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AMD Radeon HD 7730 Review: A Harbinger Of The Kaveri APU?

AMD Radeon HD 7730 Review: A Harbinger Of The Kaveri APU?
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We got our hands on two Radeon HD 7730 cards from Sapphire: one with 2 GB of DDR3 and the other sporting 1 GB of GDDR5. How do they compare to AMD's Radeon HD 6670s, and what might we glean from these boards about the upcoming Kaveri-based APUs?

AMD introduced its Graphics Core Next architecture in the Radeon HD 7970's Tahiti GPU way back in December of 2011. In the 20 months since then, the company's Radeon HD 7750 was the lowest-end model based on GCN. Below that, you'll find older VLIW5-based Radeon HD 6670, 6650, and 6450 boards. Those cards have been around so long that OEMs are rebadging the Radeon HD 6670 as a 7670 just so it sounds new. Bleh.

But AMD recently (and quietly) started shipping a new entry-level Radeon HD 7730 in Asia. Then, it started trickling into Europe. According to Sapphire, you'll soon see it in the U.S. as well.

Although a budget-oriented board centering on GCN isn't going to elevate anyone's heart rate, we really want to see how it compares to the Radeon HD 6600-series cards. More significantly, perhaps, the Radeon HD 7730 may give us a glimpse of AMD's next-generation APU, code-named Kaveri, which my not show up until early 2014. 

There's a lot of misinformation floating around about the 7730's GPU, so we cleared things up with AMD to get you a more accurate depiction of its Cape Verde LE graphics processor.

We're not surprised that the Radeon HD 7730 comes armed with a cut-down version of the Cape Verde GPU found in AMD's Radeon HD 7750 and 7770. Both mid-range models have been around for quite a while, and it makes sense that the company would sort its chips to put the imperfect ones to use. The 7730's specifications are also typical of AMD's sub-$100 line-up. Two of Cape Verde's four render partitions are disabled, leaving eight full-color ROPs per clock. An aggregate 128-bit memory interface remains. The GPU has six of its 10 compute units turned on, each hosting 64 ALUs and four texture units, adding up to 384 shaders and 24 total texture units.

Before you try too hard to compare the number of shaders, texture units, ROPs, and memory bandwidth to AMD's Radeon HD 6670, remember that both GPUs leverage different architectures. So, while the 7730 comes up short against the 6670's shader count, we aren't expecting it to be slower. In fact, it should be more efficient, using less power for comparable performance.

When it comes to clock rates, the Radeon HD 6670 and 7730 share the same 800 MHz core frequency. The DDR3 versions of both cards employ 900 MHz memory, while the GDDR5 model of the Radeon HD 7730 enjoys a 125 MHz advantage over the 6670's 1 GHz setting. At the same time, the Radeon HD 7730 GDDR5 is specified for a 17 W-lower TDP than the Radeon HD 6670 GDDR5.


GeForce GT 640
DDR3
Radeon HD 6670Radeon HD 7730Radeon HD 7750
Shader Cores
384 (Kepler)
480 (VLIW5)
384 (GCN)
512 (GCN)
Texture Units
32
24
24
32
Color ROPs
16
8
8
16
Fabrication process
28 nm
40 nm28 nm28 nm
Core (Shader) Clock
900 MHz
800 MHz
800 MHz
800 MHz
Memory Clock
891 MHz DDR3
900 MHz DDR3
900-1000 MHz GDDR5
900 MHz DDR3
1125 MHz GDDR5
1125 MHz GDDR5
Memory Bus
128-bit
128-bit128-bit
128-bit
Memory Bandwidth
28.5 GB/s DDR3
28.8 GB/s DDR3
64 GB/s GDDR5
28.8 GB/s DDR3
72 GB/s GDDR5
72 GB/s
Idle/Max Thermal
Design Power
15/65 W
10/44 W DDR3
11/60 W GDDR5
47 W
55 W
Price
$80-$140
(Newegg)
$60-$80 DDR3
$75-$98 GDDR5
(Newegg)
~$69 1 GB GDDR5
~$79 2 GB DDR3
(MSRP)
$90-$155
(Newegg)

Based on its specifications, we're thinking that the Radeon HD 7730 will probably perform a lot like the Radeon HD 6670 with the same memory technology on-board. That means it will do battle in the space underneath AMD's $90 Radeon HD 7750.

