Articles: Graphics

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The Radeon HD 4870 X2 provoked a sensation in its time. Based on two RV770 cores, the dual-chip monster delivered then-unprecedented gaming performance and Nvidia could not offer anything like that. But when the first thrill of excitement had subsided, the new king of the 3D graphics market was found to have a number of blemishes.

Besides an expectedly high price, it had huge power consumption and, consequently, heat dissipation. To remind you, the ordinary single-processor Radeon HD 4870 has a power draw of about 130 watts under load. When two such cards are combined into a single product with one PCB, the power draw naturally grows twofold, up to 260 watts. Thus, the cooling system has to take off 260 watts of heat, keep the temperature of the components within reasonable limits, and produce an acceptable amount of noise – you don’t want to play in sound-insulating headphones, do you? Designing such a cooler is a daunting task because of the restrained dimensions determined by the dimensions of the graphics card itself.

AMD’s graphics department did their best to meet all the requirements, but did not succeed much. The cooler had proper dimensions but was not quite efficient. Notwithstanding the copper heatsinks, one of which had a special evaporation chamber for better performance, the GPUs were as hot as 90°C under load. And that was but half of the problem. Such a high temperature is not something lethal for modern electronic chips and one could put up with it if the cooler were silent. However, AMD failed on that point. The cooler was rather quiet in 2D mode but unbearably loud under load. What made things worse, the too smart system of fan speed control would be constantly varying the speed of the cooler’s fan and the resulting fluctuations in noise were very irritating.

So, it is no wonder that the reference Radeon HD 4870 X2 cooler received a lot of deserved criticism, yet most samples of that card would still come with that cooler. The makers of alternative cooling systems were not much interested because the Radeon HD 4870 X2 was not very popular due to its high price. To put it briefly, developing a complex alternative cooler that would be able to cool the Radeon HD 4870 X2 with all its graphics cores and other components just did not make any commercial sense.

However, not all of AMD’s graphics card partners agree that the name of Radeon HD 4870 X2 is synonymous with the word loud. One such partner is Palit Microsystems. Although this manufacturer is mostly known for its inexpensive products, this time it has taken up a rather ambitious project with the purpose of developing the world’s best Radeon HD 4870 X2 that would be a fast, universal and quiet solution. The project has an ambitious name, too. The new device is called Revolution 700 Deluxe. We’ve got one such card and are going to check out its practical worth.

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