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Frontpage Slideshow | Copyright © 2006-2010 orks, a business unit of Nuevvo Webware Ltd.
Wednesday, 14 January 2009 14:28

Gigabyte's HD 4870 with 1GB of memory runs 30°C cooler

Written by Sanjin Rados

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Review: HDMI and DisplayPort outs

 

As of recently, Gigabyte's offer includes GV-R487D5-1GD, an HD 4870 card that apart from DVI connectors features both native HDMI and the new DisplayPort connector. Unlike Gigabyte’s card, that many might find much more appealing, the reference HD 4870 card features only the standard connectors – two dual link DVIs and a TV-out. The following pictures show the GV-R487D5-1GD, and the same card in the company of the reference HD 4870.
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Instead of reference cooling, the GV-R487D5-1GD comes with dual-slot Zalman VF830 cooling that does a great job of cooling the RV770, but unfortunately it’s not exactly what we’d call quiet when in 2D mode. Although 3D mode results in the reference card being louder than Gigabyte’s card, our today’s guest keeps its fan at constant rpm as long as the card is running.

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GV-R487D5-1GD’s PCB is painted blue, but apart from the color there’s not much difference between this one and the reference PCB. We found most changes to be made around the I/O panel where DisplayPort and HDMI connectors are now located, and Gigabyte chose to ditch the TV out. The opposite side, where the power components are located, didn’t go through any significant changes. Unlike the rest of the PCB which is quite tidy, here we see a bit of a clutter. The card is powered via two 6-pin PCI-Express power connectors, located in the upper corner.

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Most of the power components feature thermal tolerance of up to 125°C, so Gigabyte only used a black passive heatsink for cooling.

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GV-R487D5-1GD features 1GB/256bit high-speed GDDR5 memory that doesn’t feature any cooling besides the air from the fan. The cooler isn’t in contact with the memory but it’s close enough to keep it from overheating. Gigabyte used Qimonda’s memory codenamed IDGV1G-05A1F1C-40X, where 40X stands for data rate of 4.0 Gbps per pin. Compared to GDDR3/4 memory, GDDR5 memory offers twice the bandwidth per pin at same speeds, meaning that 512-bit GDDR3 card features the same bandwith as a 256-bit GDDR5 card, provided they’re clocked identically of course. While HD 4870 uses GDDR5 memory clocked at 900MHz and featuring 115.2GB/s bandwidth, Radeon HD 4850 with GDDR3 clocked at 933MHz will allow a bandwidth of only 63.6GB/s.

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Radeon RV770 chip features almost a billion transistors (965 million, core surface 260 mm2); it’s built in 55nm process and on HD 4870 cards it features 800 shader processors. Compared to the previous HD 3800 generation, that’s 2.5x more shader processors, and the same goes for texture units as this card features 40 (16 on HD 3800). RV770 features ten SIMD clusters (Single Instruction, Multiple Data), each featuring 80 (ATI) shader processors, totaling at 800.

Although the clockes were left unchanged and the card still runs at 750MHz, additional 512MB of memory should help if you’re gaming at high resolutions (in some better programmed games) or during video editing. The memory runs at 900MHz, but due to GDDR5 memory effective speed is actually 3600MHz.

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ATI Catalyst Control Center comes with integrated overclocking tool called Overdrive, but you can’t go further than 790MHz using it, which is only 40MHz more than reference. Fan control is unusable due to the fact that Gigabyte used a fan that doesn’t support rpm control, and the fan is connected to the card with only two wires. We easily overclocked the card to CCC’s maximum – 790MHz for the core and 1100MHz for the memory.

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On their installation CD, Gigabyte included Gamer HUD Lite tool, which in its Lite version offers only the basic set of operations. Just like Catalyst Control Center drivers, it also featured a 790MHz limit for the core. Besides the ability to change clocks, Gamer HUD monitors core temperatures and usage levels.

