Graphics Card ReviewsPC Hardware Reviews

Sapphire HD 4650 AGP Video Card

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A Closer Look


Sapphire HD 4650 AGP Video Card AGP, HD 4650, Sapphire, Video Card 1


   Alright here we are looking at possibly the last AGP card in all it’s glory. Of course many said that about the 3850 AGP nearly a year ago and here we are again. Well as you can see from the pics the 4650 isn’t a larger card. In fact compared to the previously mentioned 3850 the 4650 is several inches shorter. Running at only 7 3/8″ long with a small single slot cooler. Oddly enough it reminds me of my old X800pro that I used for a long time. The credit to the small size of this card can mostly be attributed to newer technologies that have come out since the days of the AGP bus. 

Sapphire HD 4650 AGP Video Card AGP, HD 4650, Sapphire, Video Card 2

( Comparing the HD3850 w/aftermarket cooling to the 4650 stock )

    The main technology that has contributed to the shrinking size is of course the graphics chips being fabricated using the second generation 55nm processing. This fabrication process allows for a much more powerful graphics chip which uses less energy and in return creates less heat. This is why when compared to other ATI/AMD chips like the older and larger X1900 and even the HD3850 this chip shouldn’t be quite the furnace. While I’m on heat, the heat spreader on this card is very small and the word “tiny” even comes to mind. I don’t think I’ve seen a cooler this small on a “Gaming Card”. With this cooler there is no active cooling on the top two RAM chips provided by the fan either. I’m hoping they run cool enough that heat won’t be an issue with them.  

   As we can see from the above picture my HD3850 had some problems with heat with the Core and also the Memory. This added extra cost by having to upgrading the cooling with the GFXChilla. Even then I still had heat issues with that card. I ended up having to upgrade the fans on the cooler as well. All these “extra” upgrades finally kept the heat at bay but the price beyond the monetary value was extra noise as well. I’m hopeful the smaller die and cooling of the HD4650 won’t give me such a hassle. If the small heat fins on this card are all that is needed it will make it the perfect card for a media setup or for Small Form Factor setups.

Sapphire HD 4650 AGP Video Card AGP, HD 4650, Sapphire, Video Card 3

  Power is provided for the card with a 6 pin PCI-e plug located oddly at the front of the card. If your older power supply doesn’t have a 6 pin PCI-e cable then there is an adapter from the standard 4-pin Molex. The PCI-e version of the HD4650 doesn’t have this problem as the PCI-e motherboard socket has enough power running through it to power the card without and extra power cable. Unfortunately the older AGP Bus just doesn’t have the juice so the extra power must be provided from the PSU. Still, I can’t help but wonder at the placement of the power port. It’s placement is very awkward and having a cable hanging there will look pretty ugly. Not to mention it’s going to make cleaning up the cabling tricky. 

  Lastly looking at the interface connectors you have two DVI ports on either side of an S-video port. Again you are provided with adapters to go from DVI to VGA and HDMI. It’s probably important to note that the HDMI signal coming from this card won’t carry any sound as the card doesn’t offer any sound processing like the PCI-e version. You will still have to pull your sound from your sound card or onboard sound. The middle S-video port of course has the option to run with either the composite adapter or the RGB HDTV adapter.


Now let’s move onto the installation process.

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