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Upgrading from 4870X2

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
March 18, 2011 5:11:05 PM

So yesterday, I started having trouble with my Sapphire Radeon 4870X2. I was playing the Shadow Broker mission on Mass Effect 2 when both screens went black (extended desktop and full-screen game display) and the fan kicked up to leaf-blower level. I could still hear sound for half a minute, then nothing. The computer didn't turn off, but I couldn't get a display. I ran the UniEngine Heaven benchmark to make sure it wasn't the game and the same thing happened. I started playing Mass Effect 2 again, this time with the fan at 60% manual speed. The temperatures kept creeping up. Started at mid 50s, then headed to mid 60s, then close to 70 and then a bit over 70 and the displays went. Next time I played and alt+tabbed when the temperature started to get close to 70 and raised the fan speed. Eventually, the fan speed was up to 93% and yet the temperature still got to 68 C.

I know this card usually runs hot, but in the two years I've had it, I've never had to raise the fan speed above around 37% or so.

So, if this card is dying, I'm thinking about getting a gtx 570 for now. I know it's only really a marginal upgrade, but when I move to LGA 2011 later this year, I'll just add another for SLI. Is this a solid plan?

Current system:
i7 920 @ 3.2 GHz
HD 4870X2 @ 778, 950
Corsair HX 1000

More about : upgrading 4870x2

March 18, 2011 5:25:36 PM

before you buy a new card i suggest opening the case and see how much dust might have accumulated in your cooling fins there is no reason for the card to get that hot if you have the fans cranked that far, unless the fins are clogged and not dissipating the heat, the only other reason it would be overheating like that is the thermal paste between the GPU and heatplates is starting to break down.

in which case take the card out and if you dont feel confidant doing the job yourself take it and 30 bucks down to your local computer service shop and ask them to reapply a new coating of thermal paste

remember though if you buy a can of compressed air and blow out any dust in it, to block the fan (or fans if there are more than 1) to keep them from spinning, as the compressed air can spin them faster than they where designed, which damages the bearing, AND THAT WILL NUKE THE CARD

as for the GTX 570 yup solid plan from everything I've ever read about it, i dont own the card personally though i imagine someone else on this forum must

good luck with your rig man
March 19, 2011 3:43:24 PM

Thanks for the reply. I have since blown compressed air through my GPU's heatsink. I saw a little dust come out, but not a major amount. I made sure to keep the fan constrained from spinning like you said.

Now I'm sitting at my desktop in a room that can't be warmer than 60 F (16 C) and the card was idling at 81 C with 27% fan speed. I guess my next step would be to removing the heatsink and re-applying thermal compound.

EDIT: hmmm, it got to 81 C idle and didn't turn off. I'm confused now.
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a c 172 U Graphics card
March 19, 2011 3:47:49 PM

Please do replace the compound soon and fully clean the blocks and fans.
a b U Graphics card
March 19, 2011 4:03:25 PM

I would definitely clean the heatsinks and replace the thermal past first. Just make sure you use the right screw driver if you have one as the screws are many and they are small.

I always run it at 45% fan speed for gaming with 35% for desktop as I don't like the full fan sound. I probably need to clean my own as it is idling a little high at 60C, should be about 10C cooler but my room is a bit warmer than usual.
March 19, 2011 7:04:36 PM

yup if the cleaning didnt work i would look into replacing the thermal compound, like i said before if you dont feel confidant taking your the heat block\ heat sync off then take the card to a local computer repair shop and ask them to do it, no matter what they charge for it, it wont equal the same amount as a new card, and could enable you to get at least another 6-12 months out of your current card

and if you DO take it to a shop, ya as dadiggle said, ask them to replace the cooler with and aftermarket one

good luck again

EDIT: the other thing you could try is make sure you are running the newest possible driver from ATI, i have had stability problems with my card before and heat, that where solved when i did a clean driver install

a b U Graphics card
March 19, 2011 7:10:55 PM

Those cards run hot hot hot. Think about getting a aftermarket cooler for it.

The only possible upgrade you can look at is

4870x2 -> 5970 ->6990 or 590

Anything else would not be worth it

I totally agree.
March 24, 2011 4:49:23 PM

Here's an update. I switched my 4870X2 to a different rail on the HX 1000. I haven't experienced any shut downs since I've done this. It's really cold today, but with a room temperature of 16 C, the card is idling at 61 C with fan set to auto (27%), which seems reasonable? My earlier room temperature estimate was probably off. I actually have a thermometer in the room now.

I had emailed the tech support at sapphire to inquire about RMA before I made the rail switch, and he said send it along with the receipt for RMA request. Does anyone have experience with RMAing a product? When he says "request", does that mean that there's a chance that the RMA will be denied and they'll just ship me my GPU back in a week and a half unchanged?

I've finished two Mass Effect 2 expansion packs and a few other missions since I switched rails and nothing has happened, so I think I might just A) try and sell this card for $120 or so (?) or B) Hold onto it until I can get a good deal on a 580 (since 570 won't be much of an upgrade)

I also thought about getting two GTX 560's in SLI for $420 (saw some good rebate deals on newegg) and then selling my 4870X2, though I think now I would prefer a single fast card.

EDIT: The only reason I have not removed the fan and applied new thermal paste yet is because my 2 year warranty isn't up 'til June. So I want to leave open the option of simply returning the card before taking the risk of voiding the warranty /and/ screwing something up in the process of applying new compound.
March 28, 2011 4:30:03 AM

New update.

18 C room temperature, 27% fan speed, 2% activity, 84 C.

Here's something I noticed. Usually, GPU Clock and Memory Clock go down to 507 and 500, respectively. But for some reason, my GPU Clock is at 507 MHz and my memory clock is at 980 MHz. I'm checking background processes, and I don't see what's doing this. What's causing /just/ my Memory clock to kick up to full speed?

Ugh, maybe I will just send it in and use my parents' GT 430 for a couple of weeks.
a c 172 U Graphics card
March 28, 2011 1:18:44 PM

It is worth a shot and maybe they will replace your card.
April 5, 2011 3:13:43 AM

I'm just now filling out the RMA forms and will be faxing them in the morning.

Tomorrow, I'm thinking I'll buy a new card. So, there are a couple questions I have. My graphics budget is $600 maximum (up to $360 of my own, and $240 that my dad gave me for this). And I'm hoping to recover around $150 of this by selling whatever replacement card they send me.

Here are a few questions I've still not got resolved:

1) Two GTX 560 Ti's seem like the best price/performance right now at $500 since they're a good bit faster than a single gtx 580.

-Why I'm not sold on SLI: I keep hearing about this issue of "microstuttering" when the two cards don't send their respective frames at the right times. I read all about this in a thread on [H]ard forums from 2008 and I'm wondering if this is still an issue. Does anyone have personal experience with this? I feel like I've never heard it mentioned in an SLI review as a drawback, so how big of a deal is it???

And if I don't go SLI, then should I get this gtx 580:

The cooler seems like it's better than reference, and with rebate it's $460.

I mainly want to be able to play Crysis and Crysis Warhead, Mass Effect 3, and the new Batman game. I'm also gonna buy Dead Space 1 and 2 and play through those some time soon.

Best solution

a c 172 U Graphics card
April 5, 2011 3:43:17 AM

Two way sli is more or less rock solid until you begin to tri and quad sli. They do require a fair share of cpu power to push them but for you that shouldn't be an issue. Better than a self exploding gtx 590 or another 4870x2 hot plate.
April 5, 2011 4:26:11 AM

So you'd go for the SLI gtx 560's, then? I guess I'll get those and then if I have trouble, I'll just return them.
a c 172 U Graphics card
April 5, 2011 12:47:53 PM

That will work plus you can individually overclock each card compared to crossfire ware clocks are synchronized.
April 5, 2011 1:58:06 PM

Wow, I didn't know that. Okay, thanks for your help. I'm thinking I'll get the MSI Twin Frozr version of the card unless another brand is better?
a c 172 U Graphics card
April 5, 2011 4:50:11 PM

MSI is good, just avoid Palit and even Gigabyte.
April 7, 2011 12:37:54 AM

Best answer selected by mortonww.