HIS HD 4770 512MB PCI-E Graphics Card Page: 1
IntroductionHIS 4770
 
Every so often graphics cards take a leap forward in technology and promise to be the next best thing since sliced bread. Ever the optimist, I tend to take this at face value and expect to see these promises come to light, but more often than not, expectations are shattered and everything comes crashing back down to earth.
 
Not long ago we were welcoming ATI and Nvidia's 55nm technology with open arms. It seems like only yesterday that both companies were releasing their latest and greatest cards in the hope of capturing your imagination and your wallet. Today we are taking a look at the first ever 40nm card, in the form of the HIS ATI  Radeon HD4770. Being the first of it's kind the 4770 has a lot to live up to, but this budget card may bring more than we bargained for.
 
Established in 1987 HIS (Hightech Information System Limited) set out with a mission to produce the highest quality PC products in the industry. With over 800 awards from worldwide media under their belt, they can't be far off reaching this goal. Certain that they will be "Your Choice of Graphics Board Supplier" HIS certainly know how to talk the talk, but let's see if they can walk the walk with their latest addition to their graphics card lineup, the eagerly anticipated ATI Radeon HD4770.
 
 
Specifications
 
Model Name HIS HD4770 (Full HD 1080p) HDMI 512MB (128bit) GDDR5 Dual DL-DVI & TV (HDCP) PCIe (RoHS)
Chipset
Radeon HD 4700 PCIe Series
ASIC
RadeonTM HD 4770 GPU
Pixel Pipelines
640 stream processing units* (Unified)
Vertex Engines
640 stream processing units* (Unified)
Manu. Process
(Micron) 40nm
Transistor
826 million
Memory Size
(MB) 512
Memory Type
GDDR5
RAMDAC
(MHz) 400
Engine CLK
(MHz) 750
Memory CLK
(Gbps) 3.2Gbps (800 x 4)
Memory Interface
(bit) 128
Power Supply Requirement
450 Watt or greater power supply with one 75W 6-pin PCI Express® power connector recommended (550 Watt and two 6-pin connectors for ATI CrossFireXTM technology in dual mode)
 
One might be led to believe that the HD4770 is slower than all of the HD48xx series, however this is not the case. The HD4770 is strategically positioned to perform above the HD4830 and just below the HD4850 allowing ATI to hold another price point in the low end segment of the market.
 
The HD4770 features the same number of stream processors as the HD4830, but has half the memory interface. To prevent this from severely crippling the card ATI have used GDDR5 memory, much like that seen on the 512MB HD4870 last year, clocked at 3200Mhz. The card also features a significantly higher clock speed (750Mhz) compared to 575Mhz and 625Mhz of the 4830 and 4850 respectively.


HIS HD 4770 512MB PCI-E Graphics Card Page: 2
Packaging & Appearance
 
The HD4770 is presented in what can only be described as a rather drab cardboard box. Whilst lower end cards don't usually feature extravagant, over the top packaging, a little more effort to add appeal to the box would have gone a long way. Simple styling seemingly is what HIS do best. On the front we have a spherical design dominating the package, with some key features listed on the right.
 
HIS 4770 box frontHIS 4770 box rear
 
Moving on to the rear we are greeted with the cards aptly named Features & Benefits, System Requirements and a number of coloured orbs outlining some more of the cards key features.
 
Lifting up the flap reveals the card neatly packaged in a plastic shroud, supported by a sheet of anti-static styrofoam and a number of polystyrene pieces to make sure it arrives safely without damage, even if it does take a bump or two along the way. The VGA and HDMI adapters sit snugly under the plastic shroud, with the driver disc, sticker and manual resting in the depths of the box.
 
HIS 4770 open boxHIS 4770 card and accessories
 
On the right, the contents are set out on display and rather disappointingly there isn't an awful lot there. Other manufacturers include a handful of useful adaptors and programs along with their cards, so there isn't really any excuse here for HIS.
 
Now for a closeup of the card. First of all the card is fairly short, so should fit easily into most systems without the need for modding/rearranging the internals of your chassis. When I first saw the cooler I was surprised that it wasn't the full cover shroud cooler ATI had shown in press releases, but the supplied cooler is more than sufficient for keeping the 4770 cool and quiet under load.
 
 HIS 4770 card topHIS 4770 card bottom
 
On to the back of the card we see that the usual 4 sprung retaining backplate is used to attach the heatsink to the card, applying optimal contact with the GPU core.
 
The heatsink assembly is far from unnatractive with its sleek, insinuating curves, subtly branded with ATI's logo. Silver, black and gold detailing gives the impression of quality, and helps tone down the bright red PCB. The heatsink is made from aluminium which may come as a surprise due to it's copper colouring and features an embedded 92mm fan.
 
