Today we will be looking at the big brother of AMD’s Cape Verde architecture, the HD 7770. This time it’s HIS that was kind enough to send a sample to be punished by our review staff. The HIS HD 7770 GHz Edition comes in with more shaders and a much higher clock speed (1 GHz, hence the name!) than its little brother the HIS HD 7750. Let’s take a more detailed look at the card and see just how much difference it makes in these mainstream based cards.
Specifications and Features
Below are the specifications from the HIS website. You can see the card comes in true to its name at 1000 MHz core clock. This version has the HIS iCooler on it helping them deliver on their promise of, “…Faster, Cooler, Quieter plus the best quality product!”
Looking at GPUz we can confirm the specifications listed. This sample used 8.950.0.0 driver from the disk, just like the HIS 7750 did. The clocks speeds drop back to 300 MHz core and 150 MHz memory @ 0.825 V while in 2D/idle. And of course in a standby state (monitor off) it uses less than 1 W with the new power saving technology, Zerocore. With 20% fan and 19 °C ambient room that translates in to 30 °C idle temperatures without a peep out of the fan.
Outside of this new generation’s Graphics Core Next Architecture, DX11, Shader Model 5.0 support, Open GL 4.2 support, OpenCL 1.2 support, and UVD support, and Zerocore technology (among many others), one of the features that set this 7770 card apart from the reference version is the acclaimed HIS “iCooler” (does anyone else think Apple will be sending out some correspondence to HIS soon with that naming?). The iCooler is an aftermarket cooling solution that runs at “…28 dB in 2D mode”. I do not have any sound measuring equipment, but I can tell you that cooler is essentially inaudible just messing around on the desktop. Even when I cranked the fan up to 100% it was barely audible and still kept the card cool (details a bit further down).
Here are some details on the iCooler directly from the website:
The card is equipped with the widely acclaimed HIS iCooler – certified by HIS that generates less than 28 dB in 2D mode. HIS iCooler provides an outstanding cooling performance and quiet environment. With HIS iCooler, the life span of the card is maximized while the noise level is minimized!
HIS iCooler excels in noise management. It’s extremely quiet and noise level is less than 28 dB in 2D mode – much lower than the original cooler on reference design. You feel the quietness when viewing photos, browsing webs and checking your email.
I have to admit, 28 dB’s is one hell of a claim for sound reduction. I’m kicking myself for now owning some kind of sound testing equipment to prove (or debunk) this claim of HIS. Regardless, I mentioned this is an absolutely quiet card at stock speeds and even when running a game for hours on end the fan was barely audible while keeping the card cool.
First we take a look at the retail packaging. Like its little brother, the HIS HD 7750, its retail packaging looks similar showing an Excaliber looking sword on the front, and some major features on the rear. When you open the box you are presented with the typical box in a box setup which holds the card and its accessories. For this specific sample, it looks like the printer had a bit of a ‘ghosting’ type issue with the inner package… though maybe its in 3D as it appears shifted slightly from the factory, I didnt have any glasses to try it out though, haha! Obviously this doesnt affect the card at all, but just wanted to clarify it was not the camera. Inside the container you see the card packed nice and snug in its form fitting foam surround as well as the one accessory included outside of the driver disk.
Looking at photo below you can see the incredibly sparse accessories included with this sample. Inside the HIS pamphlet is the driver disc and some quick instructions as well as a sticker for your case/benching table. You can also see the DVI to VGA adapter included. Otherwise, that’s it. More isn’t needed, but I have seen other brands drop in an HDMI cable. Seeing as how this card is on the lower end, that would have been a solid ‘value-add’ to the package.
Ahh, there she is… the HIS HD7770 GHz Edition with the iCooler. The cooler is matte black in color with no stickers on it outside of the HIS moniker in the hub of the ~80 mm fan. The card does exhaust some out the rear of the case (through the output) but a lot will be dumped inside. Seeing as how cards of this level are not usually subjected to hours of gaming torture and playing DVD’s is nothing, this shouldn’t be an issue at all. Even so, the low power consumption won’t heat up your case like a higher end card would.
