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Conclusion

ATI Radeon HD 4770: 40nm Goes Mainstream
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A week ago, this conclusion read a lot differently. The Radeon HD 4770 was set to be priced at $99 and the card trounced the Radeon HD 4830 selling for $10 less on the street. At the same time, it boldly stood up against the Radeon HD 4850 and GeForce GTS 250 averaging $30 more (note that the 1 GB GTS 250 is an additional $10 to $20 more than even the Radeon HD 4850). Thirty bucks isn't much money, but when you're talking about $100 graphics cards, that's a significant chunk of value. It almost seemed too good to be true.

Well, you know what they say about too good to be true. At the last minute, ATI changed the price to $109. Nothing about the card's performance was altered. It remains a fast little board with good power consumption numbers. But it lost that "in your face for under $100" sass. For 20 bucks less, you can still pick up a Radeon HD 4830 (a card that still performs very well). Or, for 20 bucks more, you could grab the Radeon HD 4850 or a 512 MB GeForce GTS 250 (cards that are generally faster). The 4770 is now priced appropriately, not spectacularly.

When Nvidia launched its GeForce GTX 275, we were quick to recommend it to enthusiasts lusting after the GTX 285, but hesitant to spend so much money on a graphics upgrade right now. Today, we’re doing the same with ATI’s Radeon HD 4770. If you had your eye on a Radeon HD 4850 or GeForce GTS 250 at $120-$130, this card will paint a very similar performance picture for $110. Yes, if you chase the lowest price and factor in mail-in-rebates, the Radeon HD 4850 and GeForce GTS 250 come very close to this card. But on average, those boards are more realistically $120-$130 offerings. And if that's the game you play, ATI is also claiming a mail-in-rebate will push the 4770 under $100, too.

Even as Nvidia’s CUDA and PhysX technologies gain traction, gaming performance remains the principle impetus for enthusiasts to upgrade their graphics cards. The Radeon HD 4770 won’t play all of your games smoothly at 1920x1200 using high quality settings, but it can drive that configuration in a number of them.

The one value-add we now see disrupting the performance-only approach to buying graphics is Nvidia's CUDA. We’ve been working on a roundup of CUDA-enabled applications all month, and it’s becoming clear that general purpose GPU computing is very much within the reach of the mainstream right now. ATI is trailing behind in this initiative, and the lack of applications optimized for the company’s Stream technology does weigh in as a negative.

However, we have to trust that the Tom’s Hardware audience is informed enough to know whether or not they have a legitimate outlet for employing CUDA and, to a lesser extent, PhysX. GeForce 3D Vision, the third pillar in Nvidia’s value-add message, simply isn’t viable given the performance of these mid-range graphics cards. To really enjoy that, you’ll need something more powerful.

At $99, the Radeon HD 4770 was an award winner. At $109, it remains a good demonstration of 40 nm manufacturing at work and, as mentioned, a recommended alternative to the Radeon HD 4850/GeForce GTS 250 for budget-crunched gamers. Well-played ATI, well played.

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Top Comments
  • 31 Hide
    bardia , April 28, 2009 5:19 AM
    I'm pretty blown away at the kind of performance that can be had for ~$100 these days thanks to ATI. It wasn't long ago when Nvidia forced us to choice between the incredibly crappy 8600GT for $150 and the ~$250-300 8800GTS 320.

    ATI is leading us into graphics nirvana.
  • 14 Hide
    Summer Leigh Castle , April 28, 2009 5:33 AM
    bardiaI'm pretty blown away at the kind of performance that can be had for ~$100 these days thanks to ATI. It wasn't long ago when Nvidia forced us to choice between the incredibly crappy 8600GT for $150 and the ~$250-300 8800GTS 320.ATI is leading us into graphics nirvana.

    I spent almost $300 on my 8800GTS 320 OC when they came out and I thought I got a great deal. Things have changed! Competition = good for the consumers!
  • 12 Hide
    RazberyBandit , April 28, 2009 8:21 AM
    Good write-up, Chris. Two points of criticism, one of high praise.

