Graphics Cards Guide

PowerColor PCS HD 4670 review

ATI's Mainstream Challenge - PowerColor PCS HD 4670

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The Coming Red Invasion

The Coming Red Invasion

After finally reversing a losing streak in the GPU stakes against NVIDIA with its highly successful Radeon HD 4800 series of graphics cards, ATI will take the battle to the market leader in the lucrative mainstream and entry level segment with a slew of new GPUs. Lead by the Radeon HD 4670 and 4650 and to be followed later by the Radeon HD 4400 series, these cards will extend ATI's new-found confidence and winning formula to the masses.

First up, we have the Radeon HD 4670, which is based on the new RV730 core and manufactured on a 55nm process like all recent ATI GPUs. As you may have expected, the architecture on the RV730 is similar to the higher end RV770, only scaled down to fit the market segment. In this case, there are only 320 stream processing unit, with 16 texture mapping units and 8 render output units as opposed to 800 on the 4870 model. The memory bus too has been downgraded to 128-bit, which is understandable for this segment. This hardware configuration will be found on all the Radeon HD 4600 cards, with the 4670 having higher core and memory clocks over the 4650.

Other notable features on the Radeon HD 4800 series, like the second generation of its Universal Video Decoder and the clockgating, dynamic power management technology that ATI terms PowerPlay, not to mention support for the newest DirectX 10.1 and OpenGL 2.1 standards are retained on these new Radeon HD 4600 series. In short, as is often the case in this industry, you can treat these mainstream cards like watered down versions of the Radeon HD 4870 GPUs.

Of course, they may be watered down by the standards of the gaming enthusiasts but for less demanding users, they are more than sufficient for their multimedia and mainstream gaming needs. They are also entering a market that is ostensibly led by NVIDIA, though there are plenty of opportunities for ATI to continue the modest success of the Radeon HD 3000 series, especially given NVIDIA's fractured product lineup. The table below illustrates this scenario, with NVIDIA having up to three different relatively 'new' SKUs in the US$70 - 110 price range compared to ATI's older but still relevant Radeon HD 3850 and 3650 (not shown in table).

Radeon HD 4670 and its Competitors
Model ATI Radeon HD 4670 512MB NVIDIA GeForce 9600 GSO 384MB NVIDIA GT 512MB NVIDIA GeForce 9500 GT 256/512MB ATI Radeon HD 3850 256MB
Core Code RV730 G92 G94 G96 RV670
Transistor Count Unknown 754 million 505 million 314 million 666 million
Manufacturing Process (in nm) 55 65/55 65/55 65/55 55
Core Clock 750MHz 550MHz 650MHz 550MHz 670MHz
Stream Processors 64 Shader processors consisting of 320 Stream Processing units 96 Stream Processors 64 Stream Processors 32 Stream Processors 64 Shader processors consisting of 320 Stream Processing units
Stream Processor Clock 750MHz 1375MHz 1625MHz 1400MHz 670MHz
Texture Mapping Units (TMU) or Texture Filtering (TF) units 16 48 32 16 16
Raster Operator units (ROP) 8 12 16 8 16
Memory Clock 2000MHz GDDR3/DDR3 1600MHz GDDR3 1800MHz GDDR3 1600MHz GDDR3 or 1000MHz GDDR2 1660MHz GDDR3
DDR Memory Bus 128-bit 192-bit 256-bit 128-bit 256-bit
Memory Bandwidth 32.0GB/s 38.4GB/s 57.6GB/s 25.6GB/s (GDDR3) 16.0GB/s (GDDR2) 53.1GB/s
PCI Express Interface PCIe ver 2.0 x16 PCIe ver 2.0 x16 PCIe ver 2.0 x16 PCIe ver 2.0 x16 PCIe ver 2.0 x16
Molex Power Connectors No Yes Yes No Yes
Multi GPU Technology Yes (CrossFireX) Yes (SLI) Yes (SLI) Yes (SLI) Yes (CrossFire)
DVI Output Support 2 x Dual-Link 2 x Dual-Link 2 x Dual-Link 2 x Dual-Link 2 x Dual-Link
HDCP Output Support Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Street Price US$79 ~US$90 - 105 ~US$110 - 130 ~US$70 - 89 ~US$100 - 130

To find out how these new cards would fare in the present competitive market, we took PowerColor's enhanced Radeon HD 4670 for a spin. With a ZEROtherm cooler and a slightly overclocked core, this card should give NVIDIA's GeForce 9 cards a run for its money.