MSI R4670 512MB Review

TheScavenger - 2008-10-31 00:04:53 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: TheScavenger   
Reviewed on: December 9, 2008
Price: $79.99

Introduction:

When a new generation of video cards are introduced the biggest, baddest cards are the first to be released. What follows later are the lower end, less expensive cards. For example, ATIs RV770 based cards were released in June while the RV730 based cards, like the 4670, were released in the fall. These "lower end" cards create massive revenue for companies like ATI and nVidia especially when they are chosen to be used in systems by major manufacturers.

Moving on, the HD 4670 finds its place right underneath the HD 4830 in an already competitive video card market. At first glance the 4670s specifications may seem very similar to the more expensive 4850 and 4830 cards. What makes the card cheaper than its bigger brothers are a narrow memory interface and a reduced shader count. Specifically, the 4670 has a 128-bit memory interface and 320 shaders while the 4830 has a 256-bit memory interface and 640 shaders. Looking from an economic standpoint the HD 4670 is in direct competition with nVidias 9600GT and ATI's previous generation HD 3850. Will these two major design differences leave the 4670 with enough performance to battle its competitors? Let's find out.

Closer Look:

The packaging for the 4670 is just slightly larger than the overall size of the video card. The front of the packaging lists the basic technical specifications of the video card. Flip the box over and you'll see an expanded list of features and the minimum system requirements.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After opening the box we get our first view of MSI's 2670. The card is secured in an anti-static, bubble wrapped bag and placed inside a cardboard support. The documentation and driver CD can be found underneath the video card.

 

 

The only hardware accessory packaged with the 4670 is an HDMI-to-DVI adapter. Also included with the card are two detailed user guides and a drivers CD.

 

 

Now that we have an understanding of the 4670s basics let's move on.

Closer Look:

The MSI HD4670 uses a RV730 core which is built using a 55nm manufacturing process. The factory GPU frequency is set at 750MHz. The GDDR3 memory, provided by Hynix, is clocked at 1000MHz and runs through a 128-bit interface. The 4670 features 320 shaders compared to the 640 shaders found in a 4830. Solid capacitors are also used to maintain reliability and power control.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 4670 has 2 DVI out ports on the back side of the card. An adapter is provided to convert the signal to HDMI. Since the 4670 is a low power card it doesn't have an auxiliary power supply. However, the 4670 does have a Crossfire connection for use with multi-card systems.

 

 

GDDR3 memory for the 4670 is sourced from Hynix. The factory heatsink is "seaweed" style and is made of a single piece of machined aluminum. The memory is passively cooled since the heatsink doesn't come into direct contact with it.

 

 

 Lets take a look at the programs and drivers MSI has provided to us.

Closer Look:

After the physical installation of the 4670 is complete, a video driver must be installed.. There are two ways to accomplish this. MSI packages the R4830 with a CD that includes the necessary driver. You can also download the specific driver directly from ATI's website. The former is the easiest. Simply put the MSI CD into your optical drive and the installation process will begin. From the opening menu you can either install the video driver or browse the contents of the CD in explorer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After you click on the "ATI VGA Drivers for Vista" button, you will be guided through the video driver and Catalyst Control Center(CCC) installation interface. This process will install all of the necessary drivers and utilities you need to take advantage of the R4830's power. Once the install is complete it is necessary to restart the computer.

 

 

 

Also found on the MSI CD is a user manual and a link to MSI's website. In addition three trial programs are included with the CD. These programs include PowerDVD 7, CyberLink DVD Solution 7, and Norton Internet Security 2008.

 

 

 

With the card and driver installed you can now tweak the video and display settings using Catalyst Control Center.

Closer Look:

The Catalyst Control Center is where all of the settings for the MSI R4670 are available. There are plenty of options and settings available depending on the capabilities that you choose to use. Each group of settings can be adjusted to your specific viewing preferences and image quality.

