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Power is measured using a wall socket power meter so accounts for the whole system. Nevertheless it still clearly demonstrates the difference between the cards we have on test, and what a difference! Okay, at idle there's not much of a difference between the three, but under load the 9600 GT starts to gobble up noticeably more power than the HD 4770. At first the 9600 GT appears to be doing fine as well but this is a slower card so the performance per watt is considerably worse than the HD 4770.
In theory the lower power usage, low operating temperature, and large cooler of the HD 4770 should enable it to be a good overclocker. This is something we quickly put to the test using the overclocking tool in ATI's driver. Sadly the limits for core and memory clock speeds were 830MHz and 850MHz respectively. These amount to just 11 per cent and 6 per cent overclocks and resulted in our Crysis score at 1,920 x 1,200 (2xAA) improving by just 1fps to 22.64fps. Suffice to say, this is not particularly impressive and is easily equalled by the 9800 GT, but if ATI opens up the overclocking settings in its drivers or you use a third party application we think there should be plenty more headroom to play with.
More troubling than any overclocking worries, though, is the pricing of this card. While it compares well to those cards that are meant to be at this price point, there are rogue nVidia GTS 250 and HD 4850 cards (literally one of each in a few shops) hitting the £100 mark. At this price both these cards are an absolute steal and we'd recommend you stretch just a little and get one of them. We rather suspect the pricing will level out in the not too distant future, though, and the HD 4770 and 9800 GT will once again be left to battle it out in their own price point.
The switch to a 40nm manufacturing process hasn't exactly blown us away but nevertheless, in the HD 4770, ATI has produced a card that comfortably bests all others at its price point. So, if you've got about £80 to spend on a graphics card, the choice is clear.
Scores In Detail