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HIS HD 4770 review

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Our Score:

8

Back when we first reviewed ATI's HD 4770, mid-range graphics card, we noted that all the cards available in the shops seemed to use a different cooler than the one on our reference board, which was provided directly by ATI. A quick chat to ATI and some of its board partners revealed that this basically came down to the fact that the reference cooler was more expensive than alternatives but offered little real world advantage so most partners went with a cheaper design. So, today we're going to set the record straight and find out how this different cooler holds up both thermally and acoustically and whether these board partners were right to penny pinch.

The card we've got to test is made by HIS, one of ATI's longest running board partners. HIS has in the past been known for its collaboration with Arctic Cooling, to provide coolers for its products, however the origins of the cooler used on the HD 4770 we're looking at today is not known. What we do know is it's very similar to many of the cooler's being used on other HD 4770 designs so should be representative of a fair chunk of these boards too. Before we get onto the specifics of the cooler, though, let's just quickly recap on what the HD 4770 chip is.

The ATI HD 4770 was the world's first commercially available graphics chip to be produced on a 40nm manufacturing process. As such it set a new standard for performance within a certain thermal and power consumption envelope. However, it is only a mid-range, or mainstream card so isn't the fastest solution on the planet. When we first reviewed it, though, the £70 - £80 it demanded made it a good buy. We'll see if that's still the case here today.

If you'd like a full break down of what's inside the HD 4770, we refer you to our review of the original HD 4770 but for a quick summary we've included our comparison table below.

Getting back to the differences between the reference card and the HIS we're looking at today, the most obvious thing about this different cooler design is that it doesn't suck in air from the front of the card, blow it across the GPU and exhaust it out the back (and thus the case as well). Instead, the fan for this cooler sits directly on top of the GPU and blasts air downwards onto a surrounding heatsink from where the hot air just drifts off around the insides of your case, rather than being exhausted out the back. This is a major issue if your case doesn't otherwise have good air flow to get rid of the accumulating hot air.

On top of this, the cheaper cooler doesn't incorporate heatsinks for the memory chips. Instead the fan just blows air directly onto the memory chips, which is arguably a better way of cooling them anyway.

We also noticed, as is quite common for partner boards, that HIS has removed quite a few components from the PCB as compared with the reference design. These components consist mostly of capacitors and high power transistors in and around the power regulation part of the circuit. They are used to smooth out and control the power being fed to the more power sensitive components of the card (i.e. the GPU itself) and are meant to help with overclocking and stability. Essentially partners remove as much of this 'non-essential' circuitry as possible to save money, which does sound bad but, assuming you have a decent power supply, you shouldn't notice a difference. Certainly, in our testing we noticed no ill effects at all.

lifethroughalens

July 17, 2009, 5:33 am

Many tech sites are raving about these being a great value purchase for crossfire x2 usage - even knocking the HD 4890 and GTX 275 down in a few tests.





It seems that if you're on a budget and FPS on a 1920x1080 or lower res screen are what you want, and now - and your not too bothered about Direct X 11 coming soon, then these could be for you. Hopefully AMD will release a x2 version soon.





Still think i'll stick with a more powerful single GPU for my current build.

Synergy6

July 17, 2009, 6:32 am

The card still physically takes up two slots, but doesn't use the second slot to push air out of the case. A strange change. If they could improve on the reference design while sticking to a true single-slot design, that would be interesting.

Eggburt1969

July 17, 2009, 2:02 pm

Hi, two questions:


1) What was the test setup for this review (was it just he same as the previous review on the ATI4770: http://www.trustedreviews.com/...


2) Specs wise how do the reference and HIS versions compare (memory, shaders, core speeds, etc) as there are certainly differences in the resulting performance charts between the two cards.

Ed

July 17, 2009, 2:49 pm

@Eggburt1969: Yes, the test setup was the same as the previous review. The specs of the cards are also identical.

Beaky69

July 17, 2009, 8:15 pm

The 4770 has received some good reviews, although availability has been somewhat limited due to low yields from TSMC's 40nm production process. The biggest problem for this card is the fact that the much more powerful 4870 can be found online for just over a tenner more.

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