Sapphire HD 4770 graphics card
Sapphire's mid-range graphics card based on the ATI Radeon HD 4770 GPU
- Reasonable performance, low temperature range, audio output over HDMI
- Ugly fan design, HDMI connection requires a dongle
If you don't need the best graphics card on the market, the Sapphire HD 4770 will provide reasonable performance without breaking the bank.
Price$ 184.00 (AUD)
Sapphire's HD 4770 is a mid-range graphics card that provides reasonable performance and good value for money, even if its fan design isn't particularly appealing. While this graphics card isn't suitable for running new games at the highest possible resolution, it will deliver reasonable performance.
The Sapphire HD 4770 graphics card uses AMD's ATI Radeon HD 4770 graphics processing unit (GPU). This mid-range GPU is built using a 40nm fabrication process, (Sapphire claims this is a first for any graphics card) and has 826 million transistors. Sapphire has retained the standard clock speed of 750MHz. The graphics card has 512MB of GDDR5 memory clocked at 800MHZ, which provides memory bandwidth of 51.2 gigabytes per second (GBps).
The use of a 40nm fabrication process means the graphics chip is smaller, which allows for greater energy efficiency and lower heat production compared to other GPUs. As a result, the Sapphire HD 4770 graphics card has a comparatively low thermal design envelope of 80 Watts; certainly a less demanding figure than the 190W of a high-end graphics card like the ASUS EAH4890. Most high-end graphics cards require two 6- or 8-pin power connections, while the Sapphire HD 4770 graphics card only requires a single 6-pin power connection.
Two DVI ports and a single S-Video jack are available to output video. It can also output audio to HDMI over the DVI ports through a supplied dongle. ATI provides drivers to support audio output, so you won't need an internal SP/DIF connection like you would when using the ASUS ENGTX275, for example.
Sapphire has done away with the fan shroud on the ATI Radeon HD 4770 reference board and instead used a rather gaudy heatsink and fan combination that only covers the GPU. Thankfully this cooler does a reasonable job, keeping the Sapphire HD 4770 graphics card at around 40 degrees Celsius when idle and attaining a maximum temperature of 65 degrees under duress. Many ATI graphics cards reach well into the 80 degree range. Despite the lack of a full shroud, it will still take up two PCI slots on a motherboard.
Our benchmarks reflected the Sapphire HD 4770's status as a mid-range graphics card. Futuremark's 3DMark Vantage yielded a result of P7104 points, which is significantly less than the P9572 points achieved by the high-end single-GPU Sapphire Radeon HD 4890, for example. In 3DMark 06 it fared better, scoring 9422 points; the Sapphire Radeon HD 4890 graphics card managed 10,509 points.
In older DirectX 9–based games like Half Life 2: Episode Two, the Sapphire HD 4770 performed on par with high-end graphics cards, achieving 137.08 frames per second. However, in all DirectX 10 tests its results were much poorer. In Crysis, it managed 21.39fps (more expensive cards tend to score in the low 30fps range), while Call of Juarez ran at 43.2fps; significantly less than the 60.3fps managed by the Sapphire Radeon HD 4890 graphics card. There was an 11fps difference between the two cards in our Far Cry 2 benchmark test: the Sapphire HD 4770 graphics card managed 37.39fps to the Sapphire Radeon HD 4890's 48fps. These results show that the Sapphire HD 4770 graphics card performs adequately under DirectX 9, but suffers under the load of newer and more graphics-intensive games. Though many games will still be playable, you will have to dial graphics settings down a notch in some cases to play without slowdowns.
At roughly half the price of AMD's high-end ATI Radeon HD 4890 graphics card, the Sapphire HD 4770 provides great bang for buck without sacrificing too much performance. If you don't need the latest and greatest, then this graphics card will certainly suit you.
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