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Performance Notes

ADVERTORIAL: ATI Radeon HD 4650/70: Top Value for Bottom Dollar
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We’ve said that you shouldn’t expect miracles when comparing the 4650 and 4670 against the new 58xx cards. But what if we consider the other direction? What if you have an older card or integrated graphics—how much of a boost could you expect from a little $50 to $70 investment? Coming up with apples to apples assessments is always difficult because there are simply so many hundreds of options. Still, we might generalize a bit.

If you check out the Tom’s Hardware graphics cards performance charts (http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/graphics-cards,1.html), you’ll see that the HD 4670 scored 8095 in 3DMark06 v1.1.0. Step back two years to that former flagship, the Radeon X1950 XTX—it scored 6723. Not even that far back, the formerly middle-of-the-roach HD 2600 XT hits only 4883. If you saved money on discrete graphics and got, say, the X1300, that poor dog only scores 949.

If you don’t like synthetic tests and want numbers from real games, how about the HD 4670 showing 53.6 frames per second in the Far Cry 2 benchmark (Ranch Small, 1680x1050, 4AA, 8AF, Low Quality, DX9, no HDR-R) while last year’s HD 3450 scores only 7.90—nearly a 7X difference in just one generation. Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. (Fraps/Glass Hammer: 1280x1024, 0AA, 0AF, Low Quality, DX9, no HDR-R) shows 215.20 FPS for the HD 4670 and only 64.30 FPS for the HD 2400 XT. Obviously, integrated graphics from the same time period will look much, much worse.

If gaming is your gig, keep in mind that you could always run two HD 4650 or 4670 cards in tandem with AMD’s CrossFireX, putting two GPUs to work on accelerating your game. This approach also works with Hybrid CrossFireX, which teams a compatible discrete Radeon card (including the 4650 or 4670) with a compatible IGP. Going hybrid isn’t as fast as using two discrete cards, but it’s a great way to maximize the IGP capabilities you’ve already paid for. Depending on the situation, CrossFireX can achieve up to 1.8X the performance of running a stand-alone GPU.

Another way to maximize performance with these cards is to use a little utility from AMD called Fusion (http://game.amd.com/us-en/drivers_fusion.aspx?p=1). Fusion only works on systems running AMD Phenom processors and a Radeon 3600-series GPU or later, but if you meet these requirements, the tool becomes a Windows-based gateway for ultra-easy overclocking of both the CPU and GPU. The app can also create streamlined, optimized Windows profiles so that no extraneous drivers or other items bog down the one game you want to have running screaming fast. When you’re done playing, simply revert back to the regular Windows profile. There are usually ways to get extra performance for free out of quality components. With Fusion, AMD is just making it simpler than ever for even novices to do this.

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