With a new 40-nanometer manufacturing process behind it, AMD announced the ATI Radeon HD 4770 3D graphics chip this morning. Available now on 3D cards starting at $109 (before a $10 online rebate), the Radeon HD 4770 is the first 3D chip built on the 40-nanometer process, which allows for faster, more power-efficient hardware than AMD's previous 55nm chips.
The various enthusiast review sites found the 512MB Radeon HD 4770 fast enough to play most current games at lower resolutions and image quality settings. Think 1,680 x 1,050 or lower and with little-to-no anti-aliasing. The Radeon HD 4770 also outpaced Nvidia's $95 GeForce 9800 GT on almost every test, and competed well with the approximately $130 Geforce 250 GTS (aka the GeForce 9800 GTX+). Its power consumption seems to stand out mostly under load, but its idle results showed little benefit.
If this new card delivers on performance, we still find it interesting that the boxed versions of the card from Gigabyte, Sapphire, and Powercolor each have a bulky fan bolted onto the chip. Each card will thus require the space of two expansion card slots inside a desktop (affectionately referred to as "double-wides").Traditionally, $99 cards have been single-slot designs, making them perfect for adding to smaller desktops or PCs with several other expansion cards. It seems that with the decline of dedicated sound cards, the 3D graphics card is making a PC land grab.
We hope to be able to get to a review of the Radeon HD 4770 (along with the other new 3D cards and CPUs we've missed), but we have a lab full of desktops at the moment, and more on the way. Until we clear the decks (August?), we suggest you check out the following enthusiast sites for in-depth reviews of AMD's new card: