Powercolor HD4670 PCS Review

ccokeman - 2008-09-25 16:31:05 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: October 21, 2008
Price: $79.99

Introduction:

This year has got to be the year of the video card. No sooner does one launch, when there is another ready for launch. Some have been significant, others have been just a refresh of an existing card, while some have been putting the right card at the right price with the right features. AMD/ATI and Nvidia have been playing this game all year long in the quest to gain an edge in the consumer market. For each card that one has, there is an equivalent on the other side of the fence. This competition is great for the consumer, because we can get the right part for our systems at the right price, without having to buy more or less than we need. Right now, there is a card to fit just about any need. So what need does the Powercolor HD4670 PCS fill? As a step below the HD48xx series of card, you have to believe that the performance falls between the 4800 series and the 3 series cards. With its 750MHz core clock and 512MB of GDDR3 frame buffer at 1000MHz and 320 processing units, the HD4670 offers up Direct X 10.1 and Shader model 4.1 support. With PowerPlay technology, the HD4670 offers up power savings when in a non-demanding 2D environment and the full arsenal when a 3D application opens up. Better yet, the HD4670 PCS from Powercolor has a wealth of connectivity options, including DisplayPort as well as a Zerotherm optimized cooling solution. With all the things going for this card, I can't wait to see how it performs!

Closer Look:

The packaging of the Powercolor HD4670 PCS features a wealth of information about the card. On the front, the biggest push is the Play box that lists the connectivity options that include HDMI, DVI and DisplayPort. So much so, that it is mentioned a second time in case you missed it. Crossfire X capability and 512MB of GDDR3 frame buffer. The rear goes into detail on Crossfire X, PCI Express 2.0 and the built-in HDMI with surround sound attributes. One side lists the system requirement to use this video card and the other side features the model of the card - the Powercolor HD4670 PCS.

 

 

 

Once inside, you can see that the card comes shipped encased in a tight fitting cardboard enclosure. Under the HD4670, you will find the documentation and accessory bundle. There is not to much there, but what is included has a purpose.

 

 

The bundle that is included with the Powercolor HD4670 PCS includes the driver disk (pre-production, but includes the software included with the card), an instruction manual, DVI to D-sub adapter, S-video to VGA adapter and last but not least the S-video expansion bracket that plugs into the HD4670 for a fourth means of connecting to a display.

 

 

 

Let's see what this HD4670 from Powercolor has to offer!

 

Closer Look:

The Powercolor HD4670 PCS is a video card that is slightly different than the norm. Different you say? The connectivity options for this one, make this card ideal for use in a home theater computer. The HD4670 is built around the RV730 GPU featuring 514 million transistors assembled using a 55nm process. Clock speeds are set to 750MHz on the GPU core and 1000MHz on the 512MB of GDDR3 memory that is sent through a 128bit bus. In addition to the connectivity options, Powercolor has used a thermal solution that was optimized by Zerotherm. If you have not heard of them, I suggest you take a look at the cooling solutions they bring to the table, as they are both innovative and most of all, they work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Connectivity is what this card has. HDMI, DVI, and a little something new in the Displayport video-out connection. This connection is smaller and carries a bi-directional signal across the same amount of wires in a much more compact package. This port is the next big thing going for video connectivity. In one package, you should be able to connect to just about any display device. One thing powercolor does, is include protection for the connections on the card. All of the display connections, as well as the Crossfire connections, have a protective cover. The rear end of the HD4670 offers little other than the heatsink on the 512MB of GDDR3 memory. Along the spine of the HD4670 are the Crossfire X connections.

 

 

 

Pulling the Zerotherm optimized heatsink off the board you can see there is not much to see. The thermal paste applied is the same thick grey substance I see on many cards. No problem, just a lot of it. The six-pin connection seen below the HDMI out connection is the signal out connection for the HD-out port that comes attached to an expansion slot bracket. Just one more way to get the signal out for a total of four. The heatsink is an all aluminum block that keeps the temperatures in check when under a severe load. The RV730 GPU core is the centerpiece of the HD4670 and is built usiong a 55nm process for increased cost and energy savings.

 

 

Will this card be destined for a lacklustre life in a mundane desktop or better life in an HTPC? It all depends on what kind of horsepower it shows in the testing! It could be that card that fits in well in all types of systems.

Closer Look:

Once you get the Powercolor HD4670 PCS installed you have to install the drivers to make the card perform as intended. To do this, slip the supplied disc into an available optical drive and allow the installation window to open. Choose the setup option and the installation GUI will open up. The options are pretty simple here. There is the option to install the drivers, browse the disc for a manual install or you can download two software titles - a DVD suite from Cyberlink or Iclone, which is a 3D animation program.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you click the driver specific to your operating system, the Catalyst Control Center installation will begin. This process installs all of the necessary drivers needed to make the Powercolor HD4670 PCS provide you with a stunning visual environment. After finishing the installation, the customary reboot is required.

 

 

 

With the card installed, the use of the control panel will enable you to adjust your settings from low quality, to high performance settings, to turning on all the eye candy!

 

Closer Look:

The Catalyst Control Center is where all of the settings for the Powercolor HD4670 PCS 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: The Information Center is where you can view everything about the hardware and software associated with the video card, such as driver versions and hardware specifications.

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Digital Panel: The Digital Panel is where you can set and view monitor information, HDTV settings, ATI's AVIVO color settings, and LCD Overdrive to apply LCD settings that override the monitor's settings.

 

 

 

3D: The 3D tab is where you can modify your visual settings for performance or quality, including Anti-Aliasing, Anisotropic Filtering, color schemes and more.