The competing Radeon HD 6670 GDDR5 and GeForce GT 640 show up too close to the superior 7750, so we have to hope the 7730 starts in the $60 range. Right now, that's what AMD is asking for its Radeon HD 6670 DDR3, which we consider to be the best entry-level discrete card. 

Sapphire HD 7730 DDR3 and GDDR5

Sapphire sent us two Radeon HD 7730s to test. One is equipped with 2 GB of 900 MHz DDR3 and the second has half as much GDDR5 memory operating at 1125 MHz. Measuring 6.5"x4.25", both PCBs are the same size as AMD's reference Radeon HD 7750, although Sapphire employs a beefier dual-slot cooling solution. The two samples actually look pretty similar from up top; really, the biggest differences are down on the board. 

The boards also look alike from the back, though you can see the 2 GB model's extra DDR3 memory up top.

Both of Sapphire's Radeon HD 7730 cards feature dual-link DVI, HDMI, and VGA outputs. It's unfortunate that you don't get DisplayPort connectivity, which you'd want for a three-screen Eyefinity setup.

The 7730's 47 W TDP falls well below a 16-lane PCI Express slot's 75 W ceiling, so you don't need an auxiliary power input.

Sapphire's Dual-X cooler is equipped with a single 75 mm axial fan, and the cooing block is solid aluminum with no heat pipes.

AMD doesn't arm these cards with a physical bridge connector for CrossFire, though the multi-GPU technology is purportedly supported via software.

Given an entry-level target, you don't get much bundled with these cards: a driver CD, quick installation card, and Sapphire's registration card. There are three different output connectors, so adapters really aren't necessary anyway. And although this a Radeon HD 7700-series product, we're told that these low-budget boards do not qualify for AMD's Never Settle game bundle.

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  • 18 Hide
    designasaurus , August 4, 2013 10:21 PM
    Quote:
    Just look at that performance difference between DDR3 and GDDR5. AMD sure needs to implement GDDR5 in Kaveri in order not to waist all that GPU potential.


    Your comment, while being perfectly accurate, actually made me notice something interesting. Take a look at the charts, and you'll see that the GCN 7730s are less affected by the switch from DDR3 to GDDR5 than the VLIW 6670s! That means GCN is leaving less performance on the table if it's paired with slower memory, which is ideal for the situation an APU is usually in (PS4 aside).
Other Comments
  • 13 Hide
    rmpumper , August 4, 2013 10:00 PM
    Just look at that performance difference between DDR3 and GDDR5. AMD sure needs to implement GDDR5 in Kaveri in order not to waist all that GPU potential.
  • 1 Hide
    MrPintar14 , August 4, 2013 10:20 PM
    Typo on second page, both 7730 GPUs say DDR3 but the second one should say GDDR5
  • 18 Hide
    designasaurus , August 4, 2013 10:21 PM
    Quote:
    Just look at that performance difference between DDR3 and GDDR5. AMD sure needs to implement GDDR5 in Kaveri in order not to waist all that GPU potential.


    Your comment, while being perfectly accurate, actually made me notice something interesting. Take a look at the charts, and you'll see that the GCN 7730s are less affected by the switch from DDR3 to GDDR5 than the VLIW 6670s! That means GCN is leaving less performance on the table if it's paired with slower memory, which is ideal for the situation an APU is usually in (PS4 aside).
  • 1 Hide
    Onus , August 4, 2013 10:26 PM
    At the right price, this looks like a real winner, especially the GDDR5 version. If a $90 HD7750 is too rich, an HD7730 for $65 looks like it is still capable of playing most games, especially at 720p resolutions where a lot of HTPC cards operate.
    The "secret sauce" that could really catapult this one would be if some of its disabled pieces might be able to be switched on.
  • 0 Hide
    ET3D , August 4, 2013 11:04 PM
    Regarding Kaveri, it looks from this that CGN means better performance with DDR3, but also higher power consumption. If AMD wants to keep to the same power envelope it might have to reduce GPU clock speeds, which will eat into the performance advantage. In the end, it feels from this that Kaveri will offer only a minor performance boost.

