Today, we are putting the $80 Sapphire HD 4670 against the similar priced GeForce 9500 GT. The Radeon 4670 is AMD’s budget graphic card that is packed with features similar to the HD 4870. Can this card satisfy your performances need and keep the money in your pocket? Read more and find it out.
AMD’s launch of HD 4000 series cards hit the industry with a big boom. Not only that, the HD 4870 is able to perform close to, or in some instances better than, the NVIDIA GTX 280. Also, it is selling at cheaper price than the GTX 280. So finally, the graphics war, in which NVIDIA has enjoyed dominance for awhile, is heating up again.
As usual, after the initial launch of the high-end cards, manufactures will make some modification, disable certain features, and tweak their chips to produce mainstream and budget graphic cards. For AMD, the HD 4670 is their budget derivative that stems from their HD 4800. This card, which sells at retail for $80, is in direct competition to the NVIDIA 9500GT that was launched last month. We have previously looked at Foxconn’s 9500 GT and today we will put the cards against each other to see if we can give some insights to our readers who are in the market for a new budget card.
Welcome to the SAPPHIRE Family
Pioneers in a new era of how data is displayed and games are played, Sapphire shepherds the performance oriented with ground-breaking solutions to an environment that remains in a constant state of flux and ultimate evolution. For over ten years Sapphire has held true to its unwavering commitment, the commitment to deliver the most feature rich and soundly engineered products. Because of Sapphire’s firm position on achieving excellence with each product that leaves our ISO9001 and ISO14001 certified factories, you can rest assured that your customers will recognize YOUR commitment to selling only the highest of quality components.
Since ATI announced its manufacturing & distribution relationships with ODMs and AiBs in June of 2001, SAPPHIRE has been THE key ATI Graphics Boards Supplier worldwide and now stands poised and ready to capture the mainboard audience of those who seek a stable platform for their mission critical operations.
All SAPPHIRE ATI video boards are manufactured under 100% ATI production criteria including QC and outgoing system. Our monthly video board production capacity can reach a lofty 1.8 million and often topples this landmark figure. Our factory has always been the major manufacturer on ATI boards for most of the top ten tier 1 OEMs worldwide. With this background, you should undoubtedly be guaranteed of the impeccable quality, production capacity and product reliability of all ATI video boards and mainboards from SAPPHIRE. Be they business oriented or something just off center of the crosshairs, Sapphire has a solution for you and we look forward to an exciting and prosperous relationship with you!
AMD RADEON HD 4670
The Radeon HD 4670 is built with RV730 architecture which shares similar technology with its big brother, the RV770. The RV730 is a DirectX 10.1 capable graphics processor manufactured by TSMC on a 55nm process node. While the RV770 has 16 shader units and 10 SIMD partitions, the shader unit on the RV730 has been cut in half and the number of SIMD partition has been reduced to 8. As a result, the RV730 has 64 superscalar execution units with five ALUs for each unit or 320 stream processors (multiply 64 by 5).
The card will support PCI Express 2.0 x16. Depending on the model, you can find cards with 512 MB or 1 GB of GDDR3, DDR3, or DDR2 memory onboard. Many multimedia functions are included. Features such as Unifiied Video Decoder 2 to reduce CPU usage during HD playback, DVD upscale, dynamic contrast, HDMI support with 7.1 audio surround sound, and DisplayPort support are a few examples which make the HD playback less demanding on the CPU and a better experience.
The biggest drawback for the HD 4670 is probably the 128-bit memory interface while its big brother uses 256-bits of memory. The memory interface can cause some bottlenecks in some games when the game is starving for memory bandwidth. Below is a quick comparison among a few of the similarly priced budget graphic card.
|Budget Cards Specification Comparison|
|AMD Radeon HD 4670||GeForce 9500 GT||GeForce 9600 GSO|
|Fabrication Process||55 nm||65 nm (55 nm coming)||65 nm|
Core Clock Rate
|750 MHz||550 MHz||550/ 650 MHz|
|Streaming Processors||320 (64×5)||32||96|
|Memory Clock||900 (DDR2/3) and 1000 (GDDR3)||800 (GDDR3) and 500 (DDR2)||800/950 MHz|
|Memory Bandwidth||28.8 (DDR2/3) and 32.0 (GDDR3)||25.6 (GDDR3) and 16.2 (DDR2) GB/s||38.4/45.6 GB/s|
|Memory Size||512/1024 MB||256/512 MB||384/768 MB|
|Texture Filtering Rate||24.4 GT/sec||8.8 GigaTexels/sec||26.4/31.2 Giga Texcels/sec|
|Bus Type||PCI-E 2.0||PCI-E 2.0||PCI-E 2.0|
Looking at the comparison between the HD 4670 and GeForce 9500 GT, it is obvious that the HD 4670 has a much larger texture fill rate and we shall see how this translates to performance gain.
