Redefining Budget Gaming Graphics: ATI's HD 4670

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TEST RESULTS

BASELINE, with Integrated Graphics: First, here are the results of our baseline results of the system with just its integrated graphics, without a discrete video card. We'll also need the power consumption reading during CPUBurn to estimate the actual power draw of discrete card later.

VGA Test Bed: Baseline Results
(no discrete graphics card installed)
System State
CPU Temp
System Power
AC
DC (Est.)
Idle
22°C
73W
Unknown
CPUBurn
39°C
144W
115W
Ambient temperature: 21°C
Ambient noise level: 11 dBA
System noise level: 12 dBA

Note: In our semi-anechoic chamber, our VGA test bed now measures 12 dBA@1m. Ambient noise is only 11 dBA.

ATI RADEON HD 4670:

VGA Test Bed: ATI Radeon HD 4670
System
State
Fan
Speed
System SPL@1m
GPU
Temp
CPU
Temp
System Power
AC
DC (Est.)
Idle
970 RPM
13 dBA
45°C
23°C
79W
Unknown
CPUBurn
980 RPM
13 dBA
46°C
42°C
148W
118W
CPUBurn + ATITool
2500 RPM
16 dBA
82°C
43°C
184-
188W
148-
153W
CPUBurn + FurMark
2500 RPM
16 dBA
82°C
43°C
191W
155W
Ambient temperature: 21°C
Ambient noise level: 11 dBA.
System noise level (minus graphics card): 12 dBA@1m.

At idle, the fan spun at only 970 RPM according to GPU-Z. The GPU temperature was very low and the system AC power draw was also excellent — only 6W higher than our baseline system without a video card installed. When the system was stressed with both CPUBurn and ATITool, the GPU temperature gradually increased, until at 75°C, the fan speed finally began to increase. Eventually after fifteen minutes the fan speed settled at 2500 RPM and the GPU temperature stayed steady at 82°C, which is acceptable.

At the suggestion of some of our readers, we also tested with the FurMark, a 3D benchmarking and stability application, in place of ATITool. While this did not increase the GPU temperature, it did manage to squeeze a few extra watts out of the system's power draw.

NOISE

When the test system was first fired up, the GPU fan was very loud, but it quickly ramped down to acceptable levels by the time the POST screen appeared. From a meter away it became barely audible — indeed the measured SPL was only 1 dBA higher than without the card installed. Up close however, the fan had an unpleasant, clickysound quality, though much of it was muffled once the side panel of our case was put back in place.

HD 4670: Stock Fan Measurements
Speed
Noise
RPM
100%
26 dBA@1m
5360 RPM
60%
21 dBA@1m
4020 PRM
Load (37%)
16 dBA@1m
2510 RPM
Idle
13 dBA@1m
950 RPM
Off
12 dBA@1m
N/A
Ambient noise level: 11 dBA.

Under load, the noise was conspicious and unpleasant even though it only registered 16 dBA. The fan exhibited a high level of tonality, which was not masked in any way due to the low level of wind turbulence noise. The sound quality generated by the fan on our sample card was impossible to ignore. This is typical of graphics card coolers with small fans.

Using RivaTuner, we were able to manipulate the fan speed from 25% to 100%. 2500 RPM, the speed which the fan settled at during load, correlated to approximately 37% in RivaTuner. At 60%, the fan speed was 4020 RPM, and the noise level was 21 dBA. Again, the sound was much worse subjectively than the SPL suggests. In the anechoic chamber, with its lack of ambient noise, it was painful to listen to the fan at this level. Strangely, at 100%, the broadband sound of airflow turbulence masked a lot of the buzzy, clicky, tonal noise, resulting in a smoother, more benign effect even though the SPL measured 5 dB higher.

(Editor's Note: It's often difficult to know exactly why a fan sounds bad. There are two basic reasons, and sometimes both apply: It's intrinsically bad sounding, ie, integral to its design, or it was damaged in transit, and thus off-balance, with notches in the bearing, etc. In this particular sample, we suspect design more than damage. But note that this may not apply to all iterations of the HD 4670, which is offered by many brands, some of whom are surely using different fan / heatsink suppliers.)


RivaTuner's fan control options.



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