AMD Introduces Cape Verde - 7700 Series

Last month AMD introduced the Radeon HD 7000 series (Southern Islands) of graphics cards. These new cards are based on the 28nm manufacturing process and use a new core architecture called Graphics Core Next (GCN). The first video cards that make up the Radeon HD 7000 series were made available in January 2012 with the introduction of both the Radeon HD 7970 and Radeon HD 7950. These two cards both use a GPU core, codenamed Tahiti, that has up to 2048 usable stream processors and 3GB of GDDR5 memory. We found this card to be the fastest single GPU solution available on the market today, but you need to be willing to pay for it because the AMD Radeon HD 7970 and Radeon HD 7950 cost $549.99 and $449.99, respectively. Those on a budget will find it hard to justify buying a graphics card at those prices and have been waiting on the more affordable mainstream cards to be made available.

AMD Radeon HD 7000 Series Roadmap

Many assumed that AMD would be doing a top-to-bottom launch for the AMD Radeon HD 7000 product line, but that is not the case.  AMD decided to skip over Pitcairn, the Radeon HD 7800 series, and introduce Cape Verde along with the Radeon HD 7700 series. This is an interesting move, but introducing a product series for the $99 to $199 range is a good business move.  The $99 to $199 price range has long been the sweet spot for gamers and these are the cards that move in large volumes. Making money in a competitive market often comes down to volumes, so you can see what is likely motivating AMD right now and why they skipped a series. It looks like for the sub-$99 price point AMD will be sticking with the Northern Islands series, so get ready for some re-branding when it comes to the Radeon HD 7600 series.

Today, AMD is introducing the AMD Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition and the AMD Radeon HD 7750.  These cards are going to be the bread and butter for the company and we have been told that the Radeon HD 7750 will be available for as low as $109 and the Radeon HD 7770 GHz edition will start at $159.

AMD Radeon HD 7770 Graphics Core Next Architecture

Both cards use the new 'Cape Verde' GPU core, which features 1.5 billion transistors made on the 28nm manufacturing processor by TSMC and a die size that is said to be ~123mm^2. Cape Verde features 10 Graphics Core Next Compute Units (CUs), 640 stream processors, 40 TMUs, 16 ROPs and a 12-bit wide GDDR5 memory interface in pristine form.

AMD Radeon HD 7700 Specifications

The AMD Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition comes with the 'Cape Verde' core fully enabled; it has a core clock speed of 1GHz and a memory clock of 1125MHz (4500MHz effective). This puts the card at 1.28 TFLOPS when it comes to compute power 72 GB/s on memory bandwidth. 

The AMD Radeon HD 7750 has only 8 of the Compute Units (CU) enabled, so it has just 512 stream processors, 32 texture units and 16 ROPs.  AMD didn't stop there though and lowered the core clock speed down to just 800MHz. AMD didn't mess with the memory capacity, type or the bus width, so the memory bandwidth remains at 72 GB/s on the Radeon HD 7750. Both the AMD Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition and the Radeon HD 7750 have 1024MB (1GB) of GDDR5 memory.

ATI Radeon HD 5700 Series Video Cards

The specifications of the Cape Verde GPU look eerily familiar, so we went and looked back at the specifications for the AMD Radeon HD 5700 series with the Juniper core that came out back in October 2009. We were shocked to see many similarities. For example, the compute performance and memory bandwidth on the Radeon HD 5770 is better than the new Radeon HD 7700 GHz Edition. The number of texture units, ROPs, the memory capacity and type of memory on the Radeon HD 5770 is the same as the Radeon HD 7770.

That said, it is impressive that AMD is getting roughly the same performance on paper with 640 cores at 1GHz on the Radeon HD 7770 GHz edition compared to the 800 cores at 850MHz on the Radeon HD 5770. AMD is using 25% fewer cores and getting roughly the same compute performance. While the increased clock speed certainly helps, so does the Graphics Core Next architecture. Remember, the new architecture is much more efficient and has L2 cache for the very first time. Also you have to keep in mind that the die size of the Radeon HD 5770 (40nm) was 170mm^2 and it had 1.04 billion transistors.  The new Radeon HD 7770 (28nm) is just 123mm^2 and has 1.5 billion transistors.

AMD Radeon HD 7700 GHz Edition

AMD has put a ton of emphasis on the fact that this card comes clocked at 1GHz. The company will be heavily promoting this on the Radeon HD 7700 GHz edition card and you'll see the new 'GHz Edition' label on all Radeon HD 7770 cards. This is because all AMD Radeon HD 7770 video cards will have a core clock of at least 1GHz. That is great, but we all know that there is more to a graphics card than frequencies and we don't need or want another frequency race. While this is the first GPU series by both AMD and NVIDIA to come out at 1GHz it should be noted that we have reviewed other cards in the past that came clocked at more than 1GHz.  For example, the ASUS GeForce GTX 550 Ti Ultimate shipped with a core clock of 1015MHz and was available back in March 2011. We'll be including that card in the review today to see how it performs against another card in the 1GHz and beyond club!