    Hopefully AMD has done more power optimisations and that won't be the case.
  • 0 Hide
    17seconds , August 4, 2013 11:06 PM
    There it is, F1 creeping its way back into the test suite.
  • 1 Hide
    shikamaru31789 , August 5, 2013 12:10 AM
    I'm a little dissapointed if this is what we can expect from Kaveri. I was hoping for something that would come closer to matching the APU in the Xbox One. I want to build a small HTPC for gaming in my living room, and an APU would have been ideal for that since the smaller HTPC cases don't have room for large discrete graphics cards. I don't know, maybe Kaveri could still be useful if they actually get Hybrid Crossfire working properly, a Kaveri APU paired with a discrete 7730 and DDR3 2133 might just work out for my purposes.
  • 3 Hide
    slomo4sho , August 5, 2013 12:27 AM
    I don't see why manufacturers continue to utilize this ram in newer products... Just get rid of DDR3 already...


    Also, how is this Cape Verde GPU a "Harbinger Of The Kaveri APU"? It is a trimmed down 7750 and since a 7750 can provide no real insight into the performance of upcoming Kaveri APUs then how does this entry level card provide any better insight?
  • 0 Hide
    army_ant7 , August 5, 2013 12:39 AM
    On page 10, does the reference HD 7750 really have a load temp of 97C?
    (73C + 24C ambient = 93C)

    Anyway, the GDDR5 HD 7750 looks like a viable game-enabler for PC gamers on a budget. Also, it's a nice refresh for that price point's options. I do hope it sells for around $60 or less. :-D
  • 2 Hide
    sarinaide , August 5, 2013 12:40 AM
    Quote:
    I'm a little dissapointed if this is what we can expect from Kaveri. I was hoping for something that would come closer to matching the APU in the Xbox One. I want to build a small HTPC for gaming in my living room, and an APU would have been ideal for that since the smaller HTPC cases don't have room for large discrete graphics cards. I don't know, maybe Kaveri could still be useful if they actually get Hybrid Crossfire working properly, a Kaveri APU paired with a discrete 7730 and DDR3 2133 might just work out for my purposes.


    I have found a Trinity based APU more than enough for a HTPC. I would not have banked on Kaveri matching the XB1 and PS4's custom build silicon as in the name the APU designed for MS and Sony was of custom design and the hardware was always going to scale beyond that for desktop parts. If you offered me HD7730-7750 performance on a Kaveri I would be very pleased with that. What hasn't been brought to light is that the Spectre IGPU on Kaveri features around 512 Stream Processors and increased ROP's and compute units so it may very well be a potent iGPU.

    Dual Graphics has improved with Catalyst 13.8 to the point it is now playable, if a Richland can DG with the HD7730's that would be tremendous fo gaming under $200 for chip and card.

