It’s official, we have struck land at Cape Verde. No, we’re not talking about the tiny island cluster off the African West Coast; we’re talking about the code name for AMDs new 7700 series - In particular, the XFX 7770 tested today.
The 7770 is set to supersede the HD6850 in terms of raw performance, and should do a fairly good job of that eventually, the only problem currently (and as usual in Australia) being the launch price. The USA has been lucky enough to see prices of $159 for your average budget 7770, while here in AU (at the time of writing) we are paying a slightly steeper $189. $30 some of you may say is no big deal, but this is the price difference between a 6850 and a 6870 in a lot of cases, and when dealing with cards under $200, a 10-15% price difference is still fairly substantial on a base-model card.
International prices aside, what does this card offer over the previous 6770? Well, considering the 6770 was simply a refresh of the 5770, we would hope AMD had actually spent some time improving the entry-level gaming market. Luckily for us AMD has built the 7770 off the brand new R7900 GCN architecture, giving it access to all of the new features its big brothers possess.
If you compare the actual compute performance of the 5770 to the 7770 – 1.36 TFLOPs to only 1.28 – it appears that performance has gone backwards, but due to the improvements in GCN architecture, this is not actually the case in many scenarios. Tessellation for example has improved leaps and bounds, though some other compute tasks like Folding @ Home and Bit Coin farming may still be better suited to the higher FLOPs HD 5770.
When it comes down to pure FPS (what most of us care about), the HD 7770 can hold its own against the 5770 more than easily, however the HD 6850 gives it some fierce competition, and the HD 6870 beats it in every single game we tested. This gives us doubt as to whether or not AMD launched this card at far too steep a price. A brand new HD 5770 can be had for $99 if you snatch up a bargain from Static Ice, while the 7770 will set you back closer to $189. For just $9 more you could grab a pair of 5770’s and set them up in CrossFire, clearly leaving the 7770 for dead.
While CrossFire 5770’s may not be the best option for some people, it still leaves us wondering what AMD is thinking. This card is not a top-tier card, and pricing should not be compared only to what Nvidia has on offer. AMD still needs to compete against its previous generation, and in this case it seems to be losing to the HD 6870 which can be had for the same price.
The XFX sample we are reviewing today is slightly different to a true stock card. For starters it sports a core clock of 1120MHz (up from 1GHz standard), a 1300MHz memory clock, snazzy new cooler, and of course a rather hefty price tag.
Don’t get us wrong, we do appreciate the small boost in performance gained through the factory overclock, along with the increase in cooling efficiency and reduced noise output due to the dual-fan cooler. However, all of this comes at a price, and for $199, we feel there are better options out there. A 6870 is cheaper, and for only $40 odd more you can take home a 1GB 6950! Something is wrong here, and until the price drops, we can’t recommend purchasing this card. It is the highest clocked 7770 currently on the market, but that doesn’t really mean much to this market segment.