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To see all photos in our gallery for this card, click on the image.
ATI reference coolers have been noticeably improved. This observation emerges from direct comparison with the modified cooler HIS' IceQ4+, which barely beats the base model. In 2D mode, the HIS fan is a little quieter at 36.8 dB(A), but the GPU itself runs about 8° C (14.4° F) warmer (HIS card 68° C/154.4° F; reference card 60° C/140° F). In 3D mode, we were surprised to observe that the HIS card ran at 52.1 dB(A) vs. 49.4 dB(A) for the reference card, making the HIS card more audible in an office or study.
This card features 1 GB of graphics RAM and is also overclocked directly through its graphics BIOS, so settings remain independent of the driver you run. The GPU operates at 770 MHz instead of the standard 750 MHz, and graphics RAM is clocked at 1,000 rather than 900 MHz. This empowers the enhanced HIS HD 4870 with about 3.5% better overall performance, as compared to the Sapphire 1 GB card also reviewed here or the ATI reference model.
But overclocking does have one serious disadvantage: this card operates continuously at higher clock rates. Even at idle in 2D mode, it doesn’t slow down to 500 MHz (GPU) when running the Catalyst 9.5 driver as most other Radeon HD 4870s routinely do. Instead, the card runs at 770 MHz (GPU) and 1,000 MHz (RAM) at all times.
The circuit board is 9.45" (24 cm) long, and the fan height makes it two slots wide, as with all of the other 4870s we've tested. All of the card's memory chips sit beneath a thick copper heatsink for maximum heat dissipation. The heat from the GPU is channeled away by two thick heatpipes and exhausted out the back of the PC through slits in its external connector edge. Two six-pin PCI Express (PCIe) connectors provide the card with additional power.
Of course, this souped-up Radeon HD 4870 supports DirectX 10.1 with Shader 4.1. The retail package includes a D-sub adapter for analog displays, along with an HDMI adapter (although sound is handled internally), a CrossFire connector, a power splitter, and a driver CD.