Articles: Graphics

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When AMD unveiled its Radeon HD 5770 graphics card back in 2009, few could have guessed what a bright future awaited it. That card was not meant to be a flagship product because AMD had already released the successful Radeon HD 5870 for that purpose. The Radeon HD 5770 was targeted at the mass market and accomplished its goals very well.

It turned out to be a visiting card of the then-new DirectX 11 API and proved AMD's technical superiority in the area of discrete graphics solutions. Modestly priced and compact, the Radeon HD 5770 managed to beat every one of its opponents and offered better capabilities than the Radeon HD 4870, the flagship of the previous generation.

The whole year of 2010 passed with our waiting for a worthy rival to come out as both AMD and Nvidia unveiled their new mainstream products. AMD came up with a rather odd Radeon HD 5830 which was massive, power-hungry and expensive but roughly as fast as the older Radeon HD 5770.

Nvidia’s response in the way of the GeForce GTX 460 768MB was quite competitive and popular, even though the card was somewhat more expensive than its AMD opponent. The 400 series was swiftly replaced with the 500 one, though. Positioned as a successor to the GeForce GTS 450, the next mainstream card GeForce GTX 550 Ti encountered the good old Radeon HD 5770 again. With its low power consumption, affordable pricing and compact dimensions, the GeForce GTX 550 Ti could adequately represent Nvidia’s brand in the mainstream market sector.

This move called for a countermove on AMD's part. Indeed, it's been a long time since we last saw a new mainstream solution from AMD.

AMD Radeon HD 6770: Positioning and Specifications

There’s no point in changing your concept if you’re a restaurant chef and have a few popular dishes on your menu but this strategy doesn’t normally work on the GPU market where stable profits can only be ensured by ongoing innovation. Well, let’s take a look at the specifications of the AMD Radeon HD 6770 card, the newest mainstream offer from AMD.

It looks like we’ve got a ghost from the past here. AMD seems to have resorted to what could be called the G92 Defense in the chess world. A few years ago Nvidia played it to the indignation of reviewers and users alike. Now it’s time for AMD fans to express their grudge against their favorite brand.

The Radeon HD 6770 is in fact a rebranded Radeon HD 5770 from the year of 2009. The GPU still has 800 stream processors clocked at 850 MHz, 40 texture-mapping units, and 16 raster back-ends. The card is equipped with 1024 megabytes of graphics memory with a 128-bit bus. The clock rate of the GDDR5 chips is 1200 (4800) MHz, i.e. the same as with the Radeon HD 5770. So, we can’t find any source of extra performance in the new product’s specs.

Radeon HD 5770 (left) and Radeon HD 6770 (right)

Well, it wouldn’t be correct to view the Radeon HD 6770 as a clone of its predecessor. Thanks to updated BIOS, the RV840 Juniper chip now supports 3D Blu-ray playback, even though it has the same video processor (UVD 2.2). It can handle the higher decoding load by means of an additional PowerPlay profile with somewhat higher clock rates.

The new card’s HDMI interface has been upgraded to version 1.4a, enabling 3D-over-HDMI. These two features are going to be appreciated by home theater users.

Despite the lack of notable innovations, AMD’s decision to rebrand its older product can be justified. Developing a new GPU is quite a costly process, so using an old but still viable solution is reasonable. The Radeon HD 5770 being still popular among end users, it makes sense to rename it according to AMD’s current product nomenclature which goes from Radeon HD 6990 down to Radeon HD 6450. It would be hard to convince an inexperienced user to buy a good graphics card if the latter were the only product with a smaller series number. On the other hand, is the AMD Radeon HD 6770 really competitive against the newer products after two years of being on the market?

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