Core Clock: 775MHz (In Turbo Mode) Memory Clock: 4,000MHz (In Turbo Mode) Memory: 1GB GDDR5 Warranty: Three years parts and labour
Since its release a couple of months back, the Radeon HD 4870 1GB has very much become the card of choice here in the bit-tech offices. Fitted with twice as much GDDR5 as the original Radeon HD 4870 (which was an excellent card to begin with), the 4870 1GB delivers very clear frame rate advantages in a number of recent games and more than justifies its ten percent price premium over the vanilla 4870 512MB.
Even with the performance boost the Nvidia GTX 260 and 280 have received from the new ForceWare 180.xx drivers, the HD 4870 1GB still remains extremely competitive in the high end graphics market, trading blows throughout our battery of tests with the GTX 260 (216 core version).
However, because AMD gives more freedom to its board partners to modify PCBs, components and coolers, we’re now starting to see the first custom HD 4870 1GBs arrive into the market. Gainward’s Radeon HD 4870 1024MB Golden Sample is the first we’ve looked at - can the extra boost to clock speeds and improved cooler strike a killer blow for the red team? Let’s find out...
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What’s immediately apparent is that this is no stock 4870 1GB with just an improved cooler - Gainward has completely re-designed the card from the PCB up, using its own components and card layout to cut production costs and improve power delivery.
The changes are pretty dramatic, with the whole card being a clear centimetre shorter than a stock 4870 and the rear of the card is almost unrecognisable from the stock model. As we saw with the Palit HD 4850 Sonic (Palit is Gainward’s parent company and provide the manufacturing muscle required to so significantly redesign the card), many of the more expensive specialist components like the low profile chokes have been replaced with larger, cheaper alternatives, and analogue PWMs are used in place of the more expensive digital PWMs on the stock card.
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This isn’t to say the card’s power delivery suffers though, with Gainward fitting an extra PWM to the core to bring the total up four, delivering more reliable voltage and power delivery which offsets the use of the cheaper components. However while these are alterations you’ll likely never notice, the Gainward HD 4870 GS has one very old school feature you’d be foolish to ignore in the use of dual board BIOS chips controlled by a turbo/normal switch on the PCI bracket!