ASUS Radeon EAH4870X2 Tri-Fan Graphics Card

The HD 4870 X2 continues to be a current model for AMD/ATI and today we check out ASUS and its Tri-Fan model to see how the card's going.
| May 5, 2009 at 3:12 am CDT
Rating: 92%Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction

ASUS HD 4870 X2 Tri Fan Graphics Card
IntroductionWhile we haven't heard much about the model over the past few months, the HD 4870 X2 continues to be a very real model from ATI and still remains to be the company's fastest graphics card. A while ago we heard ASUS was going to mix it up with the HD 4870 X2 and today we've got the card in our hand and we're going to take the time to see exactly what ASUS has done with this HD 4870 X2 to make it stand out from the pack.If you're looking for an ATI card and you still want the fastest available from the company, the HD 4870 X2 is the card to be looking at. With a fair bit of time gone since the release of the model we don't want to see a standard cooled model here from ASUS. What we'll do before we have a look at the card itself is see what ASUS has got going on in the bundle. Once that's done and the card has been looked at we will then focus our attention on the specifications and get into the performance side of things. Our main focus today will be to see how the card compares to other HD 4800s available on the market. So with that said, let's get stuck into it and find out exactly what we have going on.

The Package

The PackageLooking at the front of the box we see the same design we've seen for a while now. The middle of the box is taken up by a bright orange while on the right we have a picture of a girl carrying a weapon. On the other side we have mention of the Tri-Fan setup and a bold statement saying that it can result in a drop of 24c.
ASUS HD 4870 X2 Tri Fan Graphics Card

(Click the above image for the large version)
At the top of the box we have the ASUS logo while the very bottom we have the model, in this case the EAH4870X2 along with mention that the card comes with GDDR5 memory. Slightly above this we have mention of some of the features, again the memory albeit a bit more specific this time, letting us know 2GB is included. We also have a few other features here.
ASUS HD 4870 X2 Tri Fan Graphics Card

(Click the above image for the large version)
Flipping the box over and having a look at the back, we again see the brand, model and mention that we have GDDR5. Moving down, we have some of the product features while below that we have a run down on some of the applications that ASUS has included in the package. Below this we have some system requirements while also having mention of the power connectivity needed for the card.
ASUS HD 4870 X2 Tri Fan Graphics Card

(Click the above image for the large version)
As far as paperwork goes there isn't much; we have a little Speed Setup booklet but if you want to read more you're going to have to insert one of the discs that includes a multi-language manual. We have another disc which has the driver along with all the software we saw ASUS mention on the back of the box.
ASUS HD 4870 X2 Tri Fan Graphics Card

(Click the above image for the large version)
The cable department consists of a dual molex to 6-Pin connector, dual 6-Pin to 8-Pin connector, component out dongle, CrossFire connector along with a DVI to VGA and DVI to HDMI connector.
ASUS HD 4870 X2 Tri Fan Graphics Card

(Click the above image for the large version)
As far as extras go ASUS has chosen to include a CD wallet which we've seen for a while now. What we did find nice is that ASUS has decided to include a black one here which looks a lot nicer than the brown one we've seen for so long.

The Card

The CardLooking at the card for the first time, it's clear as to where the TRI fan name comes from, with it taking up the entire card. We can see the three fans with their own shroud and there's no doubt that this cooling solution will be more efficient than the stock one we see which has a single fan at the end of the card. The main thing is that if it does cool better, we don't want noise levels to go up.
ASUS HD 4870 X2 Tri Fan Graphics Card

(Click the above image for the large version)
If we look carefully behind the fans we can see a giant aluminum heatsink that takes up two thirds of the card, while at the back we really only see the PCB and some of the other components that make up the graphics card.
ASUS HD 4870 X2 Tri Fan Graphics Card

(Click the above image for the large version)
Looking around the card, we find our power connectors towards the back. We have a single 8-pin one along with a single 6-pin one that sits a bit further to the front of the card.
ASUS HD 4870 X2 Tri Fan Graphics Card

(Click the above image for the large version)
Closer to the front we have a single CrossFire connector and unlike most ATI cards that have two, this one only has the single one due to the fact that it's a dual GPU based card and CrossFire technology supports up to a maximum of four cores, meaning there's no need for a dual connector setup which would give us the ability to run three or four cards.SpecificationsHaving a look below, we can see that ASUS has opted to use the default core and memory clock. What this means is our core comes in at 750MHz and our 2GB of GDDR5 comes in at 900MHz or 3600MHz QDR.
ASUS HD 4870 X2 Tri Fan Graphics Card
Looking at the card, it isn't hard to feel a bit disappointed that ASUS didn't choose to overclock the card, especially since the card does carry a massive cooler which should yield some pretty good results. With that said, though, it doesn't mean you can't overclock the card yourself.

