ATI Radeon HD 4730 review

£70
Price when reviewed

ATI’s naming conventions suggest that its latest card, the Radeon HD 4730, should share much in common with the superb HD 4770. That’s not the case, though – instead, ATI’s new card boasts a cut-down version of the same RV770 core that powers the ATI Radeon HD 4800-series.

The HD 4730 has an enticing list of specifications for a supposed mid-range release. The core clock speed of 750MHz is higher than both the HD 4830 and HD 4850 and is equal to the HD 4870. Its 512MB of memory may be clocked at the same level as the HD 4830 – 900MHz – but it’s GDDR5 RAM, better than the GDDR3 memory used in the older card.

The HD 4730’s reliance on the RV770 core does mean that it’s manufactured on a 55nm die, though. This is larger, and therefore less efficient, than the 40nm process used for the HD 4770, still the only 40nm card on the market.

Nevertheless, the new card put in a good showing in our benchmarks, handling low settings in our three test games – Crysis, Call of Juarez and World in Conflict – without fuss, hitting 100fps in the low tests and regularly topping 60fps in the 1,280 x 1,024, medium-quality benchmarks.

As expected, the card only struggled with our high-quality Crysis test. It scored 29fps here, the same as the HD 4830 it’s replacing, and came in at a single frame slower in the same 1,680 x 1,050 test in Call of Juarez. In World in Conflict, performance was similar again, with a 37fps average frame rate in the high-quality test undermined by a dip to 22fps at one point. The HD 4730 couldn’t handle any of our games at their very highest quality settings, either.

The move back to 55nm means that, as well as being slower than the HD 4770, the new card demands more power: where the HD 4770 needs 164W at peak performance, the HD 4730 demands 176W when idle and over 200W when running at full speed.

And that larger chip size is also echoed in the card’s physical dimensions: the HD 4770 is a behemoth of a graphics card, measuring 255mm long, a good 10mm longer than the HD 4830 and 35mm longer than the HD 4730.

Our review card is also double-height thanks to the custom cooler used by Sapphire. Although this keeps the chip at a reasonable temperature and is quieter than some other top-end ATI cards, it does mean you’ll need more space in your case.

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Another strange design decision is the use of two six-pin power connectors, double the number used for the HD 4830 and HD 4770. In fact, only ATI’s top-end cards, including the HD 4870 and HD 4890, have previously demanded such power.

The HD 4730 generally does a good job of replacing the now-ageing HD 4830. It’s just as fast and comes in at a similar cost. But with the more powerful HD 4770 available at only a little extra it’s difficult to get too excited.

Core Specifications

Graphics card interface PCI Express
Cooling type Active
Graphics chipset ATi Radeon HD 4730
Core GPU frequency 750MHz
RAM capacity 512MB
Memory type GDDR5

Standards and compatibility

DirectX version support 10.1
Multi-GPU compatibility Four-way CrossFireX

Connectors

DVI-I outputs 1
DVI-D outputs 0
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
HDMI outputs 1
7-pin TV outputs 0
Graphics card power connectors 2 x 6-pin

Benchmarks

3D performance (crysis) low settings 121fps
3D performance (crysis), medium settings 63fps
3D performance (crysis) high settings 29fps

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