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MSI R4670 512MB
If you're on a budget, that generally means that you have to compromise on your graphics card, but this R4670 performs beyond it's price bracket, offering the best bang for buck since the 6600GT appeared.
When it comes to graphics cards, there is no doubt that AMD are pretty much in the spotlight at the moment. Sure NVIDIA have offerings, but currently they're not drawing as much attention. AMD's 4870 x2, while a Dual GPU card is sitting pretty at the top, with the 4870 and 4850 giving you much bang for buck lower down. If we keep moving down then the 46xx series offers something quite interesting too.
The HD4670 is the highest of this range, and after testing such a card for this review, I have to say I'm very much reminded of when the 6600GT hit. It drew in a lot of folks because it was cheap, but it still hit some very high numbers at lower end resolutions. The I have here has offered the same kind of experience and when you couple that with the 'budget card' price tag it really is astonishing. Still, performance isn't the only thing you should look at (albeit the main feature), so let's see what else the has to offer.
ATI Radeon HD 4670
|2 (via DVI to VGA Adapter, 1 Adapter included)
|1 (via DVI to HDMI adaptor, not included)
|Dual Link DVI
|Display Max Resolution
Fully DirectX 10.1 compliant, including full speed 32-bit floating point per component operations, Shader Model 4.1 geometry and pixel support in a unified shader architecture, 32-and 64-bit floating point processing per component, High performance dynamic branching and flow control, High dynamic range rendering with floating point blending, texture filtering and anti-aliasing support, 16-and 32-bit floating point components for high dynamic range computations, Full anti-aliasing on render surfaces up to and including 128-bit floating point formats, Support for OpenGL 2.1, Anti-Aliasing Filtering, Temporal anti-aliasing, 2x/4x/8x/16x modes, Up to 128-tap texture filtering, Acceleration Features, Works with any single- or two-channel data format, New vertex cache and vertex fetch design, to increase vertex throughput from previous generations, Up to 8k x 8k textures, including 128-b/pixel texture are supported, High efficiency memory controller
OK, first up, let's talk about the price. The $65 is after rebate, but it does make it the cheapest (at time of writing) 4670 at most retailers who sell it. Without a rebate the card can be had for $80 which matches the lowest priced cards on offer. The card does come with a 128-bit memory bus which history has shown does hold the card back. However as you will come to see, it doesn't show it. Also, and I do think MSI missed a trick here, there is no DVI to HDMI adapter included. AMD sell these at $7 a pop but one thing I would like to mention is, if you have an older card, say a 2600 series card that came with such an adapter, you won't be able to use it to carry sound on a 46xx series card. The MSI R4670 card supports 7.1 sound output, and the 'older' adapters it seems are only good for 5.1. I originally tried a straight swap with a 2600 Pro for the R4670 in my HTPC and I had to also swap the adapter for one from a 4xxx series card as the drivers created fuss and refused to output sound at all. Keep that in mind if you plan on using this card in an HTPC.
The box for the MSI R4670 is quite small, not much larger than a DVD jewel case which is to say it's about the size of the card itself. Inside, the card sits in it's anti-static bag within a carton to keep it protected. Under the carton we find a quick start guide, small manual and a driver DVD. Also included, and sat on top of the card was a DVI to VGA adapter. Not large package, but this isn't a high card; it's a cheap card with the bare essentials.
The card itself is as I said before quite small, but does have a larger than expected, and quite attractive cooling setup. Aluminum fins and a copper base, with a clear bladed fan in the center fan out above the GPU. It's not a huge cooler, but it does pretty much go into dual slot territory.
The rest of the card is quite simple; no rear power input as it's simply not needed. The back of the card sports a black plastic mounting setup to help distribute the weight a bit better. But despite the simplicity, it does still sport Crossfire connections. You'll also note that DDR3 sits on the front and back of the card, but in both cases is not covered by cooling other than that provided by the heatsink for the GPU.
The Dual DVI connections on the IO panel are inset with blue, which I much prefer to the yellow I've seen some previous cards from MSI sport. Yes, I know, it doesn't matter but I don't like yellow OK? I would have liked to have seen an HDMI port here, or at least an included DVI to HDMI adapter, which ever proved to be cheapest.
Test Setup: Intel E6420 (2.13GHz) @ 3.0GHz, 2x 2048MB OCZ Reaper DDR2 PC2-6400, Maxtor 500GB 16MB Cache HDD, Vista Home Premium SP1
For Comparison, the MSI 8600GT is used to show the jump from previous generations and the R4850 is used to show you the difference between the higher and lower ends.
Half Life 2: Episode 2 – We ran through 2 minutes of play at highest possible settings, including HDR on outland 6, going down to get the car above.
Crysis – This FPS hit the scene and pretty much brought every machine to their knee's, and still does. We used a combination of FRAPS and the Crysis Benchmark Tool.
Enemy Territory Quake Wars – Whilst there is no doubt that ETQW's likes a decent CPU and subsystem, it still requires a decent graphics card to get the best out of it too. We used our in-house recorded demo and FRAPs at highest playable settings to test, as well as a separate in-game timedemo at matching settings.
Race Driver: GRID – It's been a long time since a fun racing game has hit the PC (in my opinion of course) and while being 'only' DX9, it sure does look purdy. We blast around a test course in the Skyline R34 Z-Tune, a repeatable test run.