Asus EAH4770 PCIe Graphics Card Page: 1
Introduction
 
Asus have long been a manufacturer of quality PC hardware and as they are partners to both ATI and NVidia they know a thing or too about making graphics cards. Today I will be sampling the entry level EAH4770 graphics card which is the first card in the ATI line to have a die shrink from 55nm to 40nm. This die shrink should prove to be more efficient and should also allow the GPU's clockspeed to be increased. The EAH4770 also makes use of 512MB GDDR5 which will compliment the new core quite well.
 
The 4770 fills a gap in the market and nestles between the low end 4300 and the mid/high end 4850 card. Perhaps most interestingly, the RV740 core is not a chopped down GPU with laser cut traces, nor is it a lower clocked core from it's more powerful brethren. The 4770 has the same amount of Unified shaders (640) as the 4830 GPU but has a much lower transistor count of 826 Million which will inevitably allow ATI to control production costs and thereby aim the card toward the budget conscious. As stated previously though, the die shrink has allowed ATI to increase the clockspeed significantly above the 4830's 575MHz to a blistering 750MHz.

Specification
 
The following specification was taken directly from the Asus product page:
 
Graphics Engine ATI Radeon HD 4770
Bus Standard
PCI Express 2.0
Video Memory
DDR5 512MB
Engine Clock
750 MHz
Memory Clock
3.2 GHz ( 800 MHz DDR5 )
Memory Interface
128-bit
DVI Max Resolution
2560 x 1600
D-Sub Output
Yes x 1 (via DVI to D-Sub adaptor x 1 )
DVI Output
Yes x 2 (DVI-I)
HDMI Output
Yes x 1 (via DVI to HDMI adaptor x 1 )
HDTV Output
(YPbPr) Yes
HDCP Support
Yes
Software Bundled
ASUS Utilities & Driver
 
What is intriguing, is the choice of memory controller, dropping down from the 256bit controller on the 4830 to a 128bit interface we find on the 4770. This has the inevitable drop in memory bandwidth from 57.6GB/s to 51.2GB/s. Thankfully AMD has specified the use of GDDR5 instead of the older GDDR3 which is much more commonplace in todays GPU market. This has allowed an 800MHz clock on the memory (3.2GHz effective) which goes some way to appease the cut in memory interface.
 
AMD have also done a good job (in theory) of dropping the power consumption of the RV740 to 80w instead of the 110w used on the 4830. This lower power draw will be examined later in the review but for now let's take a look at the packaging and appearance of the Asus EAH4770...


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Packaging & Appearance
 
The outer sleeve of the main box is adorned with the familiar Black Knight we have seen in previous Asus ATI incarnations. Asus have also made a big deal of advertising the fact the EAH4770 supports HDMI (via DVI adapter). Also adorning the front of the package are two 512mb DDR5 emblems. The rear of the box goes on to describe the features in greater detail such as GamerOSD and Smart Doctor.
 
frot box back box
 
After removing the outer sleeve I was greeted by a plain white cardboard box. Flipping the lid on this box revealed the contents which were neatly and securely packed thanks to the cardboard and Styrofoam insets holding the accessories and GPU in place respectively. The accessory list includes a driver disc and features disc. Adaptors consist of HDMI, VGA, TV out and a dual Molex to PCIe 6 pin connector. Rounding off the package is a 'SpeedStart' setup booklet which is easy enough to follow should you not be conversant with GPU installation procedures.
 
inside accessories
 
The card itself is actually a reference design. This is a break from the old routine of using the full card dual slot cooler. Hopefully this cooler will be quieter than the older version which was always a let down with ATI cards. The cooler itself has a copper coloured aluminium heatsink and is dual slot in height which is unfortunate for a card aimed at the budget sector. What is nice to see is the usual ATI method of attaching the back plate. Just four screws hold the cooler to the card with a very lightweight but effective back plate.
 
card front card back
 
Another nice touch Asus seem to be using in all of their cards are the blue protectors. The protect all of the parts most likely to be hindered by dust and with regard to the PCIe and Xfire tabs, static electricity. As stated previously, the cooler makes the card Dual Slot which is perhaps a little unfair as it is not quite dual slot in height but it certainly can't be classed as a single slot card as two of these certainly wouldn't fit side by side.
 
