Sapphire HD 4670 Ultimate 512MB Passive Video Card Review

by Michael "SKYMTL" Hoenig     |     February 26, 2009

Sapphire HD 4670 Ultimate 512MB Passive Video Card Review

Manufacturer Product Page: SAPPHIRE Ultimate HD 4670 512MB GDDR3 PCI-E
Product Number: 100255U
Availability: Now
Warranty: 2-Years
Price: Click here to compare prices

After the mad dash over the latter part of last year by both ATI and Nvidia to release a swarm of new products, the graphics card industry was due for a breather. Both companies have staked their territory for the most part and that is why the last month and the next few months will be relatively quiet save for a few renaming antics of course. This gives us the perfect opportunity to take a closer look at some of the more interesting graphics cards on the market that tend to get passed by in the hustle and bustle of new GPU releases. These may not be the marquee cards which will get your blood pumping, or cut through framerates like no one’s business; they are products which will appeal to a certain niche market but could be equally well suited for those of you just looking for something different.

With so many consumers now having their PCs running double duty as home theatre devices, passively cooled cards are gaining ground rather quickly against their (sometimes loud) actively-cooled brethren. Passively cooling a graphics card is very much a double edged sword where all fan noise normally associated with a graphics card is eliminated but heat buildup can quickly become an issue. There is also a constant balancing act between wanting to provide optimal cooling but also trying to keep the size of the heatsink within acceptable limits. Heck, you could passively cool a GTX 295 but the resulting heatsink would be take up abhorrent amounts of space and cost a fortune to produce. This is why lower-end cards are usually the only ones that used to be passively cooled. The result was a glut of cards which were perfectly suitable for high definition video decoding but fell flat on their butts when it came to gaming. Luckily, that is all about to change with the current and future generations of GPUs.

The Sapphire HD 4670 Ultimate we are looking at today takes advantage of a cool-running 55nm RV730 core in order to offer passive cooling to a card that allows for more than acceptable gaming performance in addition to its HD decoding muscle. Indeed, Sapphire has a massive selection of HD 4670 cards ranging from reference models to GDDR4 equipped performance versions and even 1GB bruisers. Couple that with widespread availability at retailers across the country and you have a pretty good chance of finding exactly the right HD 4670 for you in Sapphire’s current lineup. You all just have to remember that Sapphire only offers a 2-year warranty on their cards which may have been fine a few months ago but it now looks paltry in comparison to XFX’s offerings. Just remember that 2 years is probably longer than most of you will keep this card in your systems.

Judging from the information we have seen, Sapphire is targeting the HD 4670 Ultimate directly at HTPC users with the inclusion of the aforementioned passive heatsink as well as a native HDMI connector instead of the usual dongle. I could go on and on about the features of this card but its real selling point remains the passive cooling. However, how will this cooling solution stand up to our torture test in a compact ATX case with virtually no airflow? And more importantly, how will this thing perform in games? Let’s find out.


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