AMD Radeon HD 7700 Series Cards

We have both the AMD Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition and Radeon HD 7750 reference edition cards and a retail XFX Radeon HD 7770 card that we'll be reviewing today.  The XFX branded card is a Radeon HD 7770 Black Edition S Double Dissipation version, which is their top of the line card.  It comes with a core clock of 1125MHz and a memory clock of 1300MHz, so we can't wait to see how this card and the reference cards perform! We put these cards to the test on seven game titles and 3DMark11, so read on to see how they do after we cover each card closer.

AMD Radeon HD 7770

Radeon HD 7770 Features

AMD sent over the Radeon HD 7770 1GB GDDR5 video card for us to review today and we will be taking a closer look at that card on this page. They didn't send us two for AMD CrossFire testing, so we'll have to focus on that at a later date. This card is internally known as the Cape Verde XT.

AMD Radeon HD 7770

As you can see from the angle shot above the AMD Radeon HD 7770 has an appearance that is familiar as AMD has stuck with the red/black color scheme. The AMD Radeon HD 6000 series cards had a matte finish on the plastic fan shroud, but for some reason AMD went high-gloss with the 7000 series. At first the high-gloss finish was nice, but then we started to notice finger prints all over the plastic housing.

AMD Radeon HD 7770 Graphics Card

This video card PCB is black and measures 8.25-inches in length. It should be noted that the fan shroud barely protrudes past the PCB making the overall length of the Radeon HD 7770 GHZ Edition to be ~8.3-inches. The height of the card is just shy of 4-inches if you count what sticks out of the PCI Express x16 slot. As you can see from the photo above, the AMD Radeon HD 7770 is a dual-slot card with a single 80mm cooling fan located directly over the GPU.

AMD Radeon HD 7770 Graphics Card Back PCB

The back of the Radeon HD 7770 is open as the reference card doesn't feature a back plate. Not too much to talk about back here as none of the 1GB worth of GDDR5 memory chips are visible on this side of the PCB. The only thing worth noting here is the GPU support bracket and mounting holes appear unchanged from previous generations.

AMD Radeon HD 7770 Graphics Card CrossFire

The AMD Radeon 7770 GHz Edition has just one CrossFireX interconnect, so you can only run CrossFire with two cards. Notice that just above the CrossFire interconnects are some black bumps with some spaced between them.  This is actually an air vent for the GPU cooler and a decent amount of airflow does come out here despite being such a small opening.  The AMD Radeon HD 7770 and 7750 do not have the 'Dual BIOS Toggle Switch' that is found on some higher end cards. 

AMD Radeon HD 7770 Video Card PCIe Slot

AMD is the first graphics card manufacturer to support the PCI Express 3.0 standard and Radeon HD 7700 series is PCI Express 3.0 enabled. This doesn't mean much now, but if ultra HD monitors (think 4K resolutions) take off in the years to come it might be beneficial. Notice that the AMD reference PCB model number is 109-C44157-00C.

AMD Radeon HD 7770 Graphics Card Video Power Connector

The AMD Radeon HD 7770 has a single 6-pin PCI Express power connector located at the end of the video card next to some air vents.  AMD says that a 500W or greater power supply is needed with one 6-pin PCI Express power connector. For those that want to run two Radeon HD 7770 cards in CrossFire you'll need at least a 600W power supply and two 6-pin PCI Express power connectors.

AMD Radeon HD 7770 Graphics Card Video Connectors

The AMD Radeon HD 7770 has a pair of mini-DisplayPort 1.2 connectors on it that have double the data-rate of DisplayPort 1.1. In addition to the higher data-rate, DP 1.2 also brings support for higher resolution support and support for stereoscopic 3D. The Radeon HD 7770s supports up to six DisplayPort displays by "daisy chaining" them to the two Displayport outputs. To the right of the pair of mini-DisplayPort connectors is a full size HDMI 1.4a output for 3D video (Blu-ray 3D) support and a dual-link DVI-I output. With full support for 3GHz HDMI 1.4a and DisplayPort 1.2 HBR2, the AMD Radeon HD 7770 is set to drive next generation displays at up to 4K resolution.

Notice that AMD did away with having two DVI outputs and by doing so they opened up an entire side of the PCI bracket for exhausting the hot air from the GPU.  AMD said that by opening this side of the bracket up and removing the DVI port there that they got two benefits. The first is that the card's thermal performance improved and the second was that the noise decreased as there is air flow isn't blocked as badly.

XFX Radeon HD 7770 Black Edition

XFX was kind enough to send us over a retail card prior to the Radeon HD 7770 NDA lift, so we'll also be looking at their card today. The card that XFX sent over is the Radeon HD 7770 Black Super Overclocked Edition featuring Double Dissipation!  This graphics card has the longest product name of any that we have ever seen before!  

XFX R7770 Black Edition

XFX Radeon HD 7770 Series Video Cards:

XFX offers five AMD Radeon HD 7770 cards and the card that we were sent just happens to be the flagship model.