Sapphire HD 4670
It seems fairly common nowadays that the budget and mainstream cards are packaged in a rather small box to save costs. Do not be fooled by the small packagings, as they are usually good enough to protect the card from being damaged. As you can see, Sapphire puts AMD’s Ruby on the front of the box, and on the back you can find various marketing information.
Sapphire puts two pieces of foam (top and bottom) on the card to protect it from being damaged during shipping. Underneath the foam is where you will find all of the accessories.
For a budget graphics card, Sapphire is not stingy with the accessories. Despite the fact that no game is included, you get a Crossfire bridge, a DVI to VGA adapter, a DVI to HDMI adapter, an HDTV cable, and a CD driver. It’s really nice to see the inclusion of a DVI to HDMI adapter (which is something that you’ll rarely find with cards at this price range). The fact that Sapphire includes a DVI to HDMI adapter makes this card an excellent card for the HTPC. In addition, Sapphire also includes a full version of CyberLink PowerDVD 7 and CyberLink DVD Suite v5. Unfortunately, neither application is the latest version. I would perfer to see version the 8 Ultra version of the PowerDVD as it would require that version in order to play back Blu-ray or MPEG2-HD and this would be a great card for this purpose.
The card is rather small with only 16.5 cm in length. As the card does not require any additional power, it will draw power solely from the PCI express lot with a maximum power consumption of 75W.
On the front you will see a small fan shroud covering primarily the core. The card we received is the referenced speed card clocked at 750 MHz core and 1,000 MHz memory. Sapphire chose the Hynix H5RS5223CFR GDDR3 memory with maximum speed of 1200MHz. It is, in fact, the same memory as it was used on some of the GTX 260 cards. There is 512MB of GDDR3 on the front and back of the board.
You can see the Crossfire connector on the top of the card.
There are two DVI inputs and an HDTV connector on the back of the card.
AMD Phenom X3 8750
Asus M3N78 Pro
2 GB (2 x 1 GB) TeamGroup DDR2-800
Thermalright SI-128 with Scythe S-FLEX SFF21F
Enermax Galaxy 850W
Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit, SP1
The following software will be used for testing. All games are running at 1280×1024 resolution with the settings indicated in each benchmark.
Crysis v1.71 (0AA/0AF)
World in Conflict v1.009 (Medium, High, Super High)
Devil May Cry 4 (0/2/4 MSAA)
Company of Heroes v2.301
The newest video benchmark from the gang at Futuremark. This utility is still a synthetic benchmark, but one that more closely reflects real world gaming performance. While it is not a perfect replacement for actual game benchmarks, it has its uses. We tested our cards at the ‘Performance’ setting. For complete information on 3DMark Vantage Please follow this Link: www.futuremark.com/benchmarks/3dmarkvantage/features/
3Dmark’s overall score clearly puts the HD 4670 above the GeForce 9500 GT. The card still lags behind the 8800 GTS.
Forget about the CPU score for the 9500 GT as we know the latest driver from NVIDIA enables CUDA and PhysX which utilizes the GPU for CPU calculation, hence the higher score. Looking at the GPU score, we can see that, in fact, the HD 4670 is able to achieve about 70% better performance than the GeForce 9500 GT.
DEVIL MAY CRY 4
Devil May Cry is one of the games that is slightly different than many of the shooting style games. I found it to be a very good benchmark in assessing a card’s raw performance. This game is not as hardware or demanding as some other games, so it would be a perfect choice for our midrange cards.
As you can see at 1280×1024, the Sapphire HD 4670 is more than capable of delivering a playable framrate of 30 FPS or higher. In fact, in all four benchmarks, it is able to deliver 40 fps or higher. The 9500 GT on the other hand is lagging behind quite significantly.
Bumping the resolution to 1600×1200, we see that although the HD 4670 has a slight performance hit, it is still able to deliver the magical 30 frame rates per second. So, the game is definitely playable at this resolution with the HD 4670.
COMPANY OF HEROES
Company of Heroes (COH) is a Real Time Strategy (RTS) game for the PC, announced in April, 2005. It is developed by the Canadian based company, Relic Entertainment, and published by THQ. COH is an excellent game that is incredibly demanding on system resources, thus making it an excellent benchmark. Like F.E.A.R., the game contains an integrated performance test that can be run to determine your system’s performance based on the graphical options you have chosen. It uses the same multi-staged performance ratings as does the F.E.A.R. test, letting the games benchmark handle the chore takes the human factor out of the equation and ensures that each run of the test is exactly the same producing more reliable results.
Here, the HD 4670 simply owns the 9500 GT. Although it cannot out-perform the 8800 GTS card, its performance is quite good considering its price. Something to note here is that the performance hit of enabling AA and AF for the HD 4670 is actually less than that of the 8800 GTS. It shows that the achitecture of the HD 4670 may help its performance at higher visual setting.
