Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic Dual Edition review -
4 - Installation, GPU temps, power cosumption & noise levels
It's the standard anno 2008. Graphics cards are pretty easy to install. This card was not any different. Slide the card into a free PCIe 8x / 16x slot, connect the two 6-pin power connectors and connect your monitor. You can now power up the PC. Once windows boots up, install the latest Catalyst drivers and make sure your operating system is fully patched up, especially DirectX. After driver installation, reboot the PC and you are ready to go.
It's time to do some actual testing with these cards. We'll start off by showing you some tests we have done on overall power consumption of the PC. Looking at it from a performance versus wattage point of view, the power consumption is really good with the new 55nm products. Our single card test system is a Core 2 Duo X6800 Extreme Processor, the nForce 680i SLI mainboard, a passive water-cooling solution on the CPU, 2GB memory, DVD-ROM and WD Raptor drive. Have a look:
System Under load
Radeon HD 2900 XT
|Radeon HD 4850||269 Watt|
|Radeon HD 4870||353 Watt|
A single Radeon HD 4850/4870 series requires you to have a 500 Watt power supply unit at minimum if you use it in a high-end system, and I think that's barely on the safe side. Also recommended is 32 AMP's on the 12 volts rails for stable power distribution (in a single card configuration). Please make note of the fact that the card uses two 6-pin power connectors.
Crossfire is something else, you add another 130-150 Watts plus 8 AMPs on the 12V rails during gaming. I recommend a PSU of, at the very least, 750-800 Watts. Make sure you have some reserves folks. It's not that your PC will consume that much power, it's just that you want to make sure your PSU can deal with the hefty load and will stay stable during you entire gaming experience.
With three cards obviously 800+ Watt power supplies are recommended, and in fact even needed to be able to even supply something as simple as enough PCIe graphics power connectors.
There are many good PSU's available, over the years we reviewed a lot of them and have loads of recommended PSU's for you to check out in there, have a look. Things that can happen if your PSU can't cope with the load?:
- bad 3D performance
- crashing games
- spontaneous reset or imminent shutdown of the PC
- freezes during gameplay
- PSU overload can cause it to break down
The thermal envelope
With the higher clock frequency despite the dual-slot cooler, the 4870 does gets hot for sure, luckily that dual-slot cooler that will help cooling down the product.
Typically with the reference cooler Idle temps are roughly 60 Degrees C, yet when the GPU was fully utilized & stressed it also reached 88-90 Degrees C quite quickly.
Though very noisy, the cooler however drops thermals to 45 Degrees C in idle mode and 70 Degrees C when fully stressed. Please make sure you have a very well ventilated PC.
Noise Levels coming from the graphics card
When graphics cards produce a lot of heat, that heat usually needs to be transported away from the hot core as fast as possible. Often you'll see massive active fan solutions that can indeed get rid of the heat, yet all the fans these days make the PC a noisy son of a gun. I'm doing a little try-out today with noise monitoring, so basically the test we do is extremely subjective. We bought a certified dBA meter and will start measuring how many dBA originate from the PC. Why is this subjective, you ask? Well, there is always noise in the background, from the streets, from the HD, PSU fan etc etc, so this is by a mile or two not a precise measurement. You could only achieve objective measurement in a sound test chamber.
The human hearing system has different sensitivities at different frequencies. This means that the perception of noise is not at all equal at every frequency. Noise with significant measured levels (in dB) at high or low frequencies will not be as annoying as it would be when its energy is concentrated in the middle frequencies. In other words, the measured noise levels in dB will not reflect the actual human perception of the loudness of the noise. That's why we measure the dBa level. A specific circuit is added to the sound level meter to correct its reading in regard to this concept. This reading is the noise level in dBA. The letter A is added to indicate the correction that was made in the measurement. Frequencies below 1kHz and above 6kHz are attenuated, where as frequencies between 1kHz and 6kHz are amplified by the A weighting.
|TYPICAL SOUND LEVELS|
|Jet takeoff (200 feet)||120 dBA|
|Construction Site||110 dBA||Intolerable|
|Shout (5 feet)||100 dBA|
|Heavy truck (50 feet)||90 dBA||Very noisy|
|Urban street||80 dBA|
|Automobile interior||70 dBA||Noisy|
|Normal conversation (3 feet)||60 dBA|
|Office, classroom||50 dBA||Moderate|
|Living room||40 dBA|
|Bedroom at night||30 dBA||Quiet|
|Broadcast studio||20 dBA|
|Rustling leaves||10 dBA||Barely audible|
We start up a benchmark and leave it running for a while. The fan rotational speed remains constant. We take the dBA meter, move away 75 CM and then aim the device at the active fan on the graphics card.
Noise levels are becoming pretty standard these days, again we see the cooler make more noise once it needs to cool down more (RPM spins up) though audible it's not bad though. Expect roughly 48 DBa when the GPU is fully stressed for both cards. Even in idle you can hear the cooler pretty loud at roughly 46-47 DBa. Which is too much for my taste.
Every now and then there is a manufacturer out there that tries to do something special with a product. What's different then you likely ask for this Palit graphics card ? Well, the 1st thing you'll notice is a turbo switch, which allows you to select a second BIOS in an overclocked product state, we actually spot a display-port connector and next to that .. the USS enterprise actually was mounted on-top of the GPU as this product my friends, has one big cooler mounted on top of it.