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Hot Tip: ATI HD4770! Under 100 Bucks Yet Unbelievable Power!

Phoenixx

Starfleet Member
Site Supporters
For a whole bunch of reasons, (not the least of which being that im simply an ATI fan), i was never really satisfied by that 9800GT i bought at the end of last year, which, as most of you probably know, is just a rebranded 8800GT anyway. Thats why i kept a close eye on ATIs new developments, and sure enough it was a good thing to do so, right now probably more so than ever before.


Heres why.

Actually i considered replacing the 'unVidia' with a 4830, because the 4830 is practically just a slightly toned down version of the 4850, only marginally less powerful than its bigger brother, and with roundabout 100 bucks (european) very reasonably priced too. But then ive heard of a newcomer which was to go by the name of 4770 and supposed to be launched in April or May. This new card is meant to directly replace the 4830, and according to the rumor kitchen it was expected to become an absolute winner. Hence i decided to wait.

Did they expect too much? Not at all. On the contrary, it was well worth the waiting, and i think the endresult does not only absolutely live up to all expectations, it might very well even exceed them in some cases. To give you a raw idea of what we are talking about check out the attached screenshots. (Courtesy of AMD.) To have a look at some independent testresults check out this review. The text is in german, dont mind that, just check out the specs and comparison tables by clicking 'nächste seite' at the bottom of each page. If you want to read more about the card in a language you can understand im sure there are or soon will be english reviews too. EDIT: Links to several english reviews added in post below.

I think you will come to agree that this is pretty darn spectacular for a 'budget' graphic card. Personally i dont think there has ever been a card with a better price/performance ratio ever, which means if there was ever a card that really gave you the proverbial 'bang for your buck' then its the 4770. As you can see in the charts in the review, the card often easily beats even cards that are much higher classed, (and hence way more expensive), which means as far as gracas go there is currently nothing that a hundret bucks would be better spent on. So i for one am definitely sold, the unVidia will go and ATI rule my gaming experience once again. And to be perfectly honest; after the 9800GT fiasco i dont think i will ever buy nVidia again,...



Some Price/Availability Info:
My favorite internet dealer has the 4770 from 8 manufacturers in the list already, but only 2 of them are on 'green', the others are still on red which means they cant be delivered yet. The cheapest one (still on red too) is from Club3D and costs €83.81. Available (on green) are an MSI for €86.87 and a XFX for €89.00. Prices in USD will be slightly higher but this should give you a good idea as for what the street prices are going to be for the 4770. It is also likely that offers in the US will be generally cheaper than in Europe.








 

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Phoenixx

Starfleet Member
Site Supporters
Some 4770 reviews for the english speaking audience:

:: Anandtech :: Firingsquad :: PC Perspective :: HotHardware ::


Quote nordichardware:

AMD's Radeon HD 4770 graphics card is one of the worst kept secrets in a long time. The graphics card that use the much talked about RV740 GPU appeared in the news for the first time months ago. Not just name and specifications leaked, but also more or less complete tests with early revisions of the card. Nothing is written in stone until the final launch, which has now happened. AMD launched the first 40nm GPU and the result is truly impressive.

As the name may have revealed to you, Radeon HD 4770 is not a high-end card, but mid-range costing around $100. Ironically it outperforms bigger brother Radeon HD 4830 across the board but also challenges the Radeon HD 4850 in some benchmarks. Radeon HD 4770 offers performance above what one would normally expect from a series named HD 4700 and NVIDIA's current mid-range card, GeForce 9800GT/GTS 240, gets whipped pretty bad, according to the reviews that has surfaced so far.

Beside the quite pleasant performance Radeon HD 4770 will also have a positive effect on the power bill. The 40nm technology reduce power consumption considerably and AMD looks to have taken a firm grip of the mid-range market with the new card.
 

Phoenixx

Starfleet Member
Site Supporters
Thank You Steve, great review!

Gives you a pretty solid reason to buy a CrossFire board next doesnt it,...after reading this i think it might be a good idea to get one 4770 now and a second one later along with a new board. Since such a combo even outperforms an 4890 that should certainly do for a while.

(I already have an eye on one of the new 790/750 Biostar boards. These models do not only have the same AutoOC feature that turned my 5200+ into a (quasi-)6200+ with a single BIOS setting, they also belong to the rare couple of boards that can turn an X3 into an X4 via ACC.)


BTW, the people seem to be buying the 4770 like f#*ing crazy already. Remember when i said that only two of eight offered models were available at my favorite online dealer? Well sure enough a couple of hours later (when i wanted to order) these two were set to red too. And today they are still all on red. No doubt this card will become an absolute hit,...in fact it seems to be one already, even though it has just been launched. And seeing how nVidia is much more into rebranding than actually innovating (see 8800GT->9800GT->GTS240) i have a strong feeling that 4770 will be the magic number that is going to rule the upper-mid spectrum for a looong time to come,...
 
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Meecro Hyperion

Pinball Nudger
Thanks Phoenixx (did I tell you that's my 8yo daughter's middle name - minus an 'x'), I don't try to keep up with H/W any more - but sometimes it's good to be around people who do....
 

Phoenixx

Starfleet Member
Site Supporters
As the more informed of you probably know; ATI has severe problems delivering the 4770 in decent quantities because TSMC (the chip manufacturer) has huge trouble with the new 40nm manufacturing process. According to onlinesources the yields are still very bad, most of the chips made so far werent able to pass the quality control as they all seem to go easily up to about 700MHz but are rarely good enough to reach the 750 necessary for the 4770s. Therefore these defective chips are now supposed to end up on 4730 models instead, which will have a core clock of exactly these 700MHz and a memory clock of 900MHz, which is 100MHz faster than the RAM on 4770s. But the real massproduction of actual 4770s will probably not begin anytime soon.


