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Graphics for the Recession - ATI Radeon HD 4770

By Kenny Yeo - 28 Apr 2009

The Wallet-Friendly Card

The Wallet-Friendly Card

While it is undeniable that NVIDIA have been stealing much of the limelight with their new super fast cards, ATI have been slowly but surely eating away at their share of the mid-range market segment. Sure, the new GeForce GTX 295, GTX 285 and GTX 275 are lightning quick, but the guys in green have yet to translate the powerful GTX 200 architecture into something digestible for the mid-range market, and have instead, decided to continue with their detestable rebranding and renaming ways. If you need a memory refresh, the supposedly new GeForce GTS 250 is actually a, here's that word again, refresh of the older GeForce 9800 GTX+.

ATI, on the other hand, is content to let NVIDIA have the speed crown while they slowly but diligently carve away NVIDIA's mid-range market share. The Radeon HD 4850 remains one of the best mid-range cards at the moment, and ATI has numerous other offerings in the form of the HD 4830, HD 4670 and HD 4650. And these are all new cards based on the RV700 architecture that first debuted with the Radeon HD 4850.

Now, ATI is following up on their mid-range offerings with their latest release - the Radeon HD 4770. It represents ATI's continual onslaught in the mid-range market segment, but much more importantly, it is also the world's first 40nm GPU. A smaller GPU is crucial for two reasons: it is cheaper to manufacture and cooler to run. This is good news for consumers because it brings about better overall performance at a lower cost.

Many graphics cards have proclaimed themselves to offer the best bang-for-buck and the new ATI Radeon HD 4770 is no different. Today, we'll see if it manages to meet its lofty claims.

Touted by ATI to be a direct competitor to NVIDIA's seriously dated GeForce 9800 GT, the Radeon HD 4770 sports specifications that lie between the Radeon HD 4850 and HD 4670 and certainly looks impressive on paper.

Key numbers to note are the 826 million transistors, 640 stream processors running at 750MHz, 512MB of GDDR5 running at 3600MHz DDR on a 128-bit wide memory bus, a compute performance of roughly 960 gigaFLOPS, a rated TDP of 80W, and perhaps most critically, a low US$109 price point. And unlike its competitor, the HD 4770 is fully capable of supporting DirectX 10.1, which ATI claims offers better graphics quality and better performance in terms of raw frame-rates in games that support it.

In all, ATI is advocating the new Radeon HD 4770 as a recession-friendly, value-for-money proposition for these cash-strapped times. But before we investigate deeper and ascertain just how accurate ATI's lofty claims are, here's a quick look at the card's specifications and how it compares on paper to its rivals.

There's a slight glitch here as the memory clock speeds is in fact 800MHz and not 850MHz.

ATI Radeon HD 4770 & Competitive Comparison SKUs
Model ATI Radeon HD 4770 512MB NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GT 512MB ATI Radeon HD 4850 512MB ATI Radeon HD 4670 512MB NVIDIA GeForce GTS 250 1GB NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GTX 512MB
Core Code RV740 G92 RV770 RV730 G92 G92
Transistor Count 826 million 754 million 956 million 514 million 754 million 754 million
Manufacturing Process 40nm 65nm 55nm 55nm 55nm 65nm
Core Clock 750MHz 600MHz 625MHz 750MHz 738MHz 675MHz
Stream Processors 128 Processors (640 Stream Processing units) 112 Stream Processors 160 Processors (800 Stream Processing units) 64 Processors (320 Stream Processing units) 128 Stream Processors 128 Stream Processors
Stream Processor Clock 750MHz 1500MHz 625MHz 750MHz 1836MHz 1688MHz
Texture Mapping Units (TMU) or Texture Filtering (TF) units 32 56 40 16 64 64
Raster Operator units (ROP) 16 16 16 8 16 24
Memory Clock 3200MHz GDDR5 1800MHz GDDR3 2000MHz GDDR3 2000MHz GDDR3/DDR3 2200MHz GDDR3 2200MHz GDDR3
DDR Memory Bus Width 128-bit 256-bit 256-bit 128-bit 256-bit 256-bit
Memory Bandwidth 51.2GB/s 57.6GB/s 64GB/s 32.0GB/s 70.4GB/s 70.4GB/s
PCI Express Interface PCIe ver 2.0 x16 PCIe ver 2.0 x16 PCIe ver 2.0 x16 PCIe ver 2.0 x16 PCIe ver 2.0 x16 PCIe ver 2.0 x16
Molex Power Connectors 6-pin 6-pin 6-pin No 6-pin 2 x 6-pin
Multi GPU Technology CrossFireX SLI CrossFireX CrossFireX SLI SLI
DVI Output Support 2 x Dual-Link 2 x Dual-Link 2 x Dual-Link 2 x Dual-Link 2 x Dual-Link 2 x Dual-Link
HDCP Output Support Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Street Price ~US$109 ~US$109 ~US$159 ~US$70 ~US$129 ~US$129
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