PowerColor HD4870 PCS+ Reviewgotdamojo06 - September 1, 2008
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When you first pull the PowerColor HD4870 out of the packaging, you are going to see how large the cooler is as well as the card itself, however it is still wrapped from front to back in the anti-static wrap to keep it from being damaged by any electronic disturbances which may occur during the shipping process or the mishandling of the card before it is installed in the computer. When you finally get the card unwrapped, you are going to see that PowerColor has installed a custom cooler on the core, which is only a core cooler and does not cover the entire card like the standard cooling solution does. This requires the need for a RAM sink at the rear of the card to keep those components from overheating. When you take a look at the back of the card, you are able to see how the card's cooling solutions are installed. The large core's cooler is screwed in place with spring pressured screws while the RAM sink uses the push pin clipping design.
PowerColor has decided to put a custom cooler on its HD4870, which may allow for higher memory/GPU clocks with lower overall GPU temperatures. The cooling solution that PowerColor decided to add to its HD4870 is not a full coverage cooler, so PowerColor needed to add RAM sinks to some of the memory to help cool them and keep them from overheating. Like all other high performance ATI video cards, there is the need for 6-pin PCI-E power connectors; however, the PowerColor HD4870 needs not just one connector, but two of them to power it.
When you take the cooler off of the card, you are left with the eight memory chips covered by a copper strip to raise the heat off of them which will then be picked up by the heatsink and fan setup that is pulling the heat off of the GPU. Speaking of the GPU, there is a thermal paste that comes on it to begin with, but the paste seemed very liquidly and also seemed like it was not going to be able to transfer the heat very well, so I went ahead and replaced it with some of the Arctic Silver 3 thermal paste that I had laying around which will also help with lowering the temperatures of the GPU. The RAM on the card is covered by copper bars to keep them cool and have the heat pulled off of them, which will then be sucked up by the heatsink/fan setup. These RAM sinks are attached to the RAM and are non-removable.
Nowadays people are looking to get the most performance out of the GPU as they possibly can, which is not a bad thing and the technology behind our VGA cards have kept up with ATI offering Crossfire and CrossfireX, which allows you to connect two video cards of the same type together by a Crossfire Bridge. There are two ports at the top of the card where you are able to plug in two different bridges. This allows the drivers to distribute the graphical load coming from the application to different GPUs, very similar to how a dual core/processors work. With CrossfireX, you are not limited to only two GPUs. The interface that the PowerColor HD4870 uses to communicate to the system is the PCI-E slot, allowing for a very quick data transfer rate which results in the video feed being displayed very quickly and efficiently. There are two different DVI ports that you are able to connect your monitors to, which allows you to use a dual monitor setup if you wish. There also is an S-Video out that will allow you to transfer the feed into the RCA input for your television.
The custom cooler PowerColor has paired with its HD4870 is a very large one that takes advantage of a large fan in the center that blows fresh air on the aluminum fins to help cool them and move the heat off of the GPU core. There are two heatpipes that run through all of the fins as well as right through the base of the heatsink to help move more heat off of the base onto the fins of the cooler, again allowing for a more effective cooling solution.
Now that we have taken a look at how the PowerColor HD4870 is constructed, exactly what it looks like and how its custom cooler is setup, it's time that we get the cooler installed in the computer and get all of the drivers and other software installed and see what this baby can do.