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Palit Radeon HD4870 512MB Graphics Card Review

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Feb 26, 2007
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13,264
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Montreal
Thermalright HR-03 GT; Does it Fit?

Thermalright HR-03 GT; Does it Fit?



We here at Hardware Canucks are always trying to include tests which will benefit you guys; our readers. So, in every new GPU review we try to include a section showing which aftermarket heatsinks can be installed on the card. Sometimes we meet with resounding success while at other times we are defeated by new heatsink hole locations or other obstructions. With the HD4870, we brought out our trusty Thermalright HR-03 GT to see if it fit and lo and behold…


You know what they say about the shoe fitting…well, the Thermalright’s mounting plate passed out first test by lining up perfectly with the mounting holes on the HD4870 so it is on to the next stage: installing the VRM and ramsinks.


Check and check. The HR-03 GT’s heatsinks had no problem fitting over the ram modules and the smaller VRMs. If you feel inclined, there should be enough ramsinks left of fully cover the larger Vitec and Pulse VRMs as well bt we didn’t feel like it was necessary.


After the cooler was installed we made sure it cleared all of the surrounding heatsinks, the backplate didn’t touch anything it shouldn’t have and the base made good contact with the core itself and everything looked perfect. So, what does this tell us?


This little exercise has made it apparent that provided it has the proper amount of ramsinks and VRM sinks, ANY cooler compatible with the HD3870 series will also be compatible with the HD4870 and HD4850. We tried the Thermalright HR-03 GT, Thermaltake DuOrb, Coolink GFXChilla and Arctic Cooling S1 Rev.2 and every one of them fit without any problems at all. Beautiful, isn’t it?

BUT DOES IT PERFORM??? Prepare for a little dose of shock and awe….

Please note that this is with a single Zalman 92MM fan operating at 1600RPM along with Arctic Cooling MX-2 applied to the base.

 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
Conclusion

Conclusion



It has been a hard two years for ATI and we know that many people out there have been counting down the days until the boys in red returned to competitiveness. Well ladies and gents, the wait is over because the HD4870 has shown us that ATI has come out with all guns blazing. While the HD3870 and HD3850 were popular cards which were able to compete on a number of fronts with their Nvidia counterparts, we are quickly coming to realize that they were nothing more than technology demonstrators for the 55nm manufacturing process. This process has now blossomed into full maturity with the R770-series cards which seem set to take the graphics card world by storm.

This review however presented me with a bit of an issue since it fought again and again with what should be my journalistic mettle of looking at every product objectively. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately depending on how you look at it) when I am presented with the kind of performance the HD4870 512MB provides at such a competitive price it is next to impossible not to get excited. Let’s be honest here for a second; with an MSRP of $300 and the very real possibility of lower prices once it hits e-tailer’s shelves, ATI is ushering in a new era in the price for performance wars. This price brings up another point regarding competition against this card since right now there isn’t any at all. The 9800GTX has seen a price reduction to around $215 here in Canada, the 9800GTX”+” seems to be nothing more than a twinkle in Nvidia’s eye which will be launching “sometime” in July and the GTX 260 will be priced around $400 which is a full $100 more than the HD4870. This means that at this time ATI is in the envious position of being in complete domination of the $300 to $350 price bracket. We should also mention right here and now that we tried getting in a GTX 260 to use in this review but those cards seem harder to find than the cane in a super-sized edition of Where's Waldo.

When you look at the performance we received through nearly every one of the tests we put the HD4870 through, it becomes obvious that this card was built for a high image quality DX10 environment. What stunned me the most what how much a performance increase the inclusion of GDDR5 and a 125Mhz core bump have given this card over the HD4850. AA implementation comes without any problem at all and it regularly hands out a shellacking to its closest competitors once image quality is turned up. Indeed, in every AMD document I have seen, the HD4870 was supposed be competing directly with the 9800GTX. Well, they seem to have pulled a fast one on all of us since this card beats the 9800GTX until it's black and blue.

While I can rave about this card all I want, there are a few areas where I find it and ATI’s board partners come up wanting. Throughout the briefings we have been through it was very clear that AMD is aiming to become a price performance leader while offering up the maximum performance per watt. While they have hit the nail on the head with their first goal and the performance per watt is smack where we wanted it to be, it could have been better. The HD4870 is supposed to have dynamic voltage and clock speed regulation so it will consume very little power when under idle conditions. I am not sure if it was a matter of the feature not working or another issue but the idle power consumption was disappointing to say the least. The other area that I feel needs to be improved is in warranty coverage. It is understandable that AMD doesn’t have control over their partners’ marketing initiatives we would have liked to have seen a longer warranty than the somewhat paltry 2 years which Palit offers.

Other than that, the Palit HD4870 512MB is a card which answers the prayers of hordes of ATI fans and will definitely succeed in finding ATI many new admirers. If you are currently in the market for a high performance graphics card, we see no reason to not fully recommend this product.

Let me sum this all up by saying that I hardly ever give an award to a newly released graphics card due to the mostly beta nature of performance and various other issues that always seem to pop up. However, the Palit HD4870 512MB we have tested here today not only bucks past trends but it smashed all of my expectations about how much people have to pay for ass-hauling performance. ATI has taken the approach of putting value before bleeding edge framerates and this card more than any on the market today proves that they got the formula spot on and then some. So, this card accomplishes something that has only happened once before in the history of this site; it wins both the Dam Good Award and the Dam Good Value Award. Bravo AMD, ATI and Palit. Bravo.


Pros:

Incredible Performance
Great price
Quiet Operation
Stays quite cool
Will accept past heatsinks…no need to buy a new one


Cons:

Power consumption a bit high at idle
2 year warranty





A Special Thanks for the folks at Palit and ATI / AMD for making this review possible

http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/video-cards/8164-palit-hd4870-review-comment-thread.html
 
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