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RV770: AMD ATI Radeon HD 4870 - RV770: ATI Radeon HD4870

By Edward Chester

Reviewed:

Awards

  • Editors choice
RV770: AMD ATI Radeon HD 4870

Summary

Our Score:

10

While ATI actually saw fit to announce and release the slower HD 4850 card first, by now both this and the faster HD 4870 cards will be available. So, in this article Im' going to focus on the flagship HD 4870.

For our review we were provided with a card made by HIS but the card is the exact same design as that used on ATI's reference board except for a little HIS sticker in the centre of the fan. This is a common situation for early cards based on new architecture and we can expect to see more exotic coolers and overclocked cards appearing in the coming months.

The retail bundle provided with this HIS card is worth a special mention. While the inclusion of DVI-to-HDMI, DVI-to-VGA, S-video-to-composite, and S-video-to-component adapters are all standard fare, the funky little screwdriver is definitely worthy of praise. It incorporates a spirit level, two interchangeable magnetic driver bits that each have a large and small head, and a little LED torch. It's no Leatherman, admittedly, but it is a useful multi-tool to have next to your PC. You also get a license that enables you to get a free copy of Half-Life 2: Lost Coast and Half-life 2: Deathmatch via Steam but there are no proper games included.

The card itself is a dual-slot design that looks very similar to the HD 2900 XT - evidently the revised cooler used on the HD 3870 wasn't all that. The PCB is 242mm in length, which is long but not excessively so and the whole card weighs a hefty 1.25kg, which is again high but not uncommonly so.

We've come to expect good things from both nVidia and ATI with their high-end coolers recently and the HD 4870 is no exception. Yes it gets loud when under load but then we'd expect you to be wearing headphones anyway and it's certainly not loud enough to disturb anyone in the room next door. When idle it is near silent and the fan also reacts to temperature so it will only ever be as loud as needs be. The card seems to run hotter than the GTX280 when it's good and busy but the dual slot design should ensure not too much of that heat builds up in your case (which would eventually lead to overheating and stability problems).

Along the top edge are two conventional CrossfireX connectors. The card can be used for CrossfireX configurations with up to three (maybe four if you can fit them on a board) cards running in tandem.

Power requirements are fairly hefty with two six-pin PCI-Express connections required to get the card up and running. You can get dongles that convert two Molex connectors to one of these six-pin connectors but you'll still a decent high-wattage power supply in the first place.

Elsewhere there is really very little that's extraordinary about the HD 4870. Outputs are the standard 2x dual-link DVI-D along with an analogue output that supports S-Video natively and component and composite via dongles. The DVI connectors are HDCP compliant to enable Blu-ray playback and the audio-over HDMI capabilities from previous ATI cards are also present. In fact, ATI has upgraded the audio capabilities to enable eight-channel LPCM for full 7.1 surround configurations.

Varis Vitols

July 5, 2008, 2:51 pm

Yeah, it was about time!

Matthew Bunton

July 5, 2008, 5:43 pm

This is the best bang for buck right now, good to see the ATI cards fighting back. Though it is still too early to upgrade in my opinion.

viexd

July 6, 2008, 1:18 am

if ati get cuda... i will get this card from sapphire(it have 2 (4 pin to 6 pin conector)(my power suply just have one 6 pin conector) but only if it get cuda, because i like to play games but i also do some video editing and transcoding videos to my zune and it take like 4hrs to covert a dvd to h.264 in my conroe

Faiakes

July 6, 2008, 2:10 am

Your comment on the CoD4 results is incorrect. The HD 4870 beats the GTX 280 comfortably.


It simply fails to be the double card GX2.

Varis Vitols

July 6, 2008, 3:58 am

It depends on what u upgrade from...

Pbryanw

July 6, 2008, 6:14 am

Probably not worth upgrading from a 8800GT to a 4850 but the 4870 looks like it could be a possibility. Hopefully ATi will have OpenCL to compete against CUDA but I'm not bothered by the lack of support for it.

karakaan

July 7, 2008, 3:35 pm

anybody know the minimum power supply rating? looking to install in Dual-Xeon Dell workstation with 700w PSU??

DMN

July 7, 2008, 4:06 pm

My X1950XTX is looking a bit long in the tooth now. Getting that itchy upgrade feeling.

Ed

July 7, 2008, 9:08 pm

Karakaan,





I wouldn't look at it like that, it completely depends on what else you're running in your system. At peak the card will draw 150 - 200W, if you've got that much headroom in your current supply then you'll be fine. Otherwise you may need to upgrade. Easy way to check is with a plug-in power consumption meter. They're only about 㿀.





What card are you upgrading from?

karakaan

July 8, 2008, 12:18 am

Hmmm, thanks ED. The Dell manual's state GPU's upto 150W(supported) so I may be pushing it if you say it draws upto 200W. Upgrading Dell PSU's I don't think is that easy as your probably aware most components are besopke (got to love Dell).

Ed

July 8, 2008, 1:09 pm

Ah, that could be a bit of a problem. Dells are an absolute pig to work with.

Lostbok

July 14, 2008, 5:22 pm

^^ wrt the Dell PSU prob - not sure about the Xeon's, some of the midi-tower cases still have the same footprint as a regular PSU, but just proprietary gaps for the kettle lead... in which case you can buy a normal PSU and get out the metal cutters and drill... I've got "creative" with a few Optiplex's over the years... :o)

Lostbok

July 14, 2008, 5:24 pm

and thanks for the great review!!





As per DMN's comment, that X1950XTX-GDDR4 (me too!) is suddenly looking really long in the tooth :o)))

TheClown

February 15, 2009, 7:58 pm

i have got to get me one of these...

Joseph Middleton

August 24, 2009, 3:43 pm

This Radeon 4870 by HIS... It's not mentioned how much on board memory it has...


512MB or 1GB?

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