Seeing how this more or less becomes a test of patience, i have now put the 4770 off the list and bought a 4850. My local dealer was selling them for 99.- bucks, (Sapphire 512MB), so i thought if i can get a real 4850 for only 10.- bucks more, why wait an eternity for a card thats only almost as good and only 10.- bucks less. The only thing that bothers me a little is that the 4770 would have needed a lot less power. An 4850 is specified at 110W maximum whereas the 4770 draws only 80W max. (Thanks to 40nm.) Thats almost low enough for being powered by the PEG slot alone, which allows a max-draw of 75W. But aside from that i think it wasnt a bad move at all, although its not total high end it will do me for a long time to come. Im going to install it now, will let you know how well she does once i did my usual testing,...


P.S.: Finally ATI again! Yay! I was so fed up with that 9800GT i cant even put it in words. Im so im looking forward to the good old CatalystControlCenter,...gee, its almost like christmas!! :)
 

Phoenixx

Starfleet Member
Site Supporters
I will go into this in more detail in a seperate thread, just wanted to add to this 'ATI recommendation thread' that you should under no circumstances buy an ATI card if you intend to use it under Vista or Win7!

Reasons: (in the following specifically referring to HD4850 vs. 9800GT)

1.) Performance. Although the ATI delivered a higher result in synthetic benchmarks (3DMark) it absolutely sucked in games, even though it is actually the more powerful card. (Keyword: Vista Drivers.) Games which had a fluid and stable framerate of 60 FPS with the NV suddenly became outright unplayable on the ATI, (Area51), other games suffered severe drops in framerates for no apparent reason. One example: In TombRaiderLegend there is a scene right at the beginning where you walk up a river. Except for a rare moment every now and then the ATI practically never went higher than 30FPS here (due to in-game auto-frame-cap) whereas the weaker NV has practically no problems with that same scene at all. Except for an occasional 'break' every now and then (meaning short drops to somewhere between 45-60) it delivers the full 60FPS all of the time, which means compared to the ATI (which occasionally went up from 30 to 60 for a sec) it is exactly the other way around. This difference in performance became even more apparent at the waterfall at the end of the river. With the NV you have to go very close to the waterfall for the framerate to auto-cap, otherwise the FPS stay stable at 60. The ATI on the other hand, (which is mostly at 30 anyway as long as you are on the river), is guaranteed to drop to 30 as soon as the waterfall only comes into view, meaning no matter how far away you stand from it the frames will under no circumstances go higher than 30, not even occasionally, and not even while looking at it from the most far-away spot possible. Other games behaved in exactly the same manner so this was not a game-dependent isolated incidence. As a matter of fact, except for the synthetic 3DMark benchmark there was not one single thing that has been better with the ATI, on the contrary, compared to the NV literally every-thing i tried deteriorated.


2.) Vista Drivers and VSync. If you are one of the people who hate tearing (and who doesnt) you are probably using VSync to counter that annoying effect. While forcing VSync for games that dont support it by themselves works fine with ATI cards under XP, dont look for it under Vista, because it doesnt work. Unlike nVidia ATI hasnt managed to make forced VSync work in years[!], (as i had to find out yesterday), and that probably means that they will never get it done, otherwise there would be some progress by now. Yes, the option is there in the CatalystControlCenter and you can set it to AlwaysOn no problem. The trouble is only that it wont have any effect because the driver just doesnt do it. With an nVidia card on the other hand there is no problem at all, when you set it to AutomaticallyOn it will work 100% fine because the driver does really activate it too.


3.) Shaders/Compatibility with older games: I have also noticed that the shader-routines of the 4850 are apparently a good deal inferior compared to those of the 9800GT, at least with regards to certain games. In FordStreetRacing and FordRacing3 for instance, when you set the EnvironmentMapping to Complex, all the 'glossyness' normally on the cars is completely gone (which also affects the headlight graphics, etc.) and the cars pretty much change from their normal color to a grey or white overlay where the game would normally apply reflections and shadows to the cars surfaces. (And it does that practically all the time.) With the NV on the other hand the gloss-effects are entirely intact, only some of the environment-reflections look somewhat 'odd', (though, maybe thats even how its supposed to be), but unlike with the ATI it doesnt really look 'unnatural' here, which means unless you specifically look for it you would never even notice it. In any case the NV seems to do a significantly better job here, and that goes for both Vista and XP systems. I tried the two games on both OSs and both cards behaved exactly the same with regards to the reflections and shadows. To be fair i have to add however that there was no such problem with an ATI X850XT-PlatinumEdition, (at least not under XP but then the OS doesnt seem to matter in this case), so this seems to be a problem pertaining to the new shader architecture used in recent generation ATI cards only.



So in conclusion, if you use Vista and want to be able to use VSync in games that dont have such an option themselves, dont bother to even think about getting an ATI as you are most certainly going to regret it. Also, ATIs performance under Vista generally leaves much to be desired, presumably something which can be attributed to way sub-optimal drivers as well. A 9800GT with an A2 revision G92 GPU can easily outperform an 4850 in an otherwise 100% identical system, which means an ATI card that is practically a whole class better actually performs worse than a previous generation nVidia card. An ATI can also have severe problems with shader effects when you play older games.



P.S.: I really used to hate the 9800GT, never would i have expected how fast that could change. Pretty much since the first day after buying it i couldnt wait to get an ATI again, now that i finally had one im kind of cured though, because if thats what ATI gaming means under Vista and newer OSs then they may gladly keep their cards along with their partially non-functional CCC. After trying an 4850 from Sapphire wednesday and another one from MSI yesterday i have seen all i need to know and more. I have just ordered a GTS 250,...
 

lovejenete

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