AMD Radeon HD 7770 And 7750 Review: Familiar Speed, Less Power

Cape Verde: All About Performance/Watt

Most gamers shopping for a new graphics card want to know how everything in their budget performs, first and foremost. Within that frame of reference, and depending on how sophisticated they want to get, power consumption, connectivity, and value-added extras like stereoscopic support and video functionality play a secondary role in the decision. Derivative metrics like performance per watt and performance per dollar help narrow the focus, creating more specific comparisons.

In absolute terms, AMD’s new Radeon HD 7770 matches or is just a little bit slower than the 256-bit GeForce GTX 460 1 GB. AMD should probably just be happy that card is quickly disappearing. A 19 month-old product that gives a brand new value-oriented board a run for its money is a little awkward, after all.

The more painful comparison is to AMD’s own Radeon HD 6850. Generally faster, much less expensive, and still very prolific in the channel, there’s just no contest between the 16 month-old Barts-based board and Radeon HD 7770.  

Now, you can factor in low power use and make an argument that the 7770’s efficiency makes it a more attractive buy. But I don’t agree that efficiency trumps absolute performance in the minds of most. Instead, we get a new card with performance comparable to what’s already available at a price point already being hit. Almost makes you wonder why they didn't just shrink Barts to 28 nm?

I’m not just picking on AMD here. The GeForce GTS 450, launched between AMD’s Radeon HD 5770 and 5750 (but a year later) was similarly disappointing. The Radeon HD 7770 does a fair job of setting AMD up to phase out its Juniper-based cards manufactured at 40 nm with something comparably-quick. But it doesn’t push the performance it’d need to be a winner at $160.

How about the Radeon HD 7750? It’s about as fast as Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 550 Ti—a card that costs more. From the same absolute performance angle, this card fits in a little more neatly. But its position strengthens when you move past average frame rates. The Radeon HD 7750 is a single-slot card. It doesn’t require auxiliary power. And although its fan is diminutive, it keeps the cut-back Cape Verde die cool without generating obnoxious noise levels under load. In a budget-oriented, lightweight gaming machine or HTPC, this is a card we’re more likely to appreciate at $110.

Although we’d really like to be able to test what VCE can do for the encode performance of the Radeon HD 7750, using it on a Z68- or H67-based platform gives you Quick Sync support, and that’s good enough for now.

In light of the performance, functionality, and efficiency that AMD crams into a single-slot, ~55 W board, the Radeon HD 7750 deserves a Tom’s Hardware Recommended Buy award. Our nod of approval is specific to the HTPC space, where those attributes are particularly valuable.

Chris Angelini
Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.
  • Derbixrace
    the 7750 will be a GREAT card compared to the 6670 for those who have a shitty 300w PSU and wants a nice GPU.
  • hardcore_gamer
    I hope the price of 7770 comes down to $130. That is where this card belongs.
  • phamhlam
    If the 7770 is the same price as the 6850. I think we have the best value card right here. The 6850 was a great budget card but this card will change that.
  • dragonsqrrl
    "Although other cards beat it in encryption and decryption performance, the Radeon HD 7750 easily secures a second-place finish in the SHA256 hashing test."

    I think you mean AES256.
  • jprahman
    The fight shaping up between all these new AMD cards and Kepler is looking to be a good one. Time to just sit back with some popcorn and enjoy the show... while planning a new build for when the price war breaks out.
  • esrever
    Seems ok, New stuff ussually cost more. The 6770 being more expensive than the 5770, the 6870 being more expensive than the 5850 ect.

    I'd expect prices to go down once supply goes up and demand goes down.
  • confish21
    What a sad release. I'm not even excited for Pitcairn now! I foresee the $170 6870 to hold its own.
  • This is ridiculous. Man this sucks, i've been waiting for the 7770 since early last year, and this crap is what they release?

  • wicketr's hoping for a good 7850/7870 release on March 6th. Not much here worth spending money on IMO.
  • buzznut
    This is unfortunate, considering the naming scheme. The 4770, 5770, and 6770 were/are all good budget cards that performed above where they were priced. Bang for buck has always been the draw here, but that 7770 is overpriced. Hopefully AMD will see this fumble; I agree at $120-130 this card makes a lot more sense.

    I'd actually like to see the HD 7750 at a lower price too, as we know these prices will drop over time but I still think this is slightly high for launch.