Palit Revolution R700 Deluxe HD4870X2 Review

ccokeman - 2008-11-22 17:11:51 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: December 8, 2008
Price: $540

Introduction:

Something big this way comes. What is it? The Palit R700 Revolution HD4870x2. Palit has been a manufacturer that has come up with creative solutions to resolve the problems associated with a reference based video card. The Sonic models are Palit built and designed cards that offer excellent cooling solutions as well as better power management to create a product that outperforms the base models on all accounts. The R700 Revolution is a special card when you take the time to look at it. Specification wise, it does not differ much from the reference cards, 750MHz core clock speed but they do give a bump on the GDDR5 memory to 950MHz. So what makes the R700 Revolution so special? It can't be just a bump in the memory speed! No Johnny, it's not just that. What's special is the cooling system used on the R700. It's big, no, it's massive! Taking up three expansion slots, the R700 needs to offer up some exceptional cooling as well as the ability to use that cooling capacity to increase the clock speeds for that something extra. Let's see if the R700, with its unique attributes, allows it to perform as well as it looks.

Closer Look:

By now you are pretty familiar with the Palit designed packaging. The front panel prominently features the Frobot with a menacing scowl. The "Give Me 5 or Nothing" is a reference to the 2GB of GDDR5 memory used on the Revolution 700. The Deluxe tab on the bottom right side of the box lets you know some of the features of the card that include native HDMI, Dual link DVI, Display Port and that the R700 is PCI Express 2.0 compliant. Not to mention, this card is Crossfire X ready. The rear panel illustrates some of the technical specifications in multiple languages and lists the required system specifications, one that catches the eye is the 650 watt power supply requirement. The side panel usually has a picture of the Frobot and this package is no different.

 

 

In the past Palit has shipped its products in a cardboard box inside of the main package with blocking to hold the box containing the video card in one spot. Not really the best way to go due to the weight and cost of the high end cards on the market today, the R700 included. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Palit has joined the rest of the video card manufacturers and has shipped the R700 in a form fitted foam enclosure to eliminate any chance of damage from just the usual jostling around in transit. The bundle supplied with the card is pretty much bare bones. An instruction manual, HDMI to DVI adapter, driver disc and 6-pin to 8-pin power adapter. Not much, but it is a way to keep costs down.

 

 

I know what you are thinking, an HDMI to DVI adapter is included! Yes, it is, it's not a typo or my dyslexia showing itself. The unique display configuration that this card has means that there is only one DVI port. So to get the second DVI port you will need the adapter to make it happen. The 6-pin to 8-pin adapter will allow you to power the R700 even if you do not have a power supply with an 8-pin PCI-E power plug.

 

 

The thought of a three slot cooling solution and the performance potential it could unleash has me wanting to see more of the R700 Revolution from Palit!

 

Closer Look:

At first glance, the R700 looks huge. If you take a moment and step back and look again, it still is. This beast of a video card is the standard length but instead of taking up two expansion slots, it takes up three. Why is it so large? Well, there are the two R770 GPUs on board plus there is the non standard cooling solution that utilizes two separate heatsinks that use two heatpipes per sink. Additionally, there are two cooling heatsinks that cover the memory and power regulation circuits, one on each side of the PCB. The R700 Revolution is a PCI-E 2.0 compliant video card that features two R770 Graphics processors with 1GB of GDDR5 frame buffer per GPU. Clock speed for the cores come in a 750MHz, with a boost from the stock HD4870x2 clocks of 900MHz to 950MHz (3800MHz effective) on the 2048MB of GDDR5 frame buffer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If nothing, the R700 Revolution is a unique video card. Connectivity comes in the form of four different interfaces. You have the 15-pin D-Sub, Display Port, HDMI and DVI available for use. The exhaust for the R700 includes almost two complete expansion slots worth of venting to allow the hot air to flow out of your case. The rear of the R700 is open, allowing airflow over the heatsink that is built into the cooling plate over the power circuits.

