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ATI Radeon HD 4770: 40nm Goes Mainstream

Core i7 965 Extreme Versus Athlon X2 7850

A Platform That Makes Sense

You’ll notice that we just ran that full suite of gaming tests on an Intel Core i7 965 Extreme-based machine, complete with X58 motherboard, 6 GB of pricey DDR3 RAM, and a 1,100W power supply—all to test a $109 graphics card.

We do this for a reason. When you test a platform that’s clearly overkill, you help minimize the number of potential bottlenecks that could inadvertently affect results. In a graphics card comparison, you want to reflect only the performance differences attributable to the card in question. But without a doubt, the configuration itself is unrealistic. So, we took what we hoped would be a sweet-spot setting, 1680x1050 without AA or AF enabled, and pit the powerful Core i7 965 Extreme against a significantly less-muscular processor being launched today, wondering if we’d see any performance variation.

The Athlon X2 7850 is a 65nm, 2.8 GHz chip based on the Kuma design. It sports two cores, twin 512 KB L2 caches, and a shared 2 MB L3 cache. With an expected price tag around $70, it’s a reasonable complement to the $109 graphics card. Ironically, you’d likely spend the most money on a motherboard in this little setup.

It’s generally thought that a majority of games are not optimized to take advantage of threading, but there is more than just a core discrepancy in play here. Clock speed, cache, micro-architecture are all different. But if these titles were purely graphics limited, none of that would matter and you’d still see similar performance numbers across the board.

A couple of apps are in fact decidedly limited by the muscle of our little Radeon HD 4770 here. Stalker and Crysis—two obvious contenders for such an honor—achieve low 30-ish frames per second on the $70 and $1,000 CPUs. The rest of the field does demonstrate bias toward the Core i7 965, though, subtly suggesting that we should probably recommend a quicker CPU for gamers. The Phenom II X3 720 does cost twice as much, but would likely make a prudent upgrade. Far Cry 2, Left 4 Dead, World in Conflict, and Grand Theft Auto 4 all stand to benefit from a quicker CPU.

  • Dekasav
    "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?
    Reply
  • "The card’s strange behavior continues on the CPU-only test, where it takes a nearly 2,000-point hit for no good reason" maybe because of the 128 bit memory bus
    Reply
  • kelfen
    solid card for the average gammer ;)
    Reply
  • bardia
    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.
    Reply
  • pharge
    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.
    Reply
  • Wondering about 4770x2, should be wishful item
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  • Summer Leigh Castle
    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!
    Reply
  • eklipz330
    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 in the past year than they've done to you in the pass 3-4
    Reply
  • eklipz330
    *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
    Reply
  • Ryun
    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.
    Reply