Is it even switched on?
AMD's latest mid-range discrete GPUs are known as the Radeon 6000-series. Introduced a couple of months' ago, the Radeon HD 6570 and 6670 better the equivalent previous-generation cards by providing a slight frequency bump and extra horsepower under the heatsink. Refinements in manufacturing also lead to slightly lower power-draw, so while they're not significantly better than the GPUs they replace, the low-to-mid-range Radeon 6K offer a solid feature-set for under £100.
Sapphire Technology produces retail graphics cards based on practically every AMD GPU. Economies of scale resulting from being the largest add-in board partner means Sapphire can launch custom-designed boards earlier than most of the competition.
Differentiating its Radeon HD 6670 line the Hong Kong outfit has recently launched a passively-cooled version of the GPU.
Now, Radeon HD 6670 is available with either 512MB or 1,024MB of on-board GDDR5 memory. Expect to pay £65 for the cheapest, rising to £85 for those littered with every performance-related feature under the sun.
Sapphire appreciates the HD 6670's maximum 66W power-draw can be cooled without even bothering with a fan. Leading on from recent history, the Ultimate Edition plonks a large heatsink on the GPU, and we like the fact that it ships with reference-matching speeds of 800MHz core and 4,000MHz memory.
Specifically, the heatsink wraps around the PCB on the upper side. Ensuring the GPU-transferred heat is pushed out to the large cooling area is the job of two heatpipes that connect to the portion of the heatsink in contact with the GPU.
While similar on paper, the HD 5670 Ultimate's cooling is a little different from this card's. In fact, it's an ostensibly simpler version at play here. And like its HD 5670 brother, there's no need for external power the board; PCIe x16 has enough juice to run it through the slot alone.
Here you can see how it goes over the edge. The heatsink is a little thicker than a single PCI slot, meaning the card takes up an adjacent slot. Even if Sapphire could engineer the Ultimate to take a single slot we'd urge users to leave said slot spare, ensuring adequate chassis-provided airflow is pushed over the fins.
Coming over to the back, the heatsink doesn't interfere with the motherboard's own cooling for the northbridge.
AMD provides two-board CrossFireX compatibility on the HD 6670 via the motherboard's PCIe x16 lanes, and it's this fact that enables Sapphire to produce a clean-looking card - there's no need to take account of the golden finger usually located near the rear bracket.
Speaking of which, the Ultimate ships with dual-link DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort connectors, and all can be used concurrently without the need for additional adapters, assuming a direct DisplayPort connection to a screen. Should you not have a DP monitor, which is the norm, a £20 DisplayPort-to-DVI dongle can be purchased to avail Eyefinity 3.
Sapphire informs HEXUS that the Ultimate will retail with a £10 premium over its regular HD 6670 1GB card. Going by today's prices means it should ship for around £85. Sweetening the deal, the retail box contains a slightly convoluted way of obtaining a free Steam code for recently-released, impressive DiRT 3, while there's a nod toward the multimedia nature of the card with an HDMI cable thrown in.
The HD 6670 Ultimate won't be the fastest graphics card for £85 - and that's patently not the aim here - but its ace in the pack is whisper-quiet computing.