Core Clock: 750MHz Memory Clock: 3,600MHz (effective) Memory: 2GB GDDR5 Warranty: Two years (parts and labour)
In the few short weeks since its release, the 4870 X2 has gone from strength to strength, cementing its position as the fastest single graphics card available. In our initial review, we were amazed at the performance advances made by the 4870 X2 over Nvidia's competing GeForce GTX 280 in numerous benchmark tests, although ATI/AMD's wonder card did show a few chinks in its armour in un-optimised games, demonstrating the reliance of dual GPU cards on game specific driver profiles with a few unimpressive results in a couple of less popular games.
Despite this minor concern, the enormous performance advantages have seen the 4870 X2 be adopted by the enthusiast community as the new ultra high end card of choice and unlike the price of the GTX 280, which nose dived post-launch, the 4870 X2's price have remained at roughly the same level they were at launch - around £350. However, unlike the Radeon HD 4850, and soon HD 4870 series of cards, there's been no movement from board partners in regards to pre-overclocked or customised versions of the 4870 X2 just yet.
While we continue to wait to see what wonders ATI/AMD's board partners can build around the R700 architecture, there are plenty of stock 4870 X2 choices, like the one from Sapphire that we're looking at today.
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Sapphire is the largest seller of ATI based graphics cards in the world, having maintained a long standing and loyal relationship with ATI/AMD. This means that it is usually first to market with ATI products, and will generally receive a larger allocation of stock in comparison to other partners, ensuring a more reliable supply into the channel.
The Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 X2 is, as is the case with all 4870 X2s on the market right now, ATI's stock card design, re-badged with the board partner branding. Hardware wise this card is identical to the reference sample provided by Palit for our review last month, with the same 2GB of GDDR5 and dual RV770 cores, running at 3,600MHz and 750MHz respectively. Incidentally if you're interested in the architecture behind the benchmarks, check out Tim's in depth RV770 article here.
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So if the card is identical to any other 4870 X2 on release right now, the only things to differentiate the cards are the stickers, bundles and pricing selected by the board partners. In the case of the Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 X2, we're treated to Sapphire's Lara Croft alike babe gracing the sticker which covers the entire top surface of the card's cooler. However, as the sticker is so large, unless it is perfectly applied it'll overlap the edges and look a bit scruffy, as was the case with our review sample - not exactly what you'd expect from a £350 purchase. Thankfully the sticker is easy enough to remove, revealing the stock "Radeon" stickers beneath.
Bundle wise, Sapphire continues its tradition of including a healthy bundle with its cards, with a couple of choice software and hardware inclusions. On the software front you get full versions of Cyberlink PowerDVD v7, Cyberlink DVD Suite v5 and 3DMark Vantage to benchmark your new graphics powerhouse. There's also AMD/ATI’s Ruby ROM 1.1 which includes demo versions of Call of Juarez, Dungeon Runners and Stranglehold.
On the hardware front Sapphire has included both DVI to HMDI and DVI to VGA adapters, a standard length CrossFire bridge, a four-pin molex to six-pin PCI-Express power adapter, a dual four-pin Molex to eight-pin PCI-E adapter, an S-video to composite adapter, a seven-pin component break-out cable and of course the mandatory driver disc and user manual.
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This is a pretty well featured bundle on the face of things, and certainly more than the bare minimum you’ll get from some other partners, although everything on the Ruby ROM can easily be found on-line and DVD playback is now included in Windows Vista. However, it's worth noting that PowerDVD will take advantage of the UVD hardware acceleration on the HD 4870 X2. The inclusion of a DVI to HDMI adapter is a bonus, although in some ways to be expected considering the HD 4800 series cards feature an internal audio engine for just this purpose.
Warranty & Support
The Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 X2 comes complete with a two-year warranty that includes cover for parts and labour. During the first year of the product’s life, your point of contact should be the retailer. However, if you’re having problems getting hold of the retailer (or the retailer goes out of business), you should contact Sapphire’s support team directly. During the second year of the warranty period, you should talk directly with Sapphire.
This warranty is nothing special, but to be fair to Sapphire it’s in line with what most other AMD partners offer and the warranty period is consistent in every corner of the world. We do wish that AMD/ATi's board partners offered something along the lines of the ten year warranties we routinely see from Nvidia's board partners though, as they offer far better long term peace of mind.