings used, the game is playable at 33 FPS.
Civilization V is a turn-based strategy game. The premise is to play as one of 18 civilizations and lead the civilization from the "dawn of man" up to the space age. This latest iteration of the Civilization series uses a new game engine and massive changes to the way the AI is used throughout the game. Civilization V is developed by Firaxis Games and is published by 2K games and was released for Windows in September of 2010. Testing will be done using actual game play with FPS measured by Fraps through a series of five turns,150 turns into the game.
- 4x MSAA
- Global Settings = Medium
- DirectX 11
Higher = Better
With higher settings, Civilization V crushes the frame rates on these cards. However, with the settings used, each card is playable. The HD 6770 FleX is close to the top of the field in this game
H.A.W.X. 2 is an arcade-style flight game and is the sequel to H.A.W.X.. The Game is published by Ubisoft and was released in late 2010.
- AA Off
- View Distance = Medium
- Envrioment = Medium
- Particles Density = Low
- In-game benchmark
Higher = Better
Depending on how you tweak the settings, you can play this game at resolutions up to 5760x1080 in Eyefinity mode with acceptable frame rates with the Sapphire HD 6770 FleX Edition.
Published by Capcom, Lost Planet 2 is the sequel to Lost Planet: Extreme Condition and uses the MT Framework 2.0 engine. The storyline takes place on the fictional planet E.D.N. III some 10 years after the events of the first game. This time, the snow cover is gone and has been replaced by a tropical landscape. With this new rendition of the game comes the ability to run it using either DirectX 9 or 11. Along with this ability comes the chance to use that new DX 11 hardware to effect. DX11 features in this game include tessellation, displacement mapping on water, bosses and player characters, soft body compute shaders on “Boss” characters, and wave simulation by way of DirectCompute. This gives you smoke that is lifelike and reacts to inputs, water that looks and reacts how you would expect it to in a "real life" situation, and "Boss" characters rendered with more depth and detail. If the latest graphics quality settings are not enough, NVIDIA has included support behind this game for both 3D Vision and 3D Vision Surround, which gives you 3D effects over multiple screens. There is no better way to see how a game will perform than to test it out. Capcom has made this easy with a downloadable benchmark that we will be using to test out a cross section of today's currently available performance video cards.
- AA = None
- Shadow Detail = Middle
- Texture Detail = Middle
- In-game benchmark run
Higher = Better
The performance of the HD 6770 FleX is as expected for this game. Even with the middle of the road settings, the 30 FPS threshold for playability is only met at 1680x1050 when overclocked.
Unigine Heaven Benchmark 2.5 is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on the Unigine engine. This was the first DX 11 benchmark out to allow testing of DX 11 features. What sets the Heaven Benchmark apart is the addition of hardware tessellation, available in three modes — Moderate, Normal and Extreme. Although tessellation requires a video card with DirectX 11 support and Windows Vista/7, the Heaven Benchmark also supports DirectX 9, DirectX 10, DirectX 11 and OpenGL 4.0. Visually, it features beautiful floating islands that contain a tiny village and extremely detailed architecture.
- AA = Off
- 1x AF
- Shaders = Medium
- Tesselation = Moderate
- Measurement = FPS
Higher = Better
In this test, the HD 6770 FleX falls right between the HD 6750 and GTX 550 Ti.
Just Cause 2 is a third-person shooter that takes place on the fictional island of Panau in Southeast Asia. In this sequel to 2006's Just Cause, you return as Agent Rico Rodriguez to overthrow an evil dictator and confront your former boss. When you don't feel like following the main story line, you're free to roam the island, pulling off crazy stunts and causing massive destruction in your wake, all beautifully rendered by the Avalanche Engine 2.0. In the end, that's what the game basically boils down to — crazy stunts and blowing things up. In fact, blowing things up and wreaking havoc is actually necessary to unlock new missions and items.
- AA = Off
- 2x AF
- Texture Detail = Low
- Shadow Quality = Medium
- Water Detail = Medium
- Objects Detail = Medium
- Dark Tower Time Demo
Higher = Better
At 1920x1200, the Sapphire HD 6770 FleX is faster than the GTX 550 Ti at both stock and overclocked speeds.
Mafia II is a third-person shooter that puts you into the shoes of a poor, Sicilian immigrant, Vito Scarletta. Vito has just returned home from serving overseas in the liberation of fascist Italy — to avoid serving his jail sentence — to find his family in debt. The debt must be repaid by the end of the week, and his childhood friend, Joe Barbaro, conveniently happens to have questionable connections that he assures will help Vito clear the debt by that time. As such, Vito is sucked into a world of quick cash. Released in North America for PC in August of 2010, the game was developed by 2K Czech published by 2K and uses the Illusion 1.3 game engine.