Test System Setup and 3DMark Vantage

Test System SetupProcessor(s): Intel i7 920 @ 3.8GHz (190MHz x 20)Cooling: Noctua NH-U12P (Supplied by Noctua)Motherboard(s): GIGABYTE EX58-UD5 (Supplied by GIGABYTE)Memory: 3 X 2GB OCZ Technology PC-12800 DDR-3 8-8-8-24 (OCZ3G1600LV6GK) Hard Disk(s): Western Digital 300GB Velicorapter (Supplied by Western Digital)Operating System: Windows XP Professional SP2, Windows Vista SP1 64-BitDrivers: ForceWare 182.50, Catalyst 9.4Today our main focus will be seeing how the HD 4870 X2 from ASUS stacks up against the older HD 4870 along with how it compares to the latest ATI model, the HD 4890. Let's not drag our feet any longer and get stuck into it and see exactly what we have going on here.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.
ASUS HD 4870 X2 Tri Fan Graphics Card
Straight off the bat we can see the HD 4870 X2 continues to offer some serious performance compared to its single GPU relatives.

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.
ASUS HD 4870 X2 Tri Fan Graphics Card
ASUS HD 4870 X2 Tri Fan Graphics Card
Checking out PT Boats we can see at the lower resolutions there isn't a whole lot of difference between the single GPU powered HD 4890 and the beast that is the HD 4870 X2. When we move to the intensive 2560 x 1600, though, we can see the card manages to take a big lead.

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).
ASUS HD 4870 X2 Tri Fan Graphics Card
With CINEBENCH not making use of the second GPU, performance is pretty much where we would expect it.

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.
ASUS HD 4870 X2 Tri Fan Graphics Card
ASUS HD 4870 X2 Tri Fan Graphics Card
Under WIC we again see the HD 4870 X2 pull out some serious numbers in the high resolution tests.

Benchmarks - Crysis Warhead

Crysis WarheadVersion and / or Patch Used: unpatchedTimedemo or Level Used: AirfieldDeveloper Homepage: http://www.crytek.comProduct Homepage: http://crysiswarhead.ea.com/Buy It Here
Crysis Warhead updates and refines the gameplay of the original game through a sidestory plot involving Psycho, one of previous protagonist Nomad's allies. The game is a parallel story that follows Sergeant Michael "Psycho" Sykes, a character from the original Crysis, as he faces his own trials and challenges on the other side of the island during the time period of the first game.It also showcases a new, enhanced and optimized version of CryEngine 2 using full DX10 extensions and is the first game developed by Crytek's Budapest studio.
ASUS HD 4870 X2 Tri Fan Graphics Card
ASUS HD 4870 X2 Tri Fan Graphics Card
Across the board we see the HD 4870 X2 perform very well compared to the other ATI offerings. Warhead performance on a whole isn't great across all models, however.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch LongDeveloper Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/Product Homepage: http://www.farcry2.com/Buy It Here
The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.
ASUS HD 4870 X2 Tri Fan Graphics Card
ASUS HD 4870 X2 Tri Fan Graphics Card
We really see the HD 4870 X2 shine across the board here, be it at 1680 x 1050 or the much more intensive 2560 x 1600.

Benchmarks - S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Clear Sky

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Clear SkyVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.5.07Timedemo or Level Used: Custom TimedemoDeveloper Homepage: http://www.gsc-game.com/Product Homepage: http://cs.stalker-game.com/en/Buy It Here
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky, is the stand-alone prequel for S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, a first-person shooter computer game by Ukrainian developer GSC Game World.[3] The game consists of a roughly 50/50 mix of new areas and old, remodeled areas from the previous game. The X-ray graphics engine has been updated to version 1.5 and includes DirectX 10 support (later patch 1.5.06 included DirectX 10.1). Additionally, the AI received an overhaul to accommodate the new faction wars feature.
ASUS HD 4870 X2 Tri Fan Graphics Card
ASUS HD 4870 X2 Tri Fan Graphics Card
Clear Sky's always been a favorite for ATI cards and compared to every other model we see, the HD 4870 X2 absolutely screams along.