Information Center: In the Information Center you can view extensive hardware information as well as driver, CCC, and DirectX versions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Digital Panel: In the Digital Panel you can set and view display information such as GPU scaling, DVI settings, and color correction.

 

 

3D: In the 3D tab you can adjust general image quality settings as well as Anti-Aliasing, Anisotropic Filtering, and color schemes. There are also a few settings for DirectX and OpenGL.

 

 

AVIVO Video & ATI Overdrive: AVIVO settings allow you to alter the color settings for better viewing. ATI Overdrive gives the user control of the GPU and memory frequencies. For novice users there is an automated clock configuration utility that will find the best overclock for your system settings.

 

 

Specifications:

 

Graphics Engine
ATI Radeon HD 4670
Bus Standard
PCI Express x16 2.0
Memory Type
GDDR3
Memory Size (MB)
512
Memory Interface
128-bit
Core Clock Speed (MHz)
750MHz
Memory Clock Speed (MHz)
2000
Maximum Resolution
2560x1600
RAMDACs
400
DirectX Version Support
10.1
OpenGL Version Support
2.1
CrossFire Support
Yes

 

Features:

Testing:

At OverclockersClub.com, we use a set of benchmarks to stress the graphics card. We will use a series of newer gaming benchmarks, as well as some that are more seasoned, to show how well the MSI HD4670 compares to some of the other enthusiast video cards on the market. We'll be using single GPU models exclusively, to show just how much the MSI HD4670 brings to the table. All driver settings and clock speeds will be left at factory defaults for both the CPU and GPU, in an effort to minimize or eliminate any variables that could impact the results. The test system used in this review is listed below. After testing the card at stock speeds, I'll overclock it to see what kind of performance can be gained. All testing is performed with the default settings in the respective control panels, as well as default settings in the BIOS of the motherboard used in this test. For this round of testing, our drivers have been updated to the 177.79 for the Nvidia cards and the Catalyst 8.8 for the ATI video cards used in this review.

 

Comparison Video Cards:

 

Overclocking:

Overclocked settings:

Relative to other HD4670s, this MSI card was a good overclocker. In the end I was able to increase the RV730 core and memory clock by 100 and 150MHz respectively. The HD4670's clocks were adjusted using CCC. Temperatures were monitored using CCC as well. To reach my final overclock I started by increasing the core and memory speeds by 25MHz until I hit system instability on anything above 849MHz on the core. I was able to increase the memory speed by another 50MHz from there however. In the end, any clock above 849/1149 caused instanteous and massive artifacting. Temperatures were never any issue in any of the testing as idle temps were in the low 30s.

Benchmarks:

  1. Crysis
  2. Knights of the Sea
  3. BioShock
  4. Call of Duty 4
  5. World in Conflict
  6. Call of Juarez
  7. Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts
  8. 3DMark 06 Professional
  9. 3DMark Vantage

Testing:

Crysis has been out for quite some time now. In that time, there has yet to be a single or multi GPU setup that can fully showcase the graphics performance of the game.  The Crysis single player demo includes both CPU and GPU benchmarks to test the performance of your processor and video card.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The HD4670 places right where expected in our first test, towards the bottom of the performance ladder. The tesing showed the HD4670 still falls a bit short of the 8800/9800GT cards.

Testing:

PT Boats: Knights of the Sea is a new DX10 title that features its own proprietary graphics engine currently in development. The game is a combination of Real Time Strategy and Simulation. You have the ability to control the entire crew or just a single member. Play as the German, Russian or Allied navies, and prove your mettle on the open seas.

 

Video Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ATI cards, including the HD4670, are usually slower in this test than their Nvidia counterparts in this graphics test.

 

Testing:

BioShock is one of the creepier games out the wild. The building of a perfect Utopian society undersea gone horribly wrong. Its inhabitants driven mad with the introduction of tonics and genetic modifications. Now Rapture is just a shadow of its former glory with little girls looting the dead of what little they have left while being shadowed by guardians known as "Big Daddy's" It is a demanding game that will make your hardware scream for mercy. This First Person Shooter allows for an infinite number of weapons and modifications to provide a unique experience each time it is played. The environment as well as the story line will wrap you up for hours on end.

 

Video Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although the 4670 came in last in this test its frame rates were still high enough to maintain playability at all resolutions.

Testing:

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is the successor to the Call of Duty crown. This iteration of the game is fought in many of the world's hot spots with modern armaments and firepower. You can play as either a US Marine or British SAS trooper. Since this game does not feature an in-game test, I will run through a section of the game and measure average FPS using Fraps 2.9.4.

 

Video Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once again the 4670 maintained high enough frame rates to play at all four resolutions.

Testing:

World in Conflict Released last year World in Conflict is a Real Time Strategy game that simulates the all-out war the world hopes never comes. The difference in this RTS game is that it is not the typical "generate wealth and build" type of game. Instead, you advance by conquering your foe with limited opportunities to replenish your troops..

 

Video Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I would not consider World in Conflict to be playable at any of our chosen resolutions and settings using a 4670. Once the visual quality settings are reduced the 4670 can perform just not with the eye candy turned on.

Testing:

Call of Juarez is a DX10, first-person shooter set in the Wild West of the late 1800's. The game is inspired, in part, by the movies of the Wild West genre of the seventies and eighties. The game can be played in both single player and multiplayer modes. The game focuses on realistic graphics and gameplay designed to take advantage of the latest video cards on the market.

 

Video Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although the 4670 is last at every resolution it manages to keep within 3 FPS of the much more expensive 9800GT at 1920x1200.

Testing:

Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts is the latest chapter in the Company of Heroes series. The scene is WWII. The mission is Operation Market Garden, the first allied attempt to break into the Third Reich. Play as the British or Germans. This Real Time Strategy game is brought to us by Relic Entertainment.

 

Video Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Company of Heroes is playable with a 4670 at 1024x768 but questionable at higher resolutions.

Testing:

3DMark06 is one of those benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest breaks out. 3DMark06 presents a severe test for many of today's hardware components. Let's see how this setup fares. The settings we will use are listed below.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 4670 is once again last in our 3DMark06 test but its bang-for-buck performance is still impressive.

Testing:

Featuring all-new game tests, this benchmark is for use with Vista based systems. "There are two all-new CPU tests that have been designed around a new 'Physics and Artificial Intelligence-related computation.' CPU test two offers support for physics related hardware." There are four preset levels that correspond to specific resolutions. 'Entry' is 1024x768 progressing to 'Extreme' at 1920x1200. Of course, each preset can be modified to arrange any number of user designed testing. For our testing, I will use the four presets at all default settings.

 Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While finishing last in each of the tested resolutions the 4670 is a capable card when the eye candy is turned way down. You have to consider the field it is compared against and it is outclassed by each card.

 

Conclusion:

The MSI HD 4670 placed exactly where I expected it to in our gambit of benchmarks. Performance was smooth in all of our test games at lower settings and the 4670 managed to maintain playability at some of the higher settings. By no stretch of the imagination is the HD 4670 a multi-media monster. However, it still maintains a good bang-for-the-buck factor by providing enough power for light gaming and playing high definition video. Since the 4670 requires no additional power supply and provided smooth video playback it would work perfectly in a HTPC.

The ability to siginificantly overclock the GPU and memory was an additional bonus. In the end, the 4670 hit 849MHz on the core which is very impressive for a $80 video card. Thermal control was impressive as well as idle temperatures were in the low 30s. I was dissapointed by the bundle accessories though. The MSI HD 4670 came only with an HDMI adapter instead of the typical array of S-Video or HDTV adapters I'm used to seeing. The card's two DVI out ports will function well for most as many monitors still have DVI connections.

In the end the HD 4670 is a good performer and is perfect for a casual gamer or HD video enthusiast.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: