Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
ASUS' latest Radeon HD 4870 X2 graphics card has good aftermarket overclocking potential.
- Cool operating temperatures, adequate performance
- Blocks access to two extra PCI slots, can be quite loud
If you want an air-cooled card that provides decent headroom for aftermarket overclocking, ASUS' EAH4780X2/HTDI/2G is a good choice. Unfortunately, the operating noise and the card's thickness are deterrents.
Price$ 999.00 (AUD)
The ASUS EAH4870X2/HTDI/2G provides reasonable performance and good cooling. This graphics card is suitable if you are looking for a cool-running card with aftermarket overclocking potential.
Nothing much has changed from the specifications found of a vanilla AMD ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2. The ASUS EAH4870X2/HTDI/2G uses two Radeon HD 4870 GPUs on a single printed circuit board, sharing a total of 2GB of GDDR5 memory over a 512-bit interface. ASUS doesn't perform any form of factory overclocking, so the card's core and memory are clocked at 750MHz and 900MHz (per module), respectively. The design has been dethroned as king of desktop graphics cards, but it can still handle some pressure.
The ASUS EAH4870X2/HTDI/2G measures 267mm from end to end, taking up the good part of the length of a standard ATX motherboard. However, the fansink design makes the card nearly 50mm thick — 14mm thicker than a standard dual-GPU graphics card. This means that it blocks access to a total of three PCI slots. This doesn't make CrossFire configurations impossible on most motherboards, but it does limit expansion.
The card weighs 850g and requires single 6-pin and 8-pin power connections. Two DVI ports and a single S-Video jack are available.
The most striking thing about the ASUS EAH4870X2/HTDI/2G is the use of three fans. Like the ASUS EAH4870 MATRIX/HTDI/512MD5, this graphics card focuses on optimum cooling rather than power, and ASUS claims the three-fan design can cut up to 24 degrees of heat off the card compared to the Radeon HD 4870 X2 reference board. The overhauled cooling design seems to have worked; during testing, the EAH4870X2/HTDI/2G idled at 44 degrees with temperature peaking at 68 degrees. This doesn’t come without some compromises though, as the card can become the loudest component in a PC system during operation.
ASUS' SmartDoctor is provided as an alternate aftermarket overclocking utility to ATI's own Overdrive function. The software isn't nearly as comprehensive is the iTracker utility provided with ASUS' Republic of Gamers graphics cards.
At factory speeds, the EAH4870X2/HTDI/2G performs well, though certainly isn't leader of the pack. We ran the video card through several benchmark tests on a machine running Windows Vista 64-bit with an Intel Core i7 965, 6GB of DDR3 RAM and a Western Digital VelociRaptor (WD3000GLFS) hard drive, in an Antec Skeleton case.
In Futuremark's 3DMark 06, the EAH4870X2/HTDI/2G managed an admirable 10,360 points; a decent boost above the Manli GTX295. However, in the more recent 3DMark Vantage, the roles reversed with Manli's GTX295 showing a much better X8556 points to the ASUS graphics card's X6328.
A similar disparity occurred in the Half Life 2: Episode Two benchmark, in which the ASUS EAH4870X2/HTDI/2G scored 137.27 frames per second compared to the Manli GTX295's 129.87fps. In all other real-world tests we conducted, however, the EAH4870X2/HTDI/2G was the poorer performer. The card scored 57.35fps in Left 4 Dead, 66.8fps in Call of Juarez and an average of 27.8fps in the DirectX 10 version of Lost Planet. It managed a just-playable 29.2fps in Crysis Warhead.
Given that the ASUS EAH4870X2/HTDI/2G will cost you the same as the Manli GTX295, the decision will be between performance and cooling. If you have the skill and guts to max out your graphics card's potential through overclocking, ASUS' fansink design may just be what you need.
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