Set to normal and the card operates with a 750MHz core and 950MHz (3,800MHz effective) memory clock, representing a minor memory overclock of 50MHz (200MHz effective) but flick the switch to Turbo and the second BIOS with a core clock of 775MHz and a memory clock of 1,000MHz (4,000MHz effective) fires up. This is designed to further improve performance over the stock card, especially in regards to the memory, although the three percent improvement to the core clock does seem rather weedy.
You don’t even need to restart your PC to switch BIOS, the card switching between the two BIOSes seamlessly. It’s doubtless a nifty feature that’s a real blast from the past, but we have to question its real use – surely most users will just set the card to Turbo for the improved performance and be done with it?
To cool this overclocked GPU Gainward has fitted a meaty looking dual fan, dual slot cooler to replace AMD’s stock paddle fan based cooler. The heatsink fitted to the core makes use of a large polished copper plate and then uses three flattened nickel coated copper heatpipes running through thirty eight long, thin aluminium fins to efficiently dissipate heat throughout the cooler.
The two cooling fans, one an 80mm and one a 60mm, are mounted into a smoked plastic shroud fitted on top of the heatsink, both drawing air onto the cooling fins and both are connected to the card’s 4-pin fan connector allowing for RPMs to be increased and decreased as and when the need arises. It's a very solid and capable cooler, and while a dual fan setup might look odd, the use of two fans means they can spin slower, generating less noise whilst still providing capable cooling.
Click to enlarge - Side by side, a stock 4870 1GB and the Gainward HD 4870 1024MB Golden Sample
What is notable in its absence though is any cooling at all for of the card’s memory modules. Despite using the same Qimonda GDDR5 DRAMs as the stock card, and overclocking them fairly aggressively to boot, the Gainward HD 4870 Golden Sample leaves the memory completely open to the air. And although we didn’t notice any serious instabilities during our testing, will likely limit the extent of any extra memory overclocking, even with the downward airflow from the two cooling fans above.
Click to enlarge
As well as the Turbo switch, the rear PCI bracket also plays host to a plethora of connectivity options, with DVI, VGA, DisplayPort, and HDMI connectors all fitted as standard. The card’s bundle itself is a little light though – other than the driver disc and manual, all you get is a single dual Molex to PCI-E connector and a DVI to HDMI adapter to allow for dual HDMI outputs. While we’re usually not too critical of bundles, this one certainly is a little stingy considering the £240+ price tag and it would have been nice to have seen a VGA to DVI or HDMI to DVI adapter to make up for the solitary DVI port and a second dual Molex to PCI-E cable just to ensure PSU compatibility.
Rather than the two year warranty offered by most AMD graphics partners, Gainward offers a full three year warranty on the card, although after the first year during which returns are handled by the original retailer, you’ll need to send the faulty card directly to Gainward’s office in Germany for an RMA at your own expense, but be advised absolutely any tinkering with the card will void the warranty, as some of the frankly epic photos on Gainward’s website demonstrate.