Force3D Radeon HD 4870 Black Edition Graphics Card

We haven't seen anything from Force3D before, but the HD 4870 Black Edition from them today looks to be the goods.
| Sep 29, 2008 at 11:00 pm CDT
Rating: 92%Manufacturer: Force3D

Introduction

Force3D Radeon HD 4870 Black Edition Graphics Card
IntroductionIf you haven't heard of Force3D before, you're not alone. It wasn't until the other day when I received an email from them that I knew of their existence. Concentrating on ATI based graphics cards, they have a full line-up of HD 4000 series cards starting from the HD 4650 and going all the way up to the HD 4870 X2.The majority of their products currently consist of only using reference coolers it seems, but they have begun to diversify. The particular card we're looking at today is the HD 4870 Black Edition which was only recently announced. The HD 4870 Black Edition from Force3D is packing some serious cooling, but before we get into that we'll quickly take a moment to check out the package and bundle that Force3D have put together.

The Package

The PackageThe front of the box doesn't have a whole lot going on; across the top we have some ATI logos while across the bottom we have the Radeon logo and mention of the card being the HD 4870.
Force3D Radeon HD 4870 Black Edition Graphics Card
In the middle of the box we have the Force3D logo along with a mention that this is a Black Edition card and a motto that says "Designed with Excellence."
Force3D Radeon HD 4870 Black Edition Graphics Card
Turning the box over paints a similar picture with not a whole lot going on. We again have mention of the brand and the fact that the card is part of the Black Edition. The bottom half of the box has a bit of a blurb in a number of languages while right down the bottom we have a number of logos.
Force3D Radeon HD 4870 Black Edition Graphics Card
As far as paper work / CDs go, we only have a single driver CD that sits in a wallet which has a quick start guided embedded into it.
Force3D Radeon HD 4870 Black Edition Graphics Card
The cable department fortunately has a bit more going on with a Crossfire connector, S-Video to RCA convertor, component out dongle, DVI to VGA connector and DVI to HDMI connector.

The Card

The CardGetting rid of all the boring stuff and finally getting onto the card itself, we can see that the big thing about this card is the cooler. The cooler they're using is an Accelero Twin Turbo cooler which is part of the Arctic Cooling line.
Force3D Radeon HD 4870 Black Edition Graphics Card
Behind the fans we can see a number of fins and if we look at the bottom of the card we can see that four heat pipes come out the bottom to help get the heat away from the core. The whole cooler looks pretty mean looking with the two fans and we can see Force3D have placed some stickers on there.
Force3D Radeon HD 4870 Black Edition Graphics Card
Force3D Radeon HD 4870 Black Edition Graphics Card
Looking around the card; there isn't anything out of the ordinary. At the back of the card we have two 6-pin PCI Express power connectors while moving across the top shows us two Crossfire connectors if you want to put two or three of these bad boys together.
Force3D Radeon HD 4870 Black Edition Graphics Card
The I/O side of things doesn't hold any surprises; apart from some vents to let the hot air escape, we have a single TV-Out port that sits between two Dual Link DVI connectors.SpecificationsForce3D have taken the time to overclock the card. The core has moved from the default 750MHz to 770MHz while the memory has gone from 900MHz to 950MHz which equates to a 3800MHz Data Rate.

Test System Setup and 3DMark06

Test System SetupProcessor(s): Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 @ 3GHz (333MHz x 9)Cooling: Corsair Nautilus500 (Supplied by Corsair) with Arctic Cooling MX-2 Thermal Compound (Supplied by Arctic Cooling)Motherboard(s): GIGABYTE X48-DQ6 (Supplied by GIGABYTE)Memory: 2 X 1GB Kingston PC6400 DDR-2 3-3-3-10 (KHX6400D2ULK2/2G) (Supplied by Kingston)Hard Disk(s): Seagate 250GB 7200RPM SATA-2 7200.10 (Supplied by Seagate)Operating System: Windows XP Professional SP2, Windows Vista SP1Drivers: NVIDIA ForceWare 177.79 and Catalyst 8.9Today we'll be comparing the HD 4870 Black Edition from Force3D against the stock clocked Sapphire HD 4870 and some of NVIDIAs cards like the 9800 GTX, 9800 GX2 and GTX 280.3DMark06Version and / or Patch Used: Build 110Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06/Buy It Here
3DMark06 is the worldwide standard in advanced 3D game performance benchmarking. A fundamental tool for every company in the PC industry as well as PC users and gamers, 3DMark06 uses advanced real-time 3D game workloads to measure PC performance using a suite of DirectX 9 3D graphics tests, CPU tests, and 3D feature tests.3DMark06 tests include all new HDR/SM3.0 graphics tests, SM2.0 graphics tests, AI and physics driven single and multiple cores or processor CPU tests and a collection of comprehensive feature tests to reliably measure next generation gaming performance today.
Force3D Radeon HD 4870 Black Edition Graphics Card
Our first test shows all the cards here today performing quite close to each other with the older dual GPU 9800 GX2 coming out ahead.

