ATI Radeon HD 4670
A wolf in sheep's clothing
The ATI Radeon HD 4670 is the latest cut-priced graphics card to gnaw at NVIDIA's increasingly beleaguered heels. It’s getting to the point where we almost feel sorry for the GeForce goliath, with AMD countering every move it makes with something faster and more affordable. Nowhere is this more evident than in the middle and low-end of the market, with each new Radeon release offering superior value to its predecessors and rivals. And now AMD has gone and done it again!
- Excellent cost/performance ratio, energy efficient, does not require a PCI Express connector
- Reduced memory-bus, a little on the hot side
The ATI Radeon HD 4670 is a mid-range graphics card decked out in entry-level clothing. While it lacks the sheer processing power of its more expensive siblings, it still packs a pretty impressive punch. With an RRP of well under $150, it’s one of the best-value cards on the market.
Following in the footsteps of the enthusiast-level HD 4870 and mid-range HD 4850, this newest addition to the R700 series attempts to deliver a similar cost-to-performance ratio for entry-level users. The end result is a surprisingly powerful video card that practically anyone can afford (we don’t have a price for the AMD reference board but retail versions should cost around $130). Granted, serious gamers won’t get the results they crave from high-end games like Crysis, but everyone else will be highly satisfied by this bargain-basement offering. Cheap, fast and energy efficient: it’s hard not to love this card.
The GPU at the heart of the HD 4670 is based on the same basic architecture as its bigger HD 4800 siblings. What you’re basically getting is a downgraded 55nm RV770 chip (as found in cards like the ATI Radeon HD 4850 and ATI Radeon HD 4870), codenamed the RV730. ATI has had to make some cost-cutting changes to attain the entry-level price tag. The number of shader processors now sits at 320, rather than the 800 found in the HD 4800 Series. Likewise, the number of transistors has been practically slashed in half, dropping from almost a billion to 514 million. The new card also sports a smaller 128-bit memory bus; a significant downgrade from the 4800 Series’ 256-bit memory bus.
Otherwise, the HD 4670’s feature set is virtually the same as its more expensive counterparts. Its core and effective memory clock speeds stand at 750MHz and 2GHz respectively, which is comparable to the Radeon HD 4850. It also sports an identical 512MB of GDDR3 memory.
In addition to its 3-D gaming abilities, AMD is touting this card as an affordable solution for watching high-definition videos. If you have an HD-capable monitor, the HD 4670 offers an impressive array of high-def bells and whistles, including AMD’s Unified Video Decoder 2.0 (for reliable high-def video playback), Avivo HD (for faithful colour reproduction and DVD up-scaling) and support for integrated 8-channel audio via HDMI.
When it came to our gaming benchmarks, the HD 4670 gave a very impressive showing for the asking price. The results were comparable to NVIDIA’s 9600 GSO cards, which currently cost around $50 more. As with our previous GPU tests, we ran our benchmarks on a Vista 32-bit machine equipped with 1GB of DDR2 RAM, a 750GB Barracuda ES hard drive and a 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Quad CPU. We then compared the results to EVGA’s e-GeForce 9600 GSO (Dual-Slot Edition), which remains the HD 4670’s main competitor in the entry-level market.
In 3D Mark06 the HD 4670 scored 8254, which is fairly respectable for the asking price. In the game F.E.A.R. it returned an average frame rate of 53 frames per second, while in our Half-life 2 benchmark demo it averaged 172.4fps. These results were slightly faster than the EVGA e-GeForce 9600 GSO, which averaged 51fps and 163.27fps, respectively. However, in the DirectX 9 version of Lost Planet: Extreme Conditions, the HD 4670 only mustered 54.5fps; compared to 70fps from the EVGA card.
Being an entry-level graphics card aimed at mainstream users, we weren’t expecting big things from our DirectX 10 gaming tests; yet the HD 4670 still managed to impress. In Call of Juarez, it returned an average of 25.5fps, while the ever-formidable Crysis clocked in at 14.3fps. It’s important to note that our tests were conducted with maximum settings enabled and at a resolution of 1920x1200. Naturally, you will be able to attain faster and more playable results by downgrading your games’ settings.
The HD 4670’s peak power consumption is rated at an admirably low 70 Watts (compared to 160W from the HD 4870). Rather spiffily, it doesn’t even require a 6-pin power connector to run, which should prove handy for small or cluttered machines.
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