Sapphire HD4870 Reviewajmatson - July 23, 2008
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The Sapphire HD 4870 uses the ATI reference Dual Slot cooler, which is what gives the card its massive size. The card uses the symbolic red PC Board that the majority of ATI based cards use. On the top of the cooler there is a logo sticker showing one of Sapphire's mascots, with the model of the card imprinted on it. On the back of the card you will notice the bracket that is under the GPU, so that the stress of the heatsink is balanced evenly across the board. This means that no damage will occur to the GPU or the PC Board. This card is a PCI Express 2.0 based architecture, which provides double the bandwidth of the legacy PCI Express design. Please note that the Sapphire HD 4870 is backwards compatible with the older PCI Express architecture, but it will run at the lower speeds of that BUS.
There are three ports available on the Sapphire HD 4870 card, which support a multitude of display options. There are two DVI ports, which support Dual-Link DVI as well as VGA and HDMI using the supplied adapters. There is also a video-out port, which can be used with the supplied S-Video or Component Video adapters. To power this hungry beast, make sure that your power supply is a minimum 500 watts, with at least two 75w 6-pin PCI Express power plugs available for a single card setup and 600 watts with four 6-pin PCI Express plugs for a CrossFireX dual card setup. On the outer spine, is where the CrossFire Interconnects get plugged in for a multi-GPU setup.
One thing to make sure when buying a card with the Dual Slot cooler, is whether or not it might block the slot beneath it if you are using it for another PCI card. Take this into consideration when purchasing the Sapphire HD 4870. Because of the heat that the RV 770 core and other components put out, for this card, Sapphire chose to use a copper heatsink with copper heatpipes attached to aluminum fins enclosed in a plastic shroud, to funnel air through to cool the GPU core. A large blower style fan forces the air through the shroud and out the back of the case through the ventilation slots in the expansion bracket.
With the cooler removed, we can get a better look at what makes the Sapphire HD 4870 tick. The heart of the card is the RV770 based GPU, which is clocked at 750MHz and is manufactured using a 55nm process. Surrounding the core is the 512MB of GDDR5 memory with an effective bandwidth of 3600MHz (900MHz x 4), operating on a 256-bit memory BUS. There are 800 stream processing units and 40 texture units on the HD 4870, helping to provide impressive performance. Towards the power inputs, you can clearly see the voltage regulation section and all of its complexity.
Now let's put the card back together and take a look at the software needed to properly run the Sapphire HD 4870 card.