Sapphire HD 4770 Reviewccokeman , ClayMeow -
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What you get with the HD 4770 from ATI and Sapphire is a card that fits its niche perfectly. With the economy the way it is and people reluctant to spend big dollars on a video card upgrade, the $100 price point is where the money is going to be made. Coming in at least $30 less than the 9800GTX+ and only $20 less than the HD 4850, you have to wonder if this card will take over the slot the HD 4850 currently holds. As well as the HD 4770 performs against the GTS 250 and 9800GTX+, it offers excellent performance for your dollar. The HD 4770 was playable in almost all the benchmarks up to 1920x1200. Crysis Warhead with AA on is just too much for video cards in this performance range. The performance is not stellar, but is playable. By reducing the visual quality settings slightly, the HD 4770 should handle just about any game in the 1680x1050 to 1920x1200 range. Overclocking the HD 4770 was a little disappointing in a way. The HD 4770 is not yet supported in any of the commonly used overclocking utilities, so the limits imposed in the Catalyst Control Center seem uncommonly low at 830MHz for the R740 core and 850MHz on the GDDR5 memory. The Qimonda memory is rated to perform at 1000MHz, so you are left feeling there is more, much more, left on the table. Reaching the limits was as easy as pegging the sliders to the max and applying the clock change. Kind of less than dramatic!
The cooling solution is far from what you normally see with a reference card; the use of a dual-slot solution instead of the single slot used in the HD 4850, HD 4830 and HD 4670. This is a welcome sight since subpar cooling and excruciating noise were a fact of life when and if you could adjust the fan speed. The cooling solution on the HD 4770 looks much like an Intel CPU heatsink and does an admirable job in dissipating the heat generated by the 40nm core. When overclocked, I measured load temperatures of 50 degrees Celsius when the fan was run at 100% and 60 degrees when the drivers were in charge of the show. Even at 60C I did not see any performance issues due to heat. With an open design like this though, there is one drawback when used in a less than optimally vented case; most of the heat generated will be discharged into the case, driving up component temperatures. The upside here is that the fan noise, while audible, is not what I would call incredibly loud. It was audible over my Scythe Kaze fans, but the pitch was not such that it was out of the norm driving me nuts.
As the first 40nm card delivered, the HD 4770 delivers respectable performance above that of the HD 4670 and almost equal to that of the 9800GTX+, depending on the game being played. At $100 or less, there is nothing that competes in this price point that can deliver the performance that the HD 4770 delivers. Once the overclocking tools are available to support clock speeds above 830/850, this card should fly.
- Easy overclocking to the limits
- Excellent performance vs. price
- Crossfire capable
- Priced right
- 40nm technology
- Cool running
- Limited overclocking in CCC