    First, I would have preferred to see a whole line of 512MB cards - Tossing a 1GB GTS into the mix makes the higher rez comparisons rather unfair. Given that the typical cost of a 1GB version of the GTS250 is is typically $150-$160 (~$140 w/ MiR), not the $120-$130 price you purport, (those around $120 or so are the 512MB cards) there is more to that story than just the amount of VRAM.

    Second, the part about DX10 vs DX10.1 where you said the following:
    Quote:
    At 1920x1200, the Radeon HD 4850 achieves 12.7 frames per second with “Use DX 10.1” checked (compared to 11.3 frames without it). Looking for a more playable frame rate, we dropped to 1280x1024 and recorded 21.35 frames—down from 21.5. The moral of the story? Don’t expect DX 10.1 to make this title any more playable than it was without the feature enabled.

    Why didn't you perform that specific switch on the 4770? I mean, that's the card the article is focused upon, right? Just seems more prudent to apply that to the focus card.

    Lastly, I particularly liked the comparison where you went from the "king" i7 to the budget-oriented X2 Kuma. It clearly showed the benefit of a much faster CPU and it's associated architecture in games that are clearly CPU-dependent.
Other Comments
  • 5 Hide
    Dekasav , April 28, 2009 4:16 AM
    "Well-played ATI, well played."

    Couldn't say it better, myself.

    Looks to be a pretty good card, but nothing spectacular. 40nm is nice, a little cheaper HD 4850 (fewer FPS, too), but all in all, nicely done.

    I wonder who'll sell more, now, the 4850 or the 4770?
  • 4 Hide
    kelfen , April 28, 2009 4:38 AM
    solid card for the average gammer ;) 
  • 31 Hide
    bardia , April 28, 2009 5:19 AM
    I'm pretty blown away at the kind of performance that can be had for ~$100 these days thanks to ATI. It wasn't long ago when Nvidia forced us to choice between the incredibly crappy 8600GT for $150 and the ~$250-300 8800GTS 320.

    ATI is leading us into graphics nirvana.
  • 10 Hide
    pharge , April 28, 2009 5:19 AM
    Wondering will 4770 a good one for crossfire? Can we have a review on it....? With its low power useage when fully loaded, cheaper price (~$40 cheaper than 4850 when CF), not much slower than 4850 (512MB), and nice overclocking range... It will be nice to see will 4770 CF setup be useful (playable) in games (1920x1200) with some visual goodies truned on.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , April 28, 2009 5:32 AM
    Wondering about 4770x2, should be wishful item
  • 14 Hide
    Summer Leigh Castle , April 28, 2009 5:33 AM
    bardiaI'm pretty blown away at the kind of performance that can be had for ~$100 these days thanks to ATI. It wasn't long ago when Nvidia forced us to choice between the incredibly crappy 8600GT for $150 and the ~$250-300 8800GTS 320.ATI is leading us into graphics nirvana.

    I spent almost $300 on my 8800GTS 320 OC when they came out and I thought I got a great deal. Things have changed! Competition = good for the consumers!
  • 5 Hide
    eklipz330 , April 28, 2009 5:38 AM
    this card is amazing for 1680x1050, if they can manage to slap some aftermarket coolers on there, buying two for the price of a 1gb 4870, and overclocking them, im pretty sure we'd pass gtx 285 numbers.... simply amazing.

    great card for 16x10 resolution. good job ati, you've done more damage to nvidia[and they're sickly pricing schemes] in the past year than they've done to you in the pass 3-4
  • 0 Hide
    eklipz330 , April 28, 2009 5:44 AM
    *edit*

    just checked newegg and they all have aftermarket coolers on them... wow *_*

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&DEPA=0&Order=BESTMATCH&Description=4770&x=0&y=0
  • 1 Hide
    Ryun , April 28, 2009 5:50 AM
    eklipz330*edit*just checked newegg and they all have aftermarket coolers on them... wow *_*http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 70&x=0&y=0


