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A great many board partners will be selling Radeon HD 7770 and 7750 cards at launch, according to AMD. One of those vendors, XFX, sent us its flagship Cape Verde-based card, the R7770 Black Edition Overclocked.
A number of distinctions separate XFX’s card from AMD’s reference board. Aftermarket cooling is perhaps the most obvious. The R7770 Black Edition Overclocked employs a pair of axial fans spinning over aluminum fins attached to a copper heat sink. At idle, the combination is as close to silent as you can get. Under a 10-loop Metro 2033 load test, I measured 37.4 dB(A) from one meter away—quieter than some other cards’ idle acoustic output.
Of course, as its name suggests, the card ships overclocked, too. A 1120 MHz core and 1300 MHz memory setting are fairly significant increases over AMD’s own design. And those frequencies are made more notable by the fact that they don’t negatively impact thermals. Even as the card generates minimal sound, core temperatures hover one degree lower than the reference board.
XFX claims that such a seemingly-impossible combination of less noise, less heat, and more performance is made possible through a process called GPU edging, whereby the top 1% of GPUs are set aside based on their ability to overclock without pushing higher power levels.
Capitalizing on XFX’s binning process, we pushed the card even further and found stability with a 1150 MHz core and 1325 MHz memory clock.
At its highest overclock, the R7770 Black Edition is nearly able to match a GeForce GTX 560. We’ll have to see what sort of premium XFX charges for its most highly-tuned card. But there’s not much room above AMD’s $160 suggested price before bumping into the $185 or $190 most GTX 560s currently sell for.