DVI cooler
 
Asus seem confident enough in the stock coolers ability to cool the memory without the need for any direct attachment to the integrated chips. Hopefully this will not affect the overclocking of the memory or the stability of the card. The PCI shield area has the usual 2xDVI's along with a TV out but Asus also include adaptors for VGA and HDMI should you need them.
 
mem cooler DVI
 
Stripping the card down was a cinch thanks to the method ATI have employed of attaching the cooler to the card. The mount was very good and the paste was just enough to ensure all of the core was covered. The thermal pad was also of good consistency and not the usual cement we tend to find on budget GPU's.
 
 card bare cooler
 
Here we see the RV470 core itself. The die shrink on the core should see some impressive overclocks if die shrinks in the past are anything to go by. Qimonda GDDR5 memory chips clocked at 800MHz were used on the Asus EAH4770 which have been used on more expensive models and clocked very well so hopefully this will be a repeat performance here.
 
GPU memory
 
For a cheap little card the Asus EAH4770 was packaged reasonably well. While I am never really a big fan of stock cooling this cooler appears to be a step in the right direction. I would have preferred to see a slimmer version for those looking for a single slot solution but beggars it seems can't be choosers, at least at this moment in time.
 
Let's see just how effective this cooler is as we venture to the Setup section of the review...


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Test Setup

To ensure that all reviews on Overclock3D are fair, consistent and unbiased, a standard set of hardware and software is used whenever possible during the comparative testing of two or more products. The configurations used in this review can be seen below:
 

i7 Rig

CPU: Intel Nehalem i7 920 Skt1366 2.66GHz (@3.8 Ghz)
Motherboard: Gigabyte EX58-UD5
Memory: 3x2GB Corsair DDR3 1600mhz @ 8-8-8-24
HD : Hitachi Deskstar 7k160 7200rpm 80GB
GPU: Asus EAH4770
Graphics Drivers: Supplied by Asus
PSU: Gigabyte ODIN 1200w
Radiator: Thermochill PA120.3 (3xYL DSL-12)

Pump: Laing DDC18w (XSPC top 1/2")
 
During the testing of the setups above, special care was taken to ensure that the BIOS settings used matched whenever possible. A fresh install of Windows Vista was also used before the benchmarking began, with a full defrag of the hard drive once all the drivers and software were installed, preventing any possible performance issues due to leftover drivers from the previous motherboard installations. For the 3DMark and gaming tests a single card configuration was used.

To guarantee a broad range of results, the following benchmark utilities were used:
 
3D / Rendering Benchmarks
• 3DMark 05
• 3DMark 06
• 3DMark Vantage

3D Games
• Crysis
• Far Cry 2
• Oblivion

• Race drive: GRID
• Call of Duty IV
• Unreal Tournament III

Power Consumption

Power consumption was measured at the socket using a plug-in mains power and energy monitor. Because of this, the readings below are of the total system, not just the GPU. Idle readings were taken after 5 minutes in Windows. Load readings were taken during a run of Furmark.

 
As promised, the power efficiency of the 4770 is very good, consuming much less power than the HD4850. Even under load, the 4770 consumes very little power and while the two cards in Crossfire configuration inevitably consume more power, the consumption is still very respectable for a dual card setup.
 
 
Temperatures

Temperatures were taken at the factory clocked speed during idle in Windows and after 10 minutes of running Furmark with settings maxed out (2560x1600 8xMSAA). Ambient temperatures were taken with a household thermometer. As we use an open test bench setup consideration should be given to the fact that the temperatures would likely increase further in a closed case environment.
 
 
Temperatures were very good in single card configuration. With a 24c ambient the cards didn't even hit 60c under load. Whats more, with Furmark left running for over ten minutes at its maximum settings, the cooler was barely audible. I was interested to see if the cooler was maxed out and it was barely nudging 60%. Raising the speed to 100% gave rise to the familiar fan whoosh we have all come to loathe but thankfully the cooler appears to be efficient enough at wicking the heat away without the fan rising to such excruciating decibels.
 
The same could not be said for the cards when placed in Crossfire configuration. Temps were dramatically increased on the primary card due to the second card blocking the fan on the first. Strangely the fan speed did not increase too much though which was a relief.
 
