I just recently purchased my new rig and I'm waiting for it to be delivered.
I had a quick question about the 4870. Now that the 8.10 drivers are out, does it completely cover the weird fan-speed bug the cards were having? As in, I dont have to search google for some xml speed change tutorial?
You could use ATI tray tools, which is really all you need. It has fan stuff, plus profiles for OCing and 3d settings. Not very hard to set up fan settings, there is no XML or anything like that.
I don't know about the bug, as I flashed with a new bios and modded the fan speeds immediately. I suggest you do the same(at least with the fans), it will lower the temps of the card from 70-80 C idle to 45-55 under load.
The risk is you could mess up the card and you won't have video until you can figure out how to flash it (some have said get onboard video or a pci (old kind) video card.
Really, if you take the time to read the tutorials found around the internets, you shouldn't have any problems.
Thinking about it, you shouldn't even need to flash the card unless you don't want a utility program running and want the card to act a certain way "by default". Programs like rivatuner and ATT can do the same thing with software, at the launch of the 4800 cards, it was the easiest way to fan mod these cards.
To answer your question, this is straight from the release notes for the 8.10 drivers: "This release of the ATI software driver version 8.54 introduces the ability for users to control the speed of the GPU fan when running in accelerated graphics."
Short answer, yes now you can control the fan speed from within CCC.
All I saw on the driver (CCC) was a manual fan speed setting, which is OK, but I like the whole temp driven fan speed setup, which I believe you still have to use XML for if you don't use a separate utility. When the fan goes over 70% it gets pretty annoying.
My 4870 idles at 72C at factory fan speeds which I hear is ok because these cards were designed for that.
The new 8.10 Catalyst Control Center does have a nice fan speed controller in the overdrive section where you can manually adjust the speed by the click of a mouse. I keep my the fan on 30% and that drops it down to the 50's at idle and it is quiet. When I game I crank the speed up to 50% and it keeps the card cool playing crysis for hours....like in the 40's-50's.
The noise level at 50% is definitely noticeable but I cant hear it when I'm gaming.
I've read that if you use a fixed fan speed, the card is still capable of ramping the speed to 100% in the event it gets too hot. This was in a guide for controlling the fan speed with Rivatuner. It appears the cards can protect themselves from thermal damage, so I don't think there is any concern.
Personally, I think it starts to get loud once you reach 40%. For me the sweet spot is 36% in terms of noise and cooling, but I haven't played any games at that speed yet. That's got to be a lot better than the default behavior where it keeps the fan as low as it can and then ramps up to 80% every so often to remove excess heat.
I live where it is warm all year, and I need to have my fan set at 40% or higher to keep the card 55* or less. I have profiles with ATT that automatically reduce the card's clocks to 200/300 and set the fan to 10% when I am only in 2d mode (desktop). It will auto clock/fan to my choice of profiles whenever I start a game (it does it without me touching anything).