Diamond HD4870 1GB Review

gotdamojo06 - 2008-10-01 07:15:44 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: gotdamojo06   
Reviewed on: October 20, 2008
Price: $299.99


Are you trying to get the most out of your computer setup? Are you looking for a single card configuration that is going to give you those extra frames during your high resolution online game play? How about a few extra points in your favorite benchmark? Well Diamond may just have the perfect solution for you with their HD4870 1GB version. Thats right, there is a total of 1GB of GDDR5 memory installed on this card to give you the extra punch for those demanding games. The card comes clocked in at stock core and memory clock speeds, however where it makes up its score will be in the large amount of memory. I am interested to see exactly how much higher scores I will get with an extra 512MB of memory. So with out any more delay, let's start.


Closer Look:  

The packaging for the Diamond HD4870 1GB is a brilliant black box with a picture of beautiful warrior princess(Named Ruby of course) on the right side of the package. The warrior picture signifies the fact that the card is not only a good looking card, but is also going to give you the power and performance that you would expect from a warrior. The top left hand corner is where the Diamond logo is located while the top right hand corner is where the ATI, PCI-E & DDR5, and Customer Support badges are located. In the center of the front is where you are going to find the Radeon HD4870 logo printed with the slogan "Advance to the Next Generation of HD Entertainment" located under it. In large letters there is also a statement letting you know that there is 1 Gigabyte of memory installed on the Diamond HD4870 card. The back is where you are going to find all of the major features of the card and a nice description of them. On one of the sides, you are going to find all of the connections/adapters that are located on the card, which include the PCI-E, Dual DVI, and single S-Video out. The next side is where the key features are located along with the system requirements.














After you open up  the black packaging, you are going to find a white box inside, this is where the Diamond HD4870 1GB card and all of the accessories are located, when you open it up, you are going to see that there is a white box at the top, which is going to hold all of the accessories for the card and there is a section with a foam covering that holds the card, to keep it protected from any accidents that may occur from the shipping process. There is also a booklet that holds all of the important documentation for the HD4870.



The Diamond HD4870 1GB video card comes packaged with the main accessories that come with just about every ATI Video card these days. There is a bag of goodies along with a cardboard envelope packed inside of the main packaging. The bag of goodies has a few different connectors inside of it, one of which is the S-Video to RCA cabling to connect your computer to your analog TV; however if you have an HDTV, you are able to use the DVI to HDMI dongle. Speaking of digital to analog connectors there is also a dongle for connecting your analog monitor to your new Diamond card. There is also a Crossfire bridge if you had two or more HD4870s and wanted to get the most performance you can get. Inside the envelope is where you are going to find the drivers installation CD, the user manual incase you need help installing your new card, along with a slip of paper letting you know that you need to contatct customer support before you take the card back to the store you purchased it from.



Now that we have the goodies all unpacked, its time to take a nice look at the Diamond HD4870 1GB and see what she is made of!


Closer Look:

The Diamond HD4870 1GB version comes packed in an anti-static bag, which will help prevent any damages from occurring to the electronic components on the card, by blocking out any static electricity from the card. Once you get the card pulled out of the bag, you are going to see that there is a large cooling device that covers the entire card with a large fan near the rear of the card. The cooler Diamond used on their HD4870 has the same lady from the front of the packaging on it, along with the Diamond logo, the Radeon HD4870 and the 1 Gigabyte tags on it as well. When you flip the card over and take a look at the back side of the HD4870, you are going to see that there are nine screws that hold the cooler down on the card and four more around the backing plate to keep the base of the cooler nice and tight against the GPU.


















The cooling device that is installed on this card is very large and interesting, as it not only covers the GPU, but it also covers all of the memory modules that are installed on the card, which will help keep them cool along with the other components such as the voltage regulators and capacitors cool on the card. This is all important when you are pushing you card to the maximum that it can go, while keeping the the temperatures down to prevent any damages from excessive heat loads. The base of the cooler is a large piece of copper that is large enough to cover the GPU along with the surrounding socket. There is some TIM that is on the cooler around the base that covers the memory modules and some more towards the end of the cooler that is going to cover the voltage regulators. There is a slit under the fan that allows the card to receive fresh air from inside the case. With the cooler removed, you can see the area that it covers and exactly what is underneath it and how the cooler was designed specifically for this card.