HIS 4770 heatsinkHIS 4770 memory
 
On the right you will see that the memory is made by Qimonda and should overclock reasonably well. Opting to cool the memory via airflow from the heatsink is never a good idea from my point of view, but heatsinks could easily be added should the end user wish to do so.
 
With Multi-GPU configurations becoming more popular, ATI have added not one, but two Crossfire fingers to the 4770, allowing users with a compatible motherboard to run four cards in Quad Crossfire X mode. Whilst scaling isn't perfect, it will offer a huge boost in FPS for many games supporting the technology.
 
 HIS 4770 Crossfire fingersHIS 4770 6 pin PCI-E power
 
Power Consumption has long been an issue and until recently many companies did very little to reduce the power graphics cards draw. ATI decided to make the 4770 as efficient as possible and even though a 6 pin power connector was still required, the cards draws less power compared to similar cards on the market.


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Test Setup
 
Today we are going to be concentrating on a head-to-head comparison of the HIS HD4770 512MB, Zotac GTS250 AMP 1GB, and Asus 9800GTX 512MB graphics cards. The aim is to see whether the new HD4770 512MB card, based on 40nm fabrication, offers any benefits over the older 55nm cards.
 
 
ProcessorIntel Core i7 920 @ Stock
MotherboardMSI X58 Platinum
Memory6GB Corsair Dominator CL8 1600Mhz
Power Supply
Tuniq Ensemble 1200W
Operating SystemWindows Vista x64 SP1
Graphics Drivers
Catalyst 9.4 and Nvidia Geforce 182.50
 
 
To put the cards through their paces the following list of programs and games were carefully chosen. Varying levels of quality, AA and  both low and high resolutions were used to give an overall view of how each card performs under different levels of stress.
 
 
3DMark05
STOCK
1900x1200/4xAA


3DMark06
STOCK
1900x1200/4xAA



3DMark Vantage
PERFORMANCE
1900x1200/4xAA


Call of Duty 4
1600x1200/4xAA
1900x1200/4xAA


Enemy Territories Quake Wars
1600x1200/4xAA
1900x1200/4xAA


Crysis
1600x1200/0xAA/HIGH
1900x1200/0xAA/HIGH


Far Cry 2
1600x1200/4xAA/HIGH/DX10
1900x1200/2xAA/HIGH


Race Driver: GRID
1600x1200/4xAA/HIGH/DX10
1900x1200/0xAA/HIGH

Unreal Tournament 3
1600x1200/4xAA/HIGH/DX10
1900x1200/0xAA/HIGH
 
 
Overclocking
 
Using the Catalyst Overdrive overclocking utility we managed to reach 820Mhz on the core, and 840Mhz on the memory. With more time and further tweaking we could probably manage to squeeze a few extra Mhz out of the card, but the lack of heatsinks on the memory is likely to be a hinderance to the maximum overclock achievable.
 
Overdrive
 
The card remained cool and quiet regardless of the overclock. The fan did occasionally ramp up speed, but it was barely audible and a minor inconvenience considering the noise some of the leaf blower coolers produce these days.
 
 
To test the overclock 3DMark Vantage with "Performance" and "Extreme" settings was used. In Performance Mode the card jumps from 7732 3DMarks to 8239 and in Extreme Mode we see the score increase from 3018 to 3300 3DMarks. A very respectable increase ranging from 282-557 3DMarks. This highlights the worth in overclocking your card to utilise the extra performance lurking inside.


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3dmark05
 
3DMark is a popular synthetic gaming benchmark used by many gamers and overclockers to gauge the performance of their PC's. All 3DMark runs were performed a total of 5 times, with the highest and lowest results being removed and an average calculated from the remaining 3 results.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Results Analysis
 
The 4770 takes an early lead in 3DMark05, but is soon put in place by the higher frame buffer of the GTX250 when AA is applied. 3DMark 06 is an entirely different story with the 4770 being beaten by both the 9800GTX and GTX250. In Vantage, second place is all the 4770 can muster, but there isn't much in it between the 4770 and the GTX250 when AA is applied.
 
A mixed bag of results. Perhaps our Gaming Benchmarks will better illustrate the true performance of the 4770.


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COD4
 
Call of Duty 4 is a stunning DirectX 9.0c based game that really looks awesome and has a very full feature set. With lots of advanced lighting, smoke and water effects, the game has excellent explosions along with fast gameplay. Using the in-built Call Of Duty features, a 10-minute long game play demo was recorded and replayed on each of the GPU's using the /timedemo command a total of 5 times. The highest and lowest FPS results were then removed, with an average being calculated from the remaining 3 results.
 
