Graphics Cards Guide

PowerColor PCS HD 4670 review

ATI's Mainstream Challenge - PowerColor PCS HD 4670

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An Overclocked, Silent Radeon HD 4670

The PowerColor PCS HD 4670 512MB GDDR3

This Radeon HD 4670 from PowerColor comes with a non-reference cooler. While ATI provides a single slot cooler unlike the dual-slot one here from ZEROtherm, there is no doubt that ATI's track record for its Radeon HD 4800 series tended to favor rather high temperatures (in our opinion). However, you should have no such concerns with this Professional Cooling System (PCS) from ZEROtherm, which was running very silent when testing. Unlike the PCS+ version that we saw recently on the PowerColor PCS+ HD 4870, this was a much smaller and quieter cooler.

As we had mentioned, this PowerColor Radeon HD 4670 is overclocked, but at 770MHz instead of the default 750MHz, it's so minor as to be almost negligible. The Radeon HD 4670 comes in 2 default SKUs, a 512MB and a 1GB version. Surprisingly though, ATI has chosen to go for standard DDR3 memory on the Radeon HD 4670 1GB instead of GDDR3 memory citing that the bandwidth obtainable on both parts are similar but DDR3 is more affordable. The upcoming Radeon HD 4650 is expected to follow the same principle and will be using the even more cost effective GDDR2/DDR2.

In the end, it's up to the vendors to implement in their models. After all, remember the memory bus width on this GPU is 128 bits and not the 256-bit version found in its older Radeon HD 3850 brother, hence the choice of memory will probably not matter too much. For this PowerColor card, GDDR3 memory chips are used and are clocked at the standard 2000MHz DDR. Due to the space on this rather short PCB, the chips are mounted on both sides of the PCB, with passive heat sinks for each of them.

ATI states a maximum power draw of up to 75W (it's under 60W usually) for this 55nm GPU, (mandating a minimum PSU wattage of 430W) which compares well against the 110W TDP of the next better Radeon HD 4000 card from ATI, the Radeon HD 4850. However, NVIDIA's GeForce 9500 GT does have a slight edge with its 50W TDP using the same comparison.

Being a mainstream product, don't expect any games and applications in the package beyond the drivers. Here's what we found:-

  • Quick installation guide
  • DVI-to-VGA adapter
  • HDMI-to-DVI adapter
  • 7-pin mini-DIN to Composite dongle
  • CrossFire bridge

Test Setup

Like for our review for the GeForce 9500 GT, we tested the new Radeon HD 4670 from PowerColor on our Windows XP system, which consisted of an Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 (2.66GHz) and an Intel D975XBX motherboard. It was outfitted with 2GB of low latency Kingston HyperX DDR2-800 memory in dual channel mode and also a Seagate 7200.7 SATA hard drive. Yes, it's not exactly the most modern of test systems but then this is a mainstream GPU.

When it came to comparing the Radeon HD 4670, we had a minor dilemma. ATI is aiming this Radeon squarely at NVIDIA's latest mainstream GPU, the GeForce 9500 GT. However, NVIDIA has begged to differ and cites the GeForce 9600 GSO as a more appropriate comparison based on price. In case you're unaware, the GeForce 9600 GSO is a handicapped G92 based SKU that has a 192-bit memory bus and 96 stream processors. An online retail search found that while the GeForce 9500 GT has dipped in price, they are still generally in the US$69 - 89 price range, which is quite close to the US$79 recommended retail price of the Radeon HD 4670.

Meanwhile, NVIDIA's suggested alternative, the GeForce 9600 GSO was priced significantly more expensive at around US$100 in retail, so the price argument did not seem convincing. Anyway, this point was moot as we couldn't secure a GeForce 9600 GSO in time for this review. Hence, we had to make do with a GeForce 9500 GT (an overclocked version from Zotac running at a much faster 650/1800MHz) and a reference GeForce 9600 GT as our NVIDIA comparisons.

From ATI, we also threw in both the 256 and 512MB versions of the Radeon HD 3850, which have now fallen to the price range of the GeForce 9600 GT. The drivers used for the various cards are as follows:-

  • PowerColor PCS HD 4670 - Catalyst 8.8
  • Zotac GeForce 9500 GT AMP! Edition - ForceWare 177.72
  • NVIDIA GeForce 9600 GT - ForceWare 175.19
  • ATI Radeon HD 3850 512MB - Catalyst 8.8
  • ATI Radeon HD 3850 256MB - Catalyst 8.2

The results presented were taken using the included time demos and other built-in benchmarking tools available in the following games:-

  • Futuremark 3DMark06 (ver 110)
  • Company of Heroes (ver 1.3)
  • F.E.A.R (ver 1.0)
  • World in Conflict (ver 1.05)
  • Supreme Commander (patched to 3255)
  • Crysis (ver 1.21)
  • Unreal Tournament 3 (ver 1.1)