The Visiontek Radeon HD 4870 resembles quite closely an AMD reference card, making it hard to differentiate from many of the introductory Radeon HD 4870-based products that were released last June 25th. That said, the Visiontek Radeon HD 4870 did not disappoint offering an incredible level of performance for just $285.
In terms of value you will be hard pressed to find anything better than the new Radeon HD 4800 series. Though Nvidia has been quick to adjust their pricing accordingly, you will still have to thank AMD for bringing such a compelling set of products to the mainstream market. The Radeon HD 4850 still remains the best value solution, while the Radeon HD 4870 offers extra performance at an added cost - certainly worthwhile if you have the money to spare.
As was the case when testing the Radeon HD 4850, we have trouble with the AMD reference cooler used in the Radeon HD 4870. While the cooler does remain relatively quiet even when under load, it allowed the Visiontek card to operate at some extreme temperatures. By installing the Arctic-Cooling S1 cooler we were able to reduce the idle temperature from 74 degrees to just 33 degrees. Load temperatures also fell quite drastically, maxing out at just 52 degrees.
While on this topic, we have heard about users using third-party software like RivaTuner to tweak the card settings and fix the stock fan speed at a certain level. Unfortunately at around 50% where the fan starts to make a difference in temperatures, we found the fan to be too noisy.
We also had no success overclocking the Visiontek Radeon HD 4870 using the stock cooler and the automatic fan speed settings. However, using the Arctic-Cooling S1 cooler we easily maxed out at 835MHz core speed using RivaTuner, while the memory also ran at 4.20GHz (2.10GHz x 2).
We really hope that Visiontek is interested in offering an upgraded cooler like they did with their overclocked Radeon HD 3870 X2. Also, despite the Mass Effect graphics on the box, the manufacturer does not bundle the game with this product, or any other free game for that matter. The card is however supported by a Visiontek's limited lifetime warranty.
So, unless you have a problem living with a very hot running videocard, the Visiontek Radeon HD 4870 is an otherwise exceptional buy.