  • 7 Hide
    sanilmahambre , August 5, 2013 1:29 AM
    They should have only introduced the DDR5 version and scrap the DDR3
  • 0 Hide
    animadvert , August 5, 2013 1:30 AM
    Wouldn't it be cool if the DDR3 version was made because in hybrid crossfire, with a kaveri APU, the hUMA architecture allows the CPU and integrated graphics to use the 2GB of dedicated Vram as well? Maybe it's AMD's secret super weapon? That way a system with 8Gb of DDR3 now has 10 Gb :0. Or at the very least maybe it'll sync better with the integrated graphics, since memory isn't added together in crossfire?
  • -3 Hide
    hannibal , August 5, 2013 1:50 AM
    If Kaveri is even near the performance of 7730, it will blow Hasvel GPU put out of the sky! But as it has been said they have to reduce the clockspeed, so the difference would not be so huge, but as it allso has been said Trinity allready is very good and if the CPU will get even better, the Kaveri will be a great HTPC CPU. It may even be reasonable good all around CPU and that is a big deal. Ofcource if you want good gaming rig, you need something much, much more powerfull, like 3 way Titan and so on, but that tould cost near 5000$ without desent monitor (4K monitor +5000$) so they are not exacly in the same league :-)
    All in all, not a bad budget card!
  • 1 Hide
    sarinaide , August 5, 2013 2:49 AM
    Quote:
    If Kaveri is even near the performance of 7730, it will blow Hasvel GPU put out of the sky! But as it has been said they have to reduce the clockspeed, so the difference would not be so huge, but as it allso has been said Trinity allready is very good and if the CPU will get even better, the Kaveri will be a great HTPC CPU. It may even be reasonable good all around CPU and that is a big deal. Ofcource if you want good gaming rig, you need something much, much more powerfull, like 3 way Titan and so on, but that tould cost near 5000$ without desent monitor (4K monitor +5000$) so they are not exacly in the same league :-)
    All in all, not a bad budget card!


    Trinity's HD7660D and HD7650D are already faster than Intels desktop Graphics in HD4600 ilk and not just on Frame rates but latencies as well, They have done a review of HD5100 and 5200 Pro's with the HD5100 still slower than Richlands HD8670D by a margin and Iris is faster but costs around $600 for the all in one BGA setups which prevent expansion.

    Kaveri will be based on the smaller Steamroller cores which will improve performance/watt clock for clock with Vishera based cores and the IGPU will be on a more efficient GCN opposed to the Turks based VLIW4 architecture. If Trinity and Richland are already impressive I think Kaveri is going to top it by at least doubling iGPU over Trinity/Richland and x86 anywhere from 20-40% depending on the nature of the application, then there is HUMA and the HSA environment it think its going to be a very exciting release if you accept it for what it is, it will not be a champion chip in traditional computing sense but in a HSA environment it will blow away everything before it, cue the adobe premier pro benches 6800K vs 3770K is already around 500% faster in that environment AMD is king in integrated graphics AMD will be head and shoulders above its competition.

  • -3 Hide
    spentshells , August 5, 2013 4:57 AM
    Come sapphire could you at least put 1 heatpipe on it
  • 2 Hide
    unionoob , August 5, 2013 5:44 AM
    I know that card is outdated but would LOVE to see HD 5770 1GB card added in such benchmarks.
  • 0 Hide
    emad_ramlawi , August 5, 2013 6:08 AM
    hmmm... why no HD 7750 DDR3 in the charts, if you want to mention kaveri in the article, then please remember that high end kaveri will ship with 512 shaders and not 384, so comparing it with 7730 doesnt make much sense , i like the review of the 7730, but its not comparable with kaveri, the hd 7750 1GB DDR3 which is missing from this article is much more closer to kaveri
  • 0 Hide
    salh , August 5, 2013 6:49 AM
    Is DDR3 significantly cheaper to produce?
  • 0 Hide
    Maxime506 , August 5, 2013 7:16 AM
    That's an impressive news for some guys who has only OEM rigs and it helps a lot for them to easily upgrade their GPU without worrying too much about the power consumption.

    But for me, I care more about the Kaveri APU. I've heard rumors that the flagship Kaveri APU, probably A10s, would sport iGPU like HD 7750/7770 which has 512 or 768 shaders (but the 768 may blow the sale of HD 7790 so making it 512 shaders is more possible), so we would see better performance. This review has a better picture for us and even if the flagship has equipped only 384 shaders the performance could be still impressive esp. using 2133 or 2400 mhz memory. We're looking forward to the launch of the new APUs and hope it would be a great leap forward compared w/ Richland and Trinity APUs
  • 0 Hide
    megamanxtreme , August 5, 2013 8:23 AM
    I have a HD 7750 GDDR3 and I want to know where it stacks up, since I also have the GTX 650 GDDR5 and GT 440 GDDR5. If the 7750 is better than the GT 440, I will replace it for my tower.
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