- AA = Off
- 1x AF
- In-game settings = Medium
- Ambient Occlusion = On
Higher = Better
In the Mafia II testing, the HD 6770 FleX delivers performance close to that of the HD 6790 at stock clock speeds. Once overclocked, there is a measurable increase in the performance of the HD 6770 FleX, but not enough to keep pace with the HD 6790.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is a first-person shooter developed by EA Digital Illusions CE (DICE) and published by Electronic Arts for Windows, PS3 and XBox. This game is part of the Battlefield franchise and uses the Frostbite 1.5 Engine, allowing for destructible environments. You can play the single player campaign or multiplayer with five different game modes. Released in March 2010, it has so far sold in excess of six million copies.
- Global settings = Medium
Higher = Better
The HD 6770 FleX is able to deliver playable frame rates in both resolutions with the settings used. Still not quite as high as the more expensive HD 6790 and GTX 550Ti though.
3DMark 11 is the next installment for Futuremark in the 3DMark series with Vantage as its predecessor. The name implies that this benchmark is for Microsoft DirectX 11 and with an unintended coincidence, the name matches the upcoming date in number (which was the naming scheme to some prior versions of 3DMark nonetheless). 3DMark 11 is designed solely for DirectX 11 so Windows Vista or 7 are required along with a DirectX 11 graphics card in order to run this test. The Basic Edition has unlimited free tests on performance mode whereas Vantage only allowed for a single test run. The advanced edition costs $19.95 and unlocks nearly all of the features of the benchmark and the professional edition runs $995.00 and is mainly suited for corporate use. The new benchmark contains six tests, four of which are aimed only at graphical testing, one to test for physics handling and one to combine graphics and physics testing together. The open source Bullet Physics library is used for physics simulations and although not as mainstream as Havok or PhysX, it still seems to be a popular choice.
With the new benchmark comes two new demos that can be watched, both based on the tests but unlike the tests, these contain basic audio. The first demo is titled "Deep Sea" and have a few vessels exploring what looks to be a sunken U-Boat. The second demo is titled "High Temple" and is similar to South American tribal ruins with statues and the occasional vehicle around. The demos are simple in that they have no story, they are really just a demonstration of what the testing will be like. The vehicles have the logos of the sponsors MSI and Antec on their sides with the sponsorships helping to make the basic edition free. The four graphics tests are slight variants of the demos. I will use the three benchmark test preset levels to test the performance of each card. The presets are used as they are comparable to what can be run with the free version so that results can be compared across more than just a custom set of test parameters.
- Default test settings
- Entry test 1024 x 600
- Performance test 1280 x 720
- Extreme test 1920 x 1080
Higher = Better
Looking through these results, you can see the stratification of the cards' performance levels.
The big allure to a card of this type is that you can run a multiple-monitor setup on the cheap, if you can call the cash outlay needed for three monitors cheap. But even so, Sapphire makes it so that you can do so as economically as possible with the FleX series. Looking at all the gaming benchmarks, you can see that when you tweak the settings and run resolutions that work with the capabilities of the HD 6770 FleX, you can have a satisfying gaming experience. Since the FleX Edition has the ability, I had to see how or if the HD 6770 had the stones to play the titles used in the benchmark suite in an Eyefinity configuration. I used the same settings used for the game tests, but moved up to 4800x900 and 5760x1080 to see how far the performance would drop and if the card could even handle it. So here we go.
Higher is Better
As you can see, the HD 6770 is not a triple-monitor gaming powerhouse, but by tweaking the settings a little lower, you can make it happen. The other possibility would be to add a second card for a CrossFire setup that would easily drive performance upwards for an outlay of about $100. At 4800x900, there were four games that crested the 30 FPS threshold for smooth gameplay, so yes it is possible, but by the same token, it just could not get there in three games. Gaming is not all there is for this equation though. You can use a SLS (Single Large Surface) system for improved productivity at work, with the ability to hook up a fourth monitor if you choose to purchase either a DisplayPort monitor or active adapter.
