Sapphire's HD 7730
There's no need for fancy-pants cooling on a GPU that consumes less than 50W when under maximum load. The cooler looks very much like the one specified on the HD 6670 1GB model, which is no surprise - the two GPUs are, as we have discovered, close in terms of overall on-paper performance. The HD 7730's newer, smaller manufacturing process means this card-wide heatsink is actually overkill.
With no need for auxillary power on the 15cm PCB and due knowledge that the card is energy efficient, Sapphire could easily construct a silent version, much along the lines of the HD 7750 Ultimate, though going down the large-heatsink route would inevitably increase the retail price from the present £60.
The use of a stock cooler also means this HD 7730 requires a two-slot IO section. An obvious improvement would be to make it available in a low-profile, single-slot form factor - handy for small form factor PCs that are limited to a single x16 PCIe expansion slot.
A second version of the Sapphire HD 7730 is also available. Doubling the framebuffer to 2GB but, crucially, reducing memory speed from 4,500MHz to 1,800MHz, that card is very much a false economy, as the double-sized framebuffer is semi-pointless and the huge deficit in memory frequency a sure-fire way to stifle gaming performance. We continue to be surprised at the number of people who don't take the full specifications of a card into account, focussing on the headline frequencies and buffer sizes alone.
D-Sub, HDMI and dual-link DVI are the best combination of outputs on a basic video card. There's little need for the venting on the upper section of the I/O plate; most of the warmer air expelled by the 75mm fan will find its way into the chassis rather than out of the rear.
Aiming to speed-up the time-consuming POST sequence on PCs equipped with Windows 8, the card is compatible with Microsoft's Secure Boot architecture. The upshot is that, on a compatible PC loaded with an appropriate UEFI BIOS, the card helps skip through the sequence as fast as possible. We noted an OS-load time of sub-10s on a Windows 8 PC equipped with an SSD.
Back to the card that's backed by a two-year warranty, Sapphire doesn't provide any games in the package and the HD 7730 GPU does not qualify as part of AMD's Never Settle Reloaded bundle.