Redefining Budget Gaming Graphics: ATI's HD 4670

Graphics Cards
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MP3 SOUND RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.

These recordings are intended to give you an idea of how the product sounds in actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. Be aware that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn't hear it from one meter, chances are we couldn't record it either!

The recording starts with 10 seconds of room ambience, followed by 10 seconds of the VGA test system without a video card installed, and then the actual product's noise at various levels. For the most realistic results, set the volume so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then don't change the volume setting again.

Comparison (with the only other VGA card recorded in the new anechoic chamber with the new microphone)

FINAL THOUGHTS

Gaming: Please check out the gaming-oriented reviews at X-bit Labs, The Guru of 3D, NeoSeeker, and HardwareCanucks. The general consensus is that the HD 4670 is the fastest budget graphics card released in some time, easily defeating nVidia's 9500GT and the previous generation ATI HD 3850, and at times challenging the more expensive nVidia 9600GT. It makes most games playable at 1680x1050 or 1600x1200, though excels at lower resolutions.

Video Playback: Video playback was very good. The decoding hardware has not changed from the previous HD 4xxx series cards.

Cooling: The stock cooler was effective, but really only quiet when idle. The fan has lousy acoustic properties that become more apparent as the fan speeds up. At full load the noise it generates is too poor to be considered for a silent PC, though this may depend on how high you set the volume of your speakers during gameplay. As the GPU does not run very hot, almost any quiet third party heatsink can be used to to cool the HD 4670 GPU sufficiently.

Power Consumption: By our estimates, the HD 4670 requires approximately 3W when idle and up to 40W when stressed to the limit. The idle figure is extremely impressive — 3W is just a bit more than adding an extra idle optical drive. 40W on load is not much either — the power supply inside even a brand name computer should be enough to accomodate the HD 4670.

Overall, the HD 4670 is a great budget level graphics card. It performs surprisingly well in gamings, offers good high definition playback, and its power efficiency is second to none. The fan on the cooler is quite poor at load, though at least it is inconspicous when idle, and easily swapped for a silent cooler like the Arctic Cooling Accelero S2. The sub-$100 price for most iterations of the HD4670 is quite good for the performance. If space is an issue, the HD 4670's small footprint cannot be challenged.

ATI Radeon HD 4670 512MB
PROS

* Very power efficient
* Fairly quiet when idle
* Good 3D performance
* Good HD playback
* Small size
CONS

* Poor fan noise on load
* Poor quality of noise

Our thanks to ATI for the video card sample.

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Articles of Related Interest
Asus ENGTX260: A Quiet Graphics Card for Gamers?
Diamond Radeon HD4850
Asus EN3650 Silent Graphics Card
Asus EN9600GT Silent Edition Graphics Card
ATI HD 3850 & HD 3870: Improved Acoustics & Power Efficiency
Updated VGA Card/Cooler Test Platform

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