WORLD IN CONFLICT
World in Conflict is a real-time tactical video game developed by the Swedish video game company Massive Entertainment, and published by Sierra Entertainment for Windows PC. The game was released in September of 2007.
The game is set in 1989 during the social, political, and economic collapse of the Soviet Union. However, the title postulates an alternate history scenario where the Soviet Union pursued a course of war to remain in power.
World in Conflict has superb graphics, is extremely GPU intensive, and has built-in benchmarks. Sounds like benchmark material to us!
These were very nice result from World in Conflict for the HD 4670. Although none of the cards we tested were able to hit that magical minimum 30 frame rates per second, the HD 4670 simply dominates the pack. Here we see the fine-tuned HD 4670 is actually able to offer a better result than the 8800 GTS. It would be a good card to upgrade to if you only plan on playing World in Conflict. Again, we also see a much larger performance hit with the 8800GTS once we enable the visual effects.
Crysis is the most highly anticipated game to hit the market in the last several years. Crysis is based on the CryENGINE™ 2 developed by Crytek. The CryENGINE™ 2 offers real time editing, bump mapping, dynamic lights, network system, integrated physics system, shaders, shadows, and a dynamic music system, just to name a few of the state-of-the-art features that are incorporated into Crysis. As one might expect with this number of features, the game is extremely demanding of system resources, especially the GPU. We expect Crysis to be a primary gaming benchmark for many years to come.
Here we can see that once we enable the AA at 1600×1200, the budget HD 4670 is actually able to offer a better average frame rates than the 8800 GTS. This is either due to more memory or to the better achitecture on the HD 4670.
The power consumption is measured with the Kill-A-Watt P4400. The load power consumption was taken with the highest power consumption during the Company of Heroes benchmark. The idle power consumption was measured after booting to Windows for at least 5 minutes and until the reading stabilized. All power saving features (Cool and Quiet) for the processor were disabled.
Power consumption for the HD 4670 is a tad more at both idle and load than the 9500 GT. The card consumes 19W more at idle and 11W more at load than the 9500 GT. Since neither 9500 GT or HD 4670 requires external power, it is not surprising to find they both consume much less than the 8800GTS. However, it’s nice to see the load power consumption of the HD 4670 actually is less than the idle power consumption of the 8800 GTS, yet is able to perform close to, and in some instance better than, the more power hunger card.
TEMPERATURE AND NOISE
The temperature measurement were taken with the GPU-Z, recording the temprature in the background during benchmarks. The highest recorded temperature is reported for the load temperature. The idle temperature was taken with Windows booted up for five minutes.
After seeing so many HD 4000 cards running at 80°C or higher in 3D, it is quite refreshing to see the HD 4670 running cool. Under 2D, the card runs at 46°C and under 3D, it only peaked at 71°C. Unfortunately, the cool operating temperature comes at the price of noisy fan. The fan on the card is one of the loudest fans that I have ever tested. The fan does not seem to throttle down in 2D mode and stays at full speed all the time. This explains why the card was running at a cool 46°C. The fan noise is actually the loudest fan in my system and it reminds me of the dust-buster GeForce 5800 card. It’s a shame though, as this would be a perfect card for the HTPC user, but the fan noise really prevents it from being the perfect card.
Overclocking the latest graphic cards can be a bit of challenge under Vista 64, as not many applications are yet fully supported under Vista 64. AMD’s own Catalyst driver does include a feature called Overdrive but it is somewhat limited. I ended up using RivaTuner 2.11 to overclock the core and memory. The result was checked with ATITool to scan for artifacts for at least one minute to ensure there were no artifacts before I settled for the clockspeed.
I was able to overclock the core speed from the default 750 MHz to 815 MHz and the memory speed from the default 1,000 MHz to 1,120 MHz. I was able to overclock the card much higher, but it gave me artifacts in ATITool. Though the card will potentially run stable at higher speeds, we settled for the most stable speed without any artifacts.
As far as the performance of the HD 4670 goes, it is one of the best among its price bracket. Despite its being priced a for budget market, it is capable of performing so much better than its competitor, the GeForce 9500GT. In every tests, its performance was not only far superior to the GeForce 9500 GT, but it is also capable of performing close to the 8800 GTS, the midrange card that cost approximately $200 eighteen month ago. For a budget card, it’s an excellent choice.
Unfortunately, for the Sapphire HD 4670, I had to deduct a full point from our score due to the unbearably loud fan noise. The card is really noisy even in 2D and this is simply unacceptable. None of the top performance cards under 3D mode are making as much noise as the this card. It is quite unfortunate, as this card would have been a perfect card for HTPC users, but the noise level really prevents it from being an otherwise excellent choice.
Sapphire HD 4670 will receive a score of 8 (very good) out of 10 for being one of the best budget cards available; however, it is being hindered by the loud fan noise.
+ No external power is needed
+ Excellent performance
+ Great value
+ DVI to HDMI cable
+ Great overclocking potential
– Fan is extremely loud