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Tom's Holiday Buyer's Guide 2008, Part 4

Sapphire Radeon HD 4670 512MB

http://www.sapphiretech.com/
$80
By: Ed Tittel

Everybody who wrangles PC hardware knows that one of the surest-fire ways to upgrade an aging machine is to replace an older graphics card with a newer one. At $80, the Sapphire Radeon HD 4670 512 MB 128-bit GDDR3 can give older systems with integrated graphics (and a spare PCIe slot, of course) a profound boost without involving too much cost or effort. In fact, this card needs no extra power inputs, so installation is especially quick and easy. Its compact form factor (the card is only two-thirds the length of a 3850 or 8800) also makes it an easy fit into a system that may already be packed with other devices and cables.

Recitations of graphics card capabilities often turn into a relentless list of features and functions, speeds and feeds. For the HD 4670, the most salient items include support for DirectX 10.1, 320 stream processing units, 32 texture units, eight blending units (ROPs), and a 128-bit memory interface with GDDR3 RAM. It handles up to 24X anti-aliasing (AA) and anisotropic filtering (AF), and supports the ATI CrossFireX architecture for multi-GPU support. Likewise, it includes ATI Avivo HD video and display technology, as well as Unified Video Decoder 2 (UVD 2) to support Blu-ray and HD video, along with built-in HDMI/HDCP (including HDMI 1.3 support), DVD upscaling, and 7.1 surround sound support. Codecs supported include MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, WMV9, VC-1, and H.264, which covers most forms of video content nowadays. Output ports include dual DVI-I and S-Video (a special DVI-I to HDMI adapter is included to support HDMI hook-ups to a monitor, TV, or AV receiver).

The budget 4670 centers on the more expensive architecture developed for AMD’s Radeon HD 4850 and 4870 graphics cards and also uses 55 nm circuit design technology. With 320 stream processing units, it packs impressive graphics power for such a low-cost card. This Sapphire model clocks at 750 MHz, and GDDR3 memory is likewise clocked at 2 GHz, just like the reference design from AMD. High-quality Hynix memory chips help ensure quick, reliable data transfers onto the card. With a maximum power draw of only 55 W, the HD 4670 draws less power than many modern CPUs, which explains why no auxiliary power connectors are needed for this device and why it features a small, relatively quiet cooler (we expect to see passively cooled versions hit the market soon, which makes them ideal for HTPC applications).

In fact, as a way to inject new life and capability into a PC that’s more than a year old, the HD 4670 qualifies as a "best technology buy" for such systems. About the only thing that might do more would be to bump up memory to 2 GB for Windows XP and 4 GB for Vista systems. There’s no denying that anybody who uses a mainstream PC will find this an eminently satisfactory graphics card, even if it is used for low-intensity gaming. Tell Santa to bring one for everybody on your list whose desktop could use a graphics boost.

  • snotling
    The model is way too skinny. she makes the hardware look cheap.
    Reply
  • snotling
    SnotlingThe model is way too skinny. she makes the hardware look cheap.I did notice there were two girls in there, but even if you add them up you still get too little meat to call that a woman.
    Reply
  • wicko
    Wow, I can't believe I'm reading complaints about these girls. They are skinny, but not anorexic, they look like they're in very good shape. My girlfriend is getting jealous :p
    Reply
  • blackened144
    I personally like the brunette for the articles.. Something about her reminds me of Christmas.. The blonde, not so much..
    Reply
  • LSoares1
    Wait, Did I miss something? What happened to part 2 and 3 of the 2008 Holiday Guide? All I see is part 1 and now this one....
    Reply
  • LSoares1
    nevermind - I see the links in this article, but I didn't notice them on the Guide section.
    Reply
  • antiacid
    SnotlingThe model is way too skinny. she makes the hardware look cheap.Were you looking for "fat girls gone wild" when you opened this review? Seriously, this had to be the dumbest complaint of the year.
    Reply
  • WINTERLORD
    Of course, you’ll void your warranty in the process,

    does anyone know if intel really can tell if your CPU has been just mildly overclocked? with no burn marks ect. i wonder about that cause id love to overclock it's fun to tinker with, but could not afford getting a bum chip, and it not be under warranty.
    Reply
  • Nice to see the update about the Seagate fix, finally.
    Reply
  • WINTERLORD
    That "the Gigabyte’s board with 2 graphics slots" is a sweet looking motherboard. and for anyone who just needs one graphics card slot i bet this be an alswome rig as well. a deffinit choice if i upgrade to the core 2 quad route. prolly go nehalem core i7 though
    Reply