ATI HD3470 Review

Makaveli - 2008-02-29 22:45:13 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: Makaveli   
Reviewed on: March 3, 2008
ATI
ATI
Price: $55-65 USD

Introduction:

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.

 

Closer Look:

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.

Configuration:

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!

Specifications:

 

 

Features:

-All information sourced from ATI's website: http://ati.amd.com/products/radeonhd3400/specs.html

Testing:

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.

Test System:

Competitor:

 

Overclocking:

Overclocked Settings:

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.

 

Benchmarks:

  1. Crysis
  2. Knights of the Sea
  3. Bioshock
  4. Call of Duty 4
  5. World in Conflict
  6. Call of Jaurez
  7. 3DMark 06 Professional

Testing:

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.

 

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The onboard video didn't stand up to the ATI HD 3470 at all.

Testing:

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:

 

 

 

 

 

 

The onboard video kept up with the ATI 3470 a little bit better in this benchmark.

Testing:

BioShock is a new DirectX 10 title that features intense graphics.

 

Settings:

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ATI 3470 is the winner yet again.

Testing:

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:

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ATI 3470 remains at the top during the Call of Duty 4 test.

Testing:

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:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Neither the ATI HD 3470 nor onboard video could play this game very well.

Testing:

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everything seemed to be almost neck-and-neck with one another in this game.

Testing

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.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is almost no competition for the ATI HD 3470 in this game.

 

Testing:

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.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Absolutely no competition here.

Conclusion:

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.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: