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Appeared on: Monday, May 11, 2009
XFX HD4770


1. Features, specifications

AMD/ATI gave a direct hit to rival Nvidia with the release of the first 40nm GPU that powers the new HD 4770 graphics card. The new desktop graphics solution is the first ever available to take advantage of an energy-efficient 40nm GPU and most importantly, it aims at a very price-conscious part of the market, retailing for around $100.

Today we have in our hands the HD 4770 solution by Nvidia's partner XFX. The XFX ATI Radeon HD 4770 graphics represent an industry milestone in the advancement in gaming performance, being capable of widespread destruction with faster frame rates, higher resolutions and unparalleled speed.

The new card features third-generation hardware support for the latest DirectX 10.1 games. It is based on RV740 GPU and compared to the company's Radeon HD 4850 solution; it has 20% less stream processors (640) and 32 texture units (40 for the HD 4850). On the other hand, the new HD 4770 is equipped with GDDR5 memory clocked at 800 MHz, compared to the 1000MHz GDDR3 that we have seen with the HD 4850 model. The new GDDR5 memory offers an increased data rate of 3.2Gbps.

The HD 4770 is also faster in terms of engine clock (GPU), which is now 750 MHz.

In addition, the new 40nm GPU is more energy efficient compared to the 55nm chip of the HD 4850, resulting to a maximum board power of 80W (110 W for the HD 4850).

Besides these changes, the HD 4770 shares the same characteristics with the HD 4850, offering an overall compute power of 960 GFLOPs.

GDDR5 memory arms users with twice the data per pin at 750MHz than equally equipped GDDR3 cards. The processing power delivered by the XFX ATI Radeon HD 4770 promises to offer exceptional performance for physics, artificial intelligence, dual-stream picture-in-picture computing and ray tracing calculations.

24x custom filter anti-aliasing (CFAA) and high performance anisotropic filtering contribute to higher realism, smoothing jagged edges and realistic graphics. And ATI CrossFireX technology seamlessly scales rigs to quad mode.

In addition, the ATI Stream Technology enables the XFX ATI Radeon HD 4770 to tackle the most GPU-punishing tasks like video transcoding even faster.

Below are several information about the HD4770 series directly from ATI. It's $100 retail price makes it directly comparable with the Nvidia 9800GT series.

- Key Features


2. The package

The XFX HD 4770 comes in a relatively small box:

A second internal black box includes the board and of course the various goodies we expect from XFX.

Everything is well placed inside this package. There you will find:

The XFX HD4770 is surprisingly compact in size. The 40nm GPU requires less space on the board allowing the designers to offer a graphics card with a length of just t 22cm, offering easy installation even in mini ATX PC cases.

The XFX HD4770 is based on the reference ATI HD4770 design but it is equipped with a different cooling system. The cpu cooler has been specially designed for the XFX product. It is made out of full copper and has a noiseless 80mm fan. Combined with the Quimonda GDDR5 memory, the set should be quite overclockable..

The XFX HD4770 has 2x DVI-D and a 1x HDTV ports. The card can be also connected to an HDMI port via a DVI-D-to-HDMI adapter.

A single 6-pin power jack is enough to power this baby. But make sure that your PSU is offering at least 450Watt before connecting this card to your system.

ATI's Crossfire is also possible using a second HD 4770 card.

The XFX HD 4770 retails for around 96 Euro (including VAT) as you can find in online stores.

Let's see now some more details about the card after installation. The GPU core runs at 750MHz and the memory at 800MHz. The GPU-Z software provides all the needed information for our eyes. notice that the GPU temperature is really low at 36 degrees Celsius in idle mode:


3. Testbed

Here is our PC setup for this test:

The HD4770 isn't officially supported by the the v9.40 graphics drivers, so we had to use the driver that came with the retail package rated April 2009. Probably it is a tweaker version to support the HD4770. The upcoming v9.50 set of Catalyst drivers is expected to offer even better performance performance as well as support for the Windows 7 RC OS.

Below you can see the applications and games we used for the performance measurements for this card. The FRAPS software was also used to check the in game performance when needed.

DirectX 9

DirectX10


4. Benchmark settings
- Testbed DirectX9

We used the default settings for 3DMark05 as following:

Again we used the default settings:

- Testbed DirectX10

We used the three built-in "Performance" and "Extreme" benchmarks in various resolutions

We used the built-in benchmark with all details maxed out.

