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Written by Olin Coles   
Saturday, 20 September 2008
Table of Contents: Page Index
Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic Dual Edition
Radeon HD 4870 Features
Sonic 4870 Specifications
Closer Look: Palit 4870 Sonic
Video Card Testing Methodology
3DMark06 Benchmarks
COD 4 Fraps Benchmarks
Crysis Benchmark Results
Unreal Tournament 3
World in Conflict Benchmarks
4870 Sonic Power Consumption
Radeon 4800-Series Final Thoughts
Palit Radeon 4870 Conclusion

Palit Radeon 4870 Conclusion

For those not up on manufacturer personalities, Frobot is Palit's half-frog half-robot character that makes an appearance on each product package. Presentation is always the first summary I give in each product review conclusion, but ironically this mundane topic seldom provides the same outcome. Palit, a company who has used several color schemes to catch our consumer attention, switches gears and goes candy-apple red for the Sonic Dual Edition video card. There's plenty of information on the package, which should help educate the inexperienced enthusiast.

Judging the product appearance is a little more difficult than I'm used to. Lately, almost everything has been encased in plastic housings with a contoured finish. This doesn't mean that you can't look sharp without the extra plastic body work, but there's a level of protection all of that stuff provides which goes missing on ATI products. Still, Palit has done a very good job mixing red hues with black component accents, making the Radeon HD 4870 look as fast as it actually performs.

Palit_HD_4870_Sonic_Splash.jpg

Construction is solid, but not without some concerns. I absolutely appreciate ATI for not placing memory module IC's on the back side of the PCB, but at the same time I have to hold Palit accountable for the cooling unit. If you've read any or my video card reviews, you'll know how much I dislike VGA coolers that exhaust back into the computer case... no matter how well they cool. While this is a rather null complaint (because the dual fans cool the unit superbly), I still think that dual-slot video cards should exhaust outside of the computer case. Aside from this, the construction is solid and all electronics are well protected.

In terms of performance, the Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic Edition usually performed around 30% better than the Radeon HD 4850 and GeForce 9800 GTX+. During Crysis testing with 4x AA added, this Radeon HD 4870 video card was unable to outperform the overclocked GeForce GTX 260 or 280 we used, but it matched the performance of our CrossFireX set of 4850's. Alternatively, the less NVIDIA-biased Call of Duty 4 placed the Palit 4870 right between the factory-overclocked GTX 260 and trailing behind the GTX 280 AMP! Edition. As a graphics processor, the RV770 performed incredibly well; but I didn't see much evidence of this overclocked 4870 beating its GTX 280 counterpart.

Value is always relative to supply and demand, along with whatever retailers think they can get from the consumer audience at any particular time. At the time of this writing, the Palit Radeon HD 4870 is being sold at NewEgg for $269.99 with a rebate available. This price comes about $100 or more below the GTX 280 we compared, making the argument sway in Palit's favor. Even still, I think the Radeon HD 4870 series will still see a small price reduction after the initial glow of a fresh product launch fades away.

In conclusion, my final recommendation on the Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic Dual Edition is very good but not so great that you should ignore the options. On its own accord, the 4870 would occasionally reach the level of performance seen from the GeForce GTX 260 but never actually dominated over it. Taken into consideration, you have to look at price and sub-feature offerings. It's no surprise that CrossFire and CrossFireX are available on just about every single motherboard that fits an Intel or AMD processor; the same is hardly true for the SLI. So then it's down to price. Since NVIDIA submitted to ATI's price point, both the GTX 260 and Radeon 4870 are now offered around the same cost. At the end of this point there's really no decisive victory to be handed out. In summary, the Palit Radeon HD 4870 is an outstanding product with a few convenience features over the alternative, so the decision is going to come down to personal preference and available pricing.

Pros:

+ Native DisplayPort output
+ Dual-Mode BIOS and smart switch
+ Extremely good AA/AF performance for higher-end games
+ Supports DirectX 10 and Shader Model 4.0
+ 775 MHz GPU / 1000 MHz GDDR5 vRAM
+ Features ATI AVIVO Technology
+ 1080p HDMI Audio and Video supported for HDCP output
+ Quiet fans under normal operation
+ Introduces new TeraScale Graphics Engine technology
+ Exceptional dual-fan cooling solution
+ Supports CrossFireX functionality
+ 24x Custom filter anti-aliasing (CFAA)
+ 5 GBps PCI Express 2.0 graphics interface

Cons:

- Consumes more power than most other single-GPU products tested
- Maximum post-processing Anti Aliasing is limited to 8x
- Fan noise can grow to a noticable level under full load
- Does not exhaust outside of computer case
- Kit does not include CrossFireX bridge component

Ratings:

  • Presentation: 9.00
  • Appearance: 9.25
  • Construction: 9.00
  • Functionality: 9.00
  • Value: 8.50

Final Score: 8.95 out of 10.

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