 
Overclocking
 
For our overclocking tests I used the CCC's Overdrive utility which worked perfectly with our setup. To test stability I ran a few loops of 3DMark 06 and Call of Duty IV.
 
stock overclocked
 
As we have seen with most ATI cards in the past, the Catalyst Control Centres 'Overdrive' Utility can be maxed out with no issues. This resulted in a stable increase of 80MHz on the core and 50MHz on the memory. This increase in speed gave the EAH4770 a slight improvement  in frames per second as you can see from the graph below:

 
 
So far, so good then. With maxed out clockspeeds and great temperatures the only thing that remains to be seen is how the card performs. For the following tests I have included a HD4850 which costs slightly more than the 4770 but forms a good comparison nonetheless. I have also included Crossfire results of the 4770 to show the benefits of a dual GPU setup.
 
Let's see how the card performs in OC3D's suite of 3D benchmarks... 


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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

As expected, the Asus EAH4770, performs well across the board. While it doesn't quite match the superior (and pre overclocked) HD4850 XXX, it still puts in a great performance. In dual card configuration, the Crossfire setup certainly shows it's worth performing extremely well in all tests.
Let's see if this transfers over to our real world gaming benchmarks.


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Unreal Tournament 3 is the highly anticipated game from Epic Games and Midway. The game uses the latest Unreal engine, 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.
 
 
 
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.
 

 
 
 
 
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 game play. 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.
 

 
 
Results Analysis
 
Again we see terrific performance when the 4770's are matched up for some Crossfire fun. Scaling was more than 100% in Call of Duty IV which is incredible. Single GPU performance is nigh on identical with the Sapphire version of the 4770 which is also based on the reference design. Even at the highest resolutions with plenty of AA added, the games were still playable which is a great achievement.
 
Let's move on.. 


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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.
 
 
 
 
 

Oblivion from Bethseda is now an 'old' game by today's standards, but is still one of the most visually taxing games out there. The benchmark was run in the wilderness with all settings set to the maximum possible. Bloom was used in preference to HDR. The test was run five times with the average FPS then being deduced.
 
 
 


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.
 
 
 
Results Analysis
 
The results on the previous page could not be repeated with Far Cry 2 and Crysis with the both 4770's struggling at the Highest resolutions. Oblivion was just about playable but struggled in open areas when AA was added. At low/med resolutions the 4770 coped fine though and coupling both of the cards up together gave performance some high end cards would be happy with.
 
Let's move on to the conclusion...


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Conclusion
 
It was not so long ago that people would have scoffed at the thought of a sub £100 GPU being able to play Crysis at anything other than a slide show. The 4770 has changed all that which can indeed perform well at all but the highest resolutions. The 4770 cuts through ATI favourites such as GRID and even games not traditionally associated with ATI perform very well. Sure the 4770 wouldn't be able to hold a candle to the extreme cards available today but then this card costs a fraction of the price. Couple two of these cards in Crossfire configuration and you have a setup then can play any game at any resolution, not bad for a setup costing £170.
 
The Asus EAH4770 is packaged well with everything you need to get you going. I would have like to have seen a Crossfire bridge included, which is a necessity for those looking to link two cards together. Most motherboards do not provide a crossfire bridge so those relying on Asus to include one with the 4770 will be disappointed. Apart from this oversight, the packaging was more than adequate with the card and accessories neatly packed which should ensure the product reaches you in perfect condition.
 
At around the £85 mark ,the 4770 appears at first glance to be a bargain. One must however consider that the HD4850 is dropping in price now and out performs the 4770. Indeed a basic 4850 costs sub £100 now, so for the 4770 to sell in the numbers AMD envisage, the price will have to drop further still as I feel most 'in the know' will opt for the higher performing, if somewhat noisier and hotter 4850 over the 4770 which is a shame as the 4770 is a cracking card, it just needs to be priced a little more competitively and is sadly a victim of AMD's aggressive pricing strategy on older hardware.
 
The Good
- Good performance
- Excellent cooling
- Fantastic Crossfire scaling
 
The Mediocre
- Price could be more competitive
 
The Bad
- No included Crossfire bridge
 
 
Buy the Asus EAH4770 now at DCL for £84.99.
 
Thanks to Asus for providing the EAH4770 PCIe Graphics card for todays review. Discuss in our forums.