We used the hocbench Crysis benchmark tool for three resolutions, 1280x1024, 1680x1050 and finally the 1920x1200. We ran the benchmark software either with High and Very High details in order to find out at which resolution the game was playable.

We used the FRAMEBuffer benchmark tool for three resolutions, 1280x1024, 1680x1050 and finally 1920x1200. We also checked all the available quality levels.

We used the built-in benchmarking utility and maxed out all visual details including the DX9/DX10 settings and up to 16x AA/16x AF.


5. FutureMark Hall Of Fame

The Futuremark benchmarks have been highly discussed between gamers and reviewers. For your information we post the results of 3DMark 05, 3DMark 06 and of course the latest 3DMark Vantag, giving you a rough idea of what can you expect from the tested graphics card.

According to the 3DMark 05, the XFX HD4770 is faster than the Nvidia 9600GT cards, but slower than the 9800GT series.

The 3DMark06 results are slightly worse for the XFX HD 4770 placing it behind the Nvidia 9600GT Top.

The 3DMark Vantage provides a clearer view of the card's performance at various resolutions up to 1920x1200. The XFX HD4770 seems to be faster than both the Nvidia 9800GT and 9600GT series in all resolutions. But still, we have to see the results of the game benchmarks in the following pages before coming up with safe conclusions.


6. Crysis (DirectX10)

Crysis is probably the de facto benchmark game since almost no currently available card can offer acceptable frame rates with very high quality settings enabled.

At 1280x1024 and with high quality settings on, the XFX HD4770 was very fast at 41.00FPS, matching the performance of the Nvidia's GTX260 solution:

Enabling the "Very High Details" makes the game more demanding for all the graphics cards. Here, the XFX HD4770 is still slightly faster than the 9600GT, 9800GT and HD4850 solutions, with an average FPS of 17.

The HD4770 managed to stay close to the HD4850 series even at the resolutions of 1680 x 1050 and 1920 x 1200.


7. Crysis Warhead (DirectX9, DirectX10)

Compared to the original "Crysis", the latest "Crysis Warhead" offers many visual improvements in both DirectX9 and DirectX10 rendering modes.

Here are the FPS results we got with the XFX HD 4770 graphics cars in all possible resolutions/quality settings and with anti-aliasing disabled:

DX9
1280x1024
1680x1050
1920x1200
Low
Average
Low
Average
Low
Average
Performance
62,96
129,15
45,81
115,52
48,84
94,60
Mainstream
34,93
71,81
34,22
60,98
34,49
50,29
Gamer
19,69
36,42
17,71
29,84
7,60
24,56
Enthusiast
17,54
26,29
12,92
21,17
10,97
17,24

Enabling DirectX10 has a impact on performance. Again the 'Gamer' settings seems to be the right choice and depending on resolution, you can really enjoy high frame rates. The 'Enthusiast' level is more demanding especially as the resolution is going up to full HD.

DX10
1280x1024
1680x1050
1920x1200
Low
Average
Low
Average
Low
Average
Performance
34,80
98,69
52,39
90,46
48,70
79,34
Mainstream
28,71
59,57
34,29
51,46
30,22
42,64
Gamer
14,46
33,29
13,68
25,70
6,11
20,93
Enthusiast
14,44
22,50
8,18
17,47
2,39
13,32

Let's see now a comparison of the XFX HD4770 with various other graphics cards. The card lacks some power at 1280x1024:

At 1680x1050, both the XFX HD4770 and Inno3D 9800GT gave exactly the same performance. The Gainward HD4850 seems to be slightly faster here.

The same applies also for the 1920x1200 resolution. Both the 9800GT and the HD 4770 have similar rendering performance.

For the DirectX10 rendering mode we removed the results of the GTX260 XXX in order to compare products available at the same price range.

The differences are not significant here. At 1280 x 1024, the 9800GT seems to be slightly weaker after the Mainstream level, while the HD4850 takes a marginal lead.

The HD4850 is also faster in the 1680 x 1050 and 1920 x 1080, followed by the HD4770 and 9800GT.


8. Company Of Heroes v1.71 (DirectX 10)

Company Of Heroes is a popular action/strategy game with many fans around the world. The game it was the first that ever to take advantage of the the DirectX10 mode and also offers impressive game physics. We took some FPS measurements with all visual details enabled:.

The XFX HD4770 performed better than 9600GT but it was slower than the 9800GT.

At 1680x1050&1920x1200, the HD4770 directly competes with the 9800GT and the HD 4850, leaving behind the 9600GT.


