Extending their entry level range of cards, AMD has released the HD6670 with intentions of challenging Nvidia for the performance crown in the R1000 – R1200 price bracket. For review we have the Sapphire “Ultimate” version of the HD6670, whose main aim is to be a “Jack-of-all-trades” style card.
The first noteworthy feature of the Sapphire 6670 is it’s passive heatsink, a large cooler consisting of stylish black fins and silver heatpipes. performs marvellously thanks to its large surface area, but comes with its fair share of problems, the first being its size. The cooler is a dual slot design, and extends roughly 2cm above the cards PCB. This could be an issue for those wanting to use the cooler in a media PC chassis which is typically smaller, or those who need the PCIe/PCI port that the 6670’s cooler renders inaccessible.
Apart from the cooler, it’s all good news for the Sapphire 6670. The card supports DirectX 11 and eyefinity, as well as 7.1 channel HD sound via HDMI. Interestingly the card features 3 connection ports, namely DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort, something usually seen on high-end (more expensive) cards.
Then we have the bundle. Sapphire cards normally feature an extensive bundle, and the 6670 is no different. For a card retailing for under R1200, it comes with a Dirt 3 download code allowing you to download and play the full game, as well as a 1.8m HDMI cable.
Below you can see the performance figures for two modern games, The Witcher 2 and Metro 2033, as well as synthetic benchmarks such as 3D Mark Vantage and Uniengine Heaven. It is important to note that Uniengine Heaven and Metro 2033 were tested in DirectX 11 mode.
Intel i7 920 2 3.8GHZ, 3 x 2GB DDR3 2000mhz CL9 ram, Asus Rampage 2 Extreme, Windows 7 64-bit
3D Mark Vantage Performance:8433
Unigine Heaven Xtreme Preset:310
|The Witcher 2||Low||Medium||High|
We’ve briefly touched on the 6670’s cooler above, so all that remains is to see just how well it performs. Below is a table with the idle and load values tested in two environments to test how well the passive cooler deals with the 6670’s core. In the first, we placed the 6670 in a high airflow case, with all fans set to max. In the second, we installed the card in a small media chassis with limited airflow to test how well it would perform as a media card(that is, if you could fit the card into your media chassis to begin with). Idle was tested 30 minutes after the PC was switched on while performing no tasks. Load was simulated by looping runs of 3D Mark Vantage for 30 minutes.
Enviro 1:27c idle43c load
Enviro 2:36c idle65c load
As you can see, the card performed extremely well in the high airflow case, never going about 45c even under load. The same can’t be said for the media chassis, although 65c under load is still within acceptable limits for a media card.
In the R1000 – R1200 price range, the HD6670 comes face to face with the Nvidia GT440 and GTS450, and fares rather well considering. Outperforming the GT440 by 5% at the same price is admirable, however the 6670 loses out to the GTS450 in terms of pure performance. However, the GTS450 requires external power, whereas the 6670 does not, and the GTS450 isn’t passive, making it less suited as an all rounder. The GTS450 does support 3D vision though, as well as Cuda, and with the slight performance advantage, it’s a worthy competitor.
Once all is said and done, the Sapphire 6670 Ultimate is a great card for the price. It comes with an extensive bundle, an array of features, a totally silent cooler and enough performance for gaming at medium levels in sub-FullHD resolutions. If you can fit the cards tall profile into your chassis, and don’t mind the loss of a second rear PCI slot, the Sapphire 6670 Ultimate is a worthy card to consider in the R1000 – R1200 price range.