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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.

Unreal Tournament III

As odd as it may seem, every single game we currently use for our graphic card benchmarking is a sequel or an entry in a series of games, including this one. The original Unreal Tournament launched in late 1999, and since then, it has become a stature with GPU benchmarking. Similar to Call of Duty, the UT series of games is one that manages to deliver spectacular graphics, but doesn’t require a bleeding-edge machine to see them.

UTIII offers a variety of modes and levels, and has some of the most interesting and lush environments ever seen in a video game. If I could choose where I wanted to die, it would most likely be in the Gateway level, which you can see in the screenshot below. This level is one of the most interesting in the game as it’s essentially three levels in one, linked together with portals – and it’s hard to beat the feeling of scoring a portal frag.

The game might be one of the best-looking currently on the PC, but it doesn’t offer robust in-game settings like some others in our suite. Because of this, we are forced to enable anti-aliasing in the control panel of the current graphics card. Both ATI’s and NVIDIA’s drivers allow us to choose 4xAA, so that’s what we stick with throughout all of our testing.

The tradition continues. Palit’s pre-overclocked HD 4870 consistently outperforms the stock-clocked model, which isn’t at all a surprise. To play in the big leagues though (2560×1600, 4xAA), a beefier GPU is almost a requirement, especially if you play online (it would be odd if you didn’t).

Graphics Card
Best Playable
Avg. FPS
Palit GTX 280 1GB
2560×1600, Max Detail, 4xAA
72.148 FPS
Palit HD 4870 X2 2GB
2560×1600, Max Detail, 4xAA
55.479 FPS
Palit 9800 GX2 1GB
2560×1600, Max Detail, 0xAA
78.909 FPS
Palit HD 4870 512MB Sonic
2560×1600, Max Detail, 0xAA
60.901 FPS
Palit HD 4870 512MB
2560×1600, Max Detail, 0xAA
57.617 FPS
ASUS 9800 GTX 512MB
2560×1600, Max Detail, 0xAA
48.874 FPS
Gigabyte 9600 GT 512MB
2560×1600, Max Detail, 0xAA
43.781 FPS
ASUS HD 4850 512MB
2560×1600, Max Detail, 0xAA
42.228 FPS

Like most of the GPUs in our line-up, enabling the 4xAA is a bad move with this card. Only NVIDIA’s GTX 280 and ATI’s HD 4870 X2 manage to play well with anti-aliasing at our highest resolution, but luckily enough, the game still looks fantastic without it.