    Nah, they're reference coolers from AMD. From what I heard, AMD gave the AIB partners a choice between the dual slot and the, for lack of a better term, uglier cooler. Apparently the "uglier" one is cheaper so that's what you're probably going see for now.
  • 2 Hide
    aznguy0028 , April 28, 2009 6:18 AM
    RyunNah, they're reference coolers from AMD. From what I heard, AMD gave the AIB partners a choice between the dual slot and the, for lack of a better term, uglier cooler. Apparently the "uglier" one is cheaper so that's what you're probably going see for now.

    i actually like the "uglier" coolers. they look like a spaceship on the card xD. haha
  • 2 Hide
    JAYDEEJOHN , April 28, 2009 6:33 AM
    Im just hoping they spend as much space, and lines on ATI's DX10.1 whenever nVidia releases something, or in an nVidia review coming
  • -8 Hide
    anamaniac , April 28, 2009 7:00 AM
    It will play Crysis!
    Now to see, will it crossfire with a 4670? That'd be orgasmic.
    I luv my 4670, but I also want the 4770... :'( 

    I love seeing low power cards also. I'm too cheap to buy a good PSU.
    All the cards on newegg look exactly the same...
  • 4 Hide
    thepinkpanther , April 28, 2009 7:14 AM
    dang i thought the 4770 would suck compared to any 256 bit interface card,boy! was i wrong!
  • -4 Hide
    Ryun , April 28, 2009 7:17 AM
    aznguy0028i actually like the "uglier" coolers. they look like a spaceship on the card xD. haha


    Maybe bulkier would've been a better term? =)

    Sorry it's late and I'm working on a web computing project so my vernacular is a little narrow.
  • 6 Hide
    crisisavatar , April 28, 2009 7:23 AM
    excellent card but i think the extra 10 bucks made it loose some of it's charm.
  • 6 Hide
    cangelini , April 28, 2009 7:46 AM
    phargeWondering will 4770 a good one for crossfire? Can we have a review on it....? With its low power useage when fully loaded, cheaper price (~$40 cheaper than 4850 when CF), not much slower than 4850 (512MB), and nice overclocking range... It will be nice to see will 4770 CF setup be useful (playable) in games (1920x1200) with some visual goodies truned on.


    This is upcoming. I know they were asking for CrossFire in other countries as well, but we didn't receive two of these boards. There is a Radeon HD 4770 roundup in the works, however!
  • 1 Hide
    NuclearShadow , April 28, 2009 8:15 AM
    The price to performance ratio just keeps getting better and better. I'm simply amazed by this.
  • 12 Hide
    RazberyBandit , April 28, 2009 8:21 AM
    Good write-up, Chris. Two points of criticism, one of high praise.

    First, I would have preferred to see a whole line of 512MB cards - Tossing a 1GB GTS into the mix makes the higher rez comparisons rather unfair. Given that the typical cost of a 1GB version of the GTS250 is is typically $150-$160 (~$140 w/ MiR), not the $120-$130 price you purport, (those around $120 or so are the 512MB cards) there is more to that story than just the amount of VRAM.

    Second, the part about DX10 vs DX10.1 where you said the following:
    Quote:
    At 1920x1200, the Radeon HD 4850 achieves 12.7 frames per second with “Use DX 10.1” checked (compared to 11.3 frames without it). Looking for a more playable frame rate, we dropped to 1280x1024 and recorded 21.35 frames—down from 21.5. The moral of the story? Don’t expect DX 10.1 to make this title any more playable than it was without the feature enabled.

    Why didn't you perform that specific switch on the 4770? I mean, that's the card the article is focused upon, right? Just seems more prudent to apply that to the focus card.

    Lastly, I particularly liked the comparison where you went from the "king" i7 to the budget-oriented X2 Kuma. It clearly showed the benefit of a much faster CPU and it's associated architecture in games that are clearly CPU-dependent.
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