 
 
 
ETQW
 
ET:Quake Wars is a follow-up game to Wolfenstein:Enemy Territory developed by Splash Technology. Using a modified version of id Software's Doom 3 engine along with Mega rendering technology, the game promises high resolution textures, fast gameplay and plenty of explosions. Using the built-in recordNetDemo and timeNetDemo commands, we recorded a 5 minute online gaming session and played it back a total of 5 times at each resolution, calculating the average FPS from the median three results.
 
 
 
 
Crysis
 
Crysis is without doubt one of the most visually stunning and hardware-challenging games to date. By using CrysisBench - a tool developed independently of Crysis - we performed a total of 5 timedemo benchmarks using a GPU-intensive pre-recorded demo. To ensure the most accurate results, the highest and lowest benchmark scores were then removed and an average calculated from the remaining three.
 
 
Results Analysis
 
The HIS HD4770 manages to keep up with the Asus 9800GTX in all three games, never being more than 6FPS behind. In ETQW the 4770 steamrolls the 9800GTX and easily keeps up with the Zotac GTS 250 AMP. In Crysis both the 9800GTX and the 4770 are within 2FPS of each other, while the GTS250 stretches its legs and quickens the pace.


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FC2
 
Ubisoft has developed a new engine specifically for Far Cry 2, called Dunia, meaning "world", "earth" or "living" in Parsi. The engine takes advantage of multi-core processors as well as multiple processors and supports DirectX 9 as well as DirectX 10. Running the Far Cry 2 benchmark tool the test was run 5 times with the highest and lowest scores being omitted and the average calculated from the remaining 3.
 
 
 
 
Grid
 
Race Driver: Grid is a visually taxing game that presents a challenge to any graphics system. Results were recorded using FRAPS to log the average FPS over a 2 minute race. To ensure consistency, the same track, car and general path of travel was used in each of the 5 benchmark runs for each graphics card, with an average FPS being calculated from the median three results.
 
 
 
 UT3
 
Unreal Tournament 3 the latest game in the long running Unreal series from Epic Games and Midway. The game uses the latest UE3, which combines fast gameplay along with high quality textures and lighting effects. All benchmarks were performed using UTbench with a fly-by of the DM-BioHazard map. As usual, all benchmarks were performed 5 times, with the highest and lowest results being removed and an average calculated from the remaining three.
 
 
 
Results Analysis
 
In Far Cry 2 the 4770 and 9800GTX are neck and neck at 1600x1200. It's only at 1900x1200 that the 4770 pulls away and takes a substancial lead over its rival. As expected the 1GB GTS250 manages a comfortable lead over both cards. At 1900x1200 the 4770 shows us what it's made of and takes the top spot, beating both cards by a small margin. Unreal Tournament shows little favour to the 4770 as it trails behind constantly, but it isn't really a concern as the framerates all three cards produce are more than acceptable for gaming.


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Conclusion4770
 
When the HD 4770 was revealed I eagerly anticipated its release. Being the first graphics card based on the 40nm fabrication process I was hoping for something special. Make no mistake, ATI's Radeon HD 4770 delivers on many different levels, but from today's benchmarks you'd be forgiven for believing that the 4770 is somewhat of an underachiever. The fact of the matter is, the 4770 is on average £40-70 cheaper than the other two cards we benchmarked and constantly performs near or above the Asus 9800GTX, and keeps up with the Zotac GTS250 in a number of games. Sure it may not be the fastest card to ever enter production, but it was never intended to be. Placed in the lower segment of the market, the 4770 is aimed at the budget conscious gamer who doesn't have an unending flow of disposable cash to squander on the highest end graphics card every 6 months.
 
If you are in the market for a budget gaming card based on the latest technology, then the 4770 is definitely a strong, if not the only contender. With its efficient and noticeably quiet heatsink assembly, the 4770 will feel at home in any gamer's system. One slight disappointed I must highlight is the lack of accesories supplied with the card. Sure you get the HDMI and VGA adaptors, but  it wouldn't hurt to add in a copy of Vantage or some other piece of software to whet our appetite. If you are looking for a more substancial bundle then it might be in your best interests to look at other manufacturer's. That said, if HIS can spruce up their rather substandard bundle then I have no problem's in recommending the HIS HD4770 to you.
 
In closing, I must admit that HIS HD4770 has more than impressed me. To say I am ecstatic would be an understatement. Yes, it's true we haven't seen anything earth shattering today, but the 4770 has managed to perform over and above my expectations, especially considering its very competitive pricing. Moving to a new fabrication is never an easy task, but ATI have proven that a lot of hard work and dedication can really pay off and the end result is an excellent graphics card for the money. 
 
The Good
- Excellent pricing
- Based on the Latest Technology
- Quiet and efficient cooler
 
The Mediocre
- Lack of memory heatsinks
 
The Bad
- Substandard bundle
 
 VFM
 
Thanks to HIS for providing the HD4770 for todays review. Discuss in our Forums.