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

Radeon HD 7730 Is Good, If The Price Is Right

With our benchmarks out of the way, we can compile a chart of aggregate performance to get a better sense of where the Radeon HD 7730s sit in comparison to their predecessors and competition.

It comes as little surprise that the Radeon HD 7750 finishes today's story on top. Relative to the Radeon HD 6670 with DDR3 memory, the new 7730 (also equipped with DDR3) is more than 20% faster. The GDDR5-equipped model's lead is slightly smaller versus the Radeon HD 6670 GDDR5, but still in the double-digit percentage range. Nvidia's GeForce GT 630 and 640 show up in the middle, between old and new generations of AMD hardware.

At the end of the day, availability, pricing, and competition will determine the Radeon HD 7730's fate. At $90, the Radeon HD 7750 doesn't leave much room in the entry-level discrete space for cheaper options to maneuver, and we've never been able to recommend the GDDR5-equipped 6670 or GeForce GT 640 because they share that same price point. 

On the other hand, AMD's Radeon HD 6670 DDR3 consistently gets a recommendation in the $60 range. That $30 spread is a really big deal when you're talking about sub-$100 graphics cards. Nvidia's GeForce GT 630 GDDR5 suffers from sparse availability, but also deserves recognition in this segment.

So, what impact will the Radeon HD 7730 have on today's entry-level market? Sapphire tells us that the Radeon HD 7730 with 1 GB of GDDR5 memory will be available in North America for $70. If so, that'll become a true spiritual successor to the Radeon HD 5670 GDDR5, with better sub-$80 performance than we've ever seen before. Cross your fingers; this is what we're hoping to see happen.

As for the Radeon HD 7730 with 2 GB of DDR3, Sapphire is anticipating an $80 price point. Let's be clear: despite the extra gigabyte of memory, less bandwidth means this board is slower than the GDDR5-equipped card. We might have been alright with a $60 Radeon HD 7730 sporting 1 GB of DDR3, but at just $10 cheaper than a Radeon HD 7750, this card is not a viable option. In fact, it'd be downright uninformed to pay for the 2 GB DDR3 model when the faster card didn't exhibit any symptoms of its 1 GB on-board GDDR5 bottlenecking performance.

Bear in mind that neither card is yet available on Newegg or TigerDirect, and a few dollars of mark-up can quickly drown a value-oriented offering. If the Radeon HD 7730 GDDR5 card shows up for $80 instead of $70, it would be too close to the $90 Radeon HD 7750. Until these cards show up in the U.S. and we size them up on store shelves, we can't give you concrete guidance. But you can bet that we'll be updating Best Graphics Cards For The Money with definitive recommendations once we start seeing availability. 

Update, 8/8/2013: We're disappointed. Sapphire called to let us know that its original information was incorrect and the GDDR5-based Radeon HD 7730 will not be available in North America. The 2 GB DDR3 version of the the card is now available on Newegg for $75. But with a mere $15 separating it and the GDDR5-equipped Radeon HD 7750, we cannot recommend the 7730. Expect to read more about this in next month's Best Graphics Cards For The Money.

Otherwise, we're coming away with some useful information. Mainly, as we suspected, AMD's GCN architecture is as solid of a step up from its VLIW designs in the entry level as it was in higher-end GPUs. This bodes well for the upcoming Kaveri-based APUs, even if they were delayed until 2014. It's very likely that those chips will sport specifications similar to the Radeon HD 7730. And so, this graphics card may be the closest thing we can get to a crystal ball for predicting the performance of AMD's next-generation APU.

  • rmpumper
    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.
    Reply
  • MrPintar14
    Typo on second page, both 7730 GPUs say DDR3 but the second one should say GDDR5
    Reply
  • designasaurus
    11292234 said:
    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).
    Reply
  • Onus
    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.
    Reply
  • ET3D
    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.
    Reply
  • 17seconds
    There it is, F1 creeping its way back into the test suite.
    Reply
  • shikamaru31789
    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.
    Reply
  • slomo4sho
    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?
    Reply
  • army_ant7
    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
    Reply
  • sarinaide
    11292661 said:
    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.

    Reply