Benchmarks - 3DMark Vantage

3DMark VantageVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmarkvantage/Buy It Here
3DMark Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware. 3DMark Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.
Force3D Radeon HD 4870 Black Edition Graphics Card
Under Vantage we can see the Force3D gives us a slight boost over the stock model at both settings.

Benchmarks - PT Boats: Knights of the Sea

PT Boats: Knights of the SeaVersion and / or Patch Used: Benchmark DemoDeveloper Homepage: http://en.akella.com/Product Homepage: http://www.pt-boats.net/
PT Boats: Knights of the Sea is a naval action simulator that places gamers in charge of a mosquito fleet of the Allied Forces, Russia or Germany during the height of World War II.Using the latest Direct X 10 technology PT Boards - Knights of the Sea manages to apply a lot of stress to the components of today which in turn gives us quite an intensive benchmark.
Force3D Radeon HD 4870 Black Edition Graphics Card
Force3D Radeon HD 4870 Black Edition Graphics Card
Under PT Boats we can see that the overclock gives us a slight boost over the stock Sapphire model in both the minimum and average department.

Benchmarks - CINEBENCH R10

CINEBENCH R10Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10Developer Homepage: http://www.maxon.net/Product Homepage: http://www.maxon.net
CINEBENCH is a real-world test suite that assesses your computer's performace capabilities. MAXON CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software, CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.MAXON CINEBENCH runs several tests on your computer to measure the performance of the main processor and the graphics card under real world circumstances. The benchmark application makes use of up to 16 CPUs or CPU cores and is available for Windows (32-bit and 64-Bit) and Macintosh (PPC and Intel-based).
Force3D Radeon HD 4870 Black Edition Graphics Card
CINEBENCH shows both HD 4870 cards performing quite close to each other.

Benchmarks - World in Conflict

World in ConflictVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.5Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in TestDeveloper Homepage: http://www.massive.se Product Homepage: http://www.worldinconflict.com
World in Conflict is a real-time strategy video game by Massive Entertainment and to be published by Sierra Entertainment for Windows (DX9 and DX10) and the Xbox 360.The game is set in 1989 where economic troubles cripple the Soviet Union and threaten to dissolve it. However, the title pursues a "what if" scenario where, in this case, the Soviet Union does not collapse and instead pursues a course of war to remain in power. It is an intensive new game is sure to put plenty of stress on even the latest graphics cards and we use the built-in benchmarking for our testing.
Force3D Radeon HD 4870 Black Edition Graphics Card
Force3D Radeon HD 4870 Black Edition Graphics Card
Under WIC we see a nice little boost over the stock model, though it does sit behind the GTX 280, as we would expect.

Benchmarks - Crysis

CrysisVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.2.1Timedemo or Level Used: Custom time demoDeveloper Homepage: http://www.crytek.com/ Product Homepage: http://www.ea.com/crysis/Buy It Here
From the makers of Far Cry, Crysis offers FPS fans the best-looking, most highly-evolving gameplay, requiring the player to use adaptive tactics and total customization of weapons and armor to survive in dynamic, hostile environments including Zero-G.Real time editing, bump mapping, dynamic lights, network system, integrated physics system, shaders, shadows and a dynamic music system are just some of the state of-the-art features the CryENGINE™ 2 offers. The CryENGINE™ 2 comes complete with all of its internal tools and also includes the CryENGINE™ 2 Sandbox world editing system.
Force3D Radeon HD 4870 Black Edition Graphics Card
Under Crysis we can see again the overclock gives us a little boost in performance that puts us very close to the GTX 280.

Benchmarks - Unreal Tournament 3

Unreal Tournament 3Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1Timedemo or Level Used: Developer Homepage: http://www.epicgames.com/ Product Homepage: http://www.unrealtournament3.com/Buy It Here
Following the formulae that made Unreal Tournament so great the third installment to the series has hit us recently with better than ever graphics. The games uses the latest Unreal Engine which like most modern day games when maxed out puts the pressure on our lineup of graphics cards.
Force3D Radeon HD 4870 Black Edition Graphics Card
UT3 manages to see a good boost at the higher resolution while at the lower one we see the top end cards perform very close together.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF

High Quality AA and AFOur high quality tests let us separate the men from the boys and the ladies from the girls. If the cards weren't struggling before they will start to now.3DMark06
Force3D Radeon HD 4870 Black Edition Graphics Card
Turning on AA and AF continues to give the Force3D a jump on the stock clocked model, as you would expect.World In Conflict
Force3D Radeon HD 4870 Black Edition Graphics Card
Force3D Radeon HD 4870 Black Edition Graphics Card
Turning up the detail in WIC sees the Force3D get an extra FPS in both the minimum and average department.

