Motherboard: MSI P45D3 Platinum ( Provided by: MSI );
Processor: Intel Core 2 QX9770 Extreme edition na 3.6GHz ( Provided by: Intel );
Memory: Corsair Dominator 12800 7-7-7-24 ( Provided by: Corsair);
HDD: WD VelociRaptor 300G 10,000RPM ( Provided by: SmoothCreation );
Drivers: AMD ATI CCC 9.1,Nvidia Geforce drajver 181.22
Today we’re looking at an interesting passively cooled card, featuring the RV730XT GPU at 750MHz. This GPU packs enough juice to provide pleasant gaming at 1280x1024, or even higher depending on the game and detail settings.
Our testing will reveal that the card is much better than Geforce 9500 GT with 512MB of GDDR3 memory, but also that the Geforce 9600GSO with 384MB of GDDR3 memory is its fierce adversary. We also included the XFX 9600 GSO 680M 384MB GDDR3 results, as it’s priced same as the reference card at the time of writing this review, despite being overclocked from 550MHz all the way up to 680MHz.
XFX 9600GSO initially beats the HD 4670 Ultimate with results higher by as much as 50%, but the advantage ducks to as little as 4% by the end of the test. In Vantage Mark’s Extreme settings, the reference 9600 GSO loses to Saphire’s HD 4670 Ultimate by 6%. The same test sees the 9500 GT trail behind the Sapphire’s card by almost 70%.
The first tested game, FarCry 2 shows that both HD 4670 and Geforce 9600 GSO have no business lingering around the highest Ultra settings that we’ve used. The graphics is too demanding but the frame count will surely go up as soon as you bring the detail settings down. We did exactly that and tried gaming at 1680x1050, successfully. Still, we still made sure that we finished the “Ultra settings” test in order to see just how many frames can these cards churn out.
The Radeon HD 4670 Ultra even managed to beat the overclocked Geforce 9600 GSO, whereas the Geforce 9500 GT lagged behind by a hefty margin – more than 80% at certain resolutions. Still, it would be wrong to say that this card is bad as it’s priced under €50 and will provide decent gaming at low resolutions and minimum detail setting. After all, not all games are as graphics-hungry as the games we use for our testing.
Left 4 Dead
Unlike the previous game where Sapphire’s HD 4670 outmuscled both 9600 GSO cards, Left 4 Dead shows another side of the story. Here we see a greater advantage of the XFX’s overclocked 9600 GSO over the reference 9600 GSO card.
In this game, Geforce 9600 GSO cards are better if you’re gaming at 1680x1050 and higher. Still, note that Left 4 Dead is playable on pretty much all the graphics cards. Even the weakest Geforce 9500 GT proves good enough to squeeze out 32 fps at the aforementioned resolution.
Just like in Vantage tests, we see the XFX 9600 GSO at high 680MHz separating from the pack, leaving the likes of HD 4670 and Geforce 9500 by 50% and 160%, respectively.
World in Conflict
Sapphire’s passively cooled card holds up nicely, although World in Conflict is every graphics card’s nightmare when maximum detail settings are used. Still, the HD 4670 Ultimate proves that it has what it takes for decent frame rate at 1280x1024. Compared to the last game, it lags behind Geforce 9600 GSO cards, mostly due to their 192-bit interface advantage.
Sapphire HD 4670 Ultimate is a card with decent capabilities that, besides gaming, offers total silence during operation. It uses a passive cooler with heatpipe technology and no movable parts. It’s one of the rare graphics cards that, apart from DVI and VGA outs, feature an HDMI out. Coupled with integrated ATI Avivo and UVD (Unified Video Decoder) technology, it provides great HD multimedia capabilities. We must admit that a combination of silence and HDMI outs are a dream come true for HTPC enthusiasts.
The graphics core features 320 stream processors and runs at 750MHz. It comes with 512MB of GDDR3 memory at 873MHz (1746MHz effectively). Although the cooler is passive and not too large, thermal properties are great, but only if the in-case airflow is appropriate. Otherwise, you might experience the card overheating. There’s no power connectors meaning it consumes less than 75W. With €72 price it is just a few dollars more expensive then the actively cooled card, and if you want the passive one, this one makes a perfect sense.
Although the Geforce 9600 GSO is just a tad pricier, we’ve seen that it’s slightly better too. Passive cooling combined with HDMI outs leave us no choice but to recommend Sapphire HD 4670 Ultimate. For gaming at 1280x1024 resolutions, the card runs just fine, but it’s the “golden silence” that sets it apart from the rest.