XFX & Sapphire HD 7770 1GB Reviewairman - February 14, 2012
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So, what all have we found through the progression of this review? Two new cards from two vendors who we all know and trust are available at a significantly low introductory price-point to directly follow the launch of the HD 7970s and HD 7950s. With the launch of these cards, 28nm technology is now available to everyone (who's willing to spend about $150 or more). It's clear that the 28nm process helps greatly with temperatures and power consumption, and even has a little bit to offer in the names of overclocking and the ability to run DX11 games at full resolution with high-detail graphics at 40 FPS and even more. Though some of the performance numbers don't quite match up to the numbers that we saw in the previous generation of the HD 6770s, we can only hope that more performance will jump out of these cards as the 12.x Catalysts evolve. Honestly, I was hoping for more of a scaling along the lines of HD 7770 = HD 6870, but that doesn't seem to be how it fell into place. With more time, maybe these cards will jump out a little bit. The reason I feel not so impressed is by looking at the HD 7970 versus HD 6970 performance — it's quite a significant margin. Of course, it's got a good bit larger price tag, but when I compare dollar for dollar, $110 for an HD 6770 to $170 or more for a high-end HD 7770, it leaves a little piece missing in my heart.
To speak about the cards without any comparison to others' performances, I like them. I had no problem running through the BF3 benchmark and I enjoyed doing the Batman and DiRT3 benchmarks. By comparison, those three games are by far the best-looking out of the entire OCC benchmarking suite and I was not disappointed in how they looked on the screen — especially with the eye-candy turned on. Batman certainly had the best performance out of the cards relative to the comparison cards, though I would have liked to see more from the other tests! On top of providing 40+ FPS in pretty much every test, the entire system idles at less than 100W and loads up at less than 200W, both stock and overclocked. Speaking of overclocking, I feel like there is a lot more room on the top of these cards if I could add in some voltage. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get the voltage unlocked with the software tools that I had, but hopefully it will soon become standard.
To summarize, both the XFX and Sapphire HD 7770 perform well under stock and overclocked conditions. I was hoping for a little more performance to be shown off under the HD 7000 series lineup, but we can't have everything. It is a jump up from the HD 6770 cards in performance, but they also cost a little bit more too. Hopefully as the 12.x Catalyst drivers progress, we will see a little more performance from the 28nm cards. Soon, we should be seeing the HD 7800 cards which should be an interesting balance between the big dog HD 7900s and these more budget-oriented HD 7000 cards. As far as Eyefinity testing goes, expect to see those in the next couple of days. All in all, for about $160 this card is suitable for just about anyone who needs a card to play some of the latest games at suitable frame rates and not hurt too much from the purchase. Not only are these affordable, but they are quiet even at full speed and have low power draws at full load. Additionally, they look great with the combination of cooler and PCB schemes and with a short "wheel-base", fitting them into any case short of small form factors should not be a problem.
- 28nm core runs cool and overclocks well
- Latest games including BF3, DiRT3, and Batman: AC are all playable at full resolution
- Low power draw even at full load (<200W)
- Even at full fan speed, noise levels are far below that of higher-end cards
- Price-to-performance didn't scale as expected