ATI HD3470 Review
Reviewed by: Makaveli
Reviewed on: March 3, 2008
Price: $55-65 USD
There are so many questions that you need to ask yourself while you're looking into getting a home theater PC. Not only will your shopping list for parts be fairly long, but you'll have to answer the following questions before you purchase anything. What motherboard should I get? Do I absolutely need a video card? Or will the motherboard's onboard video be sufficient? Today we're going to answer those very questions, as well as many others.
The ATI HD 3470 is a newly released video card from ATI that was designed specifically for HTPCs. ATi has also recently released 3450 and 3650 models at about the same time as this 3470 that we received. These 3400 series cards are not made for gaming, so don't expect to see very high frame rates in games. This HD 3470 supports high definition video, DirectX 10, VGA and DVI outputs, among other technologies. Will this ATI HD 3470 be a must-have for HTPCs? Does it perform better than a motherboard's onboard video? Join me as I thoroughly investigate the ATI HD 3450 HTPC video card.
We received an OEM version of the ATI HD 3470, so there were no instructions, driver CDs, or accesories included. The ATI HD 3470 is a PCI-Express x16 card and while it's smaller than I anticipated, I can already tell that this card will produce very little, if any, sound. This is because the fan is very small and even at full power I'm guessing that the fan can't make too much noise. I took the heatsink off of the GPU so that you can see the memory chips and the GPU itself. The thermal paste on the GPU was extremely hard to get off. It was almost like dried peanut butter.
As mentioned earlier, this card is a PCI-Express x16 card and it does support Crossfire. Also, there is an onboard high definition audio connector.
This ATI HD 3470 has both VGA and DVI outputs, as well as an S-Video output. This is convenient because some users do not have the VGA to DVI converters.
Now let's move on and take a closer look at the Catalyst Control Center.
To install the drivers, I checked ATI's website for the absolute latest drivers available and followed the onscreen instructions to successfully install the drivers and Catalyst Control Center (CCC). CCC is a great program that allows you to tweak almost every setting you can think of for your monitor and video card. Here I will show some screenshots of the tabs most commonly used.
Information Center: Here is where you can view your driver version as well as all of the software and hardware information. The sub-menu of display manager and display options allows users to configure their desktop environments to meet their needs.
Digital Panel: This tab has four sub-menus under it that include "Attributes," "AVIVO Color," "HDTV Support," and "LCD Overdrive." The user can view some of his monitor's information, set up HDTV settings, as well as AVIVO color settings.
3D: Here is where you'll be able to modify your performance versus quality settings, as well as your anti-aliasing settings among other settings.
AVIVO Video & ATI Overdrive: Here you can alter the basic color settings in theater mode. ATI Overdrive is an extremely easy-to-use overclocking utility that allows the user to overclock his card to a certain point. The only downside is that there are no controls for the fan speed on the video card.
Now let's get to testing this card!
- 181 million transistors on 55nm fabrication process
- PCI Express 2.0 x16 bus interface
- 64-bit DDR2/GDDR3 memory interface
- Microsoft® DirectX® 10.1 support
- Shader Model 4.1
- 32-bit floating point texture filtering
- Indexed cube map arrays
- Independent blend modes per render target
- Pixel coverage sample masking
- Read/write multi-sample surfaces with shaders
- Gather4 texture fetching
- Unified Superscalar Shader Architecture
- 40 stream processing units
- Dynamic load balancing and resource allocation for vertex, geometry, and pixel shaders
- Common instruction set and texture unit access supported for all types of shaders
- Dedicated branch execution units and texture address processors
- 128-bit floating point precision for all operations
- Command processor for reduced CPU overhead
- Shader instruction and constant caches
- Up to 16 texture fetches per clock cycle
- Up to 128 textures per pixel
- Fully associative multi-level texture cache design
- DXTC and 3Dc+ texture compression
- High resolution texture support (up to 8192 x 8192)
- Fully associative texture Z/stencil cache designs
- Early Z test, Re-Z, Z Range optimization, and Fast Z Clear
- Lossless Z & stencil compression
- 8 render targets (MRTs) with anti-aliasing support
- Physics processing support
- 40 stream processing units
- Dynamic Geometry Acceleration
- Programmable tessellation unit
- Accelerated geometry shader path for geometry amplification
- Memory read/write cache for improved stream output performance
- Anti-aliasing features
- Multi-sample anti-aliasing (2 or 4 samples per pixel)
- Custom Filter Anti-Aliasing (CFAA) for improved quality
- Adaptive super-sampling and multi-sampling
- Temporal anti-aliasing
- Gamma correct
- Super AA (CrossFire configurations only)
- All anti-aliasing features compatible with HDR rendering
