Sapphire HD 4670 Ultimate 512MB Passive Video Card Review

by Michael "SKYMTL" Hoenig     |     February 26, 2009

The New ATI Lineup

As the ATI lineup takes better shape, it becomes apparent that like Nvidia before them they are trying to have something for everyone. This market saturation brought Nvidia shouts of disdain from both the community and resellers as their lineup was far too confusing for the average consumer but ATI has taken a fundamentally different approach. Instead of releasing cards across two different series at the same time (like the boys in green did with the 8 and 9-series), Team Red has now almost completely discontinued the 3xxx-series in favor of the 4-series architecture. However, there are still 3-series cards on the market at various price points and this causes an unfortunate overlay with the new 4-series. We wouldn’t be surprised to see some 3-series cards like the HD3870 stick around for a little while longer to not only clear out stocks but also retain an ATI presence in the sub-$200 price brackets price bracket.

At this point the beastly X2 cards take the top spots even though the HD 4850 X2 has not seen the light of day other than a few cards from Sapphire trickling into the retail channels. The HD 4870 X2 still carries the title of the most powerful graphics card on the fact of the planet and has a price to match but even that high MSRP has been slowly falling. Meanwhile, the HD 4870 currently occupies the upper portion of the highly lucrative and popular $200 to $300 price bracket along with the HD 4850.

The HD 4830 has also been added as direct competition for the 9800 GT on Nvidia's side and it indeed does quite well at that. It is basically a cut-down version of the HD 4850 which means performance is definitely there in spades while pricing and availability remain excellent

Rounding out this lineup we have the HD 4600-series cards which were introduced to go after the more budget-conscious portion of the market while still offering great performance against the competition. Even though both are geared to compete against the 9500 GT and 9400 GT respectively, they literally stop the Nvidia cards in every test possible.

Sapphire HD 4670 Ultimate Specs.

To be honest with you, the spces we were presented from Sapphire came as a bit of a shock since this is of course billed as one of their “Ultimate” series of cards. In the past Ultimate cards usually carry with them a slight overclock along with a custom cooler but this time Sapphire seems to have underclocked the memory a bit from ATI’s stated reference speeds.

Before I go any further, let me give you a bit of background information about this. When the HD 4670 launched, ATI’s documents showed that the GDDR3 speeds of the card would be between 1800Mhz and 2000Mhz DDR and after launch, all of the cards were within this speed range. However, as time moved on, certain manufacturers seem to have been cutting costs a bit by including slightly lower-spec’d memory. While the difference isn’t anything significant, you will see this card performing slower than a reference HD 4670 in this review due to the fact the stock card we have has memory that runs at 2000Mhz.

Other than the unfortunate memory clocks, the core speed stays well within the norms so the overall performance of this card should not be too far off from most reference-based examples.


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