Sapphire HD 4670 Ultimate Edition Reviewccokeman -
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The Sapphire HD 4670 Ultimate is not a high-end gaming card. It's not meant to be that type of card. What it is meant to do is to provide some less than extreme gaming capabilities and provide excellent video playback. These things it does exceptionally well. In many of the benchmarks the Ultimate Edition HD 4670 delivered playable frame rates up to 1920x1200, with the settings placed far above its capabilities. If you drop the eye candy down a notch or two, the frame rates only get better and provide a better gaming experience. But that's not all there is to this video card. This HD 4670 differs from the standard run of the mill HD 4670 in a couple of ways. Instead of dual DVI outputs and an HDTV output that uses an adapter to make use of the connection, Sapphire has equipped the Ultimate Edition with a VGA port, a single DVI output as well as an HDMI output that also carries the high definition sound to to the display panel of your choosing. The more obvious difference is the non-standard cooling that utilizes two heatpipes attached to a copper plate to take the heat generated by the GPU core and memory to a large fin array to be dissipated into the airflow through the chassis. Keeping the temperatures in check was one of my main concerns with this card, but those fears were unfounded when the maximum temperature I recorded was 58 degrees Celsius during stability testing for the overclock on the card. While the Ultimate Edition did not overclock as well as the standard ATI reference designed card, it did do well with an increase of 26MHz on the GPU core and almost 100MHz on the GDDR3 memory. Both pretty respectable numbers that delivered a performance increase across the whole benchmark suite. One thing this card did not come with, was a CrossfireX bridge connection on the card. Inititally this was a cause for concern, but the HD 4670 Ultimate Edition is CrossfireX capable via software, not through the normal hardware method most of us a familiar with. The only real issue that I have with this card is the fact that the passive cooling solution may interfere with any cards mounted above it. In my case, the X-FI sound card on the MSI Eclipse was too large to fit with the HD 4670 Ultimate Edition in place. The solution was to remove the card and install another sound card to complete the benchmarks.
What this card is really designed for, is use in an HTPC or silent work station. These are things it excels at, due to the silent cooling solution and high definition video decoding capabilities. While spending some time watching a few movies, CPU usage peaked at 3 to 4 percent throughout the movie. Most likely something launching or running in the background caused the increase. The normal range for most of the time was in the 1 to 2 percent range, showing that the GPU is doing all of the work. Again, exactly what it is designed to do. I used both Power DVD 7 and Windows Media Player to see if one would load the CPU higher, but both returned identical results. The visual quality was great with no stuttering or visual artifacts to show the card was overheating. After getting used to the lack of noise generated by this card, it is tough to go back to a louder video card. The zero noise aspect of this card is implemented well and prevents the card from overheating, while still delivering respectable gameplay with the eye candy on at the resolutions the majority of people play at. No noise, decent performance for a price that wont break the budget in these hard economic times, makes the Sapphire HD 4670 Ultimate Edition great value for your hard earned money!
- Passive cooling
- Zero noise
- Excellent temperatures
- HTPC ready
- HDMI output
- 7.1 Digital sound output
- CrossfireX by software only
- No additional power connections
- May interfere with expansion cards above it