The XFX R7770 Black Super Overclocked Edition featuring Double Dissipation will cost $179 or $20 more than the standard clocked cards. Asking for $20 more than the reference design isn't too bad considering you get a better cooler and a much higher memory and core clock.

XFX R7950 Black Edition Card Retail Box

Inside the colorful outside box we found a smaller box.

XFX R7950 Black Edition Card Retail Box
Inside the inner box you'll find a ton of fliers for other XFX products, a quick install guide, the driver disc and, of course, the famous XFX 'do not disturb' door hanger that has been included for years. Under the paper work you'll find the card itself, the CrossFireX bridge interconnect, HDMI to DVI cable, DVI to VGA adapter, and a very large metal case badge that looks pretty cool.
XFX R7770 Black Edition

The XFX Radeon HD 7770 Black Super Overclocked Edition featuring Double Dissipation is a factory overclocked card that we are looking at today and has an 1120MHz core clock and a memory clock of 1300MHz (5200MHz effective). This is a 12% overclock on the core clock, so we should see a nice performance bump in the benchmarks with this video card.

XFX R7770 Black Edition Back

Turning the XFX Radeon HD 7770 over we don't find too many interesting things as the card doesn't have a back plate or any of the GDDR5 memory chips on the back of the PCB. The AMD Radeon HD 7770 reference design used a small GPU heatsink support on the back of the card, but XFX is not using it. The measurements are identical to the AMD reference design. 

XFX

XFX is using PCB model number is 109-C44157-00P, which is a newer revision of the AMD reference design.

XFX R7950 Video Card Warranty

We noticed that the GPU cooler screws have stickers on them and if you remove them or break the seal to get to the screws it will terminate the two year warranty that XFX places on all Radeon HD 7000 series cards. 

XFX R7950 Video Card DVI Connectors

The XFX Radeon HD 7770 has a pair of mini-DisplayPort 1.2 connectors, a full size HDMI 1.4a, and a dual-link DVI-I when it comes to video outputs just like the reference design. The only difference here is that XFX placed their logo in the exhaust fan as you can see in the image above.

XFX R7770 Black Edition

Since the XFX Radeon HD 7770 uses the AMD reference PCB the main differentiating factor is the custom GPU cooler that they are using on the card.  The GPU cooler design has two fans with Ghost Thermal Technology for improved cooling performance.

XFX R7770 Black Edition

The XFX R770 has a single 6-pin PCIe power connector located along at the end of the PCB that need to be hooked up just like the reference design as it uses the same PCB.

XFX R7770 Black Edition

Looking across the top of the card you can see the copper base plate on the GPU cooler and a large set of aluminum cooling fins that help keep it cool.  The PCB have some sag to it, so a PCB stiffening solution might not have been a bad idea here as this is what you'll see when it is installed and you are looking at the card.

AMD Radeon HD 7750

Radeon HD 7750 Features

Up next is the AMD Radeon HD 7750 1GB GDDR5 reference video card. This card is internally known as the Cape Verde Pro.

AMD Radeon HD 7750

As you can see from the angle shot above the AMD Radeon HD 7750 is much smaller than the Radeon HD 7770 and since the board typically uses just 55 Watts of power and has a maximum power draw under 75 Watts it does not need any additional power connectors.  Some companies will be bringing out passively cooled versions of this card, so it will be a hit for the silent PC fans.

AMD Radeon HD 7750 Graphics Card

This video card PCB is black and measures 6.7-inches in length and is a single slot graphics card.

AMD Radeon HD 7750 Graphics Card Back PCB

The back of the Radeon HD 7750 is pretty boring with no major components on the back.


AMD Radeon HD 7750 Graphics Card DVI

The AMD Radeon HD 7750 video outputs include DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort connectors.


AMD Radeon HD 7750 Graphics Card DVI

Looking down the end of the card you can see that it uses an extruded aluminum finned heat sink.


AMD Radeon HD 7750 Graphics Card DVI

The top plastic fan shroud is held down with two screws and can be quickly removed for cleaning the dust and dirt out of the cooling fins.  Notice that the fan is set down into the fin array.


AMD Radeon HD 7750 Graphics Card DVI

Removing the four screws that hold on the GPU cooler we can see the four memory chips and the Cape Verde core. There was a liberal amount of thermal compound applied to the GPU and it made good contact with the cooler. Notice that the memory chips were under the GPU cooler, but there were no thermal pads on them to dissipate the heat to the metal cooler that sat above them. Since there are just four memory IC's and the card has 1024MB of GDDR5 memory we can easily figure out that each chip is Hynix chip 256MB.


AMD Radeon HD 7750 Hynix GDDR5

Taking a closer look at the Hynix GDDR5 memory IC's we can see that they have part number H5GQ2H24MFR-T2C. These memory chips are speed rated for operation at 5.0Gbps, so 5000MHz effective. Since the AMD Radeon HD 7750 comes clocked with the memory at 4500MHz there should be some headroom left in the memory for overclocking.


AMD Radeon HD 7750 GPU Core

As you can see, the Cape Verde core isn't very big compared to the US quarter dollar. Hard to believe that there are 1.5 billion transistors in that GPU core, but thanks to the 28nm manufacturing process it can be done!

The Test System

Before we look at the numbers, let's take a brief look at the test system that was used. All testing was done on a fresh install of Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit and benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running.

The AMD Radeon graphics cards were tested with Catalyst 12.1 beta drivers and all of the NVIDIA graphics cards ran GeForce 295.51 Beta drivers.

Intel X79/LGA2011 Platform

Intel LGA2011 Test System
Intel LGA2011 Test System

The Intel X79 platform that we used to test the all of the video cards was running the ASUS P9X79 Deluxe motherboard with BIOS 0055 that came out on 12/16/2011. The Corsair Vengeance 16GB 1866MHz quad channel memory kit was set to 1866MHz with 1.5v and 9-10-9-27 1T memory timings. The OCZ Vertex 3 240GB SSD was run with  firmware version 2.15.

The Intel X79 Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor

Intel Core i7-3960X

Motherboard

ASUS P9X79 Deluxe

Memory

16GB Corsair 1866MHz

Video Card

Various

Solid-State Drive

OCZ Vertex 3 240GB

Cooling

Intel RTS2011LC

Power Supply

Corsair HX850W

Operating System

Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit

Video Cards Tested:

AMD Radeon HD 7770 GPU-Z Information:

AMD Radeon HD 7770 Test Settings

XFX Radeon HD 7770 GPU-Z Information:

XFX Radeon HD 7770 Test Settings

AMD Radeon HD 7750 GPU-Z Information:

AMD Radeon HD 7750 Test Settings

Batman: Arkham City

Batman: Arkham City PC Game

Batman: Arkham City is a 2011 action-adventure video game developed by Rocksteady Studios. It is the sequel to the 2009 video game Batman: Arkham Asylum, based on the DC Comics superhero Batman. The game was released by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows. The PC and Onlive version was released on November 22, 2011.

Batman: Arkham City Game Settings

Batman: Arkham City Game Settings

Batman: Arkham City uses the Unreal Engine 3 game engine with PhysX. For benchmark testing of Batman: Arkham City we disabled PhysX to keep it fair and ran the game in DirectX 11 mode with 8x MSAA enabled and all the image quality features cranked up. You can see all of the exact settings in the screen captures above.

Batman: Arkham City Benchmark Results
Benchmark Results: In Batman: Arkham City the AMD Radeon HD 7750 was able to squeeze out 24 frames per second at 1920x1080. This is only 1 fps faster than the AMD Radeon HD 5770 was. The AMD Radeon HD 7770 pulled out 28 frames per second which is 4 frames per second faster than the Radeon HD 7750 or 16.7% faster! The XFX Radeon HD 7770 Black Edition is an additional 3 frames per second or 10.7% faster than the reference AMD Radeon HD 7770.

Battlefield 3

Battlefield 3 Screenshot

Battlefield 3 (BF3) is a first-person shooter video game developed by EA Digital Illusions CE and published by Electronic Arts. The game was released in North America on October 25, 2011 and in Europe on October 28, 2011. It does not support versions of Windows prior to Windows Vista as the game only supports DirectX 10 and 11. It is a direct sequel to 2005's Battlefield 2, and the eleventh installment in the Battlefield franchise. The game sold 5 million copies in its first week of release and the PC download is exclusive to EA's Origin platform, through which PC users also authenticate when connecting to the game.

Battlefield 3 Screenshot

Battlefield 3 debuts the new Frostbite 2 engine. This updated Frostbite engine can realistically portray the destruction of buildings and scenery to a greater extent than previous versions. Unlike previous iterations, the new version can also support dense urban areas. Battlefield 3 uses a new type of character animation technology called ANT. ANT technology is used in EA Sports games, such as FIFA, but for Battlefield 3 is adapted to create a more realistic soldier, with the ability to transition into cover and turn the head before the body.

This game looks great and we tested with the highest settings possible.  This means we used 'ultra' settings and really punished the cards being tested. We ran FRAPS for two minutes on the single player map called 'Rock and a Hard Place' for benchmarking.

Battlefield 3 Screenshot

Benchmark Results:
The AMD Radeon HD 5770 was able to edge out the latest generation AMD Radeon HD 7750 by 2.0 frames per second. The AMD Radeon HD 7770 was able to average 27 frames per second at 1920x1080 while the XFX Radeon HD 7770 Black edition averaged 30.3 frames per second. That is a performance margin of 12.2%, that's right in line with the 11.2% increase in clock speed. 

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Deus Ex Human Revolution PC Game

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is the third game in the Deus Ex first-person role-playing video game series, and a prequel to the original game. Announced on May 27, 2007, Human Revolution was developed by Eidos Montreal and published by Square Enix. It was released in August 2011. Human Revolution contains elements of first-person shooters and role-playing games, set in a near-future where corporations have extended their influence past the reach of global governments. The game follows Adam Jensen, the security chief for one of the game's most powerful corporations, Sarif Industries. After a devastating attack on Sarif's headquarters, Adam is forced to undergo radical surgeries that fuse his body with mechanical augmentations, and he is embroiled in the search for those responsible for the attack.

Deus Ex Human Revolution Game Settings

Deus Ex Human Revolution Game Settings

Deus Ex: Human Revolution uses a modified Crystal Dynamics Crystal game engine, which some of you might know as the game engine from the last Tomb Raider game title. The game developers did some rather hefty modifications to this engine though as the graphics are superb in this title.

Deus Ex Human Revolution Benchmark Results
Benchmark Results: The XFX Radeon HD 7770 Black Edition was able to take the top spot among our three cards today with 57.39 frames per second at 1920x1080. That's 6.11 frames per second faster than the reference design. The bump in clock speed between the two cards put the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 1GB and the AMD Radeon HD 6850 between them. The AMD Radeon HD 7750 and the AMD Radeon HD 5770 were neck and neck with only .01 fps separating them at 1920x1080 and .69 fps between them at 1280x1024. 

DiRT 3

Dirt 3 PC Game

Dirt 3 (stylized DiRT 3) is a rallying video game and the third in the Dirt series of the Colin McRae Rally series, developed and published by Codemasters. However, the "Colin McRae" tag has been completely removed from this iteration. The game was released in Europe and North America on the 24 May 2011.

Dirt 3 Game Settings

Dirt 3 Game Settings

Dirt3 uses Ego 2.0 Game Technology Engine (more commonly referred to as Ego Engine or EGO, stylised ego), which is a video game engine developed by Codemasters. Ego is a modified version of the Neon game engine that was used in Colin McRae: Dirt and was developed by Codemasters and Sony Computer Entertainment using Sony Computer Entertainment's PhyreEngine cross-platform graphics engine. The Ego engine was developed to render more detailed damage and physics as well as render large-scale environments.

Dirt 3 PC Game Benchmark Results
Benchmark Results: The XFX Radeon HD 7770 Black Edition was able to average 42.78 frames per second at 1920x1080; that's 1.01 frames per second faster than the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 and 4.16 frames per second faster than the reference AMD Radeon HD 7770. The AMD Radeon HD 7750 was 6.7 frames per second slower than the AMD Radeon HD 5770 and 15.97 frames per second slower than the XFX Radeon HD 7770 Black Edition. 

H.A.W.X. 2

Tom Clancy's HAWX 2

Aerial warfare has evolved. So have you. As a member of the ultra-secret H.A.W.X. 2 squadron, you are one of the chosen few, one of the truly elite. You will use finely honed reflexes, bleeding-edge technology and ultra-sophisticated aircraft - their existence denied by many governments - to dominate the skies. You will do so by mastering every nuance of the world's finest combat aircraft. You will slip into enemy territory undetected, deliver a crippling blow and escape before he can summon a response. You will use your superior technology to decimate the enemy from afar, then draw him in close for a pulse-pounding dogfight. And you will use your steel nerve to successfully execute night raids, aerial refueling and more. You will do all this with professionalism, skill and consummate lethality. Because you are a member of H.A.W.X. 2 and you are one of the finest military aviators the world has ever known. H.A.W.X. 2 was released on November 16, 2010 for PC gamers.

Tom Clancy's HAWX 2

We ran the benchmark in DX11 mode with the image quality settings cranked up as you can see above.

Tom Clancy's HAWX 2

The H.A.W.X. 2 PC game title runs on what looks like seven threads as you can see from the task manager shot seen above that was taken on the test system that was running the Intel Core i7-3960X processor.

Tom Clancy's HAWX 2 Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results: H.A.W.X.2 was easy work for the new AMD Radeon HD 7000 series graphics cards. All of them were able to hit that magic number of 60+ frames per second with the image quality cranked to the maximum. The XFX Radeon HD 7770 Black Edition was able to average 74 frames per second while the reference design Radeon HD 7770 averaged 66 frames per second and the AMD Radeon HD 7750 managed to hit 60 frames per second.

Just Cause 2

Just Cause 2

Just Cause 2 is a sandbox style action video game developed by Swedish developer Avalanche Studios and Eidos Interactive, published by Square Enix. It is the sequel to the 2006 video game, Just Cause. 

Just Cause 2 Game Settings

Just Cause 2 employs a new version of the Avalanche Engine, Avalanche Engine 2.0, which is an updated version of the engine used in Just Cause.  The game will be set on the other side of the world, compared to Just Cause, which is on the fictional tropical island of Panau in Southeast Asia. Rico Rodriguez will return as the protagonist, aiming to overthrow the evil dictator Pandak "Baby" Panay and confront his former boss, Tom Sheldon.

Just Cause 2 Benchmark Results
Benchmark Results: The XFX Radeon HD 7770 reached an average of 29.54 frames per second in Just Cause 2 at 1920x1080. The reference AMD Radeon HD 7770 managed 25.94 frames per second which is 13.9% behind the XFX overclocked 7770 Black Edition. That is slightly more than the 11.2% boost in the clock frequency. The AMD Radeon HD 7750 filled in the bottom of the chart just behind the Radeon HD 5770 by .18 frames per second with an average of 21.82 frames per second at 1920x1080.

Metro 2033

Metro 2033

Metro 2033 is an action-oriented video game with a combination of survival horror and first-person shooter elements. The game is based on the novel Metro 2033 by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. It was developed by 4A Games in the Ukraine. The game is played from the perspective of a character named Artyom. The story takes place in post-apocalyptic Moscow, mostly inside the metro station where the player's character was raised (he was born before the war, in an unharmed city), but occasionally the player has to go above ground on certain missions and scavenge for valuables.

Metro 2033 Settings

This is another extremely demanding game. Image quality settings were raised to Very High quality with 4x AA and 16x AF. We turned off PhysX, but turned on DOF (Depth of Field) for benchmarking.

Metro 2033

Benchmark Results: Metro 2033 is a notoriously tough on today's graphics cards. Even the new AMD Radeon HD 7970 is only capable of averaging 69 frames per second at 1920x1080. The XFX Radeon HD 7770 black edition was limited to 15.00 frames per second and 21.33 frames per second at 1280x1024. The reference design AMD Radeon HD 7770 hit only 13.33 frames per second at 1920x1080 and 19.67 frames per second at 1280x1024. The AMD Radeon HD 7750 was only able to manage 12.00 frames per second at 1920x1080 and 17.00 at 1280x1024.

3DMark 11

Futuremark 3DMark 11 Benchmark

3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world’s most popular benchmark for measuring the 3D graphics performance of gaming PCs. 3DMark 11 uses a native DirectX 11 engine designed to make extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11, including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading.

Futuremark 3DMark 11 Benchmark Settings

Since Futuremark has recently released 3DMark11 we decided to run the benchmark at both performance and extreme presets to see how our hardware will run.

3DMark11 Performance Benchmark Results:

Futuremark 3DMark 11 Benchmark Results

Nearly all gamers use some version of 3DMark for testing, so we ran Futuremark 3DMark11 with the performance preset enabled to see how the new AMD Radeon HD 7000 series does. The XFX Radeon HD 7770 Black Edition pulled out an overall score of 3891 3DMarks and a graphics score of 3459. The reference design hit an overall score of 3558 3DMarks and a graphics score of 3149. That is a performance difference of 9.4% which is a hair below the 11.2% difference in the clock frequencies. The AMD Radeon HD 7750 managed an overall score of 2736 3DMarks and a graphics score of 2367. The AMD Radeon HD 5770 was able to out perform the AMD Radeon HD 7750 by 142 3DMarks overall and 157 points on the graphics score. 

3DMark11 Extreme Benchmark Results:

Futuremark 3DMark 11 Benchmark Results

We also ran Futuremark 3DMark11 with the extreme present, the XFX Radeon HD 7770 Black Edition was able to manage an overall score of 1220 3DMarks and a graphics score of 1090. The AMD Radeon HD 7770 was a little lower in the charts with an overall score of 1112 3DMarks and a graphics score of 992, enough to edge out the ASUS Ultimate GeForce GTX 550Ti by 163 3DMarks overall. The AMD Radeon HD 7750 once again filled in the bottom of the chart with an overall score of 827 3DMarks and a graphics score of 730.

Power Consumption

For testing power consumption, we took our test system and plugged it into a Kill-A-Watt power meter. For idle numbers, we allowed the system to idle on the desktop for 15 minutes and took the reading. For load numbers we measured the peak wattage used by the system while running the OpenGL benchmark FurMark 1.9.2 at 640x480 resolution. We also ran the game HAWX 2 and looped the benchmark three times and recorded the highest Wattage seen on the meter. 

Total System Power Consumption Results

Power Consumption Results: The AMD Radeon HD 7700 series does exceptionally well when it comes to power efficiency. AMD put a ton of engineering work into PowerTune and ZeroCore power technologies on the new core architecture and the fruits of their labor are really starting to show it. The AMD Radeon HD 7000 series has impressive power numbers and you can see what AMD claims below.

  Maximum Board Power
Typical Board Power
Long Idle Power
Radeon HD 7970
250W
~230W
<3W
 Radeon HD 7950
200W
~180W
 <3W
 Radeon HD 7770
 100W  ~80W  <3W
 Radeon HD 7750
75W
 ~55W  <3W

Temperature & Noise Testing

Since video card temperatures and the heat generated by next-generation cards have become an area of concern among enthusiasts and gamers, we want to take a closer look at how the graphics cards do at idle, during gaming and finally under a full load.

Video Card Temps

We recorded temperatures during several scenarios on each of the cards we tested today and the benchmark results are shown above. The XFX Radeon HD 7770 Black Edition had an idle temperature of 30 degrees while the AMD Radeon HD 7770 was slightly warmer at 31 degrees. Firing up Furmark the XFX Radeon HD 7770 Black Edition heated up to 67 while the AMD Radeon HD 7770 was 4 degrees warmer at 71 degrees. When running H.A.W.X. 2 for a little bit of gaming action the XFX Radeon HD 7770 Black Edition was the warmer of the two at 59 degrees while the AMD Radeon HD 7770 was only 56 degrees.

When we were testing the XFX and AMD video cards we noticed that they sounded completely different, so we took out our trusty sound meter to get some numbers.

Video Card Noise Levels

With our sound meter placed at the edge of the motherboard we were able to measure a decent difference in decibels between the cards. The AMD Radeon HD 7770 was nice and quiet when running Furmark only hitting 54dBA. At idle the AMD Radeon HD 7770 was sitting quietly in the corner at only 48 dBA and gaming brought it up to only 50dBA. The AMD Radeon HD 7750 was a bit louder when running Furmark hitting 60 dBA. The AMD Radeon HD 7750 idles at the same level as the 7770 does under load, 54dBA. Gaming brought the 7750 sound up to 58 dBA.

Overclocking The Radeon HD 7750

To overclock the AMD Radeon HD 7750 video card we used AMD Overdrive to find the highest stable overclock without any voltage increases.

AMD OverDrive Radeon HD 7750

The AMD Radeon HD 7750 reference card comes clocked at 800MHz on the core and 1125MHz on the memory. If you use CATALYST Control Center (CCC) like we did, you can raise or lower the clock frequencies within the parameters set by AMD. For this card AMD set limits for this particular BIOS to 900MHz on the core and 1250MHz on the memory. We were able to run the card at 900MHz on the core and 1250MHz on the memory without any stability issues.


AMD Radeon HD 7750 Overclock

Here is a GPU-Z screenshot showing the overclock!  This is a 100MHz overclock on the core and 125MHz on the 1GB of GDDR5 memory.

Radeon HD 7750 at 800MHz core and 1125MHz memory:

Radeon HD 7750 Stock

Radeon HD 7750 at 900MHz core and 1250MHz memory:

Radeon HD 7750 Overclock

We tried out this overclock with Futuremark 3DMark 11 on the performance preset and saw the score go from P2736 to P2897, which is a 5.9% or 161 3DMark point increase from the card's stock settings. This isn't a huge performance gain, but it is better than nothing.

In real games like Metro 2033 we went from 12.00 FPS to 12.67 FPS at 1920x1080 and 17.00 FPS to 18.00 FPS at 1280x1024.  This is again a ~6% performance improvement, which is better than nothing. If you wanted to increase the voltages you could likely get a better overclock.

Overclocking The Radeon HD 7770

To overclock the AMD Radeon HD 7770 video card we again used AMD Overdrive to find the highest stable overclock without any voltage increases.

AMD OverDrive Radeon HD 7950

The AMD Radeon HD 7770 reference card comes clocked at 1000MHz on the core and 1125MHz on the memory. If you use CATALYST Control Center (CCC) like we did, you can raise or lower the clock frequencies within the parameters set by AMD. For this card AMD set limits for this particular BIOS to 1200MHz on the core and 1250MHz on the memory. We were able to run the card at 1075MHz on the core and 1250MHz on the memory without any stability issues. If we went up to 1080MHz on the core it would cause the game or benchmark to hard lock and we had to kill the application in task manager.

AMD Radeon HD 7950 CrossFire Overclock

Here is a GPU-Z screenshot showing the overclock!  This is a 75MHz overclock on the core and 125MHz on the GDDR5 memory.

Radeon HD 7770 at 1000MHz core and 1125MHz memory:

Radeon HD 7950 CrossFire Stock

Radeon HD 7770 at 1075MHz core and 1250MHz memory:

Radeon HD 7950 CrossFire Overclock

We tried out this overclock with Futuremark 3DMark 11 on the performance preset and saw the score go from P3558 to P3780, which is a 6.2% or 222 3DMark point increase from the card's stock settings. This isn't a huge performance gain and, in all honesty, we were disappointed with it as the XFX Radeon HD 7770 that we had for testing was factory overclocked up to 1120MHz! It looks like XFX increased the cards voltages or we got stuck with a bad overclocker.

In Metro 2033 we went from 13.33 FPS to 14.33 FPS at 1920x1080 and 19.67 FPS to 20.67 FPS at 1280x1024.  Not a huge improvement, but still a gain of 5-7% for free. 

XFX R7770 Black Edition

Next up we have the XFX Radeon HD 7770 Black Super Overclocked Edition featuring Dual Dissipation. This card is factory overclocked up to 1120MHz already, so it will be interesting what we can get this card up to. This card uses a different BIOS, so we can overclock it up to 1350MHz on both the core and memory clocks.