9. Far Cry 2 (DirectX 9/10)

Far Cry 2 is one of the hottest game titles right now. The game supports both the DirectX 9 and the DirectX10 rendering modes and its graphics engine is much lighter than the one that Crysis uses. As a result, all the graphics cards will perform quite well, even at the higher resolutions of 1920x1200 with 16xAA/16xAF enabled.

Starting with the resolution of 1280x1024, the XFX HD4770 performs very well and it is faster than the Inno3D 9800GT graphics card.

At 1680x1050, we see that the performance difference between the XFX HD 4770 and the Inno3D 9800GT is 12FPS under the 'Very High' settings and further to just 3FPS at once you enable the 'Ultra High' quality settings.

Finally, enabling the 16xAA/AF is not a very good idea with the XFX HD4770. The performance drops significantly compared to the Inno3D 9800GT. This looks like a graphics drivers issue.


10. Half Life 2 Episode 2 (DirectX 9), Left4Dead

- Half Life 2 Episode 2 (DirectX 9)

Half Life 2 is a first person shooter game that everybody has played and loved. Episode 2 has several image quality improvements and enabling the 4xAA and 16AF further enhances the gaming experience.

The XFX HD4770 performed better than the 9600GT at 1280x 1024 but was slightly slower than the 9800GT.

The HD4770 really shines at 1680x1050 & 1920x1200:

- Left4Dead

The latest Source engine is found in the ' Left4Dead' game title. We used a custom time demo and measured the performance of the graphics card using the embedded console. The measurements started at 1280x1024 and up to 1920x1200 with 16xAF enabled all visual settings maxed out.

Increasing the resolution made the XFX HD 4770 render slower but still, the impact was not serious enough and the game was completely playable even at 1920x1200. Enabling 8xAA reduced the performance to 45.20FPS, which would be playable for most users.


11. Overclocking, Final words
- Overclocking

Let's see now the overclocking limits of the XFX HD 4770 graphics card using a typical trial-error testing procedure. We used the ATI Catalyst 9.4 auto-tune feature which allowed us to push the GPU core at a nice 830MHz and the memory at 850MHz.

While those numbers were impressive, we tried to go even higher. So we used the latest RivaTuner v2.24 and this file (save it under \Program Files\RivaTuner) that will enable overclocking. Using the FurMark will also help you determine the highest possible overclocking margin.

Compared to the default clocks, we got a faster GPU by 18.4% ( 888MHz) and a memory clock running faster by 25.6% (1004MHz).

Here is a screen shot from GPU-Z with the highest overclocking settings we managed to achieve (100% fan duty circle)

But what is the effect of these faster clockings in gaming? Take a look in the FPS results below. We ran 'Crysis' at the various resolutions and set the settings at 'High Quality'.

Notice that we pushed the fan to work at 100% for this test. For normal use, you can leave the fan speed to 'auto' reduce the core/memory clocks until you get a stable system.

Crysis 1280x1024 HQ
Crysis 1680x1050 HQ

Crysis 1920x1200 HQ

XFX HD4770 Stock (750/800MHz)
17.00 FPS
14.00 FPS
12.00 FPS
XFX HD4770 OC (888/1004MHz)
21,00 FPS
17,00 FPS
14,00 FPS

- Conclusion

The XFX HD 4770 graphics card is a great surprise for everyone and the 40nm design of the card adds extra value to the product. Aggressively priced at just € 92~95 (including VAT), the XFX HD 4770 should be considered as an entry-level solution which however, directly competes with not only the Nvidia 9600GT but even with other more expensive solutions such as the Nvidia 9800GT the AMD HD4850.

The card retails in a well-designed package although XFX has not included any game title inside.

Our tests showed that the HD4770 offers a superb performance for the category with low operation noise, high frame/second and high overclocking margins. In the majority of our tests, the XFX HD4770 was faster than the Inno3D 9800GT but it stayed behind the HD4850. We assume that AMD didn't want to cannibalize its own product line by offering a cheaper and more powerful product within such a short period.

We should notice that the currently available drivers need some work. We expect the upcoming ATI Catalyst 9.50 to further work things out and by offering official support for the HD4770.

Overall, we have to do with a killer product for entry-level users. The price is under €100, the performance is superb, and we cannot think what will happen when we put two HD4770 in CrossFire mode. A great value for your money, and an Editor's choice award for the XFX HD 4770.



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