 

 

VIVO Video & ATI Overdrive: AVIVO settings allow you to alter the color settings for better viewing. ATI Overdrive is where you can push the HD4850 to the limits with overclocking settings. There are controls for the advanced user, or you can use Auto-Tune for automatic overclocking.

 

Specifications:

 

Graphics Engine
RADEON HD4670
  
Video Memory 
512MB GDDR3
Engine Clock
750MHz
Memory Clock
1000MHz x 2
Memory Interface
128bit
DirectX Support
10.1
Bus Standard
PCIE 2.0

 

Features:

 

All information supplied here courtesy of Powercolor@http://www.powercolor.com/eng/products_features.asp?ProductID=4542

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 Palit HD4850 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 Palit HD4850 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:

While trying to overclock the HD4670 I was pretty much stifled at each turn. Even moving up 20MHz would cause a driver crash and require a reboot. Trying to scale the memory upwards was almost as bad. The initial driver was the source of some of the issue. Upgrading to the 8.10 Catalyst suite allowed the card to post a 10MHz gain on the core and and 35MHz on the GDDR3 memory. Temperature was not an issue at all during the overclocking of the card. Those in fact, stayed a respectable 59 degrees Celsius maximum. Since this card gets all of its power through the PCIe slot, it's not a barn burner by any means. On a percentage basis, this represent gains on the core of less than 2% and 3.5% on the memory. Numbers that would truly not show an increase under the benchmarking suite, so this card was not run overclocked.

 

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. Will the GTX 280 be that card? The Crysis single player demo includes both CPU and GPU benchmarks to test the performance of your processor and video card.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Powercolor HD4670 is out of its league here. At 1024x768 the frame rate is dangerously close to what one would deem unplayable. With less aggressive settings, the frame rate should increase the play factor and move the playable resolution up to 1280x1024, or possibly 1680x1050 without any eye candy.

 

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:

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Performance in this benchmark is about where it is expected to be. The performance falls below that of the HD4850.

 

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 having the lowest average FPS of the cards tested, the Powercolor HD4670 PCS delivered playable frame rates all the way up to 1920x1200 with all the eye candy turned on. The performance was really smooth, even at the maximum resolution.

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 2.9.3.

 

Video Settings:

   

 

 

  

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

Mirroring the experience in Bioshock, the HD4670 is at bottom of the performance ladder. But again, gameplay was smooth without the stutters and lag you would associate with a card running beyond its capabilities. Even at 1920x1200, the gameplay was smooth.

 

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:

 

 

 

 
 

  

 

 

 

 

 

The HD4670 again falls to the bottom of the performance ladder. At 1920x1200, it is only 4 FPS from the performance of the 8800/9800GT.

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:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By now, you have seen the performance trend and in Call of Juarez, the results are the same. From 1280x1024 to 1920x1200, the HD4670 is most closely matched up with the 8800/9800GT cards.

 

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:

 

 

 

  

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

If you reduce the eye candy, then this game becomes more playable. At our standard test settings, the card performs at a lower level.

 

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 HD4670 does its best, but still is at the bottom of the list when it comes to performance in 3DMark06.

Testing:

Just added to the OverclockersClub suite of benchmarks is the newest from Futuremark, 3DMark Vantage. 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:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, the HD4670 is not a graphics powerhouse. It does put in a better performance than I initially thought it would though.

 

Conclusion:

The Powercolor HD4670 PCS falls just where you expect it to on the performance ladder when run through our benchmark suite. Perfromance can be improved by not running all of the eye candy and you can still get decent playable performance in most of the games tested. Even with the maximum settings in Call of Duty 4 and Bioshock, the frames per second were smooth and playable in all but the most demanding situations. This card is not a benchmarking and gaming graphics powerhouse. It's not meant to be! What it is meant to do, is some light HD gaming and do an excellent job at playing HD content, while using very little power. Perfect for use in an HTPC. Instead of what has become standard fare in the connectivity department (Dual Link DVI plus HD out), Powercolor has equipped the HD4670PCS with an HDMI out, DVI out, an HDTV out via dongle and bracket, as well as a DisplayPort video out connection. This card has you covered when you need to get the signal out, by covering the older proven technology, as well as giving a small measure of future proofing. Video quality was excellent when combined with a nice 1080p 42 inch display when sent out via the HDMI cable.

I only had two issues with this video card. Overclocking was my first issue, which was just about non-existent with the supplied drivers as well as the 8.8 and 8.9 catalyst suite. As soon as the video driver would load, I would get massive screen corruption that could only be remedied by a resolution change. After a short search, I was able to to find the Beta 8.10 drivers from ATI and this resolved my corruption issues completely. They even let me punch up the clock speeds a tick or two, but nothing really significant. Again you have to take into account what this card is meant to do. The HD4670 does not have the familiar 6 pin or even a 4 pin power connection to supply additional power to the card. It gets everything it needs via the PCIe slot. This low power requirement goes hand in hand with the cooling solution used by Powercolor. If you have been around for a while, you have heard of Zerotherm. Whether you like their products or not, I have found their VGA cooling solutions to work very well. The Zerotherm optomized heatsink used on the HD4670 PCS does what it is supposed to do. The maximum temperature I recorded was 59 degrees Celsius after a nice COD4 session at 1920x1200, with the driver controlling the fan speed. When the fan speed is pushed to 100%, I could not hear it from outside the case. At this speed, cooling performance does increase somewhat to a maximum of 55 Celsius. If you are on a budget and you need a well-rounded card that can hook up to just about any display, this is your card. It offers decent performance in games and has all the qualities that make it ideal for an HTPC. Better yet, it it will fit just about any budget.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: