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ATI HD 4670 512MB GDDR3 Video Card Review

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Crysis DX9

Crysis DX9


Crysis is one of those games that comes along every now and then and totally humbles every graphics card on the market. While some people have pointed towards shoddy programming, it is undeniable that this game looks ridiculously good when played at higher settings.

For this test we recorded a custom timedemo on the Harbor level equaling about 20 minutes of game time through jungle, over water and in vehicles. All results were recorded with FRAPS over the course of the timedemo.

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This may not be an overly realistic test for a budget card; the HD 4670 did very well especially when the IQ was increased. We also see our first failure in this review with the 9500 GT flatly refusing to work at 1600 x 1200 resolution with AA turned on.
 
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SKYMTL

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Crysis DX10

Crysis DX10



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While Crysis DX9 weeded out the 9500 GT, when the DX10 version of this game was loaded up cards stated committing suicide left, right and center. By the end, only one card was left standing and able to finish all the tests: the HD 4670. Unfortunately, not once did it deliver playable framerates, but then again the shaders WERE set to High…
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare


This has quickly become one of the most popular games for the PC and with good reason. This is one of the few times I have experienced actual excitement when looking for a good area to record the timedemo. The graphics are amazing and at the same time quite demanding when you get into the higher resolutions.

For this test we recorded a 15 minute timedemo on the Crash multiplayer level and recorded framerates using FRAPS. The maximum in-game framerate was bumped to 999.



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I’ll be honest with you right now: the HD 3850 was having some major problems in this game when using the 8.8 drivers and its performance was negatively impacted. That being said, the HD 4670 completely destroys the competition. I just wish the testing regime would have allowed us the time to test with more cards since the performance by this card is simply astonishing for its price.
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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12,861
Location
Montreal
World in Conflict DX9

World in Conflict DX9


This is one stunning game. World in Conflict has provided us with some of my most memorable gaming experiences since the first Homeworld game was released and it has not stopped wowing me. In its DX9 form it provides eye-popping visuals and pushes most modern GPUs to their limits. However, in DX10 mode this game will cause nearly every graphics card to beg for mercy.

For this test we used the in-game benchmarking tool.


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World in Conflict shows us two things at once: that the HD 4670 performs above and beyond the call of duty and there are still some hiccups with the HD 3850's drivers. All in all, this is a great result since the Nvidia cards (especially the 9500 GT) aren't even in the same league.
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Messages
12,861
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Montreal
World in Conflict DX10

World in Conflict DX10



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The final tests completes the HD 4670's tale of domination with a clean sweep at every resolution. While it chould only offer layable framerates at lower IQ settings, before this card was released this kind of performance in WiC DX10 from a sub-$100 card was unheard of.
 
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SKYMTL

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Temperature & Acoustics / Power Consumption

Temperature Testing




What surprised us the most about the HD 4670 was the fact that its idle temperatures were as good as they seemed to be. We assume that this is due to the 55nm manufacturing process but we can see that when under load, temperatures rapidly increase. 81 degrees is well within the norms for a card with such a small heatsink but we can all see how well the 9500 GT does with a similarly minute cooler.


Acoustical Properties


Due to the fact that there really isn’t much heat to disperse from the RV 730XT core, the fan on this card can spin at a leisurely pace while maintaining acceptable temperatures. Without a doubt, this means that the HD 4670 will be right at home in an HTPC where silence is what most people look for.


Power Consumption


For this test we hooked up our power supply to a UPM power meter that will log the power consumption of the whole system twice every second. In order to stress the GPU as much as possible we once again use the Batch Render test in 3DMark06 and let it run for 30 minutes to determine the peak power consumption while letting the card sit at a stable Windows desktop for 30 minutes to determine the peak idle power consumption.

Please note that after extensive testing, we have found that simply plugging in a power meter to a wall outlet or UPS will NOT give you accurate power consumption numbers due to slight changes in the input voltage. Thus we use a Tripp-Lite 1800W line conditioner between the 120V outlet and the power meter.


Overall, the power consumption of this card was very, very good when taking into account its performance in all of our tests. ATI has stated quite plainly that they want to be on top of the performance per watt category and it looks like the HD 4670 succeeds in this area much better than was expected. Idle power draw is absolutely excellent and load consumption is just above the much lower-performing 9500 GT.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
Conclusion

Conclusion


The HD 4670 won’t win any awards for speed, it won’t be plastered on magazine’s front pages nor it will never be the poster child for a generation of high performance graphics cards. Even though will never be in the limelight, what this card sets out to accomplish, it achieves in leaps and bounds. It offers a perfect solution for everyone from system integrators and your corner mom and pop computer store since its performance is perfect for casual gamers and HD decoding while retailing for under $90. No matter which way you look at it, the most interesting aspect of the HD4670 was the fact that it was able to offer playable framerates at up to 1600 x 1200 resolution in some cases while at the same time excelling at 1280 x 1024.

ATI told us time and again that they are pointing this card in a direction which will put it neck and neck with the Nvidia 9500 GT. After seeing the benchmarks, it is hard not to laugh at that claim because the HD 4670 doesn’t compete against the budget Nvidia card, it smashes the 9500 GT’s teeth in and then knees it in the nuts for good measure. To put it bluntly, the performance of the 9500GT is a bit of an embarrassment considering its price bracket and the release of the HD 4670 has brought that fact into sharp contrast. Not only is the HD 4670 able to walk all over its “competition” in terms of performance but it also offers lower idle power consumption, better HD decoding (sorry, no VC-1 hardware decoding for the 9500 GT folks) and it still retails for less money. A more lopsided fight I have yet to see in my days as a hardware reviewer.

As with most things, all the praise for the HD 4670 512MB goes hand in hand with some good old fashioned cautionary points as well. Let’s be frank for a moment here and say that if you are looking for a budget gaming card there are quite a few other options on the market right now which provide better performance. Some of you may be reading this after the 8800 GT has gone the way of the Dodo but since it is still very much a player in the market while retailing for a mere $20 more (after MIRs) than the HD 4670. Another thing that annoys us is the fact that ATI seems to like paper launching products and this one seems to be no different. Since this review is going live after the “official” launch, we have the luxury of taking a good hard look at what kind of stock is available of these cards on launch day and unfortunately the answer to that question is “almost none”. ATI, when you launch a card take a page from Nvidia’s book and have stock in the channel, ready to be sold in quantity. If not, people may just forget about your product.

If there is anyone who will benefit from the introduction of this card it will be burgeoning HTPC market. The HD decoding capabilities of this card dwarf anything Nvidia is offering at a comparable price. It is also offering an HDMI interface and even optional DisplayPort compatibility and it all comes wrapped in one of the most compact packages we have seen in a good long time.

While it may not be King of the Hill in terms of overall performance, the HD 4670 comes up big by packing as many features as possible into one affordable package. It does this while retaining some very respectable gaming capabilities which offer casual gamers a reason to seriously consider it over anything Nvidia has in this same price range. In our books this is a hell of a recipe for success.


Pros:

- Low power consumption
- Demolishes the competition in the sub-$100 price bracket
- Very quiet
- HDMI with optional DisplayPort
- Hardware accelerated VC-1 video decoding
- Price


Cons:

- Availability (for now)




 
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