 

 

The power requirements for the R700 include a 650 watt power supply with both a 2x3(6)-pin and a 2x4(8)-pin power connections. The card has two power connections, one eight and one six pin, hence the requirement. The power connector does not follow the reference design. You will notice that the connections face the spine of the R700 instead of the face. This makes connecting the power supply connections that much easier and puts less strain on the power sockets and PCB. Like the standard HD4870X2, the R700 is CrossfireX capable with another HD4870X2 or a single GPU card for a three GPU setup. The Crossfire bridge connection is located in the standard position. One thing you will note on the back heatsink plate is a warning sticker. This is for a good reason (they usually are), the back side of this card will get very hot to the touch. A bit of airflow over it or a well ventilated case with airflow over the graphics card can eliminate this large amount of heat.

 

 

To get to the bottom of the cooling solution on the R700 you have to start by removing the fan holder/shroud. This is held on by six screws, two on the expansion bracket and two on the top and bottom of the shroud. Once removed, you can get a good look at the non stock cooling solution. This solution reminds me of the Asus EAH HD3870X2 I looked at earlier in the year. THe R700 is cooled similarly, two heatsinks with heatpipes with fans that blow down through the heatsinks rather than one fan blowing through two heatsinks with the second heatsink getting the warm exhaust flow from the first heatsink. This solution can only be better than the stock reference solution.

 

 

The PWM fans are made by Power Logic and are model PLA08015B12HH. This model is rated at 33.95 C.F.M. at 3500RPM with a noise rating of 35.7 dBA using 4.2 watts of electricity. The fans are tied together electrically so that you cannot control each one individually to manage the thermal loads of the R770 cores.

 

 

The R700 comes apart in a total of six pieces. The fan housing and shroud the front and back memory heatsinks, the GPU heatsinks and the PCB. The plate heatsinks go on the front and back of the R700 to dissipate the thermal loads from the GDDR5 memory modules and the power regulation circuits. The shroud assembly manages the airflow over the heatsinks. The GPU heatsinks look like small CPU heatsinks in their construction. Each has two heatpipes and a copper contact plate to remove the heat from the R770 cores. The TIM is not the usual peanut butter consistency goop installed on the reference design cards. This is more of an epoxy type material. It takes some work to remove the material once the heatsink is removed. A solvent type cleaner is needed as alcohol alone will not even touch it.

 

 

 

Once the card is stripped down we get at last to the board. Stripped bare the two GPU cores, the bridge chip and the memory modules are clearly seen. Once stripped down the card appears to be more manageable.

 

 

The GPU used on the R700 is the ATI/AMD R770 built on a 55nm process that features almost a billion transistors on this little batch o' silicon. The GDDR5 memory used in this application is manufactured by Qimonda and is model IDGV1G-05A1F1C-40X, these should manage at least 1000MHz. The PLX Technologies bridge chip is model PEX8647. This chip is second generation PCI-E Gen2, 5.0GT/s 48-lane, 3-port PCI-E switch that supports Dual Cast and Read Pacing. This model is specifically designed with high end graphics solutions in mind.

 

 

Let's get the Palit R700 installed and see what it can do!

 

Closer Look:

To install the drivers for the Palit R700 Revolution HD 4870X2, first pop the driver CD into your drive, and wait for the auto run menu to pop up then choose to run the program and a generic ATI install menu will be displayed. The menu has five options that you can choose from - the first option is to install the drivers, the second is to install the Vtune utility, a user's guide, a link to the product registration page and the option to browse the CD for a manual install.

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you click the Driver Install option, the Catalyst Control Center installation will begin. This process installs all of the necessary drivers needed to make the Palit R700 Revolution HD 4870X2 fully functional. I usually choose the custom installation so that I only install the necessary items, you of course can choose otherwise. After finishing the installation, the customary reboot is required.

 

 

 

Once the drivers are installed it's on to the Catalyst Control Center!

 

Closer Look:

The Catalyst Control Center is where all of the settings for the Palit R700 Revolution HD 4870X2 are available. There's a lot that you can change and set, but I am only going to go over the main parts of it.

Information Center: The Information Center is where you can view everything about the hardware and software associated with the video card, such as driver versions and hardware specifications.

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Display Properties: The Display Properties tab is where you can set the resolution, refresh rate override and the preferred monitor if more than one are available. In the Display options you can manually detect your display or you can choose to let the CCC do this for you.

 

 

Digital Panel: The Digital Panel is where you can set and view monitor information, HDTV settings, ATI's AVIVO color settings, and LCD Overdrive to apply LCD settings that override the monitor's settings.