AMD Radeon HD 7950 CrossFire Overclock

We weren't able to get the XFX card much higher than the default settings, but we were able to get another 35MHz on the core and 50MHz on the memory.  This puts the core clock at 1155MHz, which is 155MHz over a stock Radeon HD 7770.

XFX Radeon HD 7770 at 1120MHz core and 1300MHz memory:

Radeon HD 7950 CrossFire Stock

XFX Radeon HD 7770 at 1155MHz core and 1350MHz memory:

Radeon HD 7950 CrossFire Overclock

We tried out this overclock with Futuremark 3DMark 11 on the performance preset and saw the score go from P3891 to P4029, which is a 3.5% or 138 3DMark point increase from the card's stock settings. Not a huge overclock, but we did break the 4,000 point mark in 3DMark11 and that is nice to see.

In Metro 2033 we went from 15.00 FPS to 15.33 FPS at 1920x1080 and 21.33 FPS to 22.00 FPS at 1280x1024.  

It appears that AMD already aggressively set the core clocks on the AMD Radeon HD 7700 series, so overclock doesn't look like it will be too fun!

Final Thoughts & Conclusions

AMD Radeon HD 7700 Series Cards

If you made it through all 18 pages of this article covering the AMD Radeon HD 7700 series you should have a pretty good feel for Cape Verde and what these cards are capable of. AMD has developed an affordable graphics card series here that won't break the bank and still provides you the ability to play today's newest game titles with many of the bells and whistles enabled. For a mainstream graphics cards in the $99 to $199 price point range, that is pretty much all you can ask for and the AMD Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition and Radeon HD 7750 are both good mainstream gaming cards. 

We had high hopes for both the AMD Radeon HD 7770 and the Radeon HD 7750 coming into this review. In some areas the cards meet our expectations and in others we were let down. Let's break it down for you and explain our reasoning:

The most impressive areas of Cape Verde were without a doubt the series' power efficiency. AMD has a very efficient design here that doesn't require much power and therefore doesn't produce much heat. This leads to power savings, lower temperatures and GPU cooling solutions that don't make much noise. In fact, the XFX Radeon HD 7770 Black Super Overclocked Edition w/ Double Dissipation was so quiet we needed to go out and buy a better sound meter to properly measure the card! These cards are very quiet and after testing the Radeon HD 5000, 6000 and 7000 series in order we can clearly see that the GPU coolers are improving as time goes on.

That said, we would be lying to you if we didn't come out and say that we are a little disappointed when it came to the card's overall performance.  The AMD Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition video card is available from $159 and the AMD Radeon HD 7750 starts at $109. This price range is currently flooded with graphics cards and many of the previous generation AMD and NVIDIA cards that were in the $199-$299 price range back in 2009-2010 are now down under $150 and outperform the Radeon HD 7700 series.  Examples of this are the AMD Radeon HD 6850 (Barts) and the GeForce GTX 460 1GB (Fermi) that we included in testing. Both cards cost less than $130 and were faster than the Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition in the majority of the benchmarks.

We don't know how long these cards will remain in the market, but for now it makes things tricky. After talking to AMD about the pricing issue we see, we were informed that the AMD Radeon HD 6850 and 6870 are no longer being produced and haven't been for months. Once the inventory clears out of the retail channel the cards will disappear and the only thing left to buy from AMD at these price points will be the Radeon HD 7700 series. NVIDIA told us they are still producing GeForce GTX 460 cards and that they should be around for some time still. So, right now you can get an AMD Radeon HD 6850 that will outperform the Radeon HD 7770 for less money. The AMD Radeon HD 6850 uses more power, runs hotter, is louder and has less video output options.  Tough choices!

Overclocking the AMD Radeon HD 7900 'Tahiti' series of graphics cards was something we enjoyed as those cards have a ton of overclocking potential right out of the box. We hoped to see that with the AMD Radeon HD 7770 GHz edition and the Radeon HD 7750, but it appears that AMD didn't leave much room for fun. The AMD Radeon HD 7770 already comes clocked at 1000MHz, so that in itself is a feat. With more time and some voltage increases, we are sure that we could push the overclock father, but we got the cards Friday afternoon and the article is launching on Valentine's Day. That gave us four days to complete this article, so overclocking time was extremely limited.

At the end of the day the AMD Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition and the Radeon HD 7750 are both solid mainstream graphics cards. They played all the games we wanted and can easily run games at 1920x1080 resolutions with moderate image quality settings. They will be extremely popular in the months to come and we can easily recommend them to our readers as this card will be the go to series for mainstream gamers. We just wish the last generation cards were gone!  

The XFX R7770 Black Edition S Double Dissipation card that we reviewed along with the reference cards today shows the full potential of the Radeon HD 7770 series. For an extra $20 it appears to be well worth it!


Legit Reviews Recommended Award

Legit Bottom Line: The AMD Radeon HD 7770 and Radeon HD 7750 are solid cards, but pricing and a market flooded with mainstream cards makes buying a mainstream video card confusing right now.


AMD Radeon HD 7750 GPU Core