Flipping the card over shows you can CrossFireX a couple. The cooler is held on to the GPU by four screws. Moving to the rear of the card one can see the 6 pin PCIe connector. This card’s TDP is slightly over the 75 W spec so that is why the card has the extra power connector. Not too much to see back here!
Taking its top off, we can see the aluminum heatsink used to cool it off. No heatpipes or vapor chambers are remotely needed here and not used. Take a close look at the heatsink… it looks like it came off of another videocard or something as the ‘center’ that contacts the GPU die is shifted just a bit. Obviously this isn’t a big deal at all, but figured it was worth a mention in case anyone sees the obvious displacement from center. I must congratulate HIS on their Thermal Paste application as there was plenty of coverage and not a lot of overflow.
Zooming in a bit on the card is the 28 nm Cape Verde core. You can read more details about the architecture behind it in another 7750 review linked earlier in the article. The memory IC’s are made by Hynix, model H5GQ1H24MFR-T2C. With 1.35 V these are rated to 1250 MHz. There should be some overclocking headroom left there, and since we actually appear to have voltage control (via uPi uP1609) I’m hoping to push this card a bit further than its little brother without it.
Performance and Overclocking
- Intel i7-2600K CPU (Overclockers.com Approved!)
- Gigabyte G1.Sniper2 (Overclockers.com Approved!)
- G.Skill RipjawsX 2 x 4 GB 2133 MHz CL7 @ 1.65 V
- OCZ 240 GB Vertex 3 SSD (Overclockers.com Approved!)
- Seasonic X560
- HIS HD 7770 GHz Edition (Stock and 1125/1300 overclocked)
- Windows 7 64 bit Operating System
- Catalyst 12.3 (8.950.0), from included disk
- All Synthetic benchmarks were at their default settings
- Alien vs. Predator was run at its default setting (textures high, no AA), and the highest it offered (4x AA, textures set to highest)
- Hawx 2 was run at a resolution of 1920×1080 with 8x AA and every setting at its highest (DX10)
- Dirt 2 was run at a resolution of 1920×1080 with 8x AA/16x AF and all settings at their highest
- Stalker: COP was run at a resolution of 1920×1080 using Ultra settings, 4x AA with tessellation enabled using the Sunshafts portion of the benchmark only
- Unigine Heaven (HWbot) was run with the “extreme” setting
Okay, on to my favorite part of the review, the benchmarks. I had high(er) hopes for this card being the big brother of Cape Verde coming in with much higher clocks and more shaders. I wasn’t disappointed for the stock clocks side of the house.
Starting off with 3DMark 03, you can see a sizable increase in scores vs the 7750 of almost 13% hitting ~62k at stock speeds. After overclocking, it reached ~67k further increasing its lead over the 7750 (remember this didnt overclock terribly well out of the box at the time due to limits in software at the time).
Moving on to 3DMark 06, you can now see the first sign’s of this card handily beating its little brother. At stock speeds the score achieved was 19,800 marks versus 17,500 on the 7750. Again with the increase in the amount of overclock achieved the percent difference between the two increases with the 7770 overclocked hitting 21,200.
Moving to more modern benchmarks which to reflect a bit more accurately real world performance, 3DMark Vantage shows a big difference here between the two cards showing a nearly 24% increase with the 7770 landing 15,090 at stock speeds. It was especially nice to see the 2nd GPU benchmark, return to calico not be a slide show in specific parts.
The next stop on the benchmarking train is 3DMark 11. This was released a little over a year ago using DX11 features such as tessellation progressively more as each GPU test goes on. In this benchmark, you are again seeing the difference in the two cards with the 7770 coming in at 3513 marks and almost 23% increase over the 7750.
