Reviews: Graphics Card Reviews

REVIEW / Radeon HD 7770 1 GB

A budget buy

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Régis Jehl Published on March 1, 2012
Updated on October 13, 2014
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  • Chip Cape Verde
  • GPU frequency 1 GHz
  • Memory quantity 1 GB
  • Memory type GDDR5
  • Memory frequency 1125 MHz
  • Cooler Double decker
A mid-range card in the AMD 7000 series, the Radeon HD 7770 is the first graphics card with a base processor clock of 1 GHz. It’s positioned to garner the key market concentrated around the £130 level. Let’s see what it has under the bonnet.

Size, noise and heat generation

Just 21 cm long, the Radeon HD 7770 can be classed as a small card. This cooler on the model sent to the press is an axial type, meaning that not all the hot air is sent out of the box. Here this isn't too much of an issue as the chip doesn’t heat up much.

When it comes to noise, the fan doesn't do that well. At idle, the rotation of the blades can be heard and makes a slightly annoying high-pitched noise. This gets louder in gaming and while we only measured it at 43.5 dB(A), the high pitch remained.

Energy consumption

In view of the impressive energy consumption readings for the Radeon HD 7970 and Radeon HD 7950 it’s not surprising to see that the HD 7770 consumes so little. At idle, it draws just 87 Watts, which is 10% down on the old generation (Radeon HD 6790).

During periods of long inactivity (when the screen switches off in fact), Zero Power cuts the fan off and energy consumption drops 10 Watts to 74 Watts. This feature, a very good innovation, is something we detailed in our test of the Radeon HD 7970.

We measured a maximum reading of 256 Watts at the socket during gaming. Once again, this is better than the Radeon HD 6790 which draws 297 Watts under the same conditions. The Nvidia GeForce GTX 550 Ti is far behind at 330 Watts.

Gaming performance

At 1 GHz (75 MHz higher than the very high end Radeon HD 7970) the chip is clocked quite high. Nevertheless, the Radeon HD 7770 has far fewer processing units (640 against 2048 on the 7970).

Tt hd 7770
General performance average
Click on the image to see all our readings
and compare this model with others

This of course means that this model gives much lower gaming performance. It only does 10% better than the old Radeon HD 6790 and the Radeon HD 6850 is 10% faster. Compared to the Nvidia offering at the time of writing, the HD 7770 is 20% faster than the GeForce GTX 550 Ti, but 40% down on the very popular GeForce GTX 560 Ti.

This sort of performance will allow you to play current games comfortably on a screen with a reduced definition. Gaming on a full-HD screen will require a few compromises when it comes to the game’s graphics options.

Note, the PCI Express 3.0 interface (PCIe 3.0) is included, as is DirectX 11.1 compatibility. Backwards compatibility means that the Radeon HD 7770 functions perfectly on PCIe 2.0 motherboards. What's more, we didn't note any difference between use in PCIe 3.0 and PCIe 2.0 modes.

DirectX 11.1 will only be available on release of Windows 8 (end 2012). Games using this instruction set will therefore also have to wait until then.

At the end of the day the Radeon HD 7770 doesn't offer the same gain over the previous generation as the cards higher up the 7000 range. It will nevertheless give a decent showing on screens with low definition or if you’re prepared to lower resource hungry effects in the highest load games. The asking price (around £130 on launch) is perhaps the only thing that might hold you back: the Radeon HD 6850 is now available for less and offers significantly better performance!

Consult the performance index table

The test card, extra features
AMD supplied us with a reference model for our tests. The connectivity at the back of the card covers most of the bases, with HDMI 1.4, DVI and two mini-Display Port 1.2 sockets. You'll need a 6-pin power supply cable for this card.

Eyefinity has been updated to version 2.0 and now allows you to pilot up to five screens with a single card. Bezel compensation is better handled and you can now use monitors of various sizes.

Eyefinity 2.0 also allows you to manage several audio outs (DDM) independently of each other (HDMI and Display Port sockets only). This means you can now watch a film on TV while playing on another screen. The film audio is then sent via the HDMI connection, while the game uses the screen speakers. The audio outs on the sound card (jack, optical) are also accessible.

Stereoscopic 3D is of course still available with HD3D technology but the level of performance on this model means that you won’t get sufficient fluidity to use it.

The ‘compute’ part, namely processing assisted by the graphics card, has also been improved. You now get accelerated 3D Blu-ray decoding and DivX playback. Like Nvidia, AMD has also got together with various applications developers so that their software benefits from hardware acceleration. Unfortunately only paid applications (except for Internet browsers) are included here, AMD not judging it worthwhile to help free applications.


  • Compact card
  • ZeroCore Power feature
  • Low power consumption


  • Not much of a gain in performance on old generation
  • High pitched noise from the fan on the reference model


We were a little disappointed with this model: we expected more in terms of performance. The battle is likely to be hard fought as this card will not only be competing with what remains of the old generation (Radeon HD 6850 in particular) but also Nvida’s forthcoming models.
2 AMD Radeon HD 7770 1 GB DigitalVersus 2012-03-01 13:48:00
Compare: AMD Radeon HD 7770 1 GB to its competitors
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