4870 for a htpc/gaming rig = the right choice?

Hi guys, I've got an HTPC running XBMC and I'm looking into upgrading the graphic card to be able to play video games in 1080p. I'm a casual gamer (i don't play every week) and don't care about Crysis ;-). What i'm looking for is a solution that would be modular enough so that I can both have a quiet system to play movie, and play some of the most recent games. I'm thinking I could just have 2 settings in ATI tools:
Setting 1: HTPC/Normal use: downclock the GPU/Memory and lower fan speed.
Setting 2: Gaming: Normal clock speed and automatic fan speed.

My Current Rig:
- Case: Antec Fusion (PCI-E max length of 10 inches)
- PSU: 380 Watts (that could be an issue)
- CPU: phenom x3 8650 (i can overclock this sucker, it's currently at 30/33 degrees)
- 4Gigs of DDR2 @ 800Mhz
- Pretty good airflow in the case

Key points of interest:
- Current setup is extremely quiet. I want to keep it that way as much as possible when not playing video games. I don't mind some noise when playing.
- Graphic card has to be of a maximum length of 10 inches. If I go with a passive cooler, it cannot be too high above the card due to the small case.
- I need to have either a card with passive heatsink or one i can downclock and slow down the fan to keep noise at a minimum level.

So I guess I have 2 questions here:
1. Based on what i'm after, is a 4870 1Gb the right choice?
2. If it is, can you recommend a model for the 4870 that will be flexible enough to become almost silent when not playing games.

Thanks in advance,

- Cas
3 answers Last reply
More about 4870 htpc gaming choice
  1. Replace the stock cooler on the 4870 with a Accelero S1 w\ turbo kit, and you have a SILENT card, the fans on the turbo kit make virtually noise at all, the stock cooler on ALL of them however, is very loud, I changed mine within the first two weeks just due to the wind-up noise it has when gaming..can't stand that...with the Accelero fans it won't go up or down in noise, constantly stays the same, inaudible basically.

    Mine never goes over 55c under-load, where as my new 4870 which is crossfired that has a stock cooler, goes up to 75c, and has that jet-take off sound while gaming, I'd fit a S1 on it, but it just wouldn't fit with the wireless card I have. I'm replacing that stock cooler with a Zalman VF1000 which is supposed to be VERY quiet in comparison, S1 is def the king though, just very big :P.

    Passively, the S1, even though it is the king of passive coolers, can't keep the 4870 chilled, it's not even the gpu core that over-heats in passive, it's the VRM\Ram chips onboard, you have to have things pulling the heat off of them, or they will go into thermal-shutdown. It comes with heatsinks, but yeah...you need additional cooling on those which is what the Turbo Kit (sold for 6$ on newegg) does perfectly :)

    Here's a example of how the stock fans sound, my new 4870 uses a different stock cooler than the previous one, but is still VERY loud in game, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jh1OkEy6MTk

    Either go with a Accelero S1, or a Zalman VF100, if you can fit the S1, get it over the Zalman simply because it has a HUGE voltage regulator heatsink (zalman has none) and has bigger heatsinks that come with it for the vram chips.

    To show you the size difference, here's a pic from my rig, top card is the sapphire w\ stock cooler, bottom card is the msi 4870 with a accelero s1, sucker stays SUPER chill in comparison.
  2. Thanks RPaul. These are very good feedback except that the Accelero S1 wouldn't fit my case. I'm not sure about the Zalman though. I need to look into that.

    Anybody else?
  3. Zalman isn't any bigger than the stock cooler as far as I know, so it would be a good alternative.
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