Review: 1120MHz GPU out of the box
Today AMD is launching Radeon HD 7700 series, i.e. its new mid-range graphics cards - the HD 7770 and HD 7750. HD 7700 series, just like the HD 7900 and HD 7800 series, uses the new GCN architecture and TSMC's 28nm technology.
Of course, XFX is locked and loaded and this time around with no less than five different HD 7770s:
HD 7770 Core Edition,
HD 7770 Double Dissipation Edition,
HD 7770 Black Edition,
HD 7770 Black Edition featuring Double Dissipation,
HD 7770 Black Super OC Edition featuring Double Dissipation
Since today is HD 7750's day as well, XFX has another four cards in store:
HD 7750 Core Edition,
HD 7750 Double Dissipation Edition,
HD 7750 Black Edition,
HD 7750 Black Edition featuring Double Dissipation.
The new series should replace the preceding HD 6700 series. As usual, the HD 7700 series should bring improved performance and improved consumption.
The GPU used on HD 7700s is known as Cape Verde. This GPU uses GCN architecture, which is more efficient than VLIW5. Although Cape Verde has less Radeon cores than the HD 6670 and HD 6750, it still manages to score better. This is partially down to the high operating clocks of the HD 7700 cards. Namely, reference clocks for the HD 7770's GPU stand at 1GHz whereas the HD 7750's ticker runs at 800MHz. Note that the HD 6770's GPU runs at 850MHz (800 cores) while the HD 6750 ticks at 725MHz (720 cores).
According to AMD’s product transition sheet (picture below), the new HD 7700 card series will be faster than any graphics card from the HD 6700 series, but we see that the real battle will involve its HD 6850.
Our today's guest is XFX's Black Super OC Double Dissipation Radeon 7770 1120M 1GB D5 2Xm DP HDMI DVI. The name suggests that the card runs at 1120MHz, which gives it a nice platform to fight with the HD 6850. The card is also notable for using the Double Dissipation cooler, which ensures that the card remains cool at extremely high clocks.
The HD 7700 series belongs to Southern Island family, which is the first GPU family with GPUs made in 28 nanometer silicon fabrication processes, first to use PCI Express 3.0 x16 bus, and first with DirectX 11.1 support.
Cards from the HD 7700 series run on Cape Verde GPU, which is related to the HD 7900 series' GPU called Tahiti. However, Cape Verde is a smaller chip will less capabilities. Compared to the Tahiti's 1792 cores, Cape Verde XT (HD 7770) has only 640 while the PRO version of the chip (HD 7750) comes with 512 cores.
HD 7770 cards have 40 texture units and 16 ROPs. The 1GB of GDDR5 memory runs on 128-bit memory interface. HD 7750 cards have 32 texture units but the number of ROPs and the memory interface are identical to the HD 7770. According to the specs, HD 7770 cards have a TDP of 80W while HD 7750's TDP is 55w.
XFX’s Radeon HD 7770 Black Super OC ticks at 1120MHz for the GPU, making for a nice, 120MHz overclock over reference 1000MHz.
The packaging is similar to the rest of XFX’s HD 7000/6000/5000 offer – small and sturdy. The box features small Black Edition sign, which clearly show that the package holds one mean gaming machine.
The package holds driver CD, installation guide, quick installation guide, HDMI-to-DVI adapter, VGA-to-DVI adapter, CrossFire bridge, XFX's "Don't Disturb I'm Gaming" door sign and a neat XFX Black Edition metal badge.
The card we’re talking about today is called Radeon XFX Black Super OC DD Radeon 7770 1120M 1GB D5 2Xm DP HDMI DVI (part number FX-777A-ZDSC). You recognize the Double Dissipation Cooler easily - it has two fans. It’s important to differentiate this card from FX-777A-ZNB4 and FX-777A-ZNBC which is also called Radeon HD 7770 Black Edition but doesn’t have the Double Dissipation moniker.
XFX has yet another Black Edition Double Dissipation graphics card (part number FX-777A-ZDB4 and FX-777A-ZDBC), but which runs at 1095MHz, i.e. has no Super OC moniker.
The HD 7770 Black Ed. Super OC's cooler comes with a nice aluminum frame and the two fans will ensure stable operation of the overclocked GPU. We must admit that XFX HD 7950 Black Ed. DD card is still our favorite when it comes to cooler styling.
