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Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 Vapor-X 2GB
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by Rob Williams on May 4, 2009 in AMD-Based GPU

Believe it or not, despite the HD 4890′s launch last month, the HD 4870 is still totally relevant, thanks to ATI’s current pricing structure. There’s a card for every budget, and if you’re willing to spend around $180, you can get hooked up with a 1GB version of the card we’re taking a look at today. It’s silent, keeps cool, and still delivers great performance for the money.

Test System & Methodology

At Techgage, we strive to make sure our results are as accurate as possible. Our testing is rigorous and time-consuming, but we feel the effort is worth it. In an attempt to leave no question unanswered, this page contains not only our testbed specifications, but also a fully-detailed look at how we conduct our testing.

If there is a bit of information that we’ve omitted, or you wish to offer thoughts or suggest changes, please feel free to shoot us an e-mail or post in our forums.

Test System

The below table lists our testing machine’s hardware, which remains unchanged throughout all GPU testing, minus the graphics card. Each card used for comparison is also listed here, along with the driver version used. Each one of the URLs in this table can be clicked to view the respective review of that product, or if a review doesn’t exist, it will bring you to the product on the manufacturer’s website.

Component
Model
Processor
Intel Core i7-965 Extreme Edition – Quad-Core, 3.2GHz, 1.25v
Motherboard
ASUS Rampage II Extreme – X58-based, 0903 BIOS (12/31/08)
Memory
OCZ Gold PC3-12800 – DDR3-1333 7-7-7-24-1T, 1.60v
Graphics
Palit Radeon HD 4870 X2 2GB (Catalyst 8.12 Hotfix)
Sapphire Radeon HD 4890 1GB (Catalyst March 25, 2009)
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 2GB (Catalyst 9.4)
Diamond Radeon HD 4870 1GB (Catalyst 8.12 Hotfix)
Sapphire Radeon HD 4830 512MB (Catalyst 9.2)
Sapphire Radeon HD 4670 512MB (Catalyst 9.2)
NVIDIA Graphics
Zotac GeForce GTX 295 1792MB (GeForce 181.22)
EVGA GeForce GTX 285 1GB (GeForce 182.06)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 275 896MB (GeForce 185.63)
Palit GeForce GTX 280 1GB (GeForce 181.22)
XFX GeForce GTX 260/216 896MB (GeForce 181.22)
EVGA GeForce GTS 250 1GB (GeForce 182.08)
ASUS GeForce 9800 GTX+ 512MB (GeForce 182.08)
Audio
On-Board Audio
Storage
Power Supply
Chassis
Display
Cooling
Et cetera

When preparing our testbeds for any type of performance testing, we follow these guidelines:

    General Guidelines

  • No power-saving options are enabled in the motherboard’s BIOS.
  • Internet is disabled.
  • No Virus Scanner or Firewall is installed.
  • The OS is kept clean; no scrap files are left in between runs.
  • Hard drives affected are defragged with Diskeeper 2008 prior to a fresh benchmarking run.
  • Machine has proper airflow and the room temperature is 80°F (27°C) or less.
    Windows Vista Optimizations

  • User Account Control (UAC) and screen saver are disabled.
  • Windows Defender, Firewall, Security Center, Search, Sidebar and Updates are disabled.

To aide with the goal of keeping accurate and repeatable results, we alter certain services in Windows Vista from starting up at boot. This is due to the fact that these services have the tendency to start up in the background without notice, potentially causing slightly inaccurate results. Disabling “Windows Search” turns off the OS’ indexing which can at times utilize the hard drive and memory more than we’d like.

Game Benchmarks

For graphic card reviews that pit us with a mid-range card or higher, we test at three popular resolutions that span the mid-range to high-end ground, consisting of monitor sizes of 20″ (1680×1050), 24″ (1920×1200) and 30″ (2560×1600).

In an attempt to offer “real-world” results, we do not utilize timedemos in our graphic card reviews, with the exception of Futuremark’s automated 3DMark Vantage. Each game in our test suite is benchmarked manually, with the minimum and average frames-per-second (FPS) captured with the help of FRAPS 2.9.8.

To deliver the best overall results, each title we use is exhaustively explored in order to find the best possible level in terms of intensiveness and replayability. Once a level is chosen, we play through repeatedly to find the best possible route and then in our official benchmarking, we stick to that route as close as possible. Since we are not robots and the game can throw in minor twists with each run, no run can be identical to the pixel.

Each game and setting combination is tested twice, and if there is a discrepancy between the initial results, the testing is repeated until we see results we are confident with.

The six games we currently use for our GPU reviews are listed below, with direct screenshots of the game’s setting screens and explanations of why we chose what we did.

Crysis Warhead

1680×1050
1920×1200
2560×1600






Call of Duty: World at War

1680×1050
1920×1200
2560×1600






Far Cry 2

1680×1050
1920×1200
2560×1600

Left 4 Dead

1680×1050
1920×1200
2560×1600

Mirror’s Edge

1680×1050
1920×1200
2560×1600

Need for Speed: Undercover

1680×1050
1920×1200
2560×1600