Benchmarks - Left 4 Dead

Left 4 DeadVersion and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam UpdateTimedemo or Level Used: Custom TimedemoDeveloper Homepage: http://www.valvesoftware.com/Product Homepage: http://www.l4d.com/Buy It Here
Left 4 Dead uses the latest version of Valve's Source engine, with improvements such as multi-core processor support and physics-based animation to more realistically portray hair and clothing, and to improve physics interaction with enemies when shot or shoved in different body parts. Animation was also improved to allow characters to lean realistically when moving in curved paths. Rendering and artificial intelligence were scaled up to allow for greater number of enemies who can navigate the world in better ways, such as climbing, jumping or breaking obstacles. Lighting has been enhanced with new self-shadowing normal mapping and advanced shadow rendering that is important to convey information about the environment and player actions.
ASUS HD 4870 X2 Tri Fan Graphics Card
Like we've seen all along, the HD 4870 X2 put's out some impressive numbers; we again see the card really shine at 2560 x 1600.

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.Far Cry 2
ASUS HD 4870 X2 Tri Fan Graphics Card
ASUS HD 4870 X2 Tri Fan Graphics Card
We've always seen ATI fall to its knees under this test and setup. Once again, there isn't really a difference.World In Conflict
ASUS HD 4870 X2 Tri Fan Graphics Card
ASUS HD 4870 X2 Tri Fan Graphics Card
WIC sees good numbers again with that 30 FPS minimum being broken.Left 4 Dead
ASUS HD 4870 X2 Tri Fan Graphics Card
With full dual GPU support under L4D, performance is great for the X2 here.

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.
ASUS HD 4870 X2 Tri Fan Graphics Card
ASUS HD 4870 X2 Tri Fan Graphics Card
We again see the HD 4870 X2 scream along, showing the power of the dual GPU card compared to its single GPU siblings.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2 - XP

Far Cry 2Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch LongDeveloper Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/Product Homepage: http://www.farcry2.com/Buy It Here
The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.
ASUS HD 4870 X2 Tri Fan Graphics Card
ASUS HD 4870 X2 Tri Fan Graphics Card
Under FC2 we again see big numbers like our Vista test. 2560 x 1600 is no drama for the card with the settings at very high.

Benchmarks - S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Clear Sky - XP

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Clear SkyVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.5.07Timedemo or Level Used: Custom TimedemoDeveloper Homepage: http://www.gsc-game.com/Product Homepage: http://cs.stalker-game.com/en/Buy It Here
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky, is the stand-alone prequel for S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, a first-person shooter computer game by Ukrainian developer GSC Game World.[3] The game consists of a roughly 50/50 mix of new areas and old, remodeled areas from the previous game. The X-ray graphics engine has been updated to version 1.5 and includes DirectX 10 support (later patch 1.5.06 included DirectX 10.1). Additionally, the AI received an overhaul to accommodate the new faction wars feature.
ASUS HD 4870 X2 Tri Fan Graphics Card
ASUS HD 4870 X2 Tri Fan Graphics Card
We leave with Clear Sky and again see the ATI offerings shine. Of course the brightest light is on the HD 4870 X2 from ASUS.

Temperature and 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.
ASUS HD 4870 X2 Tri Fan Graphics Card
Some very reasonable numbers from the dual GPU beast with temps much lower than the single HD 4870.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).
ASUS HD 4870 X2 Tri Fan Graphics Card
These low numbers haven't come at the cost of noise either with the card sitting way below the new HD 4890 which is outputting similar temps.

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.
ASUS HD 4870 X2 Tri Fan Graphics Card
Not ATIs strongest point; the card draws some serious power. But this is nothing a good quality power supply can't handle.

Final Thoughts

Final ThoughtsThe HD 4870 X2 continues to be a power house of the card and the Tri-Fan version from ASUS is great which offers some serious cooling performance without putting the big noise numbers out. Ultimately this is what we want to see from an aftermarket cooler; better performance at the same noise levels is good, but lower noise levels are fantastic and this is what the HD 4870 X2 Tri-Fan from ASUS offers.It doesn't stop there for the ASUS card. We've got a bunch of programs that you may or may not find useful and a CD wallet that we're sure people can make use of. There is of course that typical ASUS price premium, but with the cooling available on the card it's well and truly justified.If you're looking for a dual GPU graphics card from ATI and want something that manages to stand out from other HD 4870 X2s, this Tri-Fan version from ASUS is great. And while the card might seem like it's getting a bit on these days, looking at the performance numbers the card put's out it's still a very good option for people who game at 2560 x 1600.If that isn't enough for you, though, there's always the option to grab two of these bad boys and run a massive QuadFire setup. While not for everyone, if you're looking for some serious power it continues to be a great option for people.Aggressive pricing from ATI on the HD 4870 X2, the innovation of ASUS and the bundle that the company puts together is great, making this not only a stand out HD 4870 X2, but a stand out model period.
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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.

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