Last month AMD unleashed what went on to become the world’s fastest single-GPU graphics card by a convincing margin, the Radeon HD 5870. This was followed shortly by a slightly watered-down version known as the Radeon HD 5850. The latter has proved to be very competitive, playing second only to its bigger brother and at just $260, it stands without a doubt as the best value high performance offering available at the moment.

Continuing with the successful rollout of its Radeon HD 5000 series, AMD is now moving to attack the sub-$200 market, and hopes to keep the momentum going with the Radeon HD 5770 and 5750. Codenamed Juniper XT and Juniper LE, respectively, the first is said to cost just $160, while the lower-end 5750 will cost between $110 and $130 depending on memory configuration.

We've been particularly interested in the ATI Radeon HD 5770, as last generation's Radeon HD 4770 was one of our all-time favorite budget graphics cards. Although it came late in the game, its excellent performance and operating efficiency earned it an “Outstanding” mark, making it the top choice in the $100 range. We certainly expect to see this new series live up to those standards.

But before we get to the benching business, there are a few things to be noted about the Radeon HD 5770. First off, at $160 it is 38% cheaper than the Radeon HD 5850, but it also has 40% less memory bandwidth at its disposal. This is largely due to the memory bus width being cut in half. The core configuration of the 5770 is also about 46% lighter, featuring fewer stream processor units, texture address and rasterization operator units.

Looking at pure raw specifications we expect the Radeon HD 5770 to be around 40% slower than the Radeon HD 5850. In other words, the Radeon HD 5770 should perform close to the once high-end 4870.

This should come as great news to gamers looking for a cheap upgrade. However, it is not previous generation Radeons that the 5770 has to worry about. Competing against it will be the similarly priced GeForce GTX 260. Despite the obvious disadvantages this year-old card carries, like higher power consumption and lack of DirectX 11 support, the GeForce GTX 260 is still a very worthy contender. So how will the 5770 compare?