First of all, I'm only semi computer literate (maybe giving myself too much credit there) so be patient. Anyways, about a year and a half ago I bought a bunch of parts from newegg and built my first computer. I went with the sapphire 4870 x2 and it has served me pretty well. Besides poor shadow quality (medium or higher shadow settings on most games would be very buggy. ie flickering shadows) I didn't notice any problems.
A month or so ago some games I used to no have problems with started to flicker after 5 minutes or so and would very occasionally crash (Far Cry 2, Left 4 Dead 2 and Mass Effect 2). I decided to do some research into my GPU and got more familiar with Catalyst Control Center. I found out my card was idling at 68-70 degrees C with the fan running at about 60% capacity. Almost all modern games (namely the ones listed above) would bring the card up to 95-108 degrees C with fan running at 100%. Seems like the only game I'm able to run at a decent temp is World of Warcraft, which will still reach 80 degrees C.
So at this point, I am unsure of whether to salvage the card I already have or purchase a new one. I have been very tempted to just buy the hd 5870 and trash the old one. Hoping to get some input from people much smarter than myself!
Hope you don't just throw that card away even in that condition that is more than $200 US. First what case do you have and do you have any fans near the card? Also what is the typical room temp? Take the card out to inspect for obvious damage like missing SMD caps. Try to blast any dust that may remain in the cooler. If you have any warranty try to RMA for a replacement which you might get a 5850~5970 as a replacement due to it no longer being made.
Ok, so i took the card apart, took a dust remover air spray can thingy to it, cleaned off the old thermal compound and put on some fresh stuff. I played a couple games for about 15-30 minutes each (Left 4 Dead 2, Starcraft 2, Modern Warfare 1, Mass Effect 2 and Borderlands. Mass Effect 2 and Borderlands both broke 100C at medium settings and it did start flickering for both games. The rest were between 85 and 95 degrees at around medium settings.
Overall, the card is running about 10c cooler, but still a bit high.
My case is an antec 900. I haven't added any extra fans or anything. The room is typically 65-70 degrees F (in the basement). I didn't notice any obvious damage, but then again, i don't have much experience at all looking for damage.
If i recall correctly, the warranty is 2 years so I'd have till november to return it. I remember reading it'd take about 6 weeks once it left my house for them to receive it and return it. So i guess another possibility is to buy the 5870, return my 4870s when the 5870 arrives and sell the 4870s to a friend 6 weeks later. I'm not looking to go 6 weeks without a gpu