When AMD released its Radeon HD 4870 and 4850 the price/performance advantage over NVIDIA at the time was so great that we wondered if it would extend to other GPUs based on the same architecture. Inevitably AMD would offer cost reduced versions of the 4800 series and today we're seeing the first example of that; meet the RV730 XT, otherwise known as the Radeon HD 4670:

The Radeon HD 4670 is priced at $79, which in the past hasn't really gotten you a very good gaming experience regardless of who made the chip. Today's launch is pretty interesting because the 4670 has the same number of stream processors as the Radeon HD 3870 (320), which at the time of its launch was reasonably competitive in the $180 - $200 range. Let's have a closer look at the 4670's specs:

  ATI Radeon HD 4870 ATI Radeon HD 4850 ATI Radeon HD 4670 ATI Radeon HD 4650 ATI Radeon HD 3870
Stream Processors 800 800 320 320 320
Texture Units 40 40 32 32 16
ROPs 16 16 8 8 16
Core Clock 750MHz 625MHz 750MHz 600MHz 775MHz+
Memory Clock 900MHz (3600MHz data rate) GDDR5 993MHz (1986MHz data rate) GDDR3

1000MHz (2000MHz data rate) GDDR3


900MHz (1800MHz data rate) DDR3

500MHz (1000MHz data rate) DDR2 1125MHz (2250MHz data rate) GDDR3
Memory Bus Width 256-bit 256-bit 128-bit 128-bit 256-bit
Frame Buffer 512MB 512MB 512MB GDDR3 or 1GB DDR3 512MB 512MB
Transistor Count 956M 956M 514M 514M 666M
Die Size 260 mm2 260 mm2 146 mm2 146 mm2 190 mm2
Manufacturing Process TSMC 55nm TSMC 55nm TSMC 55nm TSMC 55nm TSMC 55nm
MSRP Price Point $299 $199 $79 $69 $199
Current Street Price $270 $170 $80 N/A


Clock speeds are a bit lower and we've got much less memory bandwidth, but the hardware has some advantages. The RV730 XT is a derivative of the GPU in the 4800 series cards, and it carries over some of the benefits we saw inherent in the architecture changes. Of these, antialiasing saw a major benefit, but we also see changes like increases in cache sizes, texturing power, and z/stencil ability. We won't see performance on par with the 3870 in general, but the 4670 will do some damage in certain situations, especially if AA comes into play.

AMD is also announcing (but we're not testing) the Radeon HD 4650 running at a meager 600MHz and using 500MHz DDR2 memory. The 4650 will chop another $10 off the 4670's pricetag.

AMD lists board power of the 4670 and 4650 at 59W and 48W respectively and obviously they're single slot (with no PCIe power required). To make things better, both of them include the same 8-channel LPCM support for HDMI from the 4800 series. We're waiting to sort out some issues with HDCP and our latest test version of PowerDVD Ultra before confirming the support, but we know first hand that it works on the 4800 series and we see no reason that it wouldn't on the 4600 series.

We are quite happy to see AMD pushing it's latest generation technology out across its entire product line. It's great to see new parts making their way into the market rather than a bunch of old cards with slight tweaks and new names. Of course, AMD is fighting back from a disadvantage, so they don't have the luxury of relying on their previous generation hardware to trickle down the same way NVIDIA can. But we certainly hope that AMD continues to follow this sort of trend, as the past couple years have been very hard on the lower end of the spectrum with a huge lag between the introduction of a new architecture and its availability in the mainstream market.

Also of interest is the fact that AMD has added support in the RV730 for 900 MHz DDR3. The move away from GDDR3 toward the currently ramping up and dropping in price system memory solution is quite cool. Let's take a look at that in a little more depth.

Non-G DDR3? Sure, Why Not
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  • UNCjigga - Thursday, September 11, 2008 - link

    On top of that, the 4650/4670 appears to be the perfect choice for SFF and HTPC builders. The low power requirements and lack of PCIe power connector make it perfect for sub-400 watt power supplies. Other reviews around the web have mentioned that the fan on the reference card is very quiet. I wouldn't be surprised to see a fanless "silent" option for the 4650 soon.

    I'll probably put one of these in my Shuttle xpc, as it seems more than capable of 720p gaming.
  • yyrkoon - Thursday, September 11, 2008 - link

    I'm with Derrick here, and would rather have an NV 9600GT. That is actually what I own now(an eVGA double slot 9600GT with rear exhaust). It uses about 18W more idle, 20-25W more while gaming, and it is roughly twice as fast as my old 7600GT. Above measured with a kill a watt power monitoring device at the wall.

    I guess that the better experiences I have had with NV parts,and the fact that I have owned mostly NV parts in my personal systems(since at least the late 90's) has made me at least slightly partial. I must admit that this card does look tempting, and if I had not just bought a 9600GT, I would give it some consideration. One thing for sure though, what ever I bought from this side of the camp *would* have to be made by Sapphire . . .
  • derek85 - Saturday, September 13, 2008 - link

    There is also another factor to consider. HD4670 does not require any external 6/8pin PCIE power connectors, which makes it more ideal for people with older or OEM power supplies. Otherwise I agree with you on this that 9600GT is still a very viable and competitive alternative.
  • scruffypup - Wednesday, September 10, 2008 - link

    The main issue I have,.. you used a price for the 3870 that is about 1 year old now,.. $199 which a casual reader would then infer that the 3870 is a worse price/performance pick,... if you are going to use september 2008 prices for the other cards,.. use September 2008 prices for the 3870 so you can paint the picture on a more level playing field. That adds to the reader's ability to see what price/performance to choose from.

    Otherwise, my feelings are, at least we have some benchmarks for this card. I am a bit disappointed since it is so pared down from the 4850/4870 in areas, which makes it unable to really compete in some ways with prior generation for similar price.
  • DerekWilson - Wednesday, September 10, 2008 - link

    in the text of the article i mention that you can find the 3870 for ~150 ... which reflected the majority of what i saw on google yesterday.

    today i took a look and i can now find plenty of 3870 hardware for ~$120. which is much closer to the $100 price of the 9600 GT.

    But I'd still pick a 9600 GT over a 3870 at those prices, so it really doesn't change the recommendation.
  • pattycake0147 - Wednesday, September 10, 2008 - link

    Call me blind but I read through the article twice and I didn't once see a $150 price point mentioned for the 3870. If I just missed it point it out to me please.
  • pattycake0147 - Wednesday, September 10, 2008 - link

    While you're at it go ahead and take a look at this. As you mentioned in the article, shop around.
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, September 10, 2008 - link

    I've gone ahead and added a "Current Street Price" line to the table to help put things in perspective. Prices at the time of writing were grabbed from Newegg.
  • kmmatney - Wednesday, September 10, 2008 - link

    Any overclocking potential on this card?
  • AssBall - Wednesday, September 10, 2008 - link

    I would also be interested in this, as my 3850 seems to overclock nicely, and 10% more performance out of a budget card is very nice if you can swing it.

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