It's been a busy year for the PC graphics world with both AMD and Nvidia releasing new architectures back and forth and then improving them further, eventually having to rearrange their lineups to match prices.
A perfect example is the Radeon HD 4870, which debuted at the end of June with a retail price of $ 299 and was significantly cheaper than the competition's GeForce GTX 260 at the time. Not too long afterwards, we published our direct comparison of the GeForce GTX 260/280 and the Radeon HD 4800 series, which clearly showed that the Radeon had the performance advantage over the GTX 260 despite the lower price.
Nvidia was forced to slash the price of the GeForce GTX 260 to the level of the Radeon, only to then release an improved version that effectively replaced the original weeks later. The new GeForce GTX 260 of the same name now has 216 SPUs instead of the original 192.
However, these newer GeForce GTX 260 cards are priced at more than $ 310, which means the increase in performance comes with an additional cost. With plenty of Radeon HD 4870 graphics cards currently only priced at $ 270, the new GeForce GTX 260 isn't necessarily more appealing than the original. When we concluded our comparison between the Radeon HD 4870 and the GeForce GTX 260, in which the Radeon was ahead, there was only one small problem: the heat generation.
Although the Radeon HD 4870 consumes less power under load, it runs significantly hotter than the GeForce GTX 260 with the standard cooler shared by most outgoing cards regardless of manufacturer. While the 80 ° C + load temperatures were a little worrisome, it was the 70 ° C + idle temperatures that really worried us. This means that the Radeon HD 4870 emits more than 70 degrees of heat even on the Windows desktop, most of which escapes into the case.
This was also an issue when we tested the Visiontek Radeon HD 4870, which used the AMD reference cooler. However, the use of special software (Catalyst drivers now also support this) to increase the fan speed, which is allowed for lower temperatures, resulted in a noticeable increase in the operating volume. Hence, we believed that the best Radeon HD 4870 solution would be one that ditched the barely sufficient reference cooler for something more elaborate.
And finally, we have a Radeon HD 4870 card that did just that, the new Force3D Radeon HD 4870 Black Edition. Force3D has improved this special edition Radeon by overclocking the core and memory, if only slightly overclocked, and replacing the reference cooler with one of the best VGA air coolers money can buy, the Arctic-Cooling Accelero Twin Turbo.
We can expect the Force3D Radeon HD 4870 Black Edition to be a bit faster than the original, but most importantly, it gets significantly cooler too. Before we look at the performance metrics, let's take a closer look at this impressive looking graphics card.