Summary: Are you in the market for an AGP graphics upgrade? If so, you know that there aren't a lot of choices out there. One of the newest additions to the AGP market however is Gigabyte's GV-R465D2-1GI, which is based on ATI's Radeon 4650 GPU. Join us as we take a look at this card's capabilities in today's review!
Did you say AGP?
To cater to this segment of the graphics market, ATI and their board partners have quietly continued to provide the latest mainstream Radeon GPUs to the public. Itís actually a rather shrewd move on their part, as NVIDIA abandoned the AGP space some time ago with the GeForce 7 generation of GPUs. Those AGP-based GeForce 7800 and 7600 GPUs are all long gone now, leaving the space to ATI alone. Right now on Newegg and other online retailers you can find AGP Radeon cards based on ATIís Radeon 3650 and 3850 GPUs, and just recently the first AGP-based 4650 cards hit retailers shelves.
Gigabyte is one of the first manufacturers to ship an AGP Radeon 4650; their GV-R465D2-1GI Radeon HD 4650 board has been available on Newegg for a few weeks now. Priced at $94.99, the card has earned a 4/5 star rating so far. Letís see how the board compares to its PCI Express equivalent.
Radeon 4650 hardware
For starters, the GV-R465D2-1GI ships with the same RV730 GPU that first appeared on the Radeon 4670 last year. RV730 features 320 stream processors along with 32 texture units providing up to 19.2Gigatexels/sec peak texture fill rate. ATI clocks the Radeon 4650 at 600MHz Ė this is the same speed Gigabyte employs for the GV-R465D2-1GI.
The card is a rather distinctive animal in the sense that itís an AGP card with DVI, VGA, and HDMI outputs, making it appealing whether youíre looking to upgrade an HTPC and need the HDMI output (Gigabyte says that the card doesnít support HDMI audio output in Windows Vista), or youíre a gamer with a DVI or VGA display who is looking to upgrade to something faster. The HDMI connector is even gold plated, ensuring the highest signal quality.
The GV-R465D2-1GI ships with a dual-slot heatsink/fan unit that runs quietly and does a good job of keeping the RV730 GPU cool. As you can see in the photos, the cardís cooler is made entirely from aluminum. Gigabyte then employs an 80mm fan for cooling. Our AGP testbed is so loud that we couldnít get good readings that isolate the noise of the Gigabyte card, but it seemed to run quietly for the most part.
Nestled just behind the fan is a six-pin PCIe power connector. This connector is required in order for the card to operate. Here we should also note that some of you with older AGP systems may need to upgrade your power supply for this card: our 300W Sparkle PSU wasnít powerful enough for the card to run with complete stability. Gigabyte doesnít provide system requirements, but ATI lists a 400W power supply requirement for the Radeon 4600 series.
The Rialto bridge chip that provides AGP functionality is nestled on the back of the board sans heatsink. It sits just underneath the GPU. Without anything protecting the chip, weíve got to wonder if someone may accidentally damage it while handling the card.
The one downside of the GV-R465D2-1GI is that itís so new it doesnít work with ATIís current Catalyst 9.6 driver thatís available to the public. Fortunately the driver Gigabyte provides on the Gigabyte CD is based on Catalyst version 8.62, the same codebase as ATIís current Catalyst 9.6 driver. The key difference is this is an older beta driver build of Catalyst 9.6, whereas the driver on AMDís website is WHQL-certified. The beta Gigabyte driver also lacks support for ATI Overdrive, so overclocking isnít supported at this time Ė none of the 3rd party utilities we normally use for OCíing properly detect the card.
AMD Athlon 64 FX-53
1GB OCZ PC3200 Memory
ATI Radeon 9700 Pro
Catalyst 9.3 (legacy driver)
Gigabyte GV-R465D2-1GI Radeon 4650
Catalyst 9.6 beta
Windows XP Service Pack 3
34GB Western Digital Raptor (10,000RPM, 8MB cache)
In order to test the capabilities of Gigabyteís GV-R465D2-1GI Radeon 4650 card, we dusted off an old AGP testbed based around the ASUS SK8N and AMD Athlon 64 FX-53 CPU. Not exactly state-of-the-art hardware by todayís standards, but five years ago this wouldíve been a bleeding-edge PC. Weíd planned to test three generations of Radeon hardware, including the venerable Radeon 9700 Pro, ATIís Radeon X1950 Pro, and the Gigabyte Radeon 4650, but our X1950 Pro AGP is apparently on the fritz, as the card would lock up the moment we booted up a 3D game.
AGP!: While we feel most of you shouldíve upgraded to PCI Express by now (PCIe 4650 cards sell for significantly less than Gigabyteís GV-R465D2-1GI), if you are one of those gamers who doesnít want to upgrade your AGP PC just yet, itís probably refreshing to see that manufacturers like Gigabyte havenít abandoned you.
Driver support: The current WHQL-certified Catalyst 9.6 driver available on amd.com lacks support for the Radeon 4650 AGP GPU, instead Gigabyte relies on a beta derivative of the driver for their GV-R465D2-1GI card.