Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic 1GB Graphics Card

1GB HD 4870 cards seem to be rarer than hens teeth, but today we're lucky enough to have Palit's Sonic version in hand.
@ShawnBakerTW
Published Wed, Nov 5 2008 11:00 PM CST   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Rating: 90%Manufacturer: Palit

Introduction


Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic 1GB Graphics Card



When the HD 4870 launched a few months back, it did come as a bit of a surprise that we couldn't see any 1GB models on offer. Really, in this day and age it does seem weird to have such a high-end card carry only 512MB of memory.

Jump forward a few months and we finally see 1GB models coming from companies. The first one we're going to be looking at comes from Palit and carries with it a bit more than the reference cooler and clocks.

Coming under the Sonic naming scheme, we see Palit has gone for an aftermarket cooling solution and of course an overclock on the core and memory. Fortunately, they've taken the whole card a step further from there. How exactly? Well, only time will tell. Before we check out the PCB, though, let's have a quick look at the package and bundle.

The Package




Looking at the box, there isn't anything we haven't really seen before. Most of the box is taken up with a picture of FroBot. Towards the left of the card we have the Palit logo along with some other logos. In the top corner we have mention that this card is a Dual Edition card, which means we have dual fans and a dual BIOS setup.

Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic 1GB Graphics Card


Across the bottom of the box we have a sticker that gives us the model along with some of the main features. The card is of course a HD 4870, but unlike many of the ones we've seen before, this is a Sonic model which means it's overclocked. It also carries with it 1GB of GDDR5 memory.

Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic 1GB Graphics Card


Turning the box over, we have some extended specifications on the card in a number of languages. Across the bottom we have the Palit logo along with their contact e-mail address and website address.

Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic 1GB Graphics Card


Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic 1GB Graphics Card


Moving inside the package, there isn't a whole lot going on, which isn't really a surprise when it comes to a Palit card. Alongside the Installation Guide and Driver CD we have a molex to 6-pin power connector and HDMI to DVI connector.

The Card




With the package out of the way, it's time to move onto the card. Upon pulling it out of the box for the first time, we don't actually see anything we haven't seen before. The card looks identical to the HD 4870 Sonic we looked at from Palit recently which carried with it 512MB of GDDR5.

Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic 1GB Graphics Card


Like the other Sonic card, the HD 4870 1GB fans are different sizes. The one directly above the core is actually slightly larger than the one that sits towards the back of the card. We can see across the top of the card a heat-pipe that helps move the heat from above the core.

Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic 1GB Graphics Card


Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic 1GB Graphics Card


Looking around the card, there isn't anything that really differs from other HD 4870 cards. Towards the back of the card we see two 6-pin PCI Express power connectors while at the front we see a pair of Crossfire connectors.

Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic 1GB Graphics Card


Moving to the I/O side of things is where the card becomes interesting. We don't see the Dual Link DVI setup that we've become so accustomed to from companies. Alongside a single Dual Link DVI, we see a VGA port along with a HDMI port and Display port. We also have a switch on the back of the card which goes between two sets of clocks. While a bit pointless, it's there none the less.


Specifications

With the card of course carrying the Sonic name, it is overclocked when the switch is in Turbo mode. In Sonic mode, the core comes clocked at 750MHz while the memory comes in at 3800MHz QDR. Kick it up a notch to Turbo and you're running at 775MHz on the core and 4000MHz QDR on the 1GB of GDDR5 memory.

Test System Setup and 3DMark06


Test System Setup

Processor(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 SP1
Drivers: NVIDIA ForceWare 177.79 and Catalyst 8.9


Today we'll be checking out the HD 4870 Sonic 1GB from Palit against a stock clocked Sapphire model carrying 512MB of memory as well as some of the top NVIDIA offerings, including their top dog, the GTX 280.


3DMark06

Version and / or Patch Used: Build 110
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product 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.


Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic 1GB Graphics Card


In our first test we can see that all the cards sit quite close together. Really, the only time we see a bit of separation is at 1920 x 1200 where the GTX 280 and HD 4870 Sonic 1GB manage to be quite close to each other.

Benchmarks - 3DMark Vantage


3DMark Vantage

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product 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.


Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic 1GB Graphics Card


Under Vantage we can see that the Sonic model helps give us a bit of extra performance over the stock HD 4870, but the GTX 280 does manage to pull out a win here.

Benchmarks - PT Boats: Knights of the Sea


PT Boats: Knights of the Sea

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Developer 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.


Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic 1GB Graphics Card


Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic 1GB Graphics Card


Against the Sapphire HD 4870 we see the Palit Sonic offering offer a nice little increase at the higher resolution. Compared to the NVIDIA cards that are favored under PT Boats, though, we do see it fall behind a bit.

Benchmarks - CINEBENCH R10


CINEBENCH R10

Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10
Developer 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).


Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic 1GB Graphics Card


The extra memory on the Palit HD 4870 seems to be doing something with it being almost neck and neck with the GTX 280 here.

Benchmarks - World in Conflict


World in Conflict

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.5
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer 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.


Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic 1GB Graphics Card


Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic 1GB Graphics Card


Under WIC we can see the HD 4870 Sonic 1GB from Palit performs well against the stock model. Compared to the GTX 280, though, at the higher resolution it does start to fall back.

Benchmarks - Crysis


Crysis

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.2.1
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom time demo
Developer 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.


Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic 1GB Graphics Card


Crysis puts the Palit offering pretty much in line with the GTX 280, while improving against the stock model from Sapphire.

Benchmarks - Unreal Tournament 3


Unreal Tournament 3

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo 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.


Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic 1GB Graphics Card


UT3 sees the Palit 1GB Sonic model perform well against the stock Sapphire HD 4870 with 512MB of memory. At 2560 x 1600, though, it does just fall back against the more expensive GTX 280.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF


High Quality AA and AF

Our 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

Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic 1GB Graphics Card


With AA and AF on under 3DMark06, we can see the two HD 4870s perform extremely close to each other.


World In Conflict

Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic 1GB Graphics Card


Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic 1GB Graphics Card


WIC gives the Palit HD 4870 Sonic 1GB a little boost over the Sapphire offering. We do again see that it sits ever so slightly behind the GIGABYTE GTX 280, though.

Benchmarks - 3DMark06 - XP


3DMark06

Version and / or Patch Used: Build 110
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product 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.


Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic 1GB Graphics Card


We again see under 3DMark06 most of the cards sit quite close together, with only the higher resolution really separating them.

Benchmarks - CINEBENCH R10 - XP


CINEBENCH R10

Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10
Developer 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).


Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic 1GB Graphics Card


CINEBENCH shows both HD 4870s scoring very close to each other under XP. Compared to the other cards, they manage to come out on top.

Benchmarks - World in Conflict - XP


World in Conflict

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.5
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer 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.

Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic 1GB Graphics Card


Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic 1GB Graphics Card


WIC in XP shows that the HD 4870 1GB from Palit scores very close to the GTX 280 at up to 1920 x 1200, sometimes even better. At 2560, though, it does begin to really fall behind. But you have to remember that it is a cheaper card.

Benchmarks - Unreal Tournament 3 - XP


Unreal Tournament 3

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo 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.


Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic 1GB Graphics Card


At the lower resolution we see the HD 4870 from Palit fly ahead. As we climb up the resolution table the performance between the HD 4870s and GTX 280 become quite close.

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.


Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic 1GB Graphics Card


It doesn't come as any real surprise that the cooler helps keep temperatures way down when compared to the reference design.


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).


Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic 1GB Graphics Card


Fortunately, those cool temps don't come at the cost of more noise either, with it actually being quieter than the stock cooler.

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.


Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic 1GB Graphics Card


Power levels manage to be slightly lower on the Palit compared to the stock model.

Final Thoughts




While we thought that the decision not to release a 1GB model of the HD 4870 at launch was a bad idea, when you compare it to the 512MB stock model the chances are that most of the increases are being seen from the increased clocks speeds as opposed to the extra memory. It will be interesting to see the difference when we have a stock clocked 1GB card on hand.

We don't doubt for a second, though, that the 1GB version of the HD 4870 is going to be popular. There's that thing inside of us that says more is better and since the price difference isn't huge, it's not going to hurt too much by grabbing the extra memory.

As usual, Palit has done a pretty impressive job here. The cooler does a good job of not only keeping the card cool, but doing it at a pretty reasonable noise level. While the switch is a bit on the pointless side of things, in the fastest mode the clocks aren't too bad and help get a bit more performance.

Following on with typical Palit style, there isn't a whole lot going on in the package. With only the bare essentials in cables and paper work, there isn't a whole lot to get excited about.

But that's where the bad news ends and the good news continues on. When you turn around to the I/O shield and find yourself being greeted by all those ports, including HDMI and Display Port, it's easy to be impressed with the card.

While we would probably suggest most people save the dollars and just go down the 512MB route, if you're looking for more memory then the Palit is a good option with a huge amount of features on tap, including a nice out-of-the-box overclock.

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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.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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