In our last synthetic benchmark, Unigine Heaven (Hwbot version), another application that makes heavy use of tessellation (by default) we see the continuing theme of around a 23% increase with the 7770 scoring 758.xxx in this benchmark. This was with tessellation enabled in Catalyst Control Center (CCC).
Let’s see if the synthetic results translate over to the gaming benchmarks. The first game we will take a look at is Aliens vs Predator. While in default mode (1920×1080, no AA, textures high) you can see the 7770 puts up 34+ FPS which is over the magic number for playable. When cranking up the settings (4xAA, textures highest) you can see it falls well short of what most would be playable coming in at 23 FPS. If you lower the resolution you will bounce back up to playable.
Moving on to Stalker: Call of Pripyat, another heavy tessellated game/benchmark, you find the HIS HD 7770 teetering precariously on playable at the settings we run it at coming in at 31.9 FPS a stock speeds. Overclocked it managed to push 35.1 FPS. Again with a lower resolution or turning down the settings in game will allow it to be played with acceptable frame rates.
Dirt 2 is one of my favorite racing games to play. The good news is, I could play this title with this card with NO PROBLEMS at 1080p with all settings to Ultra with AA on! The 7770 achieved 47.6 FPS at stock speeds and 49.1 overclocked. Its little brother comes in a bit closer than the synthetics show in this title with only a 12% difference at stock speeds.
Our last title we benchmark is HAWX 2. A nice arcade style shooter that is pretty easy on your system in general. With that said, the HIS HD 7770 pounds through this title at over 100 FPS at stock settings. Granted, we don’t not use the DX11 path which would certainly lower the FPS, but it still looks great and is plenty playable with this GPU.
Temperatures/Cooling and Power Consumption
Temperatures on this card at idle in a ~19 °C room were 30 °C with 20% fan speed at default voltages (0.825 V idle, and 1.16 V load according to GPUz). Load temps in 3DMark 11 peaked at 52 °C with the fan speed ramping up to 32% with the default profile. I was unable to hear the cards fan over the system fans (two 120 mm Yateloon High @ 800 RPM) and the factory fans that came with the case. The HIS iCooler did a more than adequate job in keeping things cool AND quiet.
Power consumption on this card did come in higher than the 7750, but that is to be expected due to its TDP. Using 3DMark11 and the system noted above at stock speeds, power consumption peaked at 177 W in the combined test (as it uses the CPU heavily as well) at stock speeds. So if you are gaming with this system at stock, this should be a worst case type number your system will draw from the wall. In the graphics tests the system peaked at 171 W. A small, quality 400 W PSU will be PLENTY for this card and any CPU, even with both overclocked.
Pushing the Limits
With the voltage control this card has, I was able to push the core to 1125 MHz and the memory to 1300 MHz (memory limited by MSI Afterburner limit) for testing as you can see above. That is more than its little brother which was expected, but I’m left a bit disappointed at the low limit. For some reason I had a goal of 1200 MHz stuck in my mind. It’s of little consequence however as the card performs admirably keeping in mind who its made for. With that said, any boost here will be solely from the CPU. With that fact staring me down, I did not run these tests as it is not an accurate reflection of the card in the synthetic tests, and most game benchmarks did not respond to the CPU speed increase much anyway.
Here we are at the end trying to wrap up this information in a tiny little package with a bow on top. Currently this card is $159.99 at newegg.com, $50 more than its little brother. At that price range, it falls right in between a GTX 550 Ti (which we have not tested) and a GTX 560. The GTX 560 would seemingly beat this card out and I am really unsure about the GTX 550 Ti, but expect it to compete with it.
You have a notably better performing card than the HD 7750 so in that light, you have a card you could actually game with at decent settings and still sips power. The iCooler HIS has put on the card keep it quiet and cool even while under load, so its a great card for an HTPC and playing some games on with reduced settings.. If you are a serious gamer and love your eye candy and 1080p resolutions, you have a good choice in the HIS HD 7770 with the iCooler.