written by: Jesma•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 6/8/2009
Is the HIS Radeon HD 4870 a good graphics card? Does it offer any advantages over similarly spec'd Nvidia cards? Find the answer to these questions, and more inside!
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ATI vs Nvidia arguments and battles aside, it is hard to find a high-end video card for a reasonable price. I'd venture that the graphics card or cards of a gaming computer are the largest monetary commitment in the machine, which makes sense given how much of a 3D performance improvement can be achieved by upgrading that particular component. With so many options for video cards out there, though, it can be hard to compare them purely based off of advertised features and specifications alone. This review of the HIS Radeon HD 4870 512 MB GDDR5 graphics card is just as much about real performance than numbers or price comparisons, because face it: In the end actual output is all that really matters.
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When Compared to My 8800GT....
I bought this video card on a whim, as I was already shopping for a CPU and motherboard upgrade and figured a new graphics card to match would go nicely. I've always used Nvidia, more because I understand their model number sequencing better than I do ATI's than any other reason, and wanted to switch to an ATI card to compliment my AMD CPU.
I wasn't really expecting much of a performance boost since the two cards have similar core and memory clocks, the same amount of graphics memory, and the same width memory interface, but considering the higher cost and greater compatibility with AMD chipsets, I was expecting at least some improvement. While my performance certainly hasn't diminished, it hasn't improved either. That isn't to say that I'm unhappy with the purchase - I'm still glad to have the card, as I intend to add another one or two of these for some great crossfire action.
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If nothing else, the quality of this card is superb. It installed simply and easily, and the customization and advanced control options of the ATI Catalyst Control Center are pretty much unmatched. With simple settings adjustments, I was able to overclock this card to 900MHz on the core clock, and 1GHz on the memory clock. As far as real numbers go, I got an additional 5-10 FPS on average in the games I play from doing that.
Without making any advanced adjustments in the CCC, you will probably notice upon installing this card that it is LOUD. The fan, by default, likes to spin up to and hover at around 75% of its maximum speed. When running, it pushes about the same amount of air as a fan (this kind of fan). By enabling ATI OverDrive in the Advanced Catalyst Control Center settings, you can manually adjust the fan speed down to something much more reasonable, like 35%, which I can't even hear (mostly because the fans on my radiator have the noise output of a wall unit AC).
Even with a reduced fan speed, temperatures on the GPU and memory stay well within safe and recommended limits even when overclocked, and I have never experienced even the slightest glitch or hiccup while using this card.
Overall, I am happy with the purchase even if it, in the end, didn't amount to much of a performance upgrade.