Benchmarks - 3DMark06 - XP

3DMark06Version and / or Patch Used: Build 110Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06/Buy It Here
3DMark06 is the worldwide standard in advanced 3D game performance benchmarking. A fundamental tool for every company in the PC industry as well as PC users and gamers, 3DMark06 uses advanced real-time 3D game workloads to measure PC performance using a suite of DirectX 9 3D graphics tests, CPU tests, and 3D feature tests.3DMark06 tests include all new HDR/SM3.0 graphics tests, SM2.0 graphics tests, AI and physics driven single and multiple cores or processor CPU tests and a collection of comprehensive feature tests to reliably measure next generation gaming performance today.
Force3D Radeon HD 4870 Black Edition Graphics Card
Looking at 3DMark06 under XP shows a little boost over the stock clock model, as you would expect.

Benchmarks - CINEBENCH R10 - XP

CINEBENCH R10Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10Developer Homepage: http://www.maxon.net/Product Homepage: http://www.maxon.net
CINEBENCH is a real-world test suite that assesses your computer's performace capabilities. MAXON CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software, CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.MAXON CINEBENCH runs several tests on your computer to measure the performance of the main processor and the graphics card under real world circumstances. The benchmark application makes use of up to 16 CPUs or CPU cores and is available for Windows (32-bit and 64-Bit) and Macintosh (PPC and Intel-based).
Force3D Radeon HD 4870 Black Edition Graphics Card
We again see CINEBENCH performance between the two cards very similar with the pair beating out the other NVIDIA cards by a significant margin.

Benchmarks - World in Conflict - XP

World in ConflictVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.5Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in TestDeveloper Homepage: http://www.massive.se Product Homepage: http://www.worldinconflict.com
World in Conflict is a real-time strategy video game by Massive Entertainment and to be published by Sierra Entertainment for Windows (DX9 and DX10) and the Xbox 360.The game is set in 1989 where economic troubles cripple the Soviet Union and threaten to dissolve it. However, the title pursues a "what if" scenario where, in this case, the Soviet Union does not collapse and instead pursues a course of war to remain in power. It is an intensive new game is sure to put plenty of stress on even the latest graphics cards and we use the built-in benchmarking for our testing.
Force3D Radeon HD 4870 Black Edition Graphics Card
Force3D Radeon HD 4870 Black Edition Graphics Card
Again, under WIC we see the Force3D HD 4870 Black Edition gets a nice little bump in performance.

Benchmarks - Unreal Tournament 3 - XP

Unreal Tournament 3Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1Timedemo or Level Used: Developer Homepage: http://www.epicgames.com/ Product Homepage: http://www.unrealtournament3.com/Buy It Here
Following the formulae that made Unreal Tournament so great the third installment to the series has hit us recently with better than ever graphics. The games uses the latest Unreal Engine which like most modern day games when maxed out puts the pressure on our lineup of graphics cards.
Force3D Radeon HD 4870 Black Edition Graphics Card
Finally we leave with the Force3D getting a slight bump in performance and sitting around similar levels to the more expensive GTX 280 at the highest resolution.

Temperature & Sound Tests

Temperature Tests
With the TES 1326 Infrared Thermometer literally in hand we found ourselves getting real-world temperatures from the products we test at load (3D clock speeds).There are two places we pull temperature from - the back of the card directly behind the core and if the card is dual slot and has an exhaust point we also pull a temperate from there, as seen in the picture.
Force3D Radeon HD 4870 Black Edition Graphics Card
The new cooler helps keep temps way down by shaving a good 10c off the reference cooler.Sound Tests
Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).
Zotac 9800 GTX+ Zone
The big shave in temperature does come at the cost of a few more dBs, but it's nothing we would be worried about.

Power Consumption Tests

Power Consumption Tests
Using our new PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01 or "Power Thingy" as it has become quickly known as to our readers, we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated graphics cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).There are a few important notes to remember though; while our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10% more. We test at the exact same stage every time; therefore tests should be very consistent and accurate.The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a 7,200RPM SATA-II single hard drive is used without CD ROM or many cooling fans.So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.
Force3D Radeon HD 4870 Black Edition Graphics Card
The Force3D card manages to draw more power at load when compared to the stock Sapphire model.

Final Thoughts

Final ThoughtsWe haven't seen anything from Force3D before, but it seems like they know what they're doing. The decision to go the Arctic Cooling route is a good idea; it's a brand that most people know and ultimately the cooler really does perform extremely well. While it might be a little louder, the number of degrees it's able to shave off the temperature makes it well and truly worth it. While the overclock isn't the highest we've seen to date, it's enough to give us a consistent boost in games and has the ability to really bite at the heels of the more expensive GTX 280. The only real problem now is finding the card. In Australia it doesn't seem the company has any presence and using price search engines in both the US and UK found a whole lot of nothing. But hopefully a card like this will help the company get a bit more attention and assist in getting its products to the market. This might be the first product we've seen from Force3D, but we highly doubt it's going to be the last. With good performance, an excellent design and all the necessary cables to get up and running, they know how to put a good card together.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR -

Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

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