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Review: Force3D Radeon HD 4870 Black Edition: it's Vader Time!

by Tarinder Sandhu on 30 October 2008, 14:00 3.5

Tags: HD 4870 Black Edition 512MB GDDR5, AMD (NYSE:AMD), ATi Technologies (NYSE:AMD), Force3D, PC

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The Dark Side

Dispatching the reference cooler in order to gain higher frequencies and lower temperatures, Force3D opts to go with an Arctic Cooling Accelero TWIN TURBO cooler that currently etails for around £35 on its own.

The cooler uses a couple of 80mm fans that are controlled by the board's PWM, and they can spin anywhere between 1,200rpm and 2,000rpm, depending upon temperature. We found it reasonably quiet under load, too, beating out the reference heatsink in the aural stakes.

Cooling is further enhanced by having four heatpipes split over the large area which effectively takes over the card, and our testing found under-load temperatures to be some 40°C lower than a Force3D HD 4870 with a reference cooler - that's some improvement.

Looking rather impressive on top of the card, the Accelero does take up a little extra room than the twin-slot-taking reference heatsink. The fans protrude upwards and force the design to become a three-slot affair. Unfortunately, though, the impressive cooling is directed solely towards to the GPU; the 512MB memory chips are left bare.

Force3D ramps up the core clock to 770MHz - 20MHz above stock - and also increases the memory clock to an effective 3,800MHz, up from 3,600MHz. We reckon that the Black Edition's core and memory could have been set higher, matching the 780MHz/4,000MHz from Sapphire's TOXIC HD 4870.

The meaty cooler as seen from the other side.

There's nothing much of note on the back; all the memory chips are contained on the topside. Two CrossFireX fingers mean that other cards, up to a maximum of three, can be daisy-chained for multi-GPU rendering.

The front shows the 30 aluminium fins and four heatpipes surrounding them. The bottom half of the card is completely reference, that is, it has two six-pin power connectors that need to be hooked up to your computer's PSU. We recommend a 400W for single-card usage and 600W for two.

Here we can see the fans stick out over and above the double-height backplate. The outputs are standard enough, with HDMI-capable DVI slots sandwiching a seven-pin mini-DIN for TV-out.


A high-quality aftermarket cooler is strapped on to a Radeon HD 4870 512MB card. Force3D then pre-overclocks the core and memory a touch and etails the whole package at some £197, which is around £25 dearer than buying the reference card alone.