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Editor: Julio Franco

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The Force3D Radeon HD 4870 BE

The Force3D Radeon HD 4870 Black Edition looks quite different than most other Radeon boards featuring a large heatsink known as the Twin Turbo, which covers most of the GPU side of the card. This is a dual slot design which is the only drawback to featuring such a large heatsink.

As mentioned before, this card is factory overclocked which can translate in added heat compared to the original card we reviewed a few months back. But then again, the AMD reference cooler was quite average and not nearly as effective as the Twin Turbo which makes use of two 80mm fans that can operate at up to 2000 RPM. Even at those speeds it generates very little noise.

While the fan is certainly not silent, it is reasonably quiet, and once installed into a case, it goes relatively unnoticed. During normal operating conditions in Windows Vista the GPU temperature sat at about 38 degrees, while under load it reached 53 degrees, which is very good. The fact that the fan speed didn't vary as the temperature changed was a good thing in our opinion. The air flow developed by the fans was minimal and could be barely felt when placing the hand under the heatsink.

Under the large Twin Turbo heatsink is the RV770 XT core, along with eight memory chips which are not actively or passively cooled. The memory chips are Qimonda IDGV1G-05A1F1C-40X, which are entry-level GDDR5 chips and are rated for just 4 Gbps. The AMD specification for this card only calls for 3.6 Gbps memory anyway, so we should have at least some overclocking headroom. Force3D is shipping this card with the memory operating at 3.8 Gbps, which is again a very small overclock.

The AMD specification for the RV770 XT core is 750MHz, while Force3D has set it to a modestly higher 770MHz. It shall be interesting to see how much further the core can go when using the Twin Turbo cooler. It is also worth mentioning that like all other Radeon HD 4870 graphics cards, the Force3D version offers dual-link DVI and HDTV support.

The Force3D Radeon HD 4870 Black Edition comes in a rather simple looking black box which is roughly the same size as a motherboard package. The front of the box clearly states that this is a special black edition graphics card, though there is no indication as to why. Upon opening the box it was made evident that Force3D has purely focused on the graphics card itself and not the package or bundle, as there are no games included with this card. The package however does include a DVI dongle, HDTV cable, and an S-video to Composite cable, along with a brief userís manual and the drivers CD.