ATI Radeon HD 4770 review -
Setup | Noise | Power consumption | Heat levels
Its the standard anno 2009. Graphics cards are pretty easy to install. This card was not any different. Slide the card into a free PCIe 8x / 16x slot and connect a monitor. Then connect your power supply to the 6-pin power header on the graphics card.
You can now power up the PC. Once Windows boots up, install the latest Catalyst drivers (available in our download section) and make sure your operating system is fully patched up, especially DirectX.
After driver installation, reboot the PC and you are ready to go.
We'll now show you some tests we have done on overall power consumption of the PC.
The methodology is simple: We have a device constantly monitoring the power draw from the PC. We look at the recorded maximum WATT peak; and that's the bulls-eye you need to observe as the power peak is extremely important. Bear in mind that you are not looking at the power consumption of the graphics card, but the consumption of the entire PC. From a performance versus wattage point of view, the power consumption is pretty good with the new 40nm products.
Sidenote: we recently upgraded our test-platform, which by itself utilizes a lot of energy.
It's Core i7 965 / X58 based and overclocked to 3.75 GHz. Next to that we have energy saving functions disabled for this motherboard and processor (to ensure consistent benchmark results).
The ASUS motherboard allows adding power phases for stability, which we enabled as well. When you take everything into account, I'd say on average we are using roughly 50 to 100 Watts more than a standard core 2 duo based PC due to these settings and added CPU overclock. Keep that in mind.
Our normal system power consumption is higher than your average system. The results:
- System in Idle: 232 W
- GPU stressed 100% : 305 W
Roughly 305 Watt, which is really fine. 305-232 = 73W which rhymes well with the 80W TDP ATI claims.
A single Radeon HD 4830/4770/4850/4870 series card requires you to have a 400 to 500 Watt power supply unit at minimum if you use it in a high-end system, and I think that's on the safe side. We recommend 26 AMPs on the 12 volts rails for stable power distribution (in a single card configuration). Please make note of the fact that the card uses two 6-pin power connectors.
Crossfire is something else, you add another 80 Watts plus ~8 AMPs on the 12V rails during gaming. I recommend a PSU of, at the very least, 750 Watts. Make sure you have some reserves folks. It's not that your PC will consume that much power, it's just that you want to make sure your PSU can deal with the hefty load and will stay stable during your entire gaming experience.
We just strongly feel that a PSU may never be a limiting factor.
With three cards, which is possible as well with CrossFireX obviously 800+ Watt power supplies are recommended, and in fact even needed to be able to even supply something as simple as enough PCIe graphics power connectors.
There are many good PSUs available, over the years we reviewed a lot of them and have loads of recommended PSUs for you to check out in there, have a look. Things that can happen if your PSU can't cope with the load?:
- bad 3D performance
- crashing games
- spontaneous reset or imminent shutdown of the PC
- freezes during gameplay
- PSU overload can cause it to break down
The thermal envelope
It's always interesting to monitor new developments, and for AMD a large problem to tackle was power consumption. They brought it down severely in 2D (desktop mode). As a results we see very IDLE temperatures at roughly 55 Degrees C (131 F), a little on the high side.
Once we start stressing the GPU the temp goes up big-time, we level at roughly 71 Degrees C (160F). And that's just a great temperature really.
Observe Rivatuner monitor GPU temperature while stressing the GPU.
Noise Levels coming from the graphics card / cooling
When graphics cards produce a lot of heat, that heat usually needs to be transported away from the hot core as fast as possible. Often you'll see massive active fan solutions that can indeed get rid of the heat, yet all the fans these days make the PC a noisy son of a gun. I'm doing a little try-out today with noise monitoring, so basically the test we do is extremely subjective. We bought a certified dBA meter and will start measuring how many dBA originate from the PC. Why is this subjective, you ask? Well, there is always noise in the background, from the streets, from the HD, PSU fan etc etc, so this is by a mile or two not a precise measurement. You could only achieve objective measurement in a sound test chamber.
The human hearing system has different sensitivities at different frequencies. This means that the perception of noise is not at all equal at every frequency. Noise with significant measured levels (in dB) at high or low frequencies will not be as annoying as it would be when its energy is concentrated in the middle frequencies. In other words, the measured noise levels in dB will not reflect the actual human perception of the loudness of the noise. That's why we measure the dBA level. A specific circuit is added to the sound level meter to correct its reading in regard to this concept. This reading is the noise level in dBA. The letter A is added to indicate the correction that was made in the measurement. Frequencies below 1kHz and above 6kHz are attenuated, where as frequencies between 1kHz and 6kHz are amplified by the A weighting.
|TYPICAL SOUND LEVELS|
|Jet takeoff (200 feet)||120 dBA|
|Construction Site||110 dBA||Intolerable|
|Shout (5 feet)||100 dBA|
|Heavy truck (50 feet)||90 dBA||Very noisy|
|Urban street||80 dBA|
|Automobile interior||70 dBA||Noisy|
|Normal conversation (3 feet)||60 dBA|
|Office, classroom||50 dBA||Moderate|
|Living room||40 dBA|
|Bedroom at night||30 dBA||Quiet|
|Broadcast studio||20 dBA|
|Rustling leaves||10 dBA||Barely audible|
We start up a benchmark and leave it running for a while. The fan rotational speed remains constant. We take the dBA meter, move away 75 CM and then aim the device at the active fan on the graphics card.
The cooler design itself is a noisy little fucker, however... ATI keeps fan rotation below 40%... and as such the cooler is silent. We measured 39 dBA from the system. Once the graphics card is getting hot by fully utilizing it, we get stuck at a 40~41 dBA measurement which you can hear, softly.
Very nice, but if you decide to manually control the fan for more airflow, above 60% RPM it will be noisy.
Today we have another bang for buck product, a product that I like very much. As what ATI is doing today is pretty remarkable. They are releasing the Radeon HD 4770, a mainstream product at a budget price. Trust me when I say that after reading this review, you will be impressed.
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