PowerColor HD4870 Reviewajmatson - June 26, 2008
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The HD 4870 is a dual slot video card based on the same RV770 core as the HD 4850. PowerColor chose to go with the red colored PCB for the HD 4870. The company also chose to go with the stock reference cooler to handle the task of keeping the temperatures down, but as we saw in the HD 4850 review, the stock cooler was not enough to control the heat, especially at load, so will this larger cooler eliminate that issue for the HD 4870 series card? One thing that caught my eye with the heatsink of the HD 4870 is the aluminum brace around the cooler to support the weight of the heatsink around the whole board, so there is not too much stress in one area that can cause damage. The heatsink is also reinforced around the GPU area underneath the board with a cross brace.
The HD 4870 has two DVI ports that support Dual Link DVI and one S-Video out port. HDMI is also supported using the included adapter. To power this beast you will need to have two free 6-pin PCI Express power connectors, so make sure you have a stable power supply with multiple power connectors if you plan on running two of these in Crossfire. Speaking of Crossfire, if you look on the top spine of the card you will see the two internal Crossfire connectors which will allow you to run a multi-GPU system for maximum performance.
Like I mentioned, the HD 4870 uses a reference Dual Slot cooling solution. This creates better airflow with the larger fan and exhaust that is pumped out of the back of the case instead of trapping it inside and raising the temperatures. Since the HD 4850 cards are plagued by high operating temperatures, I am looking forward to seeing if the dual slot cooler helps keep the HD 4870 not so toasty. This design has a large copper heatsink attached to aluminum heat fins via heatpipes. The large fan forces air over these fins to expel hot air out of the back of the case through the grill on the card.
With the cooler removed, we can get a better look at the HD 4870's GPU (Graphics Processing Unit). The GPU is based off the same core used in the HD 4850 series, which is the RV770, however the core clock speed on the HD 4870 is clocked at 750MHz as opposed to the HD 4650, which is at 625MHz. The memory was cut however, to 900MHz (1800MHz effective) but on the HD 4870 it is GDDR5 memory instead of the usual GDDR3 or GDDR4. This gives you increased bandwidth on the HD 4870 while maintaining a 256-bit memory interface instead of the 512-bit one run on the NVIDIA GTX cards. The 512MB GDDR5 memory is manufactured by Qimonda. To the rear of the card is the voltage area where you can see the amount of power regulation the HD 4870 requires.
Now let's put this baby back, plug her in and install the software.