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Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic Dual Edition

Radeon 4870: Does It Matter Who Made Yours?

Palit manufactures four different boards based on the Radeon HD 4870, including the Sonic Dual Edition reviewed here. Palit’s design is a much more significant departure from AMD’s reference design compared to Sapphire’s product, starting with the presence of two independent fans. There is a 7.5 cm fan positioned over a chrome-plated copper heat sink attached to the GPU and a 7.0 cm fan centered about a half-inch from the rear edge of the PCB. This second fan spins much faster than the first one—and creates quite a bit of noise in the process. The Palit was easily the noisiest of the three cards we tested, but it ran only very slightly cooler than Sapphire’s entry. However, the Palit card ran dramatically cooler than AMD’s reference design card. The fans draw air from inside the case and blows it straight down onto the heat sink, three heat pipes, and a set of fins that cover 6.5 inches of the board’s 9.0 inch length. The extra fan helped the Palit achieve an idle GPU temperature that was seven degrees cooler than that of the Sapphire and 36 degrees cooler than that of the reference design. Under load, however, the Palit was one degree warmer than the Sapphire.

The card exhausts entirely inside the case, because with Palit’s design, there are two DVI ports (only one of which is dual-link DVI) on one mounting bracket and a DisplayPort connector, as well as what Palit calls a “Turbo” switch, on the other (AMD and Sapphire use this space for an exhaust vent). Palit doesn’t offer any form of analog video output and it relies on a DVI-to-HDMI dongle for HDMI support. Engaging the Turbo switch activates a second BIOS chip on the card. In Normal mode, the GPU is clocked at a stock 750 MHz and the 512 MB of GDDR5 memory (Qimonda again) runs at a slightly above-stock 950 MHz. In Turbo mode, the GPU runs at 775 MHz and the memory hums along at 1 GHz. However, this modest overclocking didn’t have much of an impact on performance, nor did it significantly increase the GPU’s operating temperature. In a welcome departure from AMD’s reference design, Palit mounts the card’s two six-pin power connectors on the top edge of the PCB, which makes them much easier to get at. Palit does not bundle any software with this card.

Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic Dual Edition: street price: $264.99 (Palit Multimedia)

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