Value and Conclusion
|9.3||It is pleasing to see that AMD made good use of the success it had with the Radeon HD 4800 Series, by investing in advancement of existing technologies. A graphics processor built on the new 40 nm manufacturing process is certainly a change for the better, and will help the company and its partners make the most out of the crucial mainstream consumer graphics segment. In return, the company is offering a beast of a graphics card with the Radeon HD 4770. Never in recent times, since the Radeon HD 4850, have we seen a new Radeon GPU take on its competition with such confidence. Full marks for its performance.|
Speaking of performance, the 640 stream processors, 16 render back-ends, and the memory interface provide sufficient horsepower to tackle any of today's games at resolutions of 1680x1050, or below. This card marks the mainstream entry of GDDR5 memory. The new memory standard made its debut with the AMD Radeon HD 4870, where despite its high bandwidth on offer, it left some room for doubts on how much of a leap it really was, in comparison to GDDR3, given that it offers almost twice the bandwidth. In theory, GDDR5 offers twice the amount of bandwidth in comparison to GDDR3 at any given configuration. These doubts have been laid to rest by the Radeon HD 4770, where, despite the seemingly narrow 128-bit memory interface, and the memory running at 800 MHz (1600 MHz DDR), the card trumped every competitor in its range with broader GDDR3 memory interfaces, and held up pretty well against them with memory-intensive image quality settings cranked up in some higher-resolution tests. A 128-bit GDDR5 memory interface gives you the same amount of bandwidth as a 256-bit GDDR3 interface at the same clock speed. The memory on this card further leaves you massive overclocking headroom. Originally specified for 1000 MHz, the memory chips on the card comfortably made it past the 1100 MHz mark, way up from its 800 MHz reference speed. The core overclock is typical of what I expect from AMD, I have no complaints, especially looking at the performance you could expect from overclocking this card.
The demerits of AMD's Radeon HD 4770 lie not with the card itself, but by the competition it faces. While it outperforms NVIDIA's GeForce 9800 GT and ATI Radeon HD 4830, the two are offered at lower prices. $109 before mail-in-rebate isn't a bad price to start with, but it doesn't exactly impress, when the Radeon HD 4830 can be had for as low as $87 in the US. While NVIDIA asks for a bit more cash, it also has the incentive of CUDA, with support for the PhysX acceleration. According to our latest poll 77% of our readers don't care about CUDA/PhysX. Although I didn't expect miracles out of AMD's move to the 40 nm process as far as power consumptions went, I am moderately satisfied with this card's power consumption figures. The idle power consumption is simply too high. The only real competition in the Performance per Watt department is AMD's Radeon HD 4830. With CrossFire technology, AMD gives you the option of using up to two cards in tandem, triple or quad configurations are not supported.
All in all, I am very pleased with this card. It offers the the highest performance in its class, at a fair price. The 40 nm process gets to the job right away, showing no signs of technological infancy, even though we don't know AMD's yields which could affect the mass availability of their RV740 GPUs. With this card, GDDR5 proved itself as an imminent successor for GDDR3, and is the way to go. When in the market for a $100 graphics card, this is the card to look out for. The odd $10 difference isn't being unreasonable of AMD and will probably vanish soon, thanks to an agressive pricing strategy. Optimism when embracing new technologies certainly pays off, and the AMD Radeon HD 4770 carries that message.