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Tuesday, 17 March 2009 16:02

XFX HD 4870 775M XXX 1GB tested

Written by Sanjin Rados

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Review: An overclocked reference design

 

Today we’ll look at a graphics card that’s not too different from the reference HD 4870 card, but what makes it particularly interesting is the source partner. If this is the first time you’ve seen Radeon cards in XFX’s offer, then you probably haven’t been watching the industry closely as these guys already offer all the latest Radeons. We’ve recently had a chance to test XFX’s overclocked HD 4850 with non-reference cooling, and you can learn more about it here.

XFX Radeon HD 4870 comes codenamed as HD 4870 775M 1GB DDR5 Dual DVI TV PCI-E  XXX. This quite long name goes a long way in explaining what the card is about, and 775M means 775MHz, meaning it’s overclocked and XXX suffix is another proof of that. Still, this is only a 25MHz overclock but with the 3800MHz memory, this card packs enough of a punch to be called a great gaming graphics card.

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XFX’s HD 4870 775M card comes with XFX’s sticker, but they’ve also ended up using a black PCB combined with red DVI outs, as opposed to red PCB and white DVI outs on the reference card. Thanks to this color scheme, courtesy of XFX, the card looks much more aggressive than the reference one.

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You’ll find 1GB of GDDR5 underneath the hood, and it is already considered an optimum for playing the latest game titles. The cooler is dual slot, the same one found on the reference card. It runs quiet in idle and although 3D mode can result in higher noise levels, it’s still not what we’d call too loud.

Note that GDDR5 memory offers twice the bandwidth per pin compared to GDDR3/4 memory, provided it runs at the same clocks of course. So, although a 256-bit memory interface ended up being used, GDDR5 enabled a bandwidth of 115.2GB/s. Bear in mind that this card’s fierce competitor, the GTX 260, comes with GDDR3 and offers 111.9GB/s bandwidth, despite the 448 bit memory interface.

Radeon HD 4870 uses the RV770 graphics processor built in 55nm. It has 800 shader processors and 40 texture units, which is 2.5 times more than HD 3800 generation offers on both fields. The rest of the important specs can be seen on the GPU-Z picture below.

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RV770 offers 7.1 audio as well, courtesy of Realtek HD Audio processor which is integrated directly into the GPU silicone. There’s no need for additional cables, unlike Nvidia’s offerings where you’ll be using a SPDIF cable to bring the audio to the card if you want to send both video and audio to your HDTV device via one cable. This card provides HDMI via the provided DVI-to-HDMI dongle and the I/O panel features two dual-link DVI outs as well as S-Video out. UVD 2 video decoding engine will also provide benefits such as options dual-stream decoding and dynamic contrast enhancement.

A good thing about this cooler is that it pushes the air outside of the case, thus surely making life easier for the rest of the in-case components. The fan is located towards the end and blows air trough the aluminum heatsink and towards the air outlets on the I/O panel.

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Two 6-pin PCI-Express connectors power the card, and they’re located in the corner towards the end of the card.

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XFX packaging comes as refreshment, as it’s a step away from the usual large packaging we’re constantly seeing, and we often ask ourselves whether such large boxes are needed at all.

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The box contains the usual stuff – DVI-to-HDMI converter, DVI-to-VGA converter, 2x molex to 6-pin PCI-E cable, Crossfire Bridge, a short installation manual, the driver CD and of course, the graphics card.

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Testbed

Motherboard: MSI P45D3 Platinum ( Provided by: MSI );
Processor: Intel Core 2 QX9770 Extreme edition na 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 );


Futuremark tests


Just like the rest of the HD 4870 pack in 3DMark 06, XFX HD 4870 isn’t having the greatest time competing versus the GTX 260.

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Vantage tests report XFX’s more noticeable advantage over the reference card, but the GTX 260 once again swoops in and takes the throne with higher than 10% advantage over all the RV770 cards.

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Gaming


World in Conflict


This game sees the XFX HD4870 XXX running on par with the rest of HD 4870s, but it's the only one that managed to score the same as the GTX 260 at high 2560x1600.

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Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2 proves that 1GB of memory on XFX HD 4870 XXX card is a wise investment. Compared to the HD 4870 512MB, XFX scored more than 75% better results at the highest resolution with filters on. As far as Far Cry 2 goes, XFX HD 4870 runs neck and neck with the GTX 260.

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Left 4 Dead


Left 4 Dead is a walk in the park for the HD 4870, and we see that XFX dominates this test all the way to the highest resolution, where the GTX 260 manages to snatch the lead. Still, XFX managed to defeat the GTX 260 a couple of times by margins higher than 10%.

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Overclocking

Radeon HD 4870 XXX 775M runs at 775MHz, 25MHz higher than reference. We managed to further overclock it by 60MHz, which is a great result for the RV770 core. 3DMark 06 results agree with the overclock and the results jumped from 16218 to 16614. We got slightly better results in Left 4 Dead where at 2560x1600, we got 8% better results after we overclocked the card.

We overclocked the memory by another 100MHz, which resulted in a 134.4 GB/s bandwidth, as opposed to the reference 115.2 GB/s.

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Temperatures

When in 2D mode, XFX’s card downclocks the core to 600MHz, whereas the reference card lowers the clocks to 500MHz. As a result of this, XFX HD 4870 XXX card runs some 2-3°C higher in idle, ending up at about 75°C. When under a workload, temperatures hit 86°C, which is one degree less than on reference card, despite XFX’s higher clocks.

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The fan runs quiet in idle mode, and while it gets louder during gaming for instance, we can’t say it’s too loud.

Consumption

Due to higher clocks, XFX HD 4870 consumes a bit more than the reference HD 4870. On the other hand, when compared to the HD 4850 we see over 60W more. That’s why the HD 4870 requires two 6-pin power connectors whereas the HD 4850 needs only one.

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Conclusion

XFX HD 4870 XXX 775M is a great card based on the reference design and comes pre-overclocked. The core runs at 775MHz, which is 25MHz higher than reference HD 4870. One of this card’s upsides is the overclocked GDDR5 memory running at 950MHz (3800MHz effectively). The card packs 1GB of memory, and you’ll be thankful for it when high resolution gaming puts an accent on the memory.

This is a great gaming card, but it's priced higher than standard HD 4870 1GB models due to XFX's overclock. It will run just slightly faster than a reference Radeon HD 4870 card and it will come with a slightly higher price.

Fans of the XFX brand won't mind that this card will cost them some €20 more than a reference HD 4870, and many might go for it, but with HD 4870 and 1GB memory, you are making quite a good choice that will definitely defeat a GTX 260 with 192 shaders.


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Last modified on Tuesday, 17 March 2009 19:27
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