With the new 6000-series graphics cards, each can support up to six monitors for an Eyefinity setup. Gamers are no longer stuck with using only a single monitor for gameplay as the games can now be spanned across multiple monitors and can also make use of the new 3D technologies explained further toward the bottom. Multiple displays can be powered by a single connector, with Eyefinity and the ultra-high bandwidth DisplayPort 1.2 Multi-Stream output capabilities, with high quality audio also being transmissible. Below is a demonstration of a triple-monitor Eyefinity setup with several different game examples to view either a classic single monitor setup or the new Eyefinity triple-monitor experience.
Temperature testing will be accomplished by loading the video card to 100% using Crysis Warhead with MSI's Afterburner overclocking utility for temperature monitoring. I will be using a resolution of 1920x1200 using 8xAA. I will use a 10-run sequence to run the test, ensuring that the maximum thermal threshold is reached. The fan speed will be left in the control of the driver package and video card's BIOS for the stock load test, with the fan moved to 100% to see the best possible cooling scenario for the overclocked load test. The idle test will be a 20-minute cool down with the fan speeds left on automatic in the stock speed testing and bumped up to 100% when running the overclocked idle and load testing.
- Monitoring with MSI Afterburner
- Crysis Warhead 1920x1200 8xAA
- 10-run sequence
- 20-minute idle duration
- Temperature measured in degrees Celsius
Lower = Better
As one of the warmest cards in the group, the HD 6770 FleX suffers a bit from a recirculation of warm air in the chassis. The small exhaust opening on the mounting plate and open shroud do impact overall cooling ability. Even so, the card was far from what I would consider hot, even when overclocked.
Power Consumption of the system will be measured in both idle states and loaded states and will take into account the peak voltage of the system with each video card installed. I will use MSI Kombuster to load the GPU for a 15-minute test and use the peak load of the system as my result for the maximum load. The idle results will be measured after 15 minutes of inactivity on the system. For load testing the GTX 500 series, I will once again use Crysis Warhead run at 2560x1600 using the Gamer setting with 8xAA looping the Avalanche benchmark scenario.
- Crysis Warhead Avalance Demo
- 1920x1200 Resolution
- 8x AA
- 15-minute load test
- 15-minute idle test
- Measurement is in watts
Lower = Better
The power consumption levels of the HD 6770 FleX are lower than the HD 6790 and GTX 550Ti. But then again, the overall performance is in that envelope as well.
The allure of the FleX series of video cards from Sapphire is the ability to use this solution to provide a SLS (Single Large Surface) solution with a minimum of cost to get to the promised land. With Sapphire's FleX series of cards, you have the ability to use low-cost DVI monitors without the added cost of active adapters. Sapphire includes everything needed to run a three-monitor SLS display in one package (minus the monitors, of course). If you want to move up to four monitors, however, you will need to pony up for a DisplayPort monitor or an active adapter. While talking about Eyefinity, the HD 6770 can game with a three-monitor Eyefinity setup depending on the resolution and settings used. Using the medium settings I used for the standard resolutions, there were several of the games that were playable, including HAWX 2 (45FPS), BFBC2 (35FPS), and Just Cause 2 (39FPS). Mafia II was close at 30FPS. By turning down the visual quality a little bit more, it's certainly a reality. We all know the HD 6770 is not going to be this intense gaming beast, but it does have the ability to run just about any game out at the right resolution and settings. By adding a second HD 6770 FleX Edition card, you can pretty much eliminate some of the performance bottlenecks and have a pretty sweet low-cost CrossFireX/Eyefinity setup.
In the standard gaming tests, the HD 6770 delivered results indicative of its architecture. Overclocking the HD 6770 lead to measurable performance increases across the board for not a lot of time commitment. The HD 6770 FleX was able to push out a 11%+ improvement on the core clock to 945MHz and a 13%+ bump on the GDDR5 memory clock to 1374MHz - both substantial and worthy of the time commitment. Once you get past the rebadging of the HD 5770 piece, you understand that the HD 6770 fills out the AMD HD 6XXX series product stack with enhancements, such as HDMI 1.4a and UVD3. The price point on the Sapphire HD 6770 FleX is a little higher than the vanilla models, but it comes with additional capabilities and is currently right on par with the HD 5770, so you get added features for the same cost. The FleX Edition cards fill a niche market and do a fine job of it, from gaming to enhancing your productivity at work. Sapphire has given us a product that allows us to have our cake and eat it to.
- SLS Capable up to four monitors
- Low cost
- HDMI 1.4a
- Low noise
- Included adapters
- CrossFire capable
- Eyefinity Gaming
- Fourth monitor needs to be DisplayPort or use an adapter