Earlier this year, AMD in short succession introduced three new GPUs in the Radeon HD 7000 series. In the meantime, AMD's partners have released a number of interesting and new graphics card based on the new 3D chips, so it's only fitting that we have a look at which one of these new cards is the one to get. Over the course of the new two weeks we will publish three round-ups on Hardware.Info. We will finish the round-up series by having a look at the Radeon HD 7950/7970. Next week we will analyse the Radeon HD 7850/7870, but this week we'll start with scrutinising graphics cards based on the Radeon HD 7750 and 7770, codenamed Cape Verde.
Cape Verde is the least complex out of the three GPUs in the Southern Islands family. The chip consists of about 1.5 billion transistors and works with 640 shader units (mini-cores), divided over 10 compute units. Cape Verde has a 128-bit memory bus.
AMD has released two cards based on the Cape Verde chip. The most high-end one of the two is the Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition. The suffix indicates the 1 GHz standard clock speed. The standard clock frequency for the GDDR5 memory is 1125 MHz. On this Radeon HD 7770 all 640 shader units on the Cape Verde chip are enabled. AMD's reference card has 1 GB RAM. We can imagine that AMD's partners will release 2 GB versions as well, but currently that's not yet the case. AMD claims a max power use of 80 watts. On the back there is a single 6-pin PEG power connector. The graphics card is Crossfire compatible, but doesn't support triple- and quad-Crossfire. The Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition reference card includes dual-link DVI, FastHDMI 1.4, and two DisplayPort 1.2 connectors. EyeFinity configurations with up to six monitors are supported.
On the more affordable Radeon HD 7750 two out of 10 compute units are disabled, leaving eight. This results in a total of 8 x 64 = 512 shader units. The clock frequency is lower as well, with the GPU running at 800 MHz. The memory clock frequency is identical to that of the HD 7770, and the 1 GB of RAM as well. AMD’s Radeon HD 7750 reference card has a basic cooler that's only one slot wide. The max power usage is somewhat lower as well at 55 watts, so there is no extra power connector on the Radeon HD 7750.
In the following pages, we will have a look at seven graphics cards based on the Cape Verde GPU; first two HD 7750 models, then five HD 7770 versions. AMD's partners try to distinguish themselves by releasing their own version of the cards. This usually results in different (more silent or powerful) coolers, and having standard overclocked GPU and/or memory. Of course you can overclock yourself, but the advantage of cards that have been overclocked by default is that the higher speed is actually guaranteed. Manufacturers often use their best chips, so you're likely able to overclock even further yourself.