Roundup: Mainstream Graphics Cards From ATI And Nvidia

CrossFire With IceQ Is Very Quiet

Mid-range graphics cards deliver more bang for their buck now than ever before—their many-core GPUs let them play right along with the big boys. In our most recent benchmarks, you’ll see that the Radeon HD 4670, Radeon HD 4770, and GeForce 9800 GT handle the highest graphics quality settings in today's most popular games without any real difficulty. The bit trade-off happens when you try enabling anti-aliasing, which can quickly overwhelm an inexpensive board. It’s important not to set levels too high so as to keep performance acceptable.

It’s impressive to see a Radeon HD 4670, which you can pick up for as low as $65 these days, keep up with a high-end card from yesteryear, like the Radeon HD 2900 XT (ATI’s flagship card in 2007). Likewise, this card matches the Radeon HD 3850 and the Radeon HD 3870, but consumes less power. In the pages to come, you'll also see a comparison between the Radeon HD 4770 and the HD 4830, which explores whether or not a 128-bit memory bus can compete against a 256-bit pathway (loaded with GDDR3), or if good driver support and GDDR5 DRAM can help offset such a mismatch at a comparable price point.

A total of five cards have made their way into this comparison, including actively-cooled single-slot models and a passively-cooled card with a Zalman VNF 100 iSilence4 heatsink. As a bonus, we also throw in a doubled-up CrossFire configuration for the HIS Radeon HD 4670 with the super-quiet IceQ cooler, which provides a genuine alternative to the Radeon HD 4850, the GeForce 8800 Ultra, the GeForce 9800 GTX+, and the GeForce GTS 250.

  • Bloodblender
    All I can say is that Tom's recent articles have been an excellent read, and this exactly the stuff I (as well as many others) require for their research purposes. Keep up the great work!
  • dirtmountain
    Nice article,very well done, but you need to show the 4670 in CF as costing $162, not $81 as shown in the final chart.
  • rambo117
    the iceQ concept is amazing. keeps my 3870s nice and chilly (70C) while hardcore gaming
    and not to mention they both look intimidating in my case ;)
  • pij
    Quick question -

    4770 in crossfire or single 4890 best bet???..
  • to me the gaming benches are most important but energy efficiency and heat dissipation run a close 2nd. thanks for providing it all!
  • Julianbreaker
    Newegg has quite a few 4850s that retail for $100 and it appears to be getting consistently better benchmarks than the 4770. I am confused as to why you would not recommend it over the 4770. Perhaps you are confused by simple maths.
  • radiowars
    PijQuick question - 4770 in crossfire or single 4890 best bet???..They already did a whole article on that...
  • bucifer
    I don't understand why you still won't use the 1GB version of the Radeon 4870. It's clear to me that the card is limited by it's amount of video memory when using hi-res, AA and AF.
    Searching for prices in US and Europe it retails cheaper than the GTX260(192 or 216).
    The point is: the card should be included in the test just as the GTX260-216. It's clearly a better option than the 512 mb version and it's good for comparison!
  • masterjaw
    Nice article here. Most importantly, no unnecessary bias included.
  • holodust
    Nice article, but I don't see how testing these cards on i7 920@3.8 fits into mainstream.