- Texture filtering features
- 2x/4x/8x/16x high quality adaptive anisotropic filtering modes (up to 128 taps per pixel)
- 128-bit floating point HDR texture filtering
- Bicubic filtering
- sRGB filtering (gamma/degamma)
- Percentage Closer Filtering (PCF)
- Depth & stencil texture (DST) format support
- Shared exponent HDR (RGBE 9:9:9:5) texture format support
- OpenGL 2.0 support
- ATI Avivo™ HD Video and Display Platform
- Dedicated unified video decoder (UVD) for H.264/AVC and VC-1 video formats
- High definition (HD) playback of both Blu-ray and HD DVD formats
- Hardware MPEG-1, MPEG-2, and DivX video decode acceleration
- Motion compensation and IDCT
- ATI Avivo Video Post Processor
- Color space conversion
- Chroma subsampling format conversion
- Horizontal and vertical scaling
- Gamma correction
- Advanced vector adaptive per-pixel de-interlacing
- De-blocking and noise reduction filtering
- Detail enhancement
- Inverse telecine (2:2 and 3:2 pull-down correction)
- Bad edit correction
- Two independent display controllers
- Drive two displays simultaneously with independent resolutions, refresh rates, color controls and video overlays for each display
- Full 30-bit display processing
- Programmable piecewise linear gamma correction, color correction, and color space conversion
- Spatial/temporal dithering provides 30-bit color quality on 24-bit and 18-bit displays
- High quality pre- and post-scaling engines, with underscan support for all display outputs
- Content-adaptive de-flicker filtering for interlaced displays
- Fast, glitch-free mode switching
- Hardware cursor
- Two integrated DVI display outputs
- Primary supports 18-, 24-, and 30-bit digital displays at all resolutions up to 1920x1200 (single-link DVI) or 2560x1600 (dual-link DVI)1
- Secondary supports 18-, 24-, and 30-bit digital displays at all resolutions up to 1920x1200 (single-link DVI only)1
- Each includes HDCP encoder with on-chip key storage for maximum resolution playback of protected content2
- Two integrated DisplayPort™ outputs
- Supports 24- and 30-bit displays at all resolutions up to 2560x16002
- 1, 2, or 4 lanes per output, with data rate up to 2.7 Gbps per lane
- Two integrated 400 MHz 30-bit RAMDACs
- Each supports analog displays connected by VGA at all resolutions up to 2048x15361
- HDMI output support
- Supports all display resolutions up to 1920x10801
- Integrated HD audio controller with multi-channel (5.1) AC3 support, enabling a plug-and-play cable-less audio solution
- Integrated AMD Xilleon™ HDTV encoder
- Provides high quality analog TV output (component/S-video/composite)
- Supports SDTV and HDTV resolutions
- Underscan and overscan compensation
- MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, WMV9, VC-1, and H.264/AVC encoding and transcoding
- Seamless integration of pixel shaders with video in real time
- VGA mode support on all display outputs
- Dedicated unified video decoder (UVD) for H.264/AVC and VC-1 video formats
- ATI PowerPlay™
- Advanced power management technology for optimal performance and power savings
- Constantly monitors GPU activity, dynamically adjusting clocks and voltage based on user scenario
- Clock and memory speed throttling
- Voltage switching
- Dynamic clock gating
- Central thermal management – on-chip sensor monitors GPU temperature and triggers thermal actions as required
- ATI CrossFireX™ Multi-GPU Technology
- Scale up rendering performance and image quality with two GPUs
- Integrated compositing engine
- High performance bridge interconnect3
- ATI Hybrid Graphics support4
- Improved Unified Video Decoder – View and manipulate the latest Blu-ray and HD DVD content with a dedicated hardware video decoder that leaves your CPU free to perform other tasks.
- Ultimate Image Quality – Performance that rivals high-end HD-DVD and Blu-ray players on displays with resolutions that exceed 1080p – up to 2560x1600.1
- Integrated Digital Outputs – Enjoy your digital content the way you want to, with built-in HDMI that includes 5.1 surround audio for big screen entertainment and the latest in display connectivity; DisplayPort™ technology.
- PCI Express® 2.0 – Get ready for the most demanding graphics applications with PCI Express 2.0 support, which allows up to twice the throughput of current AMD PCI Express cards.
- DirectX® 10.1 Compatibility – You’ll be blown away by life-like graphics from Microsoft® DirectX® 10.1 games, with stunning 3D graphics and shading effects.
- ATI Hybrid Graphics – Combine an ATI Radeon™ HD 3400 Series graphics card with a compatible AMD 7-Series Integrated Chipset to improve gaming performance and multi-monitor productivity.
- ATI CrossFireX™ multi-GPU – Upgrade to even greater 3D performance quickly and easily thanks to plug-and-play ATI CrossFireX technology.
- ATI PowerPlay™ Technology – power saving features that reduce power consumption at idle or during low-usage
- Runs Cool and Quiet – With a smaller chip designed to use less power, your system can take advantage of high-end Windows Vista® features while running more efficiently and quieter than ever.
- Be More Productive – See more and do more of your work and entertainment with advanced multi-monitor support.