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Zalman’s cooling performs well keeping the GPU temperatures below 57°C in 3d and at around 37°C in idle mode. Gigabyte’s card runs on temperatures lower than on reference cards by no less than 30°C, both in operation and in idle mode.

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HD 4000 cards feature newer UVD (Unified Video Decoder) 2.0 engine that enables dual-stream decoding, as well as 7.1 channel sound via HDMI. In order to enjoy HD content, both dual-link DVI outs on reference cards feature HDCP, which is the case with Gigabyte’s DVI and HDMI ports too.

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Since all decoding and I/O functions are within the RV770 core, there aren’t many chips around it, and you can see the traces that lead to and from memory modules.

This PCI-Express 2.0 card features DX10.1 and shader model 4.1 support, as well as CrossFireX technology supporting up to 4 cards simultaneously (check here for compatibility). ATI’s latest toy is the Avivo converter that comes as an integral part of CCC driver. Converting your videos to other formats is really fast and simple, and the tool is free.

To see how the card did on our testing, check out the next page.





Testbed:

Motherboard: MSI P45D3 Platinum ( Provided by: MSI );
Processor: Intel Core 2 QX9770 Extreme edition at 3.6GHz ( Provided by: Intel );
Memory: Corsair Dominator 12800 7-7-7-24 ( Provided by: Corsair);
HDD: WD VelociRaptor 300G 10,000RPM ( Provided by: SmoothCreation );
ATI Catalyst 8.12
Vista Ultimate 32-bit

 


Futuremark Tests:

Gigabyte’s card runs at reference speeds so the results are identical to the reference HD 4870 1GB’s scores. In scenarios where there’s no accent on memory, the same card with 512MB of GDDR5 memory scores identical results to those scored by 1GB cards. Some games like FarCry 2 put additional memory to good use, so the 512MB card ends up being slower.

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After overclocking Gigabyte’s card to 790MHz for the core and 1100MHz (4400MHz effectively) for the memory, results increased by 4%. This concurs with the mentioned 5% overclock.



Gaming

Like we mentioned, FarCry2 puts additional 512MB of memory to good use, and we see it beat the reference HD 4870 512MB by as much as 47% at 1920x1200 with filters on. At lower, 1680x1050 resolution, the advantage is just over 20% or 7fps. Overclocking brings a 5% speed increase.

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World in Conflict results again confirm HD 4870 1GB’s nice overclocking capabilities, as 5% overclock scales to 5% better performance. Note that the result difference between 1GB and 512MB cards is not as obvious as in FarCry2.

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Gigabyte’s HD 4870 appears to like Left 4 Dead, as it scores 80fps at the highest resolution with filters on.

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Conclusion

Gigabyte’s card is codenamed GV-R487D5-1GD, meaning it comes with 1GB of GDDR5 memory. The card kept the reference speeds – 750MHz core and 900MHz (3600MHz effectively) for the memory. The card is unique as it brings two new connectors – HDMI and DisplayPort. Next to them, you’ll find dual-link DVI out which makes this card perfect for any type of modern displays.

The card features Zalman’s dual-slot cooling, which does a great job and RV770 core hits 57°C at max, which is about 30°C less than on reference cards. Gigabyte also managed to slash consumption by about 20W. While our testing rig with HD 4870 1GB managed to consume up to 300W, using GV-R487D5-1GD resulted in consumption of about 280W. However, we consider the lack of the fan’s rpm control to be a significant downside, as the fan runs at constant rpm and gets loud in idle mode. However, in 3D mode it’s still not as loud as the reference HD 4870.

HD 4870 prices went down, or will after the GTX 285 launches. Gigabyte GV-R487D5-1GD can be purchased for about €250, whereas the reference 1GB card costs about €210. DisplayPort and HDMI ports apparently come at a price, but if you’re looking for exactly that – then look no further, as this card also features Zalman’s cooling that enables stable overclocking. This card with 1GB of memory is a good choice, but it comes at a higher price than the rest of HD 4870 cards.



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Last modified on Wednesday, 14 January 2009 20:29
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