The layout of the card is very similar to other cards that are out on the market; the GPU, which is mounted more towards the center of the card, is surrounded by in this case, eight different memory modules. The GPU core that is used with this card was created by ATI and is the RV770. The GPU's IHS has been polished to allow for a more flat surface, allowing heat trasfer to be more efficient. On the other hand, there is the memory modules that are located atop and to the right of the GPU, there are four on either side. These modules are made by Hynix and their model number is H5GQ1H24MJR.




There are quite a few different connection points of the Diamond HD4870 1GB version, these are very similar to the other HD4870 cards that are out on the market. The Diamond card takes advantage of two slots on yoru back pannel, allowing for a thicker stock cooler to be installed and be supported. There are two DVI out ports on the bracket that allow you to install a digital monitor, between these two connectors there is a single S-Video out connection. Using the accessories that are bundled with the card allows you to use these connections with other devices, such as a digital TV or an analog monitor. The back of the card is where you are going to be able to power the card with the dual PCI-E power connectors of the 6pin variety. The bottom of the card is the PCI-E connector to add some power and transfer data to and from the motherboard. The top of the card is where the crossfire bridge connectors are located, using these connections, you are able to connect two or more HD4870 cards for increased performance.





After taking a close look at the Diamond HD4870, I am ready to take a look at what the specifications of the card are.



The first step is getting the Diamond HD4870 1GB to work properly, and we will need to place the CD in the optical drive and wait for the software to start up so that we will be able to begin installing it. The drivers that came with it are an outdated version of the Catalyst Control Center. So I went online and dowloaded the most recent version, 8.8, which are the drivers that I will be using.  



The first screen that you come to is the Welcome screen, where you are supposed to select which language you wish to install, obviously I will be using English. When you click the next button, you get the option of whether you wish to install the drivers or uninstall them. This screen will make it easier if you need to uninstall an older version and start over with fresh drivers. The following screen is where you are able to choose if you wish to install the drivers using the Express option or the Custom option. The Express option is the one that will install the most commonly chosen features, while with the Custom option you are able to install only the features you want. I will choose the Custom option to show you what features you can install, which are on the next screen. Check the options you wish to install and click the next button at the bottom.














There is an End User License Agreement that you must accept before you are able to begin the installation. After the installation is complete you will be prompted with the "Finished" screen.  



Now that we have the drivers installed on the computer, it's time to open it up and configure the system to use the HD4870 properly and effectively.


The next step in configuring the Diamond HD4870 1GB is to open up the Catalyst Control Center; using this application, you will be able to control just about every setting that is able to be changed on the video card. When you first start it up, you will have an option to choose if you want to use the Basic view or the Advanced view of the Catalyst Control Center. I chose to use the Advanced view; this will allow you to change more settings. When you go to click the next button, a pop-up will show up, letting you know that if you want to change back to the Basic view at a later time, you will be able to do so. After you accept the pop-up, Catalyst Control Center will start up on the Welcome screen; this is where you are able to view useful online links that will take you to an update checker, allow you to contact customer support, join ATI's [email protected] team, as well as other things. Under the Information Center tab, you will be able to view both hardware and software information about the graphical end of your computer. This can come in handy if you need to know which installation of Catalyst Control Center and what drivers you currently have installed.



















The next tab that I want to take a look at is the Display Manager tab; this is where you are going to be able to see how many displays you have connected to your computer, as well as what they are going to display. Not only are you able to choose what they are going to be able to display, you are able to change the resolution for each display, what the refresh rate is going to be, and if you want the color quality to be 32-bit or 16-bit. The next tab on the agenda is the Digital Panel; the first page that I want to look at under here is the AVIVO Color page. Here you are able to change the hue, saturation and the temperature of the colors that are going to be displayed. Under the Attributes page, you are going to be able to see different information about the displays that are connected to the HD4870, such as the maximum resolution the display is able to use. You are also able to enable GPU scaling and set the options for that here. The final page under the Digital Panel is called HDTV Support; this is where you are able to choose the different HD formats to use when an HDTV is connected to your HD4870.




