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Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic Dual Edition
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by Rob Williams on October 7, 2008 in AMD-Based GPU

It’s no secret that the HD 4870 is one of the best overall GPUs on the market right now, but with so much selection from vendors, it’s hard to choose the “best” one. Palit has a definite winner with their Sonic Dual Edition though. It’s pre-overclocked, runs 20°C cooler than the reference design and carries no cost premium.

Half-Life 2: Episode Two

The original Half-Life 2 might have first seen the light of day close to four years ago, but it’s still arguably one of the greatest-looking games ever seen on the PC. Follow-up versions, including Episode One and Episode Two, do well to put the Source Engine upgrades to full use. While playing, it’s hard to believe that the game is based on a four+ year old engine, but it still looks great and runs well on almost any GPU purchased over the past few years.

Like Call of Duty 4, Half-Life 2: Episode Two runs well on modest hardware, but a recent mid-range graphics card is recommended if you wish to play at higher than 1680×1050 or would like to top out the available options, including anti-aliasing and very high texture settings.

This game benefits from both the CPU and GPU, and the skies the limit. In order to fully top out the available settings and run the highest resolution possible, you need a very fast GPU or GPUs along with a fast processor. Though the in-game options go much higher, we run our tests with 4xAA and 8xAF to allow the game to remain playable on the smaller mid-range cards.

The card continues to perform well, and the pre-overclock helped deliver an extra 4 FPS at our top resolution. Nothing major, but it’s an increase nonetheless.

Graphics Card
Best Playable
Avg. FPS
Palit HD 4870 X2 2GB
2560×1600, Max Detail, 8xAA, 16xAF
81.418 FPS
Palit GTX 280 1GB
2560×1600, Max Detail, 8xAA, 16xAF
61.437 FPS
Palit HD 4870 512MB Sonic
2560×1600, Max Detail, 8xAA, 16xAF
60.413 FPS
Palit HD 4870 512MB
2560×1600, Max Detail, 8xAA, 16xAF
56.572 FPS
Palit 9800 GX2 1GB
2560×1600, Max Detail, 4xAA, 8xAF
89.596 FPS
ASUS 9800 GTX 512MB
2560×1600, Max Detail, 4xAA, 8xAF
51.272 FPS
ASUS HD 4850 512MB
2560×1600, Max Detail, 4xAA, 8xAF
48.142 FPS
Gigabyte 9600 GT 512MB
2560×1600, Max Detail, 0xAA, 8xAF
52.297 FPS

Our general rule is that for this particular game to be completely enjoyable, an average of at least 60 FPS is required. When we increased the anti-aliasing to 8xAA, we managed to keep performance above that mark, making it our best playable setting. For an affordable GPU like this one, it’s great to see performance like this at such high detail settings.


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