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Overclocking And Cooling

ATI Radeon HD 4770: 40nm Goes Mainstream
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In our Radeon HD 4890 review, we abstained from publishing overclocking results to avoid mis-representing what a retail sample of the card could really do.

This time around, however, we were simply too curious about the 40 nm shift and what it could mean for enthusiasts who don’t mind cranking the knobs on their brand new graphics cards. Bear in mind that this is still an early sample of the HD 4770—your mileage may vary.

With stock clocks of 750/800 MHz as our reference point, we settled on a stable 830/850 MHz combination of frequencies in 3D mode, maxing out ATI's Overdrive utility. And while the core automatically scales back to 250 MHz on the Windows desktop, memory maintains a constant 850 MHz when it’s overclocked.

Performance increases attributable to overclocking are minor, but certainly measurable. In Far Cry 2, the best returns fall just short of 10%.The same goes for Stalker, another one of the most GPU-limited tests in our suite.

Cooling

ATI readily admits that the Radeon HD 4770’s reference cooling solution was borrowed from its old 3800-series boards. Apparently, the less-aggressive dual-slot cooler enables cost savings versus single-slot solutions—but who’s to say? This thing still employs a large copper heatsink, heatpipes, and a covered shroud, so we’re honestly not sure where the supposed savings really comes from.

But by the time you’re ready to buy a new graphics card, you might not even need to worry about it. Wave one of Radeon HD 4770s will be the bog standard reference cards, as expected; dual-slot coolers, two dual-link DVI outputs, and so on. The wave after will be the ones tweaked by board partners (and will likely include models with single-slot coolers, juiced clocks, and special bundles).

Radeon HD 4770 (top) versus Radeon HD 4850 (bottom). The 4770 is 1 inch shorter (8.5 inch PCB), but employs a dual-slot cooler.Radeon HD 4770 (top) versus Radeon HD 4850 (bottom). The 4770 is 1 inch shorter (8.5 inch PCB), but employs a dual-slot cooler.

Of course, that’s when you’ll need to keep an eye out for price. Spend too much trying to doll up something that was good enough in its stock form and you’ll find yourself priced right out of the product’s original value proposition. A Radeon HD 4770 priced at $109 is what we have on the bench today, so assume reference across the board in your own comparisons.

One thing we do need to mention: the first Radeon HD 4770 that arrived had an early BIOS with a slightly “off” cooling ramp. It’d heat up, spin to full duty cycle for two seconds, then drop back down to idle. This was fixed by a second card sent out by ATI, along with a note stating all of the boards appearing at retail starting April 28th would include the fixed BIOS. We were also able to fix the issue by manually keying in the fan speed.

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  • 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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