The final section of the Catalyst Control Center that I want to look at is the ATI Overdrive page. This page is locked after you first install the program and the drivers. When you unlock this page, you are unlocking the ability to overclock your video card's core and memory clock speeds. You are able to use a slider bar to select the settings you wish to use as far as clock speeds go; there is a maximum of 1200MHz for the memory and 700MHz for the core. You are also able to use an Auto Tune feature that will do the overclocking and testing for stability for you. There are two gauges on the side that show you your GPU temperature and your GPU activity.



Now it's time to get down to business and see exactly what this card is made of!


Fabrication Process
Graphics Clock
750 MHz
Memory Clock 900 MHz
Memory Interface 256-bit
Memory Size
Memory Type
400 MHz
Stream Processors
HDCP Support
HDMI Support
Yes (Using DVI-to-HDMI adaptor)
Connectors 2 x dual-link DVI-I 1 x S-Video Out
Bus Technology PCI Express 2.0
Form Factor Dual Slot
Power Connectors 2 x 6-pin




Optimized for Windows Vista™ with comprehensive DirectX® 10.1, 10.0 and DirectX® 9 support


I am very interested and excited to see how the new Diamond HD4870 1GB from ATI will compare when it is tested using a few different video benchmarks to measure the card's performance. I will be putting the Sapphire card up against a few different video cards that are out on the market. I am also extremely interested in seeing how the cooling solution Diamond has added to its HD4870 is going to handle the temperatures. All of the settings will be set at stock for all of the cards; I will also be overclocking the HD4870 to the maximum level so that I can compare the difference in performance when overclocked, and see how beneficial it is to overclock all components in your system.  

Testing Setup:


Comparison Video Cards:



Overclocked settings:

When it came down to overclocking the Diamond HD4870 1GB card, I ran into a few problems, the first thing that I ran into was the inability to overclock the memory over 940MHz with out recieving artifacts on the desktop. This is due to the larger amount of GDDR5 memory that is installed on the card. The other problem that I had was getting the core any where near 800MHz, again with out getting any artifacts on the desktop. I feel that the reason the overclocking ability of this card is so low is due to the large amount of memory that is installed on the card using up some of the extra power that is transfered to the card. 



  1. Crysis
  2. Knights of the Sea
  3. BioShock
  4. Call of Duty 4
  5. World in Conflict
  6. Call of Juarez
  7. Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts
  8. 3DMark 06 Professional
  9. 3DMark Vantage


Crysis has been out for quite some time now. In that time, there's yet to be a single or multi-GPU setup that can fully showcase the graphics performance of the game.  The Crysis single player demo includes both CPU and GPU benchmarks to test the performance of your processor and video card.





















The Diamond HD4870 1GB was able to stay with the pack in this benchmark and did gain a few extra FPS in the higher resolutions when the memory capacity was maxed out.


PT Boats: Knights of the Sea is a new DX10 title that features its own proprietary graphics engine currently in development. The game is a combination of Real Time Strategy and Simulation. You have the ability to control the entire crew or just a single member. Play as the German, Russian or Allied navies, and prove your mettle on the open seas.


Video Settings:


















The Diamond HD4870 1GB was able to hit mid range with this benhmark; however among the ATI cards, it did quite well.


BioShock is one of the creepier games out in the wild, chronicling the building of a perfect Utopian society undersea gone horribly wrong - its inhabitants driven mad with the introduction of tonics and genetic modifications. Now, Rapture is just a shadow of its former glory, with little girls looting the dead of what little they have left, while being shadowed by guardians known as "Big Daddies" It is a demanding game that will make your hardware scream for mercy. This First Person Shooter allows for an infinite number of weapons and modifications to provide a unique experience each time it is played. The environment, as well as the storyline, will wrap you up for hours on end.


Video Settings:


















When it came down to it in the BioShock benchmarking test, the Diamond HD4870 1GB card was able to do alright, it was beat out by the higher clocking cards of the same family but the higher resolutions, you could see that the Diamond card was able to use its 1GB of RAM.


Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is the successor to the Call of Duty crown. This iteration of the game is fought in many of the world's hot spots with modern armaments and firepower. You can play as either a US Marine or British SAS trooper. Since this game does not feature an in-game test, I will run through a section of the game and measure average FPS using Fraps 2.9.3.


Video Settings:


















During the higher resolutions, you can tell that the Diamond card was able to keep up and stay similar with its brothers.


World in Conflict is a newly released DX10, Real Time Strategy game that simulates the all-out war the world hopes never comes. The difference in this RTS game is that it is not the typical "generate wealth and build" type of game. Instead, you advance by conquering your foe.


Video Settings:



















The Diamond card's results were able to stay very consitant from the lower resolutions to the higher resolutions.


Call of Juarez is a DX10, First Person Shooter set in the Wild West of the late 1800's. The game is inspired, in part, by the movies of the Wild West genre of the seventies and eighties. The game can be played in both single player and multiplayer modes. The game focuses on realistic graphics and gameplay designed to take advantage of the latest video cards on the market.


Video Settings:


















The performance of the Diamond HD4870 1GB card was unable to beat or match the other cards in this benchmark.


Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts is the latest chapter in the Company of Heroes series. The scene is WWII. The mission is Operation Market Garden, the first Allied attempt to break into the Third Reich. Play as the British or Germans. This Real Time Strategy game is brought to us by Relic Entertainment.


Video Settings:





















In the Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts benchmark, the Diamond card was again unable to keep up with the other cards when it was at stock speeds, the 1GB of GDDR5 was unable to help.


3DMark06 is one of those benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest breaks out. 3DMark06 presents a severe test for many of today's hardware components. Let's see how this setup fares. The settings we will use are listed below.





















During the 3DMark06 benchmark, all of the HD4870 cards were all around the same score, once the Diamond card was overclocked, however, was just a little higher. The extra 512MB of RAM did not help much in this benchmark either.


Just added to the OverclockersClub suite of benchmarks is the newest from Futuremark, 3DMark Vantage. Featuring all-new game tests, this benchmark is for use with Vista based systems. "There are two all-new CPU tests that have been designed around a new 'Physics and Artificial Intelligence-related computation.' CPU test two offers support for physics related hardware." There are four preset levels that correspond to specific resolutions. 'Entry' is 1024x768 progressing to 'Extreme' at 1920x1200. Of course, each preset can be modified to arrange any number of user designed testing. For our testing, I will use the four presets at all default settings.


















The Diamond card was beaten by the Sapphire HD4870 Toxic card by a few points in every resolution at stock speeds except for the 1680x1050.



The Diamond HD4870 video card with 1GB of GDDR5 RAM, has a great stock cooler installed on it, as it is able to keep it cool while under load as well as when it is idle. The card never went much over 85°C, which is higher than some of the other cards out on the market, however there is more dense and hotter memory modules on the Diamond card than others that made the temperatures higher. The dual slot design of the Diamond HD4870 card is both a good thing as well as a con as it does allow for a thicker stock cooling device, however it does make the card bulkier than if it had a slim card. By being that thick, it does cut into the amount of room and depending on how the motherboard it is being installed on is setup, it may not allow you to have a second card installed. The 1GB of GDDR5 installed on the card is a great addition to the card, allowing it to have more even scores across the different resolutions, however with its increased power consumption, it did take a decrease in the overclockability of the card. The performance of the card was also fairly straight across the board; the results from the benchmark testing were pretty much even with each other, there was not any that were significantly higher than another one. The scores however were all quite lower than I was expecting, I had expected the Diamond card to beat the other cards in its class by a decent amount. By the same token the HD4870 cards that it was compared against were both overclocked cards with clock speeds above what was possible with this card. So if you look at the overclocked scores on this Diamond HD4870 1GB card you will get a true picture of the benefits that 1gb of frame buffer adds to the equation. With that taken into account the performance is shows a nice increase across the board. I would suggest this card to anyone who is looking for a great looking card with a possibility of improvements. If you are looking for a project, you could pick this card up, perform a volt mod to supply more power to the core and the memory to be able to overclock them higher and the scores should go up quite a bit during the higher resolutions. Or if you are looking for a great card that is going to help you get higher scores than you older card, I would recommend this card as well.