AMD Radeon HD 7770 and 7750 Cape Verde GPU Review
Conclusions and Final Thoughts
There are two different cards here in our review, both of which deserve some attention. Let's start with the Radeon HD 7770 1GB card, and if necessary, we can add the "GHz Edition" to its name. When compared this card to the likes of the HD 6770 and HD 5770, it is a notable performance increase and an even better power efficiency improvement. Unfortunately for AMD, the market doesn't work like that and prices on previous cards have fallen. Instead of going up against the previous HD 6700/5700 cards, the HD 7770 1GB is priced to go against their HD 6850 and even the HD 6870 which proves to be a much more problematic comparison. In general, the Radeon HD 7770 1GB card is slower than the identically priced HD 6850 1GB card as well as the GeForce GTX 560 1GB card that runs only $25 more. It does beat out the GTX 550 Ti from NVIDIA but that can be found for as much as $30 LESS than the HD 7770. It appears that the Radeon HD 7770 is wedged into an area that presents a lot of comparison problems.
The Radeon HD 7750 looks like a much better performance prospect as we found it to be faster than not only the GTS 450 but also the GTX 550 Ti in many cases. On the AMD front, also available for the $109 price tag, the Radeon HD 6770/5770 fall behind the HD 7750 in all of our tests and more so where newer technology like tessellation is utilized. Considering the HD 7750 costs less than the GTX 550 Ti, it is easily my new favorite card in the ~$100 range.
In my testing CrossFire is scaling well and getting a pair of the HD 7770 cards actually makes quite a bit of sense when compared to similar single GPU cards of the same price point. This would allow a gamer that is limited to the ~$160 range today to upgrade down the road knowing you see great scaling in current titles.
Power and Efficiency
If there is a saving grace for the HD 7770, and solidifies the HD 7750 as a great card, it is the relative power efficiency of the new Cape Verde GPU built on the 28nm process. The HD 7770 might be a bit slower than the HD 6850 but it uses noticeably less power and will run cooler and quieter, all things being equal. And compared to the NVIDIA options like the GTX 550 Ti and the GTX 560, the HD 7770 is much improved. The Radeon HD 7750 uses less power than even the GTS 450 but absolutely destroys it in performance testing and it continues to enjoy a solid advantage against the HD 6770 and GTX 550 Ti too.
There aren't really a huge amount of new features for the SI architecture - Eyefinity is still the only single-GPU option for running multiple display gaming configurations though this new GPU doesn't offer enough performance to push a 5760x1080 configuration on a single card. NVIDIA's GTX 500-series still requires you to have an SLI configuration to get Surround to function and then you dive into the world of multi-GPU issues that we have noted in several places in this review.
The availability of Eyefinity + HD3D is interesting but isn't really an HD 7000 exclusive; the 12.1 drivers offer this on Radeon 6000 series cards as well. DDMA (discrete digital multi-point audio) could really change the way users interact with different audio/video sources on their PCs but we are going to have to wait and see implementations of it before making a conclusion there.
Texture filtering has been improved, the new Steady Video 2.0 will be available soon and we have already discussed PowerTune and ZeroCore technologies and what advantages they offer.
Pricing and Availability
The price of these cards has been crucial to all of our comparisons, but here it is again:
- AMD Radeon HD 7770 1GB - $159
- AMD Radeon HD 6850 1GB - $159
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 1GB - $180
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 550 Ti 1GB - $129
As I have been saying throughout the review, the problem with the HD 7770 is that it is sandwiched between the GTX 560 and the GTX 550 Ti in terms of pricing. The HD 6850 and HD 6870 present great options as well for just about the same cost too, which should make users buying today or very soon wipe drool from their mouth. It should be noted though, that once the Barts GPUs are gone, and I think that will be pretty soon, the HD 7770 will be the sole option in this price range and will probably be priced a bit lower and thus look a little more favorable.
- AMD Radeon HD 7750 1GB - $109
- AMD Radeon HD 6770 1GB - $109
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 550 Ti 1GB - $129
- NVIDIA GeForce GTS 450 1GB - $109
The HD 7750 is a much easier sell - it is priced lower than the GTX 550 Ti yet performs at or above that level. The two cards that are priced at the same $109 mark fall well behind it, especially the GTS 450.
If you didn't see our video review, feel free to check that out here or jump to our conclusions right below.
Unlike the Radeon HD 7970 and HD 7950 3GB graphics cards the Cape Verde-based HD 7770 and HD 7750 1GB cards aren't nearly the slam dunk. Instead hitting the really high price points where competition is somewhat limited, these two enter into a field that is incredibly crowded both with previous AMD cards and current NVIDIA options. As it stands today the Radeon HD 7770 is the most power efficient card at the $160 price point though it is surrounded by cards that can offer similar or higher levels of performance for $30 less or $30 more.
The Radeon HD 7750 gets a strong recommendation on the other hand as at $109 it beats out or ties the more expensive GTX 550 Ti while also leaving the Radeon HD 6770/5770 behind as well. The fact that is doesn't require any external power and can perform as well as it does using as little as 55 watts really puts the HD 7750 in a unique place.
Now, all that is left for gamers is to wait on the upcoming Radeon HD 7800 Pitcairn GPU to round out the Southern Islands architecture completely and to look forward to the arrival of Kepler. It is going to be a very interesting spring...
AMD Radeon HD 7750 1GB