-All information sourced from ATI's website: http://ati.amd.com/products/radeonhd3400/specs.html
To test the ATI HD 3470 HTPC video card, I'll be comparing it to the onboard video of the ECS GF7100PVT-M motherboard. I'll be running the gaming benchmark suite to see if the ATI HD 3470 can perform any better than the ECS motherboard. The test systems were kept identical so that there are no unfair advantages to either competitor. Without further ado, here is the test system.
- Processor: Intel Q6600 Core 2 Quad 266x9
- Motherboard: Gigabyte EX38-DS4
- Memory: Mushkin XP2 6400 4-4-4-12
- Video Card(s): ATi HD 3470
- Power Supply: Ultra X3 800watt Modular Power Supply
- Hard Drive: 1 x Seagate 320GB SATA
- Opticals: Sony Dual Layer Burner
- O/S: Windows Vista Ultimate Edition
- ATi HD 3470 890/1040
I used ATI's Overdrive included in the Catalyst Control Center to overclock this card. I was extremely surprised at how much I was able to squeeze out of this little card. I was able to get the core clock from 800MHz to 890MHz and the memory clock from 950MHz to 1040MHz. The fan didn't make any more noise than it already was at stock so I was happy about that. This card couldn't have been easier to overclock and to be able to get that that much out of the card was impressive to say the least.
- Knights of the Sea
- Call of Duty 4
- World in Conflict
- Call of Jaurez
- 3DMark 06 Professional
Crysis is a demanding game that has become quite popular. Crysis comes with a GPU benchmarking utility so I'll be using that to score the contenders.
- 2x Anti-Aliasing
- Advanced settings to medium
The onboard video didn't stand up to the ATI HD 3470 at all.
PT Boats: Knights of the Sea is a new war-at-sea game that features its own graphics engine. This DirectX 10 game can be quite punishing.
The settings we will use are below:
- AA: x0
- Image Quality: High
- Direct X Version: 10
- All resolutions 60Hz
The onboard video kept up with the ATI 3470 a little bit better in this benchmark.
BioShock is a new DirectX 10 title that features intense graphics.
- All settings to Maximum
- V-Sync off
The ATI 3470 is the winner yet again.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is the latest chapter in the Call of Duty line. I will be running FRAPS 2.9.3 to test for the average FPS during the course we run here at OverclockersClub.com.
The settings used are listed below:
- Anti-aliasing: x4
- Anistropic Filtering : Max
- Texture Quality: Extra
- All settings Max
The ATI 3470 remains at the top during the Call of Duty 4 test.
World In Conflict is a new game in which the user has to play through some devastating scenarios in order to keep proceeding through the game.
The settings we will use are listed below:
- 0 X AA
- 16X AF
- Graphic Detail: Very High
Neither the ATI HD 3470 nor onboard video could play this game very well.
Call of Juarez is a new DirectX 10 game that is based on the wild wild west. This game features some difficult technologies for video cards to display.
The settings we will use are listed below.
- Details: High
- Shadowmap size: 2048 x 2048
- Shadow Quality: Normal
- Anti Aliasing: MSAA 4X
Everything seemed to be almost neck-and-neck with one another in this game.
Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts is the latest chapter for the Company of Heroes series. This game's breathtaking graphics make it tough to pull away from.
- 8x AA
- All other settings to maximum
There is almost no competition for the ATI HD 3470 in this game.
3DMark06 is one of the most popular system benchmarking programs available today. I've come to find that you're a lot cooler if your score is higher. The motherboard's onboard video was not capable of running 3DMark06 at the highest resolution of 1920x1200.
- SM2.0 Graphics Tests: GT1- Return to Proxycon, GT2- Firefly Forest
- CPU Tests: Cpu1- Red Valley, CPU2- Red Valley
- HDR/SM3.0 Graphics Tests: HDR1- Canyon Flight, HDR2- Deep Freeze
Absolutely no competition here.
The ATI HD 3470 HTPC graphics card proved to me that it is much better than most onboard video solutions - especially when it's overclocked. I was able to overclock this card from 800MHz core clock to 890MHz and I also got the memory clock to 1040MHz from 950MHz. I didn't even need to set the fan speed on the card higher than it ran at stock, which surprised me. The card was almost dead silent all throughout testing which is something that I always look for in a video card. When I watched Bad Boys II with the motherboard's onboard video, I thought it looked great until I watched the same movie on the ATI HD 3470. It almost looked as if I were watching a totally different movie because the quality was the best I've ever seen this DVD played at. Don't be fooled by the scores from our gaming benchmarks - this card is clearly not a gaming card. It is Crossfire capable, so you might be able to push out decent frame rates in games that way. Now that ATI has shown me a value-priced, overclockable, and silent HTPC video card, there is no better HTPC solution in my book. If you're considering if whether or not you should stick with a motherboard's onboard video or get an HTPC video card, do not ponder any longer...get yourself an ATI HD 3470 - you won't be disappointed.
- Video & Image Quality
- HDMI Support
- DirectX 10 Support