 

 

3D: In the 3D tab you can adjust general image quality settings as well as Anti-Aliasing, Anisotropic Filtering and color schemes. There are also a few settings for DirectX and OpenGL.

 

 

AVIVO Video & ATI Overdrive: AVIVO settings allow you to alter the color settings for better viewing. ATI Overdrive gives the user control of the GPU and memory frequencies. For novice users there is an automated clock configuration utility that will find the best overclock for your system settings.

 

 

Specifications:

GPU
RV770
Fabrication Process
55nm
Graphics Clock
750 MHz
Memory Clock 950 MHz / 3800MHz effective  950x4
Memory Interface 2 x 256-bit
Memory Size
1024MB x 2
Memory Type
GDDR5
RAMDACs
400 MHz
Stream Processors
1600
HDCP Support
Yes
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 Three Slot Design
Power Connectors 1 x 6-pin  1 x 8-pin

 

Features:

 

All information courtesy of Plait Microsystems @http://www.palit.biz/main/vgapro.php?id=1029#spec

Testing:

At OverclockersClub.com, we use a set of benchmarks to stress the graphics card. We will use a series of newer gaming benchmarks, as well as some that are more seasoned, to show how well the Palit R700 HD4870x2 compares to some of the other enthusiast video cards on the market. I will be using both single and multiple GPU models to compare the performance of the R700 Revolution. All driver settings and clock speeds will be left at factory defaults for both the CPU and GPU in an effort to minimize or eliminate any variables that could impact the results. The test system used in this review is listed below. After testing the card at stock speeds, I'll overclock it to see what kind of performance can be gained. All testing is done with the default settings in the respective control panels, as well as default settings in the BIOS of the motherboard used in this test. For this round of testing, our drivers have been updated to the 177.79 for the Nvidia cards and the Catalyst 8.10 for the ATI video cards used in this review. The exception being the Far Cry 2 testing, for that test the Nvidia Driver used is the 180.43 and the ATI driver is the FarCry Hotfix driver.

 

Comparison Video Cards:

 

Overclocking:

Overclocked settings:

Overclocking the Palit R700 Revolution was a pretty simple process that yielded some tangible results. When overclocking the R700 I found the limits pretty quickly on the GPU cores. This I reached at 813MHz. By manipulating the GPU core clocks to suite each benchmark I could go as high as 826 on the cores. But the speed it passed all of our benchmarks at was the 813MHz mark. The Qimonda memory had a bit left in it even though it is slightly overclocked as delivered from Palit. This I was surprised to see scaling well past 1100 MHz with a top speed of 1146 MHz. Both of these marks provide an increase in performance but not in all of the tests. The problem I feel with this is the implementation of the Crossfire technology via the drivers. Some games even show a decrease in performance when the clock speeds are pushed. The 8.11 drivers help with performance but still not up to the level expected when overclocking the card. By bumping up your CPU speed the performance differences become more apparent when you overclock the video card. Just for kicks I ran 3Dmark06 at 1920x1200 with 8XAA, 16x AF with the CPU at 3.6 and the R700 overclocked to the settings below and came up with a score of 15211, almost the score of the R700 and system not overclocked with the default settings in 3DMark06. The power is there, you just have to go and get it.

Benchmarks:

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

 

Testing:

Crysis has been out for quite some time now. In that time there has yet to be a single or multi GPU setup that can fully showcase the graphics performance of the game. Will the R700 HD4870x2  be that card? The Crysis single player demo includes both CPU and GPU benchmarks to test the performance of your processor and video card.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The newer drivers are not as Crossfire friendly with the Palit R700 Revolution in the Crysis testing. At the highest resolution the GTX 280 is ahead by two frames per second. Not enough to be noticeable in game but a visible performance indicator when benchmarked.

 

Testing:

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:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peformance is far from stellar in this comparison. The ATI cards do not show any scaling or take any advantage of the onboard Crossfire configuration in this game. Take note of the single GPU cards to see the comparison of performance single to multiple GPU, there is no increase.

 

Testing:

BioShock is one of the creepier games you can play. 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 Daddys" 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 story line will wrap you up for hours on end.

 

Video Settings:

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the resolution scales upward, the Palit R700 starts to shine and show that this setup is definitely CPU bound with the 2.66GHz clock speed. The frames per second actually increase as the resolution increases. The Palit R700 revolution is obviously the fastest card at the 1920x1200 resolution.

 

Testing:

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:

   

 

 

  

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, the Palit R700 shows up to play. While the other cards in this test may give it a run at the lower resolutions the strength of this card is at the higher resolutions. The performance drops off a scant 19 FPS from the lowest to highest resolution.

 

Testing:

World in Conflict Released last year World in Conflict is a 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 with limited opportunities to replenish your troops..

 

Video Settings:

 

 

 

 
 

  

 

 

 

 

 

The cards from the green camp performed better in this benchmark. The R700 does make a strong showing but is just outperformed.

Testing:

Far Cry 2:

While I have not run all of the cards in the comparison list through the Far Cry 2 benchmark,I will add the XFX GTX260 XXX cards in an SLI configuration as well as an HD4870x2 to the list of cards I have run through the testing. Our testing is not yet complete but you can look for Far Cry 2 to become part of the OverclockersClub benchmark suite. The settings used are just a few steps below the maximum in-game settings and offer a good blend of performance vs. visual quality.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

Compared to the green camp, the R700 HD4870X2 performance does not seem to scale all that well here. The 8.11 Catalyst drivers contain the Far Cry 2 and Stalker Clear Sky hotfixes but the performance is still lower than that of the boys in green on the dual GPU HD4870X2.

 

Testing:

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:

 

 

 

  

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

At 1920x1200 the ATI dual GPU cards take the top spots. The R700 from Palit does eek out a one FPS advantage over the HD4850x2.

Testing:

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.

 

Settings:

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

The small overclock allowed by the 8.11 Catalyst driver limited the overall potential when the Palit R700 was pushed. It is clearly the superior card in this test across all four resolutions.

Testing:

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.

 Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The HD4870X2 from Palit is the top dog in the Futuremark testing at the higher resolutions. Sure, at the lower end where the CPU plays a part in the performance picture, the green cards scream. Once the resolution and settings increase, the performance of the R700HD4870x2 from Palit really shines.

Conclusion:

The Palit R700 Revoltuion is a departure from the realm of normalcy. By normal I mean the same old solutions for cooling and the same dual link DVI outputs. This card has neither the same old cooling solution nor the standard display connections that have become the norm. Palit has taken the HD4870x2 and addressed one of the biggest concerns that enthusiasts have had with the R770 based video cards. Heat and lots of it. Just as an example the Sapphire HD4870X2 was hitting temperatures in the mid to high 90 Celsius range with the drivers controlling the fan speed. Fast forward to today and the Palit R700. By taking a different approach to this problem Palit has reduced the temperatures by 25% when compared to the stock cooling solution. By leaving the fans to be controlled by the drivers, the maximum temperature recorded was 72 degrees Celsius, a far cry from the 98 and 99 Celsius on the stock solution, a big win, literally! The down side is the way the R700 is vented, some of this heat makes its way back into the chassis. With adequate airflow through the case, this can be minimized. By coming up with a decent cooling solution Palit has run up against another issue, size! The R700 can cool there is no doubt. It just takes three slots worth of space to make it happen. If you have the space to spare it is no problem but you might want to reconsider if you are using a mid tower chassis. Along that vein, one thing I was happy to see was the relocation of the power connections so that they face the spine of the R700. This in turn will put less stress on the PCB and power connections to add a little longevity to them both.

Connectivity is the other issue that Palit has addressed. By having four connectivity options the value of the card goes up in my mind. Display Port, DVI, HDMI and an anolog VGA output give you all kinds of flexibility. Display Port is not a popular option yet and is not very common, this will, of course, change in the future and this card will have some measure of future proofing based on its capabilities and connectivity. Performance-wise the Palit R700 fared about the same in the benchmarking as the Sapphire HD4870x2. At the lower resolutions it was beaten up a bit by the green camp, but once you start playing in the higher resolutions the performance comes alive or it just does not drop off. Probably a little of both. Overclocking the cores only gave me a 63MHz improvement, not huge but it will pay dividends. The memory overclock was huge though at 196MHz for a max speed of 1146MHz, nothing to sneeze at. By taking the road less traveled Palit has taken the HD4870X2 to a new level both in size and cooling capability. Along that road there is a performance increase just waiting to be had. If you are in the market for a card that rules the big resolutions, then the Palit R700 revolution is the way to go.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: