Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 4870 1GB Toxic

Written by Tim Smalley

February 23, 2009 | 10:54

Tags: #1gb #4870 #card #consumption #cooler #evaluation #hd #heat #overclocking #performance #power #radeon #review #rv770 #toxic #vapor-x #vapour

Companies: #ati #sapphire #test

Overclocking

We overclocked the Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 1GB Toxic graphics card using RivaTuner v2.23 to increase the clock speeds and Crysis to check that the card was stable at the higher speeds.

We increased the frequencies by 5MHz at a time, testing for visual corruption and throttling with Crysis under DirectX 10 at each incremental boost.

As a quick reminder, the 4870 1GB Toxic comes clocked at 780MHz core and 4,000MHz (effective) on the memory.

Following a few hours of tweaking, we finally settled on a stable overclock to 820MHz core and 4,320MHz (effective) on the memory. This is the highest overclock we've seen in our labs on a Radeon HD 4870 1GB - an additional 24MHz on the core over what we achieved on the HIS Radeon HD 4870 1GB IceQ4+ TurboX.

It's clear that the Vapor-X cooler is doing its job very well here, but we decided to try and push things a bit further by increasing the fan speed manually in RivaTuner. Sadly, this didn't net us any additional improvements before our ears were poisoned by the Vapor-X cooler's fan screaming along at 4,000 RPM. We're sure you could achieve higher clock speeds at 4,000 RPM, but we've gone well into dustbuster territory here.

In terms of performance at the new clock speeds, we saw respectable increases in Crysis at 1,680 x 1,050 with high in-game details that were in line with the clock speed enhancements. With 0xAA, the performance improvement was 5.5 percent and at 4xAA, the frame rate rose by 6.3 percent. Compared to a stock Radeon HD 4870 1GB, the overclock resulted in 14 and 13.3 percent performance enhancements at the respective settings - that's not to be sniffed at.

Final Thoughts...

Sapphire has taken the already proven Radeon HD 4870 1GB design and made it even better with the inclusion of its Vapor-X cooling solution. This makes the Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 1GB Toxic a very desirable card indeed. It's not only exceptionally quiet - both when idling and fully loaded - but it's also very efficient as well. We saw an operating temperature reduction of 11°C while playing Crysis and the fan was quieter at load than a stock Radeon HD 4870 1GB when it's idling.

The factory overclock may be modest, but that's to be expected in the current climate; the good thing is that it means there's more headroom for those that want to tweak their systems for more performance. We witnessed the highest Radeon HD 4870 1GB overclock we've seen in our labs to date with our 4870 1GB Toxic graphics card and the performance improvements were in line with the clock speed increases.

The cheapest we've found the Radeon HD 4870 1GB Toxic for is £193.72, which is surprisingly close to an equivalent GeForce GTX 260-216. Here's a stock clocked 55nm GTX 260-216 selling for £193.19. Looking further afield at what other Radeon HD 4870 1GB cards are available, we found a Palit (well, Novatech branded) card for £181.69 - the bundle will be light and there's only a one year warranty, but if none of that is important, you might find that saving a few quid is worthwhile.

Up until this morning though, we'd have agreed with that because the Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 1GB was selling for over £220 - it's hard to justify what amounts to a five percent performance improvement and a fancy cooler when the reference one isn't exactly disappointing. But with the price being realigned to just under £195, we think it's worth taking the punt if you've decided that the Radeon HD 4870 1GB is the right choice for you.

What makes the choice difficult is that the Radeon HD 4870 1GB and GeForce GTX 260-216 are incredibly well matched not only on price, but also on performance across the board. Right now, the favour seems to have tipped AMD's way, but it could quite easily flip the other way when you consider that of the five benchmarks the Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 1GB Toxic won against the GeForce GTX 260-216, two of them were by less than five percent. What's more, it's quite conceivable that some of the newer titles that we'll be adding to our suite soon could go either way - neither the Radeon HD 4870 1GB nor GeForce GTX 260-216 are a bad choice at this price point, frankly.

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