Radeon HD 7770 Black Edition Super OC draws power via one 6-pin power connector.
On the next picture you can see the Radeon HD 7770 Black Edition which uses single fan cooler (777A-ZNB4).
HD 7770 Black Edition Super OCs cooler uses a large copper plate which is connected to the heatsink, although the memory is cooled only by air. XFX used the GDDR5 memory made by Hynix ( model number H5GQ2H24MFR-T2C). These models specified to run at 1250 MHz (5000 MHz GDDR5 effective).
The card uses IP5X Dust Free fan and XFX Bracked Design.
The card has one dual-link DVI out, one standard HDMI and two mini DisplayPort outs. Users will get HDMI to DVI converters, but we didn’t find any DisplayPort converters in the package.
The card is 21cm long, and you may combine this card with another HD 7770 card from any vendor in a CrossFire configuration.
Motherboard: EVGA X79 FTW
CPU: Sandy Bridge-E Core i7 3820 (3.6GHz)
CPU Cooler: Thermalright HR-02 (Thermalright-Europa Distri www.PC-Cooling.de).
Memory: 8GB ADATA DDR3 1600 XPG Gaming series
Harddisk: OCZ Vertex 2 100 GB
Power Supply: CoolerMaster Silent Pro 1000W
Case: CoolerMaster Cosmos II Ultra Tower
Operating System: Win7 64-bit
AMD 12.1 CCC
Aliens vs Predator
XFX Radeon HD 7770 Black Edition Super OC is a factory overclocked graphics card. The GPU runs at 1120MHz and the memory at 1300MHz (5200MHz effectively). Note that the standard HD 7770 card’s GPU runs at 1000MHz and the memory at 1125MHz (4500MHz effectively). ATI Overdrive support GPU overclocking on the HD 7770 Black Edition Super OC card.
The additional overclock wasn't quite what we'd call phenomenal, but seeing as how the card already has a factory overclock, our end result of 170MHz higher than AMD's reference clocks was quite good.
Thermals and noise
XFX fans are designed to use linear fan speed ramping controls so that fan speeds and temperatures are optimized to reduce excess noise. This helps by preventing sudden fan speed changes that tend to get loud. The XFX HD 7770 Black Super OC's cooler is great - thermals are good and the card is quiet.
Power consumption looks good. The consumption was lower than on HD 6850 cards, despite the fact that XFX's card comes with a high factory overclock. Additionally, XFX card ran slightly faster than the HD 6850.
XFX Radeon HD 7770 Black Super OC Edition is a great card in any respect. XFX overclocked its HD 7770 Black Super OC to 1120MHz for the GPU, whereas the GPU reference clocks stand at 1000MHz.
The only thing where this card doesn't do to well is the price. We won't blame XFX for the $179 price tag, since it is our opinion that its Black Super OC is worth the extra $20. In our eyes, it is AMD who went a bit overboard with its pricing.
Thankfully, the AMD still has time to play around with price corrections, since it has a solid offer of older $100-200 cards. Reference HD 6850s go for about $135 and they're quicker than the reference HD 7770. Luckily, XFX weaved some of its magic and put some punch into its HD 7770 Black Super OC, which is slightly faster than the HD 6850.
XFX's HD 7770 Black Super OC comes with dual slot cooling with twin fans. The cooler does its job very well without being noisy. Despite the factory overclock, the card's power envelope remained at reference values. In other words, this is a card that boasts one of the best consumption-per-watt ratios.
Playing on 1680x1050 is ideal for this graphics card, although 1920x1080 is possible as well, of course - depending on the game.
As we already said, the main issue at the moment is pricing, something that plagued the previous AMD's series. In fact, replacing the HD 6850 with HD 7770 doesn't make much sense since the card doesn't offer a better bang per buck. However, XFX wouldn't stand for that and its HD 7770 Black Super OC Double Dissipation brings excellent design, a high factory overclock and better tessellation performance than the HD 6850. With that in mind, we'd recommend this card to any user who's looking for a new graphics card and if you are, overlooking XFX's HD